Today marks six months since my foot surgery.  The bunion and bunionette (the small chic French bunion on my fifth toe) of my left foot were removed and the bony alignment corrected – at least, that’s what I think happened. I frankly didn’t want to know the specific details.  Despite being a health professional (who considered taking medicine!!), despite studying anatomy and doing cadaver dissection in university (I mention this strictly for street cred), I didn’t want to think too much about what was being done to my own body; it was just too surreal.

Here I am waiting to go in - the SECOND time! I had made it all the way to sitting in gown and nothing else (!) waiting for the hammer to drop, I mean the nurse to come, once before when the surgery was cancelled at the last minute. I realized then how stressful the whole experience was (as I descended into tears and chocolate).
Here I am waiting to go in – the SECOND time! I had made it all the way to sitting in a gown and nothing else (!) waiting for the hammer to drop, I mean the nurse to come, once before when the surgery was cancelled at the last minute. I realized then how stressful the whole experience was (as I descended into tears and chocolate).

I made the decision to get the surgery because my feet hurt constantly – no matter the shoe or activity.  My bunions developed because of how my feet are designed – in short, genetics.  That plus years of walking = bunions.  Contrary to popular belief, they are not caused by poorly fitting shoes, at least not in my case.

Big bunion on the right, bunionette on the left.
Big bunion on the right, bunionette on the left.

It’s not a decision to be made lightly.  I could care less how my feet look and looks alone are NOT a good reason to undergo this surgery – or any surgery if you ask me.

But hanks to thrifting, I don't have to!  
Despite the bunions, I have no troubles finding shoes that fit. Comfort ranges, but when they hurt no matter what, they might as well be cute!

After the surgery, I spent 7 weeks in an air cast…

My view upon waking from surgery...
My view upon waking from surgery…

And I did my best to stay off my foot and let it heal…

Post-Op Style
And I wore skirts! And I REALLY appreciated my culottes!  Thank God for the timing of my surgery – no slippery snowy sidewalks to manage, no need for tights or pants, AND a great opportunity to give my culottes, skirts and dresses tons of wear time!

This was a major adjustment.  I’m not used to needing help and I’m not used to rest (though I certainly didn’t miss pants!).  I thought I would accomplish all kinds of things during that time, and being a typical recovering type A, I wanted to excel at healing.  That led me to push myself too much too soon and I paid for it in pain.  Luckily I have amazing friends, including an experienced physiotherapist, who reassured me that everyone makes this mistake after ortho surgery.  More importantly, she assured me that this common, seemingly mundane surgery was in fact a big deal and would take time to heal.

My first view of my foot after surgery at my 4-week check-up...
My first look at my foot after surgery at the 4-week check-up…
Bruising at the heel...
Bruising at the heel and this is four weeks later!
That yellow thing? That's a cap on the pin sticking out of my foot!
That yellow thing? That’s a cap on the pin sticking out of my foot! I’m not sure which was worse to see – the site of the stitches, surgical markings and bruising, or my hairy leg!!!
Bunionectomy 6 Months Later
I’ve had tattoos.  I’ve had children.  The pain of getting those stitches removed was the only one of those 3 experiences painful enough to make me cry.

After the 4 week check-up, the surgeon taped an anchor to the proximal part of my foot and used that to tape my toes into position.  For 3 days and 3 nights, I was in excruciating pain.  I took as many meds as I was allowed and watched Netflix all day and all night to distract myself from the pain.  It was about 2 in the morning when I finally decided enough was enough and I cut the damn tape.

Bunionectomy 6 Months Later
I learned there’s a balance between doing what the doc tells you and using your own common sense.  If it seems like something is wrong, it probably is.  That bump above the anchor bandages is fluid from swelling that had nowhere to go.
Bunionectomy 6 Months Later
I also developed a bruise and callus at the base of my fifth metatarsal that still hasn’t disappeared completely…

After the pain of removing the stitches, I was TERRIFIED of getting that pin pulled at my 7-week check-up.

The night before my 7-week check-up.
The night before my 7-week check-up.  Check out that skin discolouration on top that still hasn’t gone away.
All rebandaged and with fresh stockinette. When I took off my cast to get it all cleaned up for the appointment, there was mildew in the cast. What the!!
All rebandaged and with fresh stockinette. When I took off my cast to get it all cleaned up for the appointment, there was mildew in the cast. What the!!  I share because I had no idea that was a possibility.  
On my way to the appointment! Getting this cast off - woot woot!!!
On my way to the appointment! Getting this cast off – woot woot!!!  Pretty brave smile don’t you think?!

My nerves hit the roof when I arrived to the appointment only to discover that the surgeon had cancelled her clinic without notifying me.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.  I wanted out of that cast.  I wanted that pin out!  I was due to go on vacation with my family and had already camped once with the cast and didn’t want to do it again.  Thankfully, another doctor came around, yanked the pin and sent me on my way.  It didn’t hurt at all, I didn’t feel a thing!!  Hallelujah!!

Bunioectomy 6 Months Later
These Rockport adjustable sandals, thrifted for $5, were a lifesaver. They were the only shoes I could wear for the next two months.
Still wearing a sock to keep the bandages in place but dang it felt good to be out of the cast!
Still wearing a sock to keep the bandages in place but dang it felt good to be out of the cast!

There was still a fair amount of recovery to go.  There were scabs and dead skin and swelling and loss of muscle mass.

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Sounds like a good reason to put my feet up and paint my nails!

Bunionectomy 6 Months Later

I saw improvement bit by bit…

Bunionectomy 6 Months Later

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I have been going to physiotherapy for a few months to gain strength and range of motion (and chat with my Physio!) and have ordered orthotics to support my foot and prevent recurrence of the bunions.  I had no sensation in my forefoot and big toe for months but it’s *almost* back to normal.  My scars look pretty good, I rarely get swelling and can manage a few hours in heels!

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My end goal is to be able to wear any shoe for any length of time with no more foot pain than any other woman in heels.  If you’ve been following along with my thrift hauls, you know that I have been collecting shoes!

shoes
Surgery won’t stop me from thrifting awesome shoes!

I might have to give up a few more pairs – time will tell.  For now, I’m content to wait and build up my tolerance and ponder when I might get the right foot done!

Before

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After

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The difference is remarkable!  (And time for a pedi I would say!)  I have had bunion pain since I was 18 years old.  It is quite something to be able to walk around in freedom from pain!

And also pretty nice to wear cute shoes like these Miz Mooz sandals without a giant bunion sticking out (on one side anyway!)!!
And also pretty nice to wear cute shoes like these Miz Mooz sandals without a giant bunion sticking out (on one side anyway!)!!

This might be more than you ever wanted to know about bunion surgery but it was a major part of my life this year and I think sharing my experience might help others that are considering surgery.  Now let’s resume regular business and start looking at my face and thrifted outfits – much nicer than my feet!

6 Comments

  1. oh wow! that is incredible!
    to live in pain, especially foot pain, is torture!
    glad they could do something to help you out–will you get the other side done??? or does it not hurt???

    congrats on beautiful your beautiful foot!!!

    hugs
    su

    • Thanks Su! I will likely get the other side done but it’s my driving foot and I live rural and have to get my kids to school (no bussing). So I don’t know when! It hasn’t been hurting as much but I think that’s b/c I’m so much more cautious about my footwear and how long I’m on my feet. I will see how things go once I am fully into my regular shoes and regular activities.

  2. Thank you for sharing. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your posts. I have to make sure I’m not drinking hot tea at the time because snorting can be very painful! God bless you!

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