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.

img_0038 img_0037

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

img_0042 img_0046

img_0044

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!

img_0051 img_0052

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

01bbfc7ea8f194cb6cf0e6ea84f33c6f0e43a570e7 Bunionectomy 6 Months Later

After

fullsizerender

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!

30 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!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! I just had my right foot done on November 30 and am having the Left Foot done on December 7.
    I have to be ready to start a new job in February or Narch working 12 hour clinic shifts on the floor. I was able to take 3 months off right now to complete the surgeries and recover. Trust me…..it’s day 4 post op and I have already questioned my decision to complete the second foot right away!
    Honestly, I don’t have a choice….it took me years to build up the paid time off for the surgery and it will be years before I can again. I’m in way too much pain (have been for 10 years) to continue my healthcare career if I do not have these corrected.

    I look forward to seeing more of your journey to healing!

    • Thanks so much for reading! I hope your recovery from both surgeries is going well. I can’t imagine doing my other foot so soon after, and may not in fact do it at all since it’s my driving foot and I can’t go without driving for 6 weeks. Thankfully, my right foot is not causing me as much pain as my left did so I’m managing for now. It is not an easy surgery, that’s for sure. I’m 2 years out now and the bunion has not recurred and my left foot doesn’t have much pain. I’m glad I did it. I do have to make different footwear choices now – I rarely wear heels and when I do, I can only manage for short periods. I am glad I had the surgery done and glad it was done in Canada where it cost me NOTHING *and* I had 6 weeks of medical leave from work automatically. I couldn’t do this in the US, even with good health insurance. Hope you are well!

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience. It can be difficult to find information on how challenging this procedure TRULY is. I too had a bunion and a bunionette removed from my right foot, October 5, 2018.

    I did have a question for you about the recovery. It has been a little over 3 months (14 weeks), since my surgery. (I just transitioned from a surgical boot to a shoe two weeks ago) My foot still looks and feels “bruised” and purple-ish, like my circulation is not back to normal.

    Did you experience this? And if so, how long did it last? Any intel would be greatly appreciated!!

    • I stayed in my boot cast for 7 weeks I think then just wore adjustable sandals. My foot was too swollen to fit into any of my shoes. That summer after I got out of my cast, I moved very slowly. It took time to build up my strength for walking. I can’t recall exactly how long it took for skin colour to come back but longer than expected that’s for sure. I also had reduced sensation for a good year – so long I thought it was never going to come back, but it has. Perhaps most encouraging is that my bunion and bunionette have not recurred. I knew that could be a possibility since mine are caused by how my foot works. I have less tolerance for heels now but have found plenty of comfortable flats and low heels or wedges that I wear for special occasions or short periods. I’m glad I did the surgery. {But I’m not anxious to do the right foot!} Hope your recovery continues to go well and please get in touch again if you have more questions!

      • Thank you for sharing. I had surgery for Hallux Limitus (almost a bunion) in January 2019. I was in my boot for about 11 weeks and I also travelled twice, refusing to fly with the boot the second time. I have a pin in my left big toe but the foot is so much better. I, like you, was in constant pain no matter what shoe I wore and I love cute shoes and sneakers. Since I don’t do hurting feet and my job required me to be on my feet all day, I chose the surgery. My doctor is excellent but didn’t know I didn’t get crutches until my first visit. I bought a cane and made do OK. My left foot is also discolored still and it’s May 30th. It’s still darker than my right foot but the doc didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I still compress the foot daily. I will say that wearing the boot compromised my hips until I found a shoe the same height as the boot. The pin stays unless it causes me a problem. Your timeline is really nicely done and you are really funny. My foot is beautiful so I wish you blessings on the right foot surgery. I was jut curious to see if anyone else had the discoloration problem. Peace and blessings.

        • 11 weeks is a long time in the boot! Glad you found a solution to make walking more comfortable. I had discolouration on my foot for well over a year but it seems to have diminished now – a few years later. I was terrified of getting my pin out but it ended up being painless – mine was sticking out though and had to come out. I don’t know if I’ll get the right foot done. The health care system is so different in the US so I would have to pay to have it done. In Canada, it cost me nothing, though I did wait because it was a non-essential surgery. Thank you for commenting and for your kind words! xoxo

  5. Hi Nicole,
    Thank you so much for writing about your bunion surgery. I just had the surgery two weeks ago and hearing others experiences are so helpful. I expected to get the stitches out today but it looks like they will stay for another two weeks.
    I did see my “Franken-foot” when they removed the cast to take x-rays before re-casting it. It looked to be healing well, but pretty swollen. Were you afraid of stepping down on your foot when they finally put you in the boot? I think I’m going to be totally paranoid, not to mention weak. Ugh, my calf muscle has already shrunk so much!

    Glad you surgery was a success and thanks again for sharing with everyone. It sure helps to know what the path forward will look like. Wishing you and your family a very happy 2019!
    Jennifer

    • Thank you for your comment Jennifer! Heck yes I was scared to step down and probably guarded it too much throughout the whole recovery process. I had my boot on 7 weeks (I think, I can’t remember now) and had to ease back into activity once it was off. It took time and I continued using my crutches for a bit. I would get overly confident then overdo it and end up in pain so… err on the side of caution! It’s major surgery. I had the benefit of a good friend/fab PT so was able to get advice on how much to do. How are you doing now?!!

  6. Thank you Nicole for your site. I had a large bunion on both pfeet and put off surgery for a long time. Doctor told me they were very large. She did my right foot Sept 20, 2018 and the left on Dec. 2018. (Same year so deducible on our health insurance was taken care of.) I had my boot on for 6 weeks night and day. IThere really wasn’t much pain at all for me.
    I was lucky I had 2 boots at home so I washed the insert and switched back and forth. At my first week appointment it was just to look at the swelling. I did excellent! The second week after surgery appointment, I got the stitches out. This really made me emotional, but happy. I was glad you mentioned the reduced sensation and the fact it will return. I was wondering deep down if I’d ever be normal again. Both feet are heeling nice but there’s swelling still and I have to put my feet up because I overdo. Did I mention I have 6 screws and a metal plate the Dr. put in to hold the fusion? I have been lucky with my job and time off. I won’t go into detail but hope to be back by late March 2019. Thank you again and I hope your next foot gets fixed up and you do great!

    • You are brave to get both feet done so close together – makes sense now that I understand US health insurance deductibles. I would give yourself a good year to be fully back to normal. Bunion surgery IS major surgery and it takes time to recover – especially because rest off your feet is so hard to do in every day life! Best wishes for continued good recovery! Don’t push yourself too hard and come back here whenever you need encouragment!

  7. Andrea Brooks Reply

    I am so glad I stumbled on this blog post! I am 6 weeks and 3 days post-op from bunionectomy + bunionette-ectomy on my right foot and feeling frustrated at the slow progress of healing. I didn’t have an air cast, just a velcro-strapped surgical sandal. Doctor says I need to start bending my all toes when I walk and putting full weight on it now but my foot feels like a sausage that’s ready to split open when I do. It’s not terribly swollen though so that’s kinda weird. I can move my other toes a little bit without too much pai. but my big toe won’t listen to me! Does any of this relate to what you experienced?

    • I did post-op physiotherapy as soon as I was able to start – I can’t remember when exactly but shortly after I got my cast off. That helped me regain my mobility – and the PT measured my progress which was otherwise hard to see. I had reduced mobility and sensation in my big toe for months. I worked on walking with a normal gait so that I wouldn’t guard and end up with a maladaptive gait! PT helped with that too! That would be my best advice – go to PT! (hope it’s covered, in Canada, post-surgery PT is covered)

  8. I am glad I stumbled upon your site. I am 6 weeks post surgery to remove 1 screw and 1 wire from bunion surgery I had 33 years ago. The wire did not heal inside the bone and I always had a bump that straps or even shoelaces would irritate. Now into my 60’s, bone loss, a fall last year all contributed to pain that over the course of one year became unbearable. I had the metal removed and my swelling and pain is similar to what I have read here. I am thankful to know it’s not abnormal to have so much swelling and bruising weeks after. I only remember the terrible pain when I had surgery 30 years ago. It definitely can be a life changer losing not just being able to walk but enduring the level of pain that disrupts your life. I knew there was a problem 30 years ago but only brought myself to get it fixed when pain was constant. Thank you Nicole and others who have shared here. It is altogether a different experience for each person and often the doctors are not always sympathetic. Best wishes to you all.

    • Thank you for your comment! I concur that the doctors are not always sympathetic; my surgeon wasn’t and she was well reputed. I kept thinking, they need a patient mentor! Someone who’s been through the experience and can support those who are not sure if what they’re experiencing is “normal” or not.

      I’m sorry you had to go through a second surgery!! I was surprised how long it took to heal but I now realize it’s typical. So glad we can find a community of sorts and support one another! xoxo

  9. Thanx for sharing I just got mine done in March. Tomorrow hopefully they will let me walk with the air cast. I’m going crazy it’s been 4 weeks.

    • Oh my! I was up and walking in the boot cast before 4 weeks. I can see how you would be going crazy!! Hang in there! One day soon this will all be behind you!! xoxo

  10. Hi Nicole, I pretty much had the same foot surgery had, ten years ago. Unfortunately over time, the big toe ended up crossing over the second toe and causing a large bunion once again. So about 4 weeks ago I had a new procedure done to straighten the toe and fix the bunion. Check out Lapiplasty for bunions. My surgery was practically painless. No kidding. I need the other foot done too. So, I’m thinking next spring I will do that foot. Google it…Lapiplasty.

    • That is amazing! Thank you for sharing. I will look it up if I ever get the other foot done – but since I’m in the US now without Universal Health Care, I probably won’t – can’t afford it! Nonetheless, good to know! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  11. Wow yrs looks great, even with stiches inn looked better than mine ! My big toe is 1/2 in. Shoter, my stitches are on top, and my tailor bunion scar is 3xs longer than yrs! I definately got the short end of the stick on mine..it is ugly! Im 5 mnths post op. 7 mnths is my left ft. Surgery.what could be worse..best of luck and count yr blessings *

    • I am so sorry to hear that! I hope you are able to get proper medical or surgical care for the remaining issues. It’s too painful to go through and have a bad outcome. So sorry.

  12. Thx for sharing I get my surgery done next week and I am kinda scared
    I am a mother of 4 kids at home but all are in school during day and husband works so I hope I can do this

    • YOU CAN DO IT! Your kids will step up in the most amazing ways to help you and you will enter a lovely stage of enforced rest. I watched a lot of Instagram videos and read books and journalled. I would just kind of set myself up before anyone left so I had snacks and meds and drinks and remotes and chargers at hand – especially before I was able to bear weight on my boot cast. It’s a change of pace but in retrospect it was a gift. Hope the surgery went well and you are well on your way to recovery!! Cheering you on!! xoxo

  13. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am 7 weeks post op and still in boot. It is reassuring to see your outcomes and how similar your pictures are. Hope you are still doing well. I did right foot first. Need to do left as well. Will wait and see how things go. Best wishes.

    • Hang in there! Left will be easier because you’ll be able to drive!!! It’s not an easy recovery. I wish you well! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Write A Comment