Staying In And Stitches Out:
Written on Day 11:
The previous post was written at 5 days and I’m adding this at 11 days post-op. I’ve found my routine. As mentioned, the first two days of getting up and living downstairs – wincingly using the stairs to and from the loo – proved to be too painful, so since then I’ve had the bed as my sleeping, working and living quarters.
It’s far less painful to keep the foot raised (some say higher than the heart and some higher than hips, so I vary it) after trips involving stairs, and apparently it’s wise to aim to elevate it for 90% of the time. This all bodes well for my suppleness and ballet career when recovery is over.
OH is wisely protecting his beauty sleep and still using the spare bedroom. That suits me fine as I otherwise wouldn’t sleep for fear of his turning over in the night, his leg shooting out and striking my poorly foot.
The meds? I’m taking 2 x 50mg Tramadol and 2 x 8/500mg Co-Codamol at night (the first week, that dose was night and morning, too) and then 1 Tramadol and 2 Co-Codamol three times over the course of the day. That’s a vast improvement on the initial few days of waking with what felt like a hundred dentist’s drills going off in my foot.
That excrutiating agony returns, however, every time I use the stairs (even with the Darco shoe of death), when I’ve been back to the hospital, or any amount of standing around for a bit. Like waiting for the kettle to boil. It’s a case of grin and bear it afterwards, or take an extra Tramadol. It improves after a while and I imagine it’s different for everyone, depending on the type of surgery they’ve had and how sensitive to pain they are. Unlike childbirth (a one or two-day breeze, haha) this lasts for longer than any labour I’ve ever heard about.
I peeked under the bandage one evening. Oh, all right then, I took the whole thing off on a hot, muggy night, to find the two white but bloody, sealed dressings over the stitches. As well as a violently purple and green, swollen foot, including sole, toes, and ankle. It was like a prop from the ‘Thriller’ video. I replaced the bandage pronto; that foot felt vulnerable.
I have meds, my flask of coffee, books, radio, notebooks, phone and usually both cat and dog on the bed with me. As I’m fat-fighting, during the day I eat light (a tasty apple/scrummy Ryvitas) and OH cooks for England later. I am glad this happened now that our children have all grown up and left home. But I saw younger women who mentioned they were mothers in the hospital and it made me wonder how they got on.
Twitter has been a fantastic distraction and the people on it supportive amusing, empathetic or piss-taking. It all helps, believe me. I also looked around the internet for more information about recovery from bunion surgery. There’s pitifully little online but I put a couple of useful blogs at the end of the Bunion – Pilgrim’s Progress – Stage Two post.
I’ve found the pain a little easier and, oh joy, I’m getting around 4-7 hours sleep. It can vary. It’s early days, I suppose, and just when I think I’ve slept through the night and all will be well from here, I then spend time awake with some pain – and listening to radio phone-ins again – in the early hours of the next night.
It’s always a relief to elevate the leg, particularly after walking, although initially I got into contortions with it while trying to write whilst on the bed. I’ve now settled on having the laptop one side of my pillow-stack and my foot on the other.
Tomorrow, Day 12, I have an exciting second outing to the hospital. I’ll have hair washed, make-up on, carefully-selected clothes. This will be my Big Day Out. But I’ll try not to get too excited or wear myself out. I’m going to have the stitches removed.
Written on Day 13:
So, Day 12 was the exciting trip back to the hospital to have stitches out. I say exciting because I’m quite used to being able to come and go as I like, drive the car, walk the dog and so on. By the 12th day of incarceration, I would say I was, erm, a little stir-crazy at best and quite deranged at worst. Much as I love our modest home, I was also longing to see something, anything, beyond the confines of these walls.
I’d find myself staring out of the window at elderly ladies positively whizzing past our front hedge with their walking sticks, perhaps on an exciting errand, or off to the bus-stop to go shopping. I envied the young as they ambled by, recklessly taking their able feet for granted.
And don’t even get me started on the horses and riders who pass regularly. I stared glum-faced at them, deprived of the casual freedom they flaunted before me. Although I was simply going to be attending a mere stitches-out appointment at the hospital, it was a major Big Deal to me.
As I’d pledged, I made the effort and had a stand-up wash, then washed my hair over the basin with one of those rubber shower sprays. Wearing the Darco shoe of unloveliness meant that I didn’t put pressure on my foot (only on the heel) and it was the world’s quickest hairwash ever. But I instantly felt better and, more importantly, clean.
In the bedroom, I dried hair with foot on a stool, put make-up on and chose a fitted top and loose trousers to wear. This contrasted agreeably with the Unintentional Grunge look I’d been sporting the previous few days. In any case, I didn’t know whether I might bump into Mr. Fabulous at the hospital and I wasn’t about to take any chances.
One tip I knew was to take painkilling meds half an hour before going out, or before appointments, so I did. At the hospital, I noticed a man with bandaged foot and Darco shoe. I stood (stupid, that) talking with him and he told me he’d had surgery the day before. He must have been in agony as he’d been afraid of asking for more adequate painkillers, yet had come for a dressing change. His wife said: “He won’t ask. But I will.” This is the thing. Everyone’s entitled to adequate pain relief and there are no prizes for heroism. Really.
Anyway, we were immediately whisked in to see Lahdi the nurse, who was the gentlest nurse I’ve ever had the dubious pleasure to meet, in such circumstances anyway. I got a student last year on my face stitches. Enough said. I looked about to see if anything would cheer me up. A sighting of Mr. Fabulous, the gorgeous surgeon, for example. But no, nothing.
My deep gloom was dispelled by Lahdi’s cheerful manner. But WARNING: The gory bits are coming.
You can see what Lahdi did in the pictures. First she gently removed the old bandage and dressing.
This revealed the two scars with their stitches, from the two osteotomies, one on the 2nd toe metatarsal and one on the 1st for the bunion itself. The foot wasn’t as swollen as at the previous dressing change, although the toes still look like party-chipolatas. It was all still rather red from the operation sterilising liquid.
And I’d cut my nails extra short before the op, in fear of not being able to go near them for months in the future. Hmmm. Ill-judged, that. Could have got OH (Chef/Fetcher & Carrier/Tea-Maker/Hair Washer/Comedian) to add add pedicure skills to his CV. Not the most alluring sight in the world.
OH took a good gander at the scars as I stiffened, dreading the stitch removal itself. “Blimey,” said OH, steadying himself. Lahdi unwrapped a small blade and kept talking quietly with me the whole time so I’d felt nothing terrible by the time I noticed she’d removed half the stitches. They were all removed quickly and my student-nurse-based fear from last year proved to be utterly unfounded. I’d been dreading her pressing on my foot at all. Mercifully, she somehow hadn’t.
She cleaned the wounds, added new sticky dressings with the lightest of pressure, a new bandage to protect the foot – and I was done. Lahdi then told me what I’d longed to hear. I could now have a bath or shower. At last … full immersion! The waterproof sticky dressings need to remain for another two weeks. The bandage could probably stay as a protective measure until my 6 week check-up with Mr. Fabulous, or until I wanted them off.
Going out had been a blast. I’d been rivetted by everything outside the truck window (‘Wow! The fields! The trees! People! The Pound Shop!’) and everything in the Care UK Treatment Centre (‘Woohoo! A car-park space! A tv in the hospital! Another bunion patient! A nurse!’). That was, sadly, just about the full extent of my outing. I was all glammed up with nowhere else to go but home. However, home was probably the best place.
The pains were getting worse as we drove back. I stiffened my leg at every slight bend or bump in the roads, and clenched my teeth as I thought of getting my feet up again – and of when OH’s full butler duties could resume.
Stage Four coming soon…
Meanwhile, I found a useful website. This particular post talks about what to expect, and the kinds of exercise to attempt, during the recovery period.