Cabin Fever, The Essential Bedside Table And When’s Bunion Awareness Day?
It’s three weeks since the op – she says, in case anyone can’t do the maths – and I’m well enough to write the next, marginally shorter, blog post. So I’m grateful it’s not been life-threatening after all the cheerless DVT and stroke warnings.
There’s been a lot of sympathy from people. But it’s not as though I’ve been extremely ill before the op. What I had was a painful and quite common deformity of the foot and the nearest I came to feeling ill over it, apart from daily pain when walking, was with the nausea induced by simply looking at the thing.
They reckon more than 50% of women will get a bunion. They don’t all become painful. I would say never have the surgery unless the bunion is causing pain and you want to be free of that pain for the rest of your life. That was my motivation here. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
So, an update:
Pain: The pain has become more bearable during the day, though don’t do what I did and accidentally put the front of the foot down at this stage. The resulting scream was enough to make Audrey next door leap towards her panic alarm. Depending on how much walking around I’ve done, night-time pain can vary – between electric-shock twinges anywhere over the foot/toes to the entire foot feeling like it’s being held tightly in a vice.
I have reduced the dosages of, and distances between, medications. Pain is definitely reduced the less I have to move around. So I’m following the instructions of Mr. Fabulous and mostly staying put.
The nurse at Care UK said I could try exercising (just twitching and semi-curling) the toes. Currently, I try twitching the toes a few times in the day. This hurts, especially twitching the big toe upwards, and the pain can take a few minutes to settle. I showed the OH when I was doing it and, what with the bandages still protecting it, he said he’d never have known I was exercising.
Sleep: It’s improved. Put it this way, I’m getting some now. But it tends to be: fall asleep eventually at 2 or 3 a.m. Wake at 5 or 6 a.m. Go back to sleep or get up. Improved pain relief and more bearable pain, as well as wisely staying put with leg up for most of the day, seem to have helped here.
Still sleeping with foot up on pillow-stack. I need to check when I can stop doing that. I keep the bandage on for protection from my own night-time and day-time fidgeting though the sticky dressing can come off on day 25, this Friday. OH continues to sleep fitfully, next door. No idiot, him. Radio and Twitter continue to be vital – for those lonely, pain-jag hours. Fortunately, these are lessening, believe me.
HQ: During the week, this remains the bedroom. Cabin fever’s set in and I’m still jealous of old ladies, kids on horses, or indeed anyone at all, hurtling past the house. Luckily, our bedroom is currently at the back and all I can see from the bed are rooftops and the woods beyond.
OH still sets off to work, first ensuring I have both a giant mug and flask of coffee. If I go downstairs, I find I’m up and down more often and that can lead to agony at night. At weekends, when OH is around, then I am enticed downstairs where I have a whole bank of side-tables forming a kind of office around me and holding all the things that are otherwise on or near the bed. But, for someone who’s used to being able to dash in and out and have amazing freedom, my God it’s deadly dull. After a bit the walls do appear to close in and a visit from a friend, nay the window cleaners, the meter-reader (anyone with a real face) gives an electric thrill to the system. Someone to talk with! A face that isn’t mine, OH’s, the cat’s or dog’s. If I couldn’t read or write, I think I would go utterly insane at this juncture.
There have been a few visitors but nothing much could induce me into going out. I only have to think of my miserable outing to the hospital and the resultant pain to rethink any desire on that front. A friend said, when he was crutch-reliant, it was terrifying how many people on the street walked straight into him. As though they had crutch-blindness. Mell asked me on the previous post if it would be wise to go to a wedding seven days after surgery. No, was the short and snappy, gritted-teeth answer to that. And certainly not if you plan to display your quickstep skills with a smile.
Walking: Improves all the time. There’s no immediate rush for me, which is just as well. Still, I’ve become quite the single-crutch-manoevre expert, although the extra support afforded by using the two is always noticeable. Crutches, by the way, have various alternate uses. They can also be used like giant chopsticks to retrieve things like my pyjamas from the floor; to poke the OH; to push a door closed; to draw back the curtains; and to make the dog budge up on the bed. I think I’ll keep them! I would imagine in the days before remote control, people would use their crutches or walking sticks to poke the buttons on the telly.
Stairs: This takes practice. All I’ve had to learn is it’s a bit like being Jake the Peg – deedle, eedle, eedle, umm. Thanks to the last elderly owner of this house, we have a handrail on each side. So I use one crutch on stairs and hold it on the side of the poorly foot. It goes like this. Downstairs: crutch leads (on next stair down), poorly foot, good foot. That’s the bit where, as you watch it, it’s just like that tv clip of Rolf Harris. Upstairs: Good foot, poorly foot (assisted by crutch still on stair below), then crutch. Doddle. It helps to have a long-handled basket or a rucksack if I’m on my own and wanting to take things up or downstairs, like halfway through a weekday and I need to go down and make a new flask. By the time I’ve done all that, we are back to intense foot pain again. So you can see what I mean about weddings.
Bath: Until the sticky dressing’s off in a few days, I was told I could bath/shower but couldn’t get the foot wet. We don’t have a shower till we win the lottery and renovate the house, so the bath is my only choice. If the (waterproof) dressing was only over a very small area, it would probably be all right to immerse completely. However, my dressing stretches over the first two toes, thereby leaving a gap for water to invade. I’m staying on the safe side, me, and not tempting fate until all dressings are off.
Strip washes continue, therefore, although I was enabled to bathe by OH who helpfully held my bad leg up as I sat on the edge, swivelled and lowered myself, one-legged into the water. I was then free to rest the crap foot on the edge of the bath. Not ideal but it was a blissful Badedas bath nonetheless.
Clothing: Dressing results in pain if I try to do it standing up. Best bet, I find, is to sit on the edge of the bed and, whatever my fashion desire of the moment, make sure whatever clothes I choose are loose enough to pull over the foot without shooting through the ceiling. Jeans are out for the moment and because I’ve mainly been at home, it’s tended to be those loose-bottomed jogging pants, pyjamas and loose shorts. For hospital appointments/dressing changes, I’ve worn a longish, loose skirt.
Bedside Table: Anyone having a bunion operation should ideally have a vast bedside table, or buy one in preparation. Both around my bed and on the bedside table, I have:
- Flask and Mug
- Books – Including TBR pile, The Little Book of Calm (which I meant to read but never had the patience) and Bunion Monthly. No, I jest, but there is Writers’ Forum right now.
- Notebooks and Pens
- Sweeteners, An Apple (in case of emergency hunger), Monster Munch Pickled Onion Flavour (ditto) and Entire Range of Different Boiled Sweets
- Tiny Radio (for lonely, sleepless nights) and Earphones
- Phone (vital to invite people over – and vital to talk to them when they can’t come over)
- Tissues and Micropore Tape
- Cigarettes, Lighters And Ash Tray
- Water Bottle
- Oh, And Bedside Lamp Just About Fits On Table (is in fact swamped to the point of dimness by the other things crowding it)
- The Laptop Wont Fit On Table So It’s Either On The Bed Or Near Me On The Downstairs Sofa (My Evening and Weekend HQ)
- Beryl The Cat and Harry The Dog – a permanent daytime fixture on the bed
One more thing. That maligned, derided, poor public image for the humble bunion is still playing on my mind. Did you know that, in the United States, there’s a National Foot Health Awareness Month? No, me neither. And that starts when? On April Fool’s Day. The image of the foot and bunion as hilarious jokes must be redressed.
There’s certainly a month or day for most people, places and things now. There’s a day for every other kind of awareness but where is Bunion Awareness Day? You’d soon know if you’d been unaware of someone’s painful bunion. There would be the slight giveaway clue of an agonised, blood-curdling scream and a swift slap round the chops, if you so much as nudged your foot against it. Particularly if you were on your way to a National Hobnail Boot Day convention.
Next week, I hope to be dressing-free. Then it’ll only be two weeks before my 6-week check-up, when I can once more arrive drenched in my most alluring scent, and come over all faint in the presence of Mr. Fabulous. And when OH will no doubt very swiftly escort me from the mighty surgeon’s office, the second the man’s closed my file. Hmmph.
Stage Five coming soon.