The Bunion Bugle: Stage Four

Cabin Fever, The Essential Bedside Table And When’s Bunion Awareness Day?

Beryl Cat & Harry Dog – My Bed-Mates

Day 21

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.

Day 20

Day 20 – Time For A Sticky-Dressing-Change And A Look At The Gore – Stitches Out, Only Steri-Strips Left

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.

Going down, Jake!

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
  • Medication
  • 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.

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About Tessa Tangent

I write and I often go off at tangents. Tessa Tangent's my nickname and, at home, I'm called Tessa more than I am my real name, Heather. In the 90s, I had short stories published in magazines like Ludus and For Women. I also won a cherished second prize in a BBC travel writing competition, was the writer of a newsletter for a dry ski slope and had a newspaper article about the slope published. At the same time, I wrote half a first draft of a novel then, for reasons I may reveal, I stopped writing. After a long fallow period, I am writing again - and not a moment too soon...
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8 Responses to The Bunion Bugle: Stage Four

  1. jackieat60 says:

    You poor thing, I do understand the pain, the isolation and the frustration when you are in that kind of situation. I can remember feeling of excitement at being able to lay back and read all day – that feeling lasted a very short time, other things like pain got in the way! As you are behaving yourself your timetable should go according to plan, and I bet you just cannot wait x

    • Very Tessa Tangent says:

      Thanks for commenting, Jackie. It can be frustrating but I’m glad I live in the days of laptops and social networks! In truth, I’ve barely touched the reading pile. Hey ho. I’m trying to figure out a way of taking a photo of my Fabulous surgeon (Janos Fabula, Orthopaedic Surgeon) when I next see him. That will make it *all* worthwhile 🙂 x

  2. Mell says:

    Great update – have spoken to nurse and she says it’s only “minor surgery”!!! I recounted the horror YouTube clips I’d watched yesterday and she said to ignore them!! Therefore still undecided about wedding ordeal and will make up mind the day before!!! Glad to hear you’re on the mend. 🙂 Normal shoes will be a calling you soon!!

    • Very Tessa Tangent says:

      Ah, thanks for commenting, Mell, and I’m glad you liked the update. I can only tell it as it is from my perspective so, of course, I am dealing with both the bunion op as well as toe op, 3 screws and a staple. Now, you may have something lesser or greater than that. I had Scarf, Akin & Weils osteotomies. Not sure if you know what they’re doing. And it depends how you react to the pain/shoe/crutches etc afterwards.

      I’ve heard of people actually going in to work (desk job) at a week afterwards. But later writing that they regretted that. Some I’ve read about weren’t ‘normal’ till around a year. My own surgeon says I won’t be anywhere near back to normal, in flat shoes, before 3/4 months. I’d love to prove him wrong, however! 🙂

      As so often in life, the answer is “It depends”. I couldn’t have done it on Day 7 with my op but that’s not to say you wouldn’t manage fine! Oh, and I couldn’t take those videos, never watched more than about ten seconds. They are very scary. The best info for me was some of the foot clinic sites and the few personal bunion blogs out there.

  3. Ouch, ouch and more ouch! You must have been in incredible pain to have had this kind of surgery! I, too, am a bunion sufferer. My doc once offered me the option of surgery, but said it is the most painful thing anyone could do to themselves. So long as I wear flat shoes, I don’t suffer nearly enough for that – anyway, I’m a big pain wimp. I wish you rapid healing and relief from pain 🙂

    • Very Tessa Tangent says:

      Thanks for those comments, Alarna! It is inconvenient having a bunion, especially when on the search for decent, modern, fitted and non-hearty-looking shoes (for going out, for example). But I just bought them very soft or low cut or both and only wore high heels for special occasions in the end. I honestly wouldn’t recommend anyone to have surgery unless they hurt very much each time they walk. Your doctor is right, I think. It’s certainly one of the most painful things I’ve been through. Anyway, the relief is coming! Thank you 🙂

  4. Mary says:

    Just had bunion surgery end of October (19 days ago). Loved reading your blog! Can so relate to everything! How are you doing now? Thanks, Mary

    • Very Tessa Tangent says:

      Thanks for checking in, Mary, and I hope your foot is recovering well. I’ve not been too well so please forgive the delay in replying. The delightful Mr. Fabulous has twice mentioned the figure of 3-4 months to expect near-normality and that’s how it’s panning out. 4 months will be 13 Dec. My toes are now touching the floor as I walk, although the ball of the foot still feels slightly padded! The scar is fading a bit. I’m still using Ugg boots or Crocs as footwear but I can see a time nearing when I might be able to wear some pumps. Not sure about high heels. Ever! 🙂 😉 Let me know how you are getting on, where you had surgery and how you’re managing. I think the cabin fever was the worst thing, so I’d say get out and about whenever you can. Lovely to be in touch… x

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