Foot? What Foot? I’m Starring In Misery, Here!
If you’ve been following my adventures with bunion surgery to this point, you deserve a Dedicated Reader Award. It’s all been somewhat ewww and gross, even for me and I’m writing this thing. God knows I do want to write about other things now but I’ve had some amazing feedback and felt I ought at least cover the first six weeks. I will leave the next post until after I’ve fallen at someone else’s feet, those of Mr. Fabulous, my dream leading man.
For now, it’s good to be able to tell you, and I realise I must appear wholly ungrateful sometimes, that my poorly foot seems to be turning a corner. Although I try not to turn corners too often, only very stiffly in my clumpy boot, for fear of wrecking the, uhm, masterly work of Mr. Fabulous, that real-life fantasy surgeon. Still, what’s been referred to as my bad foot is becoming a good foot.
Pain/Meds – Sleep – HQ – Walking – Stairs – Bath – Clothing – Bedside Table
Pain/Meds and Sleep: The great news is that the pain has eased. And I see, from other blogs mentioned in The Bunion Bugle: Stage Two, it’s a common experience for the bunion surgery patient. I have been too scared of dislodging the screws and staple, or re-breaking the bones not to do things by the letter and so I’ve kept my foot elevated for a good 90% of the time. Now… I’m sure this has helped.
I did as I was told and removed the last sticky dressing and the last steri-strips on Friday, four days back. It didn’t hurt to take them off and, apart from very dry skin, it all looked better than I’d expected. The still swollen toes have been described by a friend as looking ‘not so much the toes of a woman but of a hod-carrier’. Hmm. All I’ve done since then is leave the foot mostly free of covering, apart from wrapping the bandage round to protect it when wearing the awful Darco shoe/boot/fashion-nightmare.
There is still a feeling of the foot being clamped; a tightness over the skin, particularly on and around the two scars; a tingling through the toes and sole and a stiffness that means the toes can scarcely move apart from when I perform a few occasional twitching exercises, barely visible to the naked eye. This takes much effort (yes and brings a temporary return of sharp pain) for very little result. At the moment. And there is still pain and discomfort on standing or walking for more than a couple of minutes.
Yet I’m no longer in pain most of the time; some discomfort, yes, some tingling and slight electrical jolts but downright pain, no. Barring careless accidents, see below. And this meant I could change my medication routine, so I’m now only taking it as necessary. Mainly at night and in the mornings and, then, only 1 Tramadol if I can.
In the last week and just after the last post, I nearly leapt through the ceiling having stood on the ball of my foot when tired and not thinking. So that time, and another, I resorted to stronger meds and doses. I’m learning my limits therefore but am generally delighted to be in far less pain and discomfort.
As a result all the other things are a little easier, too. Unless I walk too much during the day. And I never know how much is too much until I’m grabbing desperately at the painkillers to deal with the resulting payback later in the evening or night. Apart from one sleepless night and a couple of broken nights, I’ve slept through for at least 6 hours this week.
All The Other Things: Without wincing and labour-breathing all day, the peripherals are easier. Upstairs, I only use one crutch for walking. We’ve been for a couple of test
runs walks, only about 50 metres away from the house and back, with two crutches each time, but it’s progress. Afterwards, my foot has throbbed but, as you’ll see from the section on cabin fever, I’m going to go crazy if I don’t get out more.
HQ:I’m beginning to base myself downstairs more and more (partly for the change of view and dubious tv entertainment), although it’s still simply easier to have the bedroom as a base during the day when my OH is at work. On the sofa, I’ve become expert at typing on a listing laptop with one leg raised up on a pouffe and cushions. But the laptop-on-pillows-on-bed option is easier; I merely suffer moderate back-hunch that way.
The stairs, baths and clothing: Most of this is familiar routine by now. I use one crutch on the stairs. I sit on the edge of the bath and kind of swing into it, only putting pressure on my good foot. Clothes: I’m still wearing mainly loose trousers or skirts, although, hurrah, I slid my bandaged foot through slimmish jeans and survived (but was careful not to pull toes upwards. Oww). I’m not always keeping the bandage on, however. It keeps coming off at night. For use with the Darco shoe, even though it’s not for much longer, I probably need to buy, or borrow from Paul, some unglam, loose, giant-sized socks.
Eating: Tv dinners are a must and someone to cook them an even greater must! My OH has done Trojan work in the kitchen, often cooking a hot meal, sometimes his legendary sandwiches. I’ve not always fancied much. But I know it would be a pain at the dining table. The foot would suffer if the leg was held vertically for more than a few minutes, especially dangling down from a chair.
My over-capacity bedside table now also holds Bio Oil and Aqueous Cream, which I’m gingerly applying over the feet and legs. These appear to be shedding like a snake. I have absolutely no idea why but I see from other sites that it’s par for the course at this stage. The scars themselves appear to be healing well and I’m applying the oil or cream to those, too. Gross information warning: the scars are also shedding bits and pieces and it’s not just skin.
It’s all too long before I see Mr. Fabulous, my gorgeous personal foot surgeon, on the 1st October. Until then, I guess I carry on doing what I’m doing. One thing’s for sure, I can’t wait to be rid of that loathsome, clumpy Darco boot. I tried to put a shoe on the other day. Not a hope. Foot and toes too swollen to be contained in the loosest shoe. I can see my Crocs coming in useful for a while, even in autumn.
Severe Cabin Fever – My Starring Role In Misery
I was tempted to write this as a separate post as but, as it links up with what’s going on right now, I thought I’d join the two. So! Onwards to some of the side-effects of bunion surgery and the convalescence period. There was a casual, throwaway reference to it in my last post.
Severe Cabin Fever (or Four Wall Frenzy/Desperation To Leave House/See Any Other Faces/Stir Craziness) has become my constant, griping companion. From my post on the bed (I swear I’ll have bedsores soon), I can see a few rooftops but there’s a fifteen-metre-wide gap between houses and the ultimate view is of Havering Country Park, where there’s a wooded hill. That’s all very pleasant. But inbetween the houses and before the woods, I can see the rear of a small local school and I used to think it sweet in September, seeing the children running about in the playground again. Now it’s utter torment.
Downstairs in the sitting room, I can see from my post on the sofa anyone passing the hedge bordering our front garden and because there are no high bushes or trees outside the next few front gardens, a fairly clear view quite a way up the road. I can note all the tremendous activity. Dog-walkers fairly clipping along, riders on horses and ponies clopping along, children going back and forth to school, cars whisking by, and elderly folk, smiling and laughing in the direction of my house (they are, aren’t they?) – going about with all the freedom in the world. And that’s what I want, I cry inwardly. Our little house, yep the one I usually love to pieces and wouldn’t live anywhere else, is losing its charm by the minute. I am clearly not in my right mind.
Seeing other people has helped, when they’ve been able to drop round. I was over the moon this morning when a window-cleaner appeared at the bedroom window. Nodding towards my foot, he said: ‘that looks nasty’ and we had a bit of conversation. I was appalled I couldn’t get to the door in time when the Jehovah’s Witnesses called round last Thursday. By the time I’d opened the front door, they were over the road and five houses up. Gutted. Family and friends have been over and I’ve latched on to their news like I’ve been in solitary for months.
But one thing they don’t tell you when they’re blithely instructing you to ‘just elevate the foot for six weeks and take these drugs’ is how your relationship can suffer during this time. Cabin fever since week three has meant that we’re performing in our very own, twisted version of the film ‘Misery’.
See, I’m cast as Paul Sheldon (James Caan), the writer trapped in bed to recover and forced to write blog posts (ha) but I’m near-psycho, irascible, ungrateful and bad-tempered, more like Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). A couple of nights back, I snapped at Paul, my OH, accusing him of ‘never taking me for a ride in the car’. As though I’d asked! As though he knew! Like some psychic, domestic Dynamo. That’s how the trial walks idea was mooted.
Paul stars as nursemaid (and incidental husband and cook) but, unlike Annie Wilkes, has been endlessly caring, amusing, tolerant and patient. Whilst dealing with me, the impatient patient. But, if he takes much more of my moaning about pain, whingeing about discomfort, rambling about the philosophy of pain relief, as well as the cabin fever crabbishness (‘It’s all right for you/them/him/her! Some of us can walk/drive/jog/crouch/ride a horse! And some of us can’t!’) I fear he’ll transmogrify into psycho nurse Annie, fetch the giant mallet and smash it at my foot.
The whole scenario appears to be the effect of this almost constant incarceration (even if deliberate and for a very good, healing cause) when I’m used to being able to come and go as I wish – something I no doubt previously took for granted. And I fell for the offer of a starring role in my own little drama, Misery, Essex style. The part wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. But it doesn’t have to be like that. I don’t have to stay in the part. I’m
walking hobbling away from the set. On crutches, and slowly, or not.
The London Paralympics have just finished and, were I the slightest bit athletically inclined, I know this period of cabin fever (much of it spent watching the Paralympics) would have inspired me to be the best athlete I possibly could. Once I regained the use of my body again and the freedom to go wherever I liked, I’d want to train it for greater things. But I realise that many of those Paralympians have suffered for a long time, some for most of their lives, with far worse challenges than relatively small-fry bunion surgery. There wasn’t even a category of Bunion Surgery Survivors. Those athletes had overcome and achieved so much, it was humbling.
I will commit to this. That when I can sit comfortably at my desk again, I won’t take it for granted. I love working at my desk, which overlooks the rear garden and the woods where I will soon walk again with Harry the dog.
Right now it would be impossible (or at best ungainly) to work at the desk with my leg up. But leg-up time will march on and be over, hopefully in the next two weeks. I need to look beyond crabby cabin frenzy and to the projected result of all this. The ability to spend the rest of my life untroubled by pain when walking more than fifty metres. What a gift.
When I go back to using my desk, I’m going to work my butt off to finish the book I’m writing. And then to edit it, and redraft it, as best I can. I’ll be thankful that I can sit happily at my desk in order to do that.
And I’ll be thankful that at least I’ve got two feet and a mostly healthy body. And thankful that I can, or soon will be able to, use them. Thankful also that I still have a wonderful husband, family, friends, Mr. Fabulous and medical staff, even though I have bored for England on the subject of bunions! I’m thankful for all of them. And there’s gratitude for you.