A couple of weeks ago, I had bunion surgery to remove the Tailor’s Bunion on my right foot. A Tailor’s Bunion is essentially a bunion on the small toe, rather than the big one. It’s generally caused by faulty foot design, rather than wearing shoes that don’t fit well. You can read more about everything that led up to my surgery in this post.
Today, I’m going to talk about what to expect in the operating room and beyond, as I continue my recovery.
I researched bunion surgery before going under the knife, and scoured the internet to find information. I watched YouTube videos of actual surgeries, and also read various blog posts and scholarly articles about this procedure.
Overall, I feel I was well-informed about what was going to happen to me and my foot. But there have still been some surprises since being released from the hospital. Today I want to share the things I’ve learned, in hopes of helping you with this type of surgery. I’ll add here that I am in no way a medical professional, and my case will certainly differ from yours. So I’m not offering you any kind of medical advice, but instead just sharing my story. Any specific medical questions should be directed to your carer.
But you knew that, right?
Before I was approved for surgery, I had to be checked out.
My foot surgeon wanted to make sure I am healthy enough to be given anesthesia. I wrote about an earlier scare here, where I ended up in the emergency room with chest pain. After that experience, I underwent a cardiac stress test. Thank goodness, everything has checked out fine with my heart.
After the stress test came out okay, they did blood work. Thankfully, those tests also came out fine.
Since I’ve had trouble with anesthesia before, they also asked me to meet with a representative of the Anesthesia Department, just to cover all of the bases. So about a week before my surgery, I met with a Nurse Practitioner from that department.
This kind woman reviewed my medical history, as well as the results of all the cardiac and blood tests I’d had. She asked about my prior surgeries over the course of my lifetime, and explained that because of my difficulties with general anesthesia (I’m hard to wake up), they’d be using a nerve block, instead.
The night before my surgery, I had to bathe with a special soap.
My nurse practitioner gave me a bottle of special anti-bacterial soap. She asked me to bathe using half the bottle the night before my surgery. She also said to avoid my face and personal parts, as the soap is very harsh, and designed to kill any possible source of infection. The night before surgery I also had to stop all food and drink at midnight. This ensured my stomach would be empty, in case I became nauseous during surgery.
The morning of the surgery, I bathed again, using the rest of the special soap. I wasn’t allowed to wear any makeup or jewelry, and was told to wear comfortable clothing. Wisely, I wore a dress. I wasn’t sure my foot would fit into any trouser bottoms with all of its bandages, so the dress just slipped over my head.
This is the part of the story where I start forgetting things, because of the medicines I was given.
I don’t remember signing into the hospital, but I do remember being prepared for surgery. Specifically, I remember a man and a woman doing my nerve block, but that’s about it.
The nerve block was somewhat similar to the Epidural I’d had when giving birth, except this needle went into my leg, not my back. The needle entered in about an inch below my knee, but on the right side.
Then–I woke up.
After awakening, I remember being in bed. My loved ones were beside me, and my foot surgeon was checking on me. I remember speaking, but making no sense. They discharged me that day, and I was given some crutches to help navigate at home. I’m incredibly clumsy though, and there are no photos of my failures with them, thank goodness.
Once I was home, pain management became my top priority.
Bunion surgery is a big deal, Friends. Skin and muscle gets cut through, bones are broken, other bones are shaved down with a saw, and then the whole mess is screwed back together with metal plates and stitches.
It’s not for the faint of heart, to be honest.
I was on both Morphine and Oxycodone for the first week or so, as well as something to prevent me from being nauseous. My big advice about this phase of your recovery is this: stay on top of your pain. I felt pain, yes–but it didn’t do me in, because I was pro-active with my pain relief.
Many times, people think that medicine is there to relieve pain. In many cases, yes–it is. In this type of surgery however, your medicine is there to help prevent pain in the first place. Once you start seriously feeling the pain, it’s very hard to knock it back down.
My advice is follow your doctor’s orders with the pain medicine. Take it on time, and be sure to drink lots of water with it, because these medicines will constipate you.
I’m also taking aspirin twice a day, and getting up and walking around at least once per hour. This is to prevent blood clots from forming,
I had the most amazing sleep for about a week after my surgery.
In addition to the nerve block, I was given Propofol. This medicine put me in a sleep state during the procedure, but with fewer risks and complications than general anesthesia. In the week after my surgery, I had the most beautiful, complex dreams, which is unusual. Some patients react the opposite way after receiving this medicine, and experience poor sleep. I guess I was one of the lucky ones.
Resting and elevating my foot has been key after my Tailor’s bunion surgery.
Before surgery, I purchased a group of extremely comfortable knee-length night gowns. I also purchased a bed tray, in order to have a place for my water, lap top and lip balm. A large pile of pillows is never far, and I’ve kept my foot carefully elevated, as instructed, to help reduce swelling.
When I need to get up for the restroom, I initially used crutches, despite how bad I was with them. Over time, I was able to bear weight on my heel, and now I’m allowed to bear full weight on my foot. I still wear my surgical boot constantly, even when I sleep at night.
Earlier this week, I had the stitches taken out.
My doctor was slightly disappointed in how swollen my foot still is at my first follow up visit, and has requested further rest and elevation. I’m working very hard at following those instructions, because I don’t want to go back under the knife to correct anything that didn’t heal correctly.
What have been the worst parts of this surgery so far?
I’m normally a shower person, so having to take baths was a bit of a change. Getting out of the tub without putting any weight on my right foot was a bit of a trick at first, but I’ve figured it out. (It’s important not to put too much water in the tub, because it will certainly splash all over the room as you awkwardly pull yourself out).
You’re not allowed to get the stitches, or even incision, wet for quite some time after the surgery. If you’re going to have bunion surgery I would advise to get a good scrubbie, bath gel and an all-in-one shampoo, just to make things easy on yourself.
Second, the lack of movement has been hard on me, because I’m normally pretty active. Needing to keep off of my foot, plus keeping it elevated higher than my head with pillows when I’m resting, hasn’t been all that fun, to be honest.
Surprisingly, that’s been the hardest part for me–the loneliness.
The rest of the world, and my loved ones within it, are keeping up with their normal routines, as they should.
I’ve been housebound, which has had its low points. Many of my girlfriends have been great, taking me on brief excursions to get out of the house. I’m very grateful for their company.
The next step in my recovery is going back to the foot surgeon in several weeks for X-rays, to see how everything has healed.
What about you? Have you had this kind of surgery before? Is it in your future?
Please let me know if you have any questions about this procedure, or want to share your own bunion surgery experience with others.
I welcome your feedback!
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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.
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