How to prepare for bunion foot surgery and what to expect
I got mixed reviews when I discussed getting a bunion corrected with my peeps. It was going to be so painful, they said. Truth be told, I did not take any of the pain meds after the first day. It is worth it, and I will be getting the other foot corrected in a year or so.
Here is my play by play on how it went:
The Day Before
It's a great idea to prepare the day before. Set up your sit station with all your fun things to do. For me, that includes a phone charger, tv remote, a knitting project; go for an easy one to start; you may not be in the mood to concentrate right away. My laptop and charger, because how else can I blog??
Prepare a pitcher of water set up with a glass on a placemat to avoid spills that may damage your furniture. I put a blanket down on my sofa, knowing I would want to be in the main living space and want to snack there. I placed three pillows on the couch, you will need to elevate your foot, and you may wish to a couple for behind your head and back. I threw a couple of blankets on the armrest's end to grab if I felt chilly.
The Big Day
Leaving for the clinic
In my case, it was required to have a drive down, and a pick up after. While the sedatives claim not to be potent, it is not recommended to drive after this surgery. I was stoned for at least a day and did not realize it.
I showered before getting dressed and washed my hair. I did apply moisturizer as I always do. I used coconut oil on my toes and feet before putting on my socks. I always do this to keep my feet from being dry. I wore loose-fitting clothing as suggested. You may not want to fiddle with getting your pants over your bandages after all is said and done. The operating room was pretty cold, so a snuggly blanket or sweater is good to have if you are permitted.
The first injection in the foot was the local anesthetic. That was the only pain I felt. Period. Dr. William Lee is amazing and fun, so the experience is animated. He plays music during the surgery. I enjoyed that part. I was also very happy from the drugs. Make no mistake, Dr.Lee is serious when the chips are down. I trust him with my feet. This is my second surgery under his care.
After the surgery, I was pretty relaxed. My surgery was done under local anesthetic, so I was aware the whole time, but the relaxants did the trick at keeping me nice and calm throughout the experience. Plenty of information is thrown at you upon your departure, so it's best to have an advocate with you. Often the list of instructions is written on a take-home sheet. This is very helpful.
You will need crutches at this point. If you have some, bring them with you to avoid a surcharge. The challenge is not to put your foot down. The doctor gave an extra nerve block at the end of the surgery, which means the pain does not become apparent until well into the next day.
Getting home is welcomed after a long day. It was late so I snuggle right into my "station" with all my things set up that I may need. Try to be close to a bathroom to avoid travelling around too much. When in doubt, I would just crawl over and crawl back. While I need the crutches, I am just as happy to crawl. The drugs given before and during surgery made sleep easy to come by. My first night was basically pain-free and groggy.
The pain was not intense yet. That good old nerve block was still lingering. I took a bath with one foot hanging out the side of the tub. I love a warm bath to calm any tense muscles from the stress. I also figured out that if I lie back in the tub, I can wash my hair. I was not permitted to wet the foot for two weeks.
Icing the foot is essential at the beginning. I placed the ice over the bandages to keep it cool. At no time should your toes be dark in colour. If that happens, your bandages are too tight. You need to loosen them asap and call your doctor. Do not wait.
Seven days later
Doctor follow-ups for me were at week 1, week 2, week 4 and week 6. I did not put the foot down for a while. Though there was not much pain at all, it was recommended that I do not place the foot down right away. No driving for one month as this was my driving foot. If not, two weeks is enough. Keep in mind your bones do not finish connecting for one month. Be very careful the first month. I purchased a trolley that I used around the house; this is fun but not worth it since I only needed it for a few weeks.
Keep the boot the doctor provides on all the time to protect your foot. Banging it will be worse. Trust me!!
One month later
Dr. Lee gave me the green light to drive after one month. At this point, your foot is still swollen, but the danger of messing it up was gone. It is a question of time before you get back to normal, but if you wear your boot cast, you can pretty much get back to living.
I started exercising lightly on a yoga mat at the two-week point. I started getting back to walking at the one-month mark.
Some things to remember:
You will not be able to put your shoe on for a few months. I purchased a zip-up pair at Walmart in a size bigger than I normally take. As the swelling goes down, you can try your various shoes. As I write this, I am at the ten-week mark. I can wear a few pairs but not all my shoes fit. The foot is still a little swollen. I can wear my running shoes.
One of the mistakes I made was wearing my new less structured shoes from Walmart too much. Those of us with foot issues often have "ugly" shoes that are great for miserable feet. The ugly orthopedic shoes are what you want when you get back into life. I wore Birkenstocks and Hoka runner prior to the surgery. Those are the shoes that make it possible to walk 40 mins twice a day ten weeks post-op.
Caring for your incision
Vitamin E is your new best friend. Apply this to the site as soon as you get cleared by the doctor to do so. Usually at the two-week mark when the stitches come out.
I was advised to massage the incision site to make sure the scar did not stick to the muscles. Please consult your doctor for him to show you how to do this carefully. I always massage the whole foot in coconut oil and or Vitamin E oil. It helps to diminish the appearance of the scar.
For the most part, there was little pain for me. I am back on my feet ten weeks later. I only run into pain if I wear shoes that are not designed for "special needs" feet. The pre-op shoes that helped you keep the pain at bay will help you now. My only mistake did not realize this for about two weeks, and I suffered from achy feet.