My bunion story - so far so good

Posted , 4 users are following.

Dear bunion-free ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to share my story that have many similariites with, but also some differences from the stories told here before.

Bunions were in our family history, and I got big ones since I was a child, and I'm 58 now. They were slowly growing, until it became practically impossible to find any shoes that would fit. First I tried to have an operation in Ottawa where I lived before, around 2005, but there were only two surgeons there doing those operations there, and the one with a good reputation retired, so I postponed it. A few years after moving to Canberra I got a referral letter from my GP, and after the initial appointment with Dr. Gavel Kulisiewicz, an orthopaedic surgeon, I got on his waiting waiting list for an operation for bilateral bunion removal to be covered by Medicare. About two years later, at the beginning of December 2015, I got a letter that the operation is scheduled for 16 December. By the time of the operation I knew nothing about this kind of surgery, recovery etc., and even did not know about the existence of this website. After the op, it was a steep and interesting learning curve.

The operation was done under general anesthesia, and took about two hours. I woke up in the day surgery recovery ward, feeling quite well (no post-anesthesia hangover, and no pain) and saw that by both feet were bandaged and but into post-op shoes (Darco orthowedge, as I found later). There also was a metal pin sticking out of my second toe (later I learned that it is called K-wire) and plastic devices (called Pain Busters) attached to both ankles. I was moved to the regular surgical ward and was kept there for two days, with usual periodic monitoring and intravenous antibiotic injections (a standard preventive post-op measure apparently, since I did not have infection). On the second day a hospital physiotherapist taught me to walk in the post-op shoes (including stair climbing) using crutches, and pronounced me ready to go home. A nurse taught me how to do Clexane injections into the subcutaneous fat tissue. It was a bit scary the first time, but actually feels like a mosquito bite, and is really easy to do. I've been doing these injections to myself for the following two weeks.

After the second night in the hospital, the nurse removed the pain buster pumps, and I was given discharge papers from which I finally learned what kind of surgery was done: Chevron and Akin osteotomy using MICA technique on both feet (with three screws in each foot), and second toe fusion with 1.6 mm K-wire. Then my wife drove me home.

Since then, it was gradual, almost painless recovery. I walked a bit in the house every day, including going up and down the staits, using one crutch for the first 4-5 days, then just walking slowly. I didn't need to take strong painkillers that I got at discharge, and was only taking paracetomol once a day before going to sleep. In the last two weeks, I'm not taking any medications at all. We've put together an improvised office setup on the sofa where I can sit either with feet down or with feet elevated, and use a laptop in either position. It proved to be really handy.

The first post-op appointment was at 2 week point. A nurse at the hospital removed the op dressings and the stitches (four small separate stitches in each foot), and put new dressings and light bandages. Since week 3, I removed the bandages and wear socks instead, the right one with the front part cut off to prevent catching the K-wire. Now at 4 weeks I still walk (and sleep) in post-op shoes, and take them off for a couple of hours during the day.

And here is another side of the story. In the discharge papers, it was said that my second appointment should be around six weeks after operation. However, when I got the appointment letter in the mail, it stated 23 February, i.e. 10 weeks! From what I learned here, the K-wire is not supposed to stay in for so long time. I called hospital and explained the dilemma - they said that my doctor is away until 23 February, so they gave me an earlier appointment (on 1 February) to remove K-wire and do X-rays to check how bones are fusing. Then the final check-up with my doc will be on 23 February.

Here is my story so far. I'll keep you posted about the progress biggrin.

Cheers,

Yuri

2 likes, 8 replies

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Lovely to hear from you Yuri - yes please do keep us all posted re: your recovery.
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    • Posted

      Thanks Pam. It is great to have this place to share our experience. Sorry I lost track of your progress: did you have your operation done, or still in the preparation stage?
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    • Posted

      Hi Yuri - Sorry I've been away and have just seen your post.    No I hav'nt done anything about my bunion yet.     I just keep reading about people's experiences and waiting, hoping one day there will be an opportunity for me to have it done by a magic simple keyhole surgery operation with a very quick recovery.    lol        

       

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  • Posted

    Great to hear your story Yuri - glad the recovery is going well. It's crazy that our ops were just 1 day apart. I think our procedures were slightly different as they didn't touch my 2nd toes, the wire doesn't sound like fun.

    The post-op care over there is crazily different to here in the UK. I was under general for 2 hours and home 6 hours later! No Physio advice apart from a letter on discharge that told me to walk for 5 mins every hour. I also had to inject Clexane but only for 5 days, they recommended lower leg massages which helped the circulation.

    I'm seeing my consultant on the 19th Jan, and have had 2 phone calls from him to see how I am. Glad you managed to get an earlier appointment,

    4 weeks and 2 days on I'm back at work, I just keep my feet elevated when I can. The only downside is that I'm a little disheartened by the fact that my left foot isn't as straight as my right - and I've convinced myslef that it looks no different from before. 

    Keep us updated on your recovery.

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    • Posted

      Good to hear from you Elle. I guess there are quite a few people around the world who have their operations on these days - they are just not on this forum.

      So your consultant contacted you twice already. This is another interesting difference in our experience. I've only seen my doctor twice: at the initial appointment (although the detailed examination was done by his asociate), and very briefly on the second day in hospital. All the work except the operation itself was done by his team, trainees, and nurses. Perhaps this is natural to this specialty, as he is an orthopaedic surgeon and does hip replacements and knee cartridge replacements along with foot surgery. I asked him how many operations he does, and he said he did two on that day. So I guess we cannot expect much post-op personal attention from a surgeon to whom operations are the main duty. I don't mind, as long as the operations are good, and there are other doctors and nurses who can take care of the other stages.

      You are lucky to be back to work so early. I cannot put on lab shoes until the K-wire is removed, and all other work outside of the lab I can do as easily from home (have remore access to uni library, cloud service for file exchange, and all my work stuff on a laptop). So I'll stay home until the next appointment on 1 Feb., and try to use this time well biggrin.

      I guess there is no need to be disheartened about having the feet perfectly straight this early. I've seen the photos in your thread, and it looks like the operation was very efficient. And your left bunion was a bit bigger than the right one to begin with. I see similar difference in my feet: the correction is partial, and the right foot that had a bigger bunion is less straight. But we'll know the real result only in a year or so.

      Cheers, and have a good recovery.

      Yuri

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  • Posted

    Hi yuriA

    Found your post very interesting as sounded very similiar to my

    surgery but I only had my right foot done. I had my surgery on the 16th June  and I am happy with the way my foot now looks.  I had very little pain so you think I should be happy with results but after 7 months I still cant get into a decent shoe as my foot is so swollen and my toes feel constantly like they are between frozen and having pins and needles all the time. I asked my surgeon if I should have some physo but he didnt

    think it necessary but I have decided that I need to get the toes moving so I am going to start physo next week so hopefully that will help.  I havent been able to do a lot of walking because of the shoe situation so that is frustrating.  My doctor said the swelling could take 6/12 months to go down - half way there so hope  things will improve soon.

    The one good thing I take from this site it that everyone is different and its interesting how everyone is coping but I try only to take the positive posts on board. 

    Good luck with your recovery will be interested to see if you have problems with swelling.

    Good luck.

     

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    • Posted

      Hi Sandra,

      It is good to see a perspective of a person who is half a year ahead on the way to complete recovery. I haven't tried to put on shoes of any kind (other than the post-op shoe), because I still don't have doctor's OK to do this (it is one month since the op today, still fairly early), and also because of the K-wire. Let's see what happens after the 7-week appointment. I really look forward to resuming my daily walking routire, even if at reduced scale.

      Now, just before submitting the reply, I tried (just out of curiosity) putting on an old, and fairly wide, shoe on my pin-free foot, and it did not fit. And a sandal that I thought to be infinitely adjustable did not fit either. Apparently the swelling is more extensive than I thought. Soon I'll have to think what to do about footwear. This can be tricky, because my feet are large and wide irrespective of bunions and swelling... Need a creative solution confused.

      Cheers,

      Yuri

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  • Posted

    Hello to all bunion-free people,

    Here is an update to my story. Last week (at 6.5 weeks after the op) I had an appointment at the hospital Fracture Clinic for the second check-up. My surgeon is away, so I was checked by another doctor. X-ray confirmed that the bones have fused, and the doctor decided that it is OK to leave the wedge shoes behind, and to remove the K-wire from my second toe. Removing the K-wire was a fun part. A nurse who was doing it was at the same time instructing another nurse how to do the procedure, and I video taped (with their permission biggrin the whole process complete with instructions and explanations. The most difficult part (for the nurses, not for me biggrin was un-screwing the protective ball, then the wire was pulled out straight with the pliers. It took about one second, and was completely painless. The small hole in the skin took a couple of days to heal, and then I could finally take a shower properly, making all my feet wet.

    Walking without protection of wedge shoes was a bit scary at first, but the habit of walking normally returned quickly. The biggest problem so far, which I haven't solved yet, is finding a footwear that fits my feet, which are big (size 13.5-14 Aus/UK) and wide, and still swollen. I found a pair or two among my old shoes and sandals that fit but only just. Wearing these causes my feet swell more and feel tired. I find walking barefoot much easier, but unfortunately this is not always practical biggrin

    Starting this week, I'm returning to work part-time. On my first day at work, two days ago, I got a taste of "doing too much, too early". I had to walk about 2 km on that day in a relatively warm weather (+32 C), and in the evening the feet were swollen quite a bit more than usual, and tired. Fortunately, everything felt back to normal by the next day. I also found that I walk at half my usual speed - 3 km/h rather than 6, but this is not unexpected.

    The best of luck to you all. I'll keep you posted about the progress.

    Cheers,

    Yuri

    I found 

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