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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 .
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