Footloose and Bunion Free

No news is good news! It’s been a while since my last update but, since my one-year anniversary of my first foot surgery is coming up on February 12th, it’s time to share how my long-term healing has been going. I’m happy I had the surgeries, and never looked back. I must say, though, that the healing process takes a bit longer than anticipated.  I had extensive bunions removed on both feet along with most of the little toes shortened and realigned. Here’s where I’m at right now:

right foot bunion surgery = almost 12 months out; left foot bunion surgery = almost 11 months out

Daily Walking and working

  • I am a high school teacher, and on my feet the majority of the school day. My feet don’t fail me, and I’m still moving as much as pre-surgery!
  • Up until a couple of years ago, I would get comments from colleagues at work when I didn’t wear heels, because hardly a day went by at school when I didn’t have them on. I felt better in them. They were comfortable.  Now, I have a different story – colleagues comment when I do wear heels, “Ohhh, you’re in heels!! How do they feel?!” By the end of the day, they know the answer as I slowly hobble my way down the seemingly long hallway. In other words, I can still only wear heels for a short span.

Let me clarify – if this is the only lasting effect to my surgeries, I’m not complaining. I suppose heels are not that good to wear for any length of time anyway. I still miss them, though, and I’m not giving up!!  Like Billy Crystal’s old mantra on Saturday Night Live, “It is better to look good than to feel good!”, I will still don my heels when the occasion calls. My feet will be swollen the next day, but that’s the price of beauty. 🙂

  • Speaking of swelling, swelling still gets worse after working a full day.  Believe it or not, working out at the end of the day helps this. My feet are better supported in my gym shoes (which I usually only wear to work on Fridays), and the bending and stretching helps ease inflammation.
My toes and feet are straighter but still swollen since pre-surgery.

Near 12 months out on Right Foot; Near 11 months out on Left Foot

Working out

  • I am performing everything in the gym I have been before: weight training, running on treadmill, elliptical, stair-master, Pilates, and yoga! My bunion area gets sore after a few moments of running but not unbearably sore. My balance is not what it used to be nor do I have full mobility of extending on the tips of my toes. I’m hoping that continued toe work on the Pilates reformer will help this.

Overall Foot Health

  • My feet most certainly look better than they looked pre-surgery. The bunions are much improved! (see photo gallery on right)
  • My feet are still inflamed – not as much as they were, but they are not quite back down to my normal size. They are still disproportionate to the rest of me. I had very thin feet prior to surgery, and I know every little inflammation shows through on my body, but I’m looking forward to having my size feet again in the coming months.
  • I have no pain except for an ache under my left bunion, at the bottom,  near the ball of my foot. I think this may be a tendon near the sesamoid bone that still isn’t quite adjusted.  I purchased the items pictured below, that I use each morning before my morning stretches. These help!
  • All my toes look beautiful . . . except for the middle little toe is being stubborn and curling up a bit. I’m manually trying my best to crank it back and forth, per my doctor’s and pt’s instructions, along with Pilates work.

    Trigger Point Foot Roller & RAD Rounds Rollers (available on Amazon)

    Trigger Point Foot Roller & RAD Rounds Rollers (available on Amazon)

If you are contemplating bunion removal or any other foot surgery, don’t put it off. Rather, do your research like I did to find the very best possible podiatrist who will work with you for optimal results in the function and look of your feet. Your recovery may or may not be as extensive as mine , but every step of the way is worth it to improved quality of life. Our feet are important yet we take them for granted so often. Giving them the proper care and attention they deserve goes a long way.

Stepping Stone: 6 & 7 Months out of Bunion and Frontal Reconstructive Foot Surgery

This has been the longest lull yet between my posts. No news is good news!

My feet are recovering well. I’m gaining more nerve sensation. Swelling is up and down, depending on activity. More shoes are working their way into the wardrobe. I wear heels on a limited basis; at this point, they must have a platform in the front to aid my arches. I am free to perform any type of workout I wish, and my feet are most sore after running. Stretching with Pilates or yoga actually dissipates any soreness.

Here’s what my feet looked like when I woke up this morning. They have been less swollen than this in the morning. It is humid outside, and I think that might have something to do with it:

Morning of 9/8

Morning Feet

Check out how well the scars from my bunion removals are fading. Thank you, Dr. Sklar!

My arches are just about as they used to be, I just can’t point the toes as well – yet. I’m determined!

Here are the comfy shoes I wore to work today. I vary the work shoes:  knee-high gladiator sandals (to give the effect of high heels), medium-heeled sandals, more supportive shoes like these, and gym shoes on Fridays. Low heel boots feel fine right now as well. Yay!

IMG_2975

Not my usual type of shoe but completely fine for now.

Here’s what my feet look like after a day of working.  Keep in mind,  I’m on my feet from 6:45am through about 4:30pm in these shoes. I teach in a wonderful (big!) high school. Never one to sit still in or out of the classroom, my feet get a workout:

My feet still swell a bit after work. You can see the indents from the shoes.

My feet still swell a bit after work. You can see the indents from the shoes.

Speaking of workout, the gym is where I live 5 – 6 evenings a week. These are the Nike Pegasus shoes that my podiatrist recommends. I now have three pairs – very comfortable and supportive.

Workout Wear

Workout Wear

And yes, I am back in heels . . . just not all day, every day. For now, heels are for dates only 😉

These are comfortable for a couple of hours!

Shoes like these are comfortable for a couple of hours. BTW, ladies, I just got these on sale @ Nordies!

As my podiatrist, Dr. Keith Sklar of Foot First Podiatry (who I recommend to anyone needing foot care!), tells me – based the extensive work performed on my feet, I can expect swelling for a year to a year and a half out of surgery. I can most certainly live with that considering what my feet looked and felt like before. Have you seen my before pictures?! Geez, what we get used to!!

‘Til next time – take life one step at a time, Friends!!

Pinless and Painless

It’s been 11 days since I had the pins removed after my bunion surgeries (see PREVIOUS post).

What a difference!  First of all, my feet used to feel sore first thing in the morning after stepping out of bed. That morning stiffness is gone. Secondly, I have more flexibility. My toes bend back and forth more easily, making it easier for me to walk, stand on my toes and run. My friends and family say, all of a sudden,  I’m walking more like myself! Thirdly, most of the pain and stiffness is gone; consequently, more shoes are returning to my wardrobe.

My feet are now strong enough to anchor Pilates positions

My feet are now strong enough to anchor Pilates positions

When exercising, I’m able to perform walking lunges. I bring up walking lunges because it is one exercise that requires full range of motion in feet and calves. I’ve been using that movement as measurement of my foot flexibility. There is still a little stiffness but I can perform full lunges with more balance whereas I could only perform half lunges prior to pin removal.  Not bad for almost 6 months out of first and 5 months out of second surgery!

Having my podiatrist, Dr. Keith Sklar of Foot First Podiatry, take out all of the pins in both of my feet definitely helps my healing, taking away much of the discomfort that was there before.  Sure, I was a bit apprehensive about having another procedure on my feet but taking them out takes away the unduly pain and discomfort. I feel keeping them in could have caused me more problems later with scar tissue build-up as my feet are more naturally softer where the pins used to be. There is more literal spring to my step and I feel more balanced overall with posture and stance.

Pins and Needles

Yesterday, Dr. Sklar removed the pins from my left foot and right foot. I have extenuating circumstances with the positioning of my toes; so, having both feet done at the same time was the best option for me.

From these x-rays, one can see I had three pins in each of my big toes along with two pins within the small toes.  That’s 10 in all – it’s time to take them out!

Right foot - before & after xrays

Right foot – before & after xrays

While it’s not required to have these removed, mine were bothering me and many patients opt to have them removed about four – six months after surgery. I’m five months out with my right foot and four months out with my left so the timing is just right.

Left foot - before & after x-rays

Left foot – before & after x-rays

In addition to pin removal, Dr. Sklar pushed my small toes aggressively forward to help ensure they heal in proper position. (From previous POSTS, one can see that, along with my bunion removal, I had frontal reconstruction of nearly all my toes). Now, it’s my job to push them forward aggressively throughout the days ahead.

As with my surgeries, I’m very lucky that this procedure was performed within the Foot First office. I’m happy I don’t have to sit around a hospital waiting room, I can wear my own clothing for the procedure and it’s truly cleaner and healthier as I’m not exposed to germs one can be susceptible to at a hospital. Additionally unique to Foot First, when I go for a procedure, I feel confident with a team of personable, caring professionals ALL helping me:  Dr. Keith Sklar, Dr. Samantha Sklar, nurses Jordan, Blaine, and Anna – I give a shout out to each of them and everyone else at Foot First!

More updates soon on my road to perfect feet:  workouts are almost as they were before and more and more shoes are returning to my wardrobe. Thank you for reading . . . feel free to comment and share your experiences.

For more information on Dr. Keith Sklar, the Foot First team and the innovative Swiss Compression Technique for bunion removal at Foot First Podiatry, visit FootFirst.com

Bunion Guards

My friend and I went shopping yesterday and discovered an adorable new dance store, called Allegro, in downtown Barrington, IL.

While all of the gorgeous dance wear, shoes and accessories had me longing for my ballet days, I was quickly reminded of the precautions dancers must take once reaching pointe level.

I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat and while dancing en pointe in itself does not cause bunions, it is good to see there are products such as this one out there for dancers to guard their feet with:

Speaking of footwear, I recently cleaned out my closet of all those shoes that are either too high or too uncomfortable. I’ll continue to wear heels to show off my new feet- just not the extra crazy ones:

Some of the crazy, but cute heels I'm purging

Some of the crazy heels I’m opting to clear out

Yes, ladies you CAN wear heels again after bunion surgery. Like anything else in life, the key is moderation. I’m practicing with heels around the house. Now that I’m released to all exercise in moderation, my podiatrist actually told me practicing for a short time around the house is a good idea to gain back strength in my toes:

My BCBG platforms - I'm keeping these . . . they are surprisingly comfortable post-surgery

These are surprisingly okay for me, post-surgery.

Tip Toes and Tulips

Today marks the first official week off of teaching for the summer. I’m stepping into high gear with the rehabilitation process .  According to my physical therapist, who I saw this morning, I’ve come a long way, but I still have far to step.

Here’s where I’m at after 11 weeks since left foot surgery; 16.5 weeks since right foot surgery (for both feet: bunion removal AND toe-realignments – I had more procedures needed than usual due to extent of my bunion deformity)  

Overall status – almost 4 months out of foot surgeries:

  • One week ago, Dr. Keith Sklar gave me shots of cortisone in each foot. The shots definitely diminished swelling in both feet but the left foot is still somewhat swollen. Patience!
Happy Monday Feet

Happy Monday Feet

  • It is still difficult to crunch my toes forward and back as toe mobility is still limited, particularly on the left foot. I know this takes time, particularly with the amount of work I had done. At home physical therapy homework includes aggressive manual pushing of the toes back and forth, even at the edge of tables. I am trying to do as Dr. Sklar demonstrates in THIS older post. It’s summer -now I can kick into high gear!
  • When I step down on my left ‘bunion area,’ it feels as if there is a bump where the bunion used to be. My physical therapist explained the joint in that area is still swollen, causing the sensation of a bump. That makes sense. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be concentrating on placing weight all the way through the toes all the time. This should ease swelling and tenderness  . . . Suddenly, the lyrics “learning to walk again:” in the Foo Fighters song  “Walk” comes to mind. 🙂
  • The left bunion area is more sore when I do place complete weight on it. In fairness, it is five weeks behind the right AND the left foot’s recovery was additionally stalled for two weeks when a second set of stitches was placed in the front incision (see THIS previous post for explanation).
  • The only numb areas in both feet are my second and third toes along with the very tips of the big toes.

Exercise:
– I’m utilizing weight-bearing machines,  but still staying away from standing with free weights
– Today, my physical therapist suggested I place added focus on the sitting hip adductors, pushing the inner leg muscles in with the arches of the foot to strength those arches.
– I’m mixing 20 – 30 minute cardio with my weight training. Here’s what I did during this first past week of cardio. I came home with sore toes but not throbbing or pain:

1. Monday evening:  .5 run/walk on treadmill
2. Tuesday evening: .5 run/walk on treadmill
3. Thursday evening: 1 mile walk/run on treadmill
4. Saturday: 20 minutes of stair climbing
5. Sunday: 20 minutes of walking

My new souls will be walking here this summer :)

My new soles will be walking here this summer – my favorite nature sanctuary 🙂

Orthotics: Since my post-op last week, I’ve been wearing the orthotics as instructed (a little bit each day; increase by one hour each day) with my gym shoes. There is absolutely no discomfort with them. They make such a difference in comfort and feel PERFECT. I look forward to trying them with different shoes. Where have orthotics been all my life?!

Shoes: I’m mixing  my gym shoe wear with gradual low-heeled sandals. Here’s one of the shoes I recently purchased as I transition back to wearing what I want. They are the Birkenstock shoes Dr. Sklar recommended to me last week. I purchased them HERE:

My first pairs of Birkenstock - not ecstatic over the appearance but they are comfortable.

My first pair of Birkenstock – not ecstatic over the appearance but they are comfortable.

  FOOT NOTE: Our feet are the sole providers every moment of our lives. It’s amazing how we take them for granted – I know I did. Just look at how badly I let my feet get, to the point where I was no longer walking correctly. Focusing on seemingly minuscule yet profoundly significant portions of our lives helps keep us grounded and focused as we step toward achieving goals in other areas.

I’m off for a run . . . pushing all the way through the toes, one step at a time.

Running and Sandals!

Well . . . maybe not running with sandals but running and wearing sandals is what I will be doing beginning this week!!

I’m 10 weeks out from my left foot surgery and 15.5 weeks out from my right foot surgery.

I must say, looking back on the recovery process so far, it truly is a short span of time compared to what I’ll be living as I step forward with new feet. As anticipated, my visit today with Dr. Sklar was very exciting for me as I received the go ahead for, yes, running and for wearing sandals. It’s been three weeks since my last post-op, and I have quite the bits to share:

  • My homework for this evening was to go home and run 1/2 mile, either on the treadmill at the gym or outside. I chose the gym so that I could get a quick shoulder workout in beforehand. Well . . . there was no pain, only weirdness. I found myself running more flatfooted and a bit off balance at first. I interchanged between fast walking and jogging. My thigh muscles definitely woke up and my calves felt heavy. In other words, my feet are ready – I just have to get the rest of me in shape. To start, I’ll incorporate .5 – 1 mile of running or elliptical about 3 days a week with weight training
My feet before my first .5 mile run

My feet BEFORE my first .5 mile run (band-aid is from cortisone shot)

My feet AFTER my first run . . . not much change, right?!!

My feet AFTER my first run . . . not much change, right?!!

  • Dr. Sklar gave the go-ahead for ALL exercise, giving the official green light for running, elliptical, swimming and weight training. Of course, moderation is key as I ease back. I’m thinking that Pilates and yoga will be perfect to increase mobility and flexibility this summer. My goal is to get my feet in tip-top shape to learn and master The Vipr, which looks like a fabulous workout for strength, flexibility and balance all into one.
  • I can increase to two days a week of physical therapy. We’ll see how long I need this. With summer and more time for me in the gym, I’ll be working my feet with my own physical therapy too.
  • My homework for tomorrow evening is to wear wedges around my house for an hour. I mentioned to Dr. Sklar that I tried an old pair of high Steve Madden platformed wedges last weekend and it hurt to even stand in them! He instructed me that it’s going to hurt, and it has to hurt for a while as I “train” my feet to position correctly into different shoes. The more I walk in the shoes, the less they will hurt. This is a good idea for everyone out there whose podiatrist gave the go-ahead for heels. Wear them for short intervals at a time at home! (Heel hint:  having a bit of a platform in the front of the shoe will help the arch high heels cause feel less extreme.)

By the way, I received a bonus with my visit today when Dr. Sklar mentioned a pair of shoes two of his three daughters purchased over the weekend. He even pulled up the site to show me!  I just ordered a pair – I figure, if they are good enough for Dr. Samantha Sklar, a podiatrist herself, they should receive an A for comfort. Click HERE to see the Birkenstock ‘Gizeh’ Thong Sandal, and I’ll post a picture of me in my new shoes soon. This is the type of personable service you get with Dr. Sklar and his team at Foot First!

  • Dr. Sklar gave me shots of cortisone in both feet to ease the swelling. I’ll still be dealing with swelling for a while, but my feet are still more natural looking than before surgery. I will post pictures in ONE WEEK to display the difference the cortisone will continue to make since today.
  • While my left incision is still more raised than my right, there is visible progression with each visit. Dr. Sklar said I must be patient but, again, I say that having the incision is still much more attractive than the protruding bunions.
  • Finally, I received orthotics. I am to insert them into enclosed shoes (they will slip out of sandals). One of the helpful nurses told me I may want to ease into them and wear orthotics one hour at first, and slowly increase wear time each day. They come with complete instructions:
My orthotics from Foot First

My orthotics from Foot First

That’s quite a bit of news for one visit . . . . 3 1/2 months from the start of this process – I’d say I’m making quite the progress. It is all going by quickly.  🙂

NEXT WEEK: my cortisone update

NEXT POST-OP: one month from now, July 13