It was not really my intention to share about my post-op journey on this page – not yet at least. I wanted to wait until all my healing was complete and I was on my feet with the plaster off. However, being confined to bed, for the most part of these past two weeks, has allowed for much introspection.
I spent one night in hospital after a total foot reconstruction. Thank goodness it was only one night. There is nothing quiet, healing or rehabilitating about hospitals, at least not in my experience. The staff prod and poke you at all times of the day or night, ignore your calls for help, but when you finally fall into a deep sleep, they suddenly have the urge to poke you with yet another needle for pain relief! Needless to say, it was not a good experience for me.
Let me tell you about my foot. I shared in a post about two months ago, that I have a genetic condition called Hallux Vulgus. This is a gross deformity of the foot, where all the associated bones of the big toe are displaced. It can and does in most cases, cause you to have bunions. At the tender age of 29, (funny how that sounds like a really young age now?), I had bunion surgery, but at the time, the orthopaedic surgeon, saw no need to straighten the bones in my big toes. Now, some 23 years later, I’ve had to undergo further surgery. What lead me to the orthopaedic surgeon this time, was intense pain under my left toes in the soft tissue. I love to walk/hike, and this was becoming an excruciating experience. I couldn’t wear closed shoes or hiking shoes. The sonar confirmed what my podiatrist expected – I had a neuroma or two, sarcasm intended! So this surgery wasn’t just shaving off some bone. I had a wedge resection of my large toe and a screw placed there to keep the bone in place. The long metatarsal was shifted inwards using a plate and screws. There were two neuromas and the surgeon said he would first open up before he decided which one he would remove. He ended up resecting both as he said if he left one, I would not have the pain relief I so desperately sought. He also did an osteotomy on the outer part of that foot, where my little toe is, to help narrow my foot somewhat.
Although the surgeon had explained in explicit detail, all he was planning to do, I remembered my healing after both bunions were done at age 29. I don’t remember having so much pain. I was also considerably younger, possibly far more mobile and agile. It just didn’t occur to me that the healing process would be as difficult as this has been. I have had so much pain! If my foot moves just slightly, pain shoots up and down my large toe. I’m acutely aware of pain on the top of my foot all the time. It’s been awful.
But all complaining aside, these are some of the things I have discovered about myself. I am resilient. I had no idea how much I would push myself to do the required exercises regardless of the pain, in order to keep my left ankle mobile and strong. I have immense inner strength. My husband left to go to Mozambique two days after arriving home. After about a week of raging anger and frustration at his seeming bad timing and absolute resolution of not changing his plans, I made peace with the fact that I have never had a particularly fussy and caring husband. He takes care of me and the family, but he’s not ‘caring’ in the way I thought I needed especially in that first week. But I realised he loves me deeply and what I perceived he ‘did to me’, is actually how he functions. He’s not ever going to win the prize for “Compassionate Husband of the Year”. It’s just not his nature. He is task-orientated and focused on what needs to be done and he follows through with that. I’ve never come across as the helpless wife, so I don’t even think it crossed his mind I would ‘need’ him. And I really haven’t needed him. Everyday, I’ve had someone here to assist me, and when I could let go of the disappointment I felt toward him, I could see just how strong I actually am. He’s been home two days now, and to be fair, he’s been great. He’s been helping me prepare for my market tonight, sorting out groceries that haven’t been bought for the past two weeks, and just getting stuff done – which is indeed his forte.
So, I continue to learn so much about myself. Although mobility is severely restricted as I live in a double storey house and both attempts at the stairs, have led to small falls, I’ve had to be very careful. I can’t afford for anything to go wrong with this operation. As yet, I can’t place any pressure on my left foot, but I do have to exercise the leg and ankle and wriggle my toes every two hours (I do it far more often than that), to keep muscles and joints strong.
My pets have been a source of both comfort and joy, and stress. The kitten got out on the window ledge he other day, and has now discovered a new escape route. I leapt out of bed and placed slight pressure on my foot to save him on Day 5. It was excruciatingly painful! So when he comes to visit me, the window gets closed. The dogs are great until they hear something move downstairs, so they can be a bit of a pain sometimes with their barking and jumping on and off the bed, but somehow they are aware they shouldn’t come near my foot.
My two children who still live at home, have been phenomenal. They both work a full day, but they have taken turns each night to take care of dinner. They haven’t always felt like cooking, and when they haven’t, they would take it upon themselves to order in or pick something healthy up from the local Woolworths on their way home. I’ve been so grateful to them. My house cleaner comes in four days a week and literally checks on me so regularly, helping me with meals, water, to the bathroom and back, up and down the stairs. She has been an angel. And finally, the one day my house cleaner wasn’t here last week, a friend came to sit with me for most of the day, attending to needs such as getting a meal ready, making me tea and bringing me water. Who knew that once I was using the crutches, I could carry NOTHING? And yesterday, Matilda arrived and it was the first day I wasn’t completely focused on my pain. I hadn’t realised that by the time she left, I’d taken no pain medication for the entire day except for Paracetamol in the morning.
So I’ll end with this… This has been one of the most difficult times of my life, but I sincerely believe the Universe has presented me with this opportunity to go deep within and do some more work within myself, to realise how far I’ve already come as a woman, and to set some goals for our future, especially where the business is concerned. I’ve needed to be alone and quiet in order to go deep. I might not enjoy this season, but it has been so necessary.