"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Monday, October 3, 2011

Veronica's Foot Surgery

(Below picture taken right before surgery on August 19th)

I was taking a step aerobics class as a teenager when I first noticed the strange feeling in my left foot. It was as if my shoes were too small, but I knew that wasn't the case. During that time I worked as a cashier in our local grocery store and I was on my feet for hours at a time and I'd feel it then. The sensation in that foot was hard to describe; kind of a numbing feeling, a little pain, some tingling... I learned to live with it.

Around the time Cody and I got married it started to get worse. I bought a pair of really nice hiking boots in a size that had always fit, but for some reason they dug in to that left foot.

As years went on, it got worse and worse. After Devin was born it so bad that wearing closed tow shoes of any kind was painful. And because of the pain that foot, I had taught myself to walk in a way that threw my whole alignment out of wack. Talk about you classic domino effect! Right after Garrett was born early this past spring, the pain had gone into my right foot as well, and even standing barefoot now hurt. Because the pain seemed to be very abstract, I told myself that it was arthritis. It was kind of vague and I didn't want to see a doctor for fear that he wouldn't be able to give me a definitive answer, so I was going to live with it forever. Yes, it was greatly affecting my quality of life, but such was my fate.

Early in the summer Cody decided he was sick of listening to me gripe about my feet, so he "forced" me to see a doctor. When I went to see Dr. Ryan Anderson, I had very little expectations. At that first appointment, before the doctor even came in to consult with me, the nurse did several x-rays. Everything looked normal and I felt crushed. Dr. Anderson finally came in and I explained to him in detail this crazy and abstract pain that I'd been living with for half my life. He chuckled and asked me I'd ever read any podiatry text books because what I was describing was classic Morton's Neuroma. Wow. A diagnosis!

He explained that in my feet, the horizontal ligaments were greatly compressing the nerves that run up and down the foot. Over time, the compression caused benign tumors to form on the nerves, thus the cause of the pain and numbness. He said 90% of the time there is a simple surgery to fix it where they go in and clip certain ligaments to free up space; or to decompress the nerves and then the nerves will eventually heal. I was ecstatic to hear that there was not on;y a cure for my problem, but a simple one at that!!!

A few days before my scheduled surgery, I went back in to the doc and he did an ultrasound of both feet and what he found made me uneasy. He said the neuromas where in fact HUGE and that if they are too big, he has to remove them completely. Anyone who knows anything about the purpose of nerves knows that you never want to remove a nerve unless absolutely necessary. He said that he wouldn't be able to tell for sure how much damage there was until he was inside the foot.

Surgery day came on August 19th, four days before the kids started school. I was very nervous about it because of the possibly worst case scenario of the nervectomy and how that would limit my ability to care for my family and I did NOT want to miss out on the first day of school! The surgery went great, but unfortunately the damage was very bad and he had to remove to huge nerves in each foot. When I came to in recovery the nurse told me about it and my heart broke. I was very scared that it would leave my feet partially paralyzed and that I would never walk right again. I told myself I was better off living with the pain!

The next three days were hard because I was on strict bedrest- only able to leave the bed to use the bathroom. I have never been one to sit on my but and enjoy it much of the time, and being glued to the bed made me crazy. I always shower once a day, sometimes twice, so going 72 hours without a shower was torture! I had these Frankenstein looking shoes I had to strap onto my feet to walk the ten feet to the toilet, and I had to have Cody help me with it each time. So embarrassing. Jane came into town on Sunday night and stayed for the next ten days while I laid in bed most of the time. Awful. I did get to escort the kids on their first day of school because Cody borrowed a wheelchair from work and pushed me along in it. But that turned out to be too much because when I got home (even though my feet had been elevated) I started bleeding again. This ended up happening several time during that first ten days.

The next month was filled with a lot of emotion. The experience gave me small look at what someone who has been in an accident and left handicapped feels like. I didn't know from day to day how much function I'd have back in my feet and if I'd ever have a normal life again. Because of all the "what ifs" surrounding the nervectomy, we didn't know what would be permanent and what would regenerate in time. I cried alot of felt so defeated as I tried to do everyday things like brush my teeth or help the kids get ready for school each morning.

Toward the end of September, just when I was feeling hopeful that in time I would heal, I developed a nasty staph infection in the right foot. I haven't been in that much pain in a LONG time. But a round of heavy antibiotics healed it pretty well. Then three weeks later that foot started throbbing again but I could find no reason why it hurt so much. The wounds were FINALLY closed and it looked okay. I should mention that I had absolutely no feeling on and around the balls of my feet. I went to the doc and he examined my foot and found a huge shard of glass that I didn't know was there. Amazing that I never felt it! Good to know the source of the infection and thank goodness for modern medicine. This kind of thing would have killed a person 100 years ago!

I am now starting to feel confident in my ability to heal. I am still missing feeling and function in a large part of me feet, but it's MUCH better than it was during those first few weeks. I pray that my body continues to heal and that I will later look back at this and know that I made the right decision to do the surgery!

1 comment:

Joey and Nettifer said...

Love dr anderson! Not only is he cute but he cured me too!!!! I owe so much to him! Glad your feet are better.