Friday, October 18, 2013

The Good & Bad Of Foot Surgery


 I am super lucky and have had a severe foot condition called Morton's Neuroma.  I had both feet operated on the same time in August 2011 because the doctor told me that if I only had one foot done and then planned to have the other foot done, I would likely not come back in to do the second foot after seeing how difficult the recovery was from the first foot.

He was absolutely right.

As you can see from the above picture, the normal nerve is supposed to be the size of cooked spaghetti or even smaller.  Most people with MN can relieve it by only having ligaments cut so that over time, pressure is relieved and the tumors on the nerves will shrink and not be aggravated anymore.  The tumors form in the same way that an Oyster makes a pearl from a grain of sand.  Increased friction and pressure over time forms a not-so-beautiful tumor on the nerve, otherwise known as a neuroma.

My feet were worst case scenario.  When the doctor got in there back in 2011, he found that the nerves were so badly damaged and covered in tumors and the only way to fix it was to cut the ligaments and remove the tumors.  My nerves, which were supposed to be teh size of spaghetti, were in fact the size of a grown man's finger.  Huge and corroded.

The left foot healed beautifully, but the right foot never seemed right after surgery.  Over time I could feel a mass forming around the ball of my foot and I figured it was just scar tissue.  I did my best to break up the tissue by doing some physical therapy exercises, but back in June it was really bothering me so I figured I needed to get back in to see the doctor.  When I went in, he found that yes there was a massive amount of scar tissue, but there was also a massive nerve where it had once been removed.  It had grown back!  Seriously, call me Wolverine.  Apparently I regenerate just like he does.  The doctor gave me a steroid shot in hopes to soften and shrink the scar tissue which would in turn relieve pressure from the area.

After the triathlon I did in August, I realized that the steroid had NOT worked and that I needed to get back in to see the doctor.  When I did, we weighed pros and cons and decided that the best thing would be to go back in an operate.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

 So ON September 26th I checked back in and got ready for surgery.  Knowing that I would be down and out for quite a while after surgery, I deliberately crammed a million to-dos into the week leading up to surgery.  It was so busy, in fact, that checking in for surgery felt like a relief.  For the next week I would lie in bed and watch movies and read and be waited on hand and foot while someone else ran the house for me! 

I get extremely nervous before surgery and the great anesthesiologist gave me a dose of "liquid courage" to calm me down before heading into the OR.  I remember feeling very tense and being on the brink of a panic attack before he administered the drug.  He put it into my IV and two seconds later I felt a warm sensation go through me from head to toe.  Good doctor.  I think I laughed a whole lot and when I got wheeled into the OR and saw everyone wearing blue gowns and masks, I laughed more and said everyone looked like smurfs. And then there was nothing.

A split second later a nurse was telling me to wake up.  I started singing some Belinda Carlisle song, according to the nurse.  I am certain that the same song had been playing in the OR some time during surgery, but why on earth wold my doctor choose to listen to that kind of music while he operated?  The song haunted me for days after that because I could never quite figure out what song it was.  I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning with that mystery song in my head, but forget it when I fully woke up in the morning.  One day, about five days after surgery, I was doped on Percocet and the tune of the song popped into my head.  I was coherent enough to jump online and Google "Belinda Carlisle songs".  A list came up, and BAM.  There it was. "Mad About You".  I was elated to finally know what song had been haunting me!
 I won't lie.  Recovery has been 10x worse than it was the first time.  About a week after surgery I decided to Google pictures of the exact operation I had.  I shouldn't have done that while in so much pain because it about made me throw up.  They cut in between my middle and fourth toes and the incision came down about an inch and a half and around at the ball of my foot too.  But they retract the toes sooooo far apart and get way down in there with the instruments.  No wonder I was bruised up to my ankle!  The doctor said that this surgery was very invasive because I had mounds of scar tissue inside that he dug out.  And the nerve that he removed, was AGAIN as thick as his pinky finger. I was shocked that it had grown back at all, let alone that big!! 
 I about brought my foot to the point of frostbite each day, but cold was the only thing to relieve pain.  Percocet did a good job, but it makes me so itchy and loopy and I just don't like the side effects.  Surgery was on a Thursday and Cody was here through the weekend taking care of me and the household.  Then his mama came into town on Sunday and stayed for the week.  Having surgery like this is about impossible without a lot of help because you can NOT be up and about.  I had a walking boot that I had to wear when I was up at all *like to go to the bathroom), but even with the boot being up for more than ten minutes would have me reaching for a Percocet.  And since there is a giant cavity in my foot where everything was removed, it would pool with blood and fluid when I was up for too long.  Yuck.
 It goes back and forth between being horribly bruised, and then looking like this.  Not too bad at all.

 Stitches came out on Friday the 11th.  Holy pain!!!  That seriously hurt like a mo-fo.
This is my foot today.  Look at all the bruising near my ankle.  Weird, huh?!  Pain and recovery is relative and I am doing a lot better than I was a week ago.  Still, the majority of my time is spent sitting with my foot propped up on ice and it stills hurts a heck of a lot. Brings me to the point of tears at times.  But it's getting better.  The doctor is certain that the nerve will NOT come back again.  I start PT next week and I think that will prevent a lot of the same scar tissue from coming back.  I told Cody that if the problem comes back in either foot, I will live with it until I die because I don't want to go through this again.  I say that, but I don't think I mean it because the surgery is still better than living with the problem. 

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