ONE YEAR AFTER SURGERY…

A lot has happened in a year. Not only did I try to mentally work on myself, my body needed a lot of work too.

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WARNING: There is some graphic content at the beginning of this post (i.e. post-surgery stitches and scarring), so if you’re sensitive to those types of images, you may want to click out (there will also be warnings before the photos come up).

 

This time last year, I was slipping in and out of consciousness after the anesthetics and painkillers. I couldn’t eat or drink for 3 days because of exhaustion and nausea.

And the pain. I don’t think I’ve ever been in so much pain in my life. I felt it at all hours of the day and night, especially when I stood up and the blood rushed to my foot. For a few months, I wondered why I let myself have this surgery.

But let’s back up for a minute. Why did I even have surgery?

I have a genetic bunion that I inherited from my grandfather. A bunion is a bony bump at the base of the big toe that can slowly grow over time and become painful. Mine has always been there, so it was difficult to find comfortable shoes all my life. But when I was younger, it wasn’t a big deal and I played with my friends with little pain.

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In this photo, you can see the bunion on my right foot; you can also see the tailor bunions by my pinky toes on both of my feet.

This lasted until college, where I’ve never walked so much in my life. I racked up at least 5 miles a day, parking at the top of parking structures on one end of campus and walking uphill and climbing several flights of stairs to get to class (was I going to classes or going on a hike every day, who knows?). My classes, the gym, and meetings were in every corner of school. I also worked at a cafe on campus, so I used to run around the restaurant making orders in my painful work shoes.

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These were my feet before college; I had tailor bunions already, but the bunion on my right foot wasn’t very large yet. I also wasn’t in too much pain back then, except for some shoes.
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You can see the bunion here as well as the difference between my feet. This was in my second year of college, so the bunion had already significantly grown.

Because of the constant walking, my bunion grew and became painful. Eventually, I had to lean on the outside of my foot to walk, which caused even more problems because of my tailor bunion (a bony bump at the joint of the pinky toe). No shoes were comfortable; I was always in pain. Even when I kicked my feet up to rest at the end of the day, my bunion would be throbbing. I remember limping up five flights of stairs (because the elevator was too slow) to my car after work/classes and icing my foot after shifts when I started working in retail.

Overall, my bunion took a toll on my everyday life. I couldn’t enjoy fun trips with my friends because the pain was always there. It was difficult to get around campus, and it affected my performance at work. I couldn’t do activities I enjoyed, like dancing around or rock climbing. I wanted to have an active lifestyle, but my feet were holding me back.

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Finally, on January 23, 2018, I had 3 procedures done. They added a pin to my bunion to straighten my big toe, shaved the bone on my tailor’s bunion, and lengthened my achilles heel.

But then I struggled for several months.

When I woke up after the surgery, I instantly felt nauseous. It also took hours before I could leave the hospital because I kept going back to sleep. When I finally got home, I only woke up to take painkillers and drink a little soup for 3 days. I think I had a very negative reaction to the anesthetics and painkillers; they both made me feel terrible. I stopped taking the meds as early as I could because I’d rather be alert and in pain than feel constant nausea and exhaustion on top of the pain (P.S: the painkillers and icing my foot didn’t make the pain go away at all 🙃).

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD

 

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Taking off the bandages 2 weeks after surgery
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One month later; my stitches were slowly dissolving. There’s also a rash on my foot here because my bandages were irritating that area.

Next up was the pain of walking anywhere. I had crutches and a boot and my foot was usually elevated. When I got out of bed, the blood would rush down to my foot, creating the most excruciating and searing pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I couldn’t shower alone or dress myself; my mom had to help me shower every other day and it was embarrassing. I couldn’t carry anything, I couldn’t make anything for myself to eat, I couldn’t go anywhere. I had never felt so useless before.

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Wore a boot for almost 4 months because of the three procedures. I only left the house for doctor appointments.

After about 4 months of staying indoors (because my parents didn’t want to drive me anywhere smh haha), I finally started walking limping. Then I started physical therapy. I started about 9 months ago, and it’s been quite a process. I started off with a lot of pain, but with massages, ultrasound treatments, and exercises, I can jump and bend my toes now. There’s still pain, but it’s gradually decreased over time.

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At a physical therapy session several months later; the scars are slowly fading

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I also tried cortisone shots in my big toe and pinky toe. In my personal experience, the shots were very painful; it hit the limit of my pain tolerance but I got through it. I felt fine the day I got it, but I was in pain for the next couple days, as if someone had cut into my foot and given me surgery again. Thankfully, after a few weeks, I noticed a significant decrease in my pain. However, I don’t think I would do it again unless I really needed to because I’d rather naturally reduce the pain with exercises instead of medicine.

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How I felt the day of; the pain came the next day haha.

Now, one year later, I’m still somewhat struggling. I can walk, jump (albeit lightly), hike (short distances), wear (low) heels, and put pressure on my foot. But I’m still in pain after my 4-hour retail shifts and I can’t walk around for too long without calling it quits. I know staying on your feet all day is painful for just about anyone, but I was hoping to feel more comfortable in my shoes and walk a bit further than before.

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With all of that being said, I still have hope that my feet will get better. After reading other people’s success stories, I can’t help but feel envious that they recovered after one year, but I’m still not 100% there yet. However, I have to remember that I had surgery in 3 different parts of my feet. And I’ve still come a long way in terms of pain and recovery. I also read sad stories where surgery made their feet worse, so I should consider myself lucky that I can go back to my normal life.

These days, I’ve been continuing to work on strengthening my achilles heel and pinky toe since those are very weak areas of your feet. It requires a lot of stretching, massaging, and hot packs to make sure the scar tissue is under control and continues to heal. The pain in my bunion has greatly reduced, so I usually make sure to massage the scar and elevate my feet at the end of the day.

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So that’s how last year went for me. I hope that after another year, I can update you all and reveal that I’m completely recovered. But until then, I’ll continue working on my health, and I hope you do too. ♡

If you have any questions, feel free to comment or message me! If you’ve also had bunion surgery, I’d love to know how your journey went. And if there’s anything you’d like me to cover more in-depth, please leave those requests in the comments as well! Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you lovelies soon!

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