I have to have my bunion corrected with the Lapidus procedure and need some input from those who have gone through it. I am a high school teacher and I can't take the 8 weeks off work that my doctor recommends. (It's a long story, but doing it in the summer is not an option either.) I am wondering how long would I need to be out of the classroom? I have a good group of students and should be able to get away with crutching to class and then sitting and keeping my foot up once I am there. How long should I realistically plan to take off before I can get back to the kids?
I, too, am a high school teacher and understand your concerns. I can't speak for the surgery, but last March I broke my foot and the doc suggested being out for 10-12 weeks to keep my foot elevated and avoid stress to improve the healing. I knew I could not afford that, nor could my students. I chose to rent a wheelchair that had an elevated foot rest and had the adminstration switch me to a first floor class room. I left my wheelchair in the classroom each night and crutched my way in and out of the building and at home. I spent most of my time at home with my foot elevated high. At school, my leg was always elevated and to use the restroom, I wheeled in with my crutches to help move myself where I needed to be.
My insurance covered the wheelchair rental because I got my doc to approve of the plan. I spent all of March through the end of the school year (early June) in the wheelchair. Once I was off for the summer, the chair went back.
My doc was surprised at how I managed, and even moreso that the bone healed on its own without surgery. I am only one of two patients he has had that have ever healed without surgery. He is attributing it to the fact that I kept my foot elevated to limit swelling and promote good circulation and that I was in a good state of mind--doing what I love and living the best I could under the circumstances.
I say talk to your doc about a wheelchair and then talk to your administration. It seems to me they would help you do this in order to help your students succeed--which they will do because you are there and there is continuity.
I had the Lapidus procedure done on my right foot in June 2007 for a severe bunion. I can answer any questions you have about the surgery. Unfortunately this type of surgery is the more invasive type. You may have read about other procedures on this board for mild and moderate bunions.
People seem to get back on their feet pretty quickly and return to their normal activities. Since the Lapidus is the more invasive surgery, a cast is usually needed for 6 weeks or so and then there is a long recovery period of healing where the bunion joint is sore for quite a while. I would say that 8 weeks is the minimum time for recovery and even then, you will be limited in how long you can stand and how long your foot still needs to be elevated and iced. After getting out of the cast (6 weeks), you will need to learn how to walk again and build up the atrophied muscle tissue and that will take more than two weeks. Most people are in the walking shoe for 3 to 4 weeks. You may have read on other posts how the doctor says you will be out for so long and the patient finds out that their foot still can't bear the weight for a long periods of time and so going back to work will have to wait. I have found that foot surgery is such a different animal than anything I've ever experienced in life. The foot will heal on its own time and sometimes you can't do anything to speed that up. Don't get discouraged though, you may heal faster and this surgery does work and it does correct the bunion. Good luck.
You provide some great words of wisdom. I am assuming the worst and planning on being non-weight bearing for at least the 8 weeks, but I have no idea if I will be able to manage with crutches after about a month. I would like to return to the classroom after a few weeks using the crutches. Do you think it would be possible to crutch from class to class 3 or 4 weeks after surgery? Did your foot throb a lot when you were just starting back on crutches? My schedule would be drive to work, crutch to class, elevate for an hour, crutch to the next class, elevate again...... Do you think this is something I could manage?
Yes, that sounds like something that would be possible. After the cast comes off, you are in a walking boot and you only need the crutches for a short while, less than a week. Some people have been able to ditch the crutches after one or two days. After you feel confident with the crutches and walking boot, then it's just the walking boot and you can walk with it from class to class. After starting to walk, I was still icing and elevating for months. My trouble started when I stopped icing after three months and went to the podiatrist, because my foot was hurting and she said I should not have stopped icing. It becomes a matter of walking a little and then resting and recovering. Your body will heal but it needs a recovery period after walking.
Eventually, the recovery period gets shorter and shorter and pretty soon you can walk more and more. You can return to work as soon as you want, but
pain and discomfort will be your guide as to how long you can stay at work.
Fortunately I was ok financially so I didn't have to return to work quickly.
I was on disability, but then I felt I needed longer to recover so eventually I had to quit work because my work involved standing all day, which was not
good for my other foot which had been working extra hard post-surgery and
which I will have to have surgery on also. But it is possible, with perserverence, to return to work with a walking boot and elevate and ice
after walking to and from class.
I did not have the Lapidus procedure but I did have a very similar procedure called a base wedge osteotomy. The recovery period is pretty much the same as the recovery period of a Lapidus procedure. I was on crutches for a total of 6 weeks but I only took 6 or 7 days off work (and spent that entire time on the couch with my foot elevated). I think that as long as you are sitting down the majority of the time, you will be okay.
When I returned to work I kept my foot elevated either on my desk, or on a foot rest that I had placed underneath my desk (luckily my company is laid back and didn't care that I had my foot in a cast on top of my desk when I needed to elevate it). I got back and forth to work using crutches and taking a cab to my office. It can be very tiresome to crutch long distances and to stand on your good foot with the crutches. If you don't have to travel very far in between classes you should be fine. Just keep in mind that even though the Doctor only says the recovery time takes 8 weeks, it usually takes longer than that, i.e. your foot will be sore and swollen for the next couple of months but you will be able to get around just fine. Also, I remember my foot would throb every now and then for the first 4-6 weeks, after that it didn't bother me much. After 6 weeks my Dr gave me the OK to bear weight on my foot. At first it felt weird and was a little uncomfortable but after a few days I got used to walking again. My leg muscles completely atrophied so it took a while to build up that strength again. My leg muscles got sore after walking long distances but it was by no means debilitating.
Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!
I'm a kindergarten teacher so I can relate to your problems. As we all know, 5 year olds are so needy and still pretty much dependent. They couldn't go anywhere (meaning to specials, lunch, etc.) without me. Plus, there is not a lot they can do on their own and even when they can, they still require near-constant monitoring and walking around the room. Still so dependent on their structure and routine, it is often difficult for them to be with a sub who does things differently than me, especially for extended periods of time. As teachers, we know that it is usually more stressful (for us and the kids) to prepare for and have the sub than it is to be at school sick, hurting etc.
At any rate, I understand where you're coming from. One thing that worked out well for me was schedulling my surgery right before Spring Break, that way I had a guaranteed 10 days off before dipping into my sick days. I did that last year and just scheduled my other foot for the same this year. My doctor only does surgeries on Wednesday so I wound up having to take the Wed. and Thu. off before Easter but then I had the next 10 days off for "free." I did take a few days off the week school resumed but having done nothing but ice and elevate for 2 weeks, I felt pretty decent to go back. I went back on a Thursday (15 days post-op) so that I knew I only had to get through 2 days before having the weekend to recuperate.
Besides following doctor's orders, I found having understanding, helpful co-workers and kids INCREDIBLY helpful. Other teachers picked up my kids or ushered them from place to place, made my copies, carried my things, etc. I ate during lunch time and slept on the couch in the lounge for whatever time was left. And boy did I need that nap! If the kids were going somewhere else not far in our hall, I'd send them and watch from my door. The kids were awesome. I explained everything before and after I got back. I showed them my cast and took it off for them so they could see I was just regular. They fetched things for me, did what they could so that I didn't have to get up, arranged chairs so I could elevate when I got to whereever I was hobbling. I iced and elevate during planning periods and naptime (which obviously you don't have! But you should!). They nagged me when I was walking too much, not using my crutches or not icing/elevating and dutifully went to the nurse's office to get/return my bags of frozen peas. Having a very supportive understanding network around you is vital. The thing that still amazes me is that I had a "bad" class last year! It was a horrible year! But when it came down to it, they turned into really great, understanding, helpful little buggers. They reverted the more able I became... go figure. :-/
You can swing this. You just have to be careful and really plan when and how you're going to swing. Talk to your admins and see how they can help. Explain what will happen to your kids prior and what you'll need from them. And, of course, we'll be here to continue to lend support, answer questions, alleviate worry, offer suggestions and just listen to you vent.