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    Old 07-19-2008, 09:39 AM   #1
    flaggfish
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    Deciding to have bunion surgery

    HI,
    I'm new here. I've read with interest a lot of the threads about bunions.

    Background: I'm 57, active, and have had bunions since childhood. My sister had the surgery when she was 23, when I was 11, and the docs looked at my feet and nodded knowingly.

    Now: My bunions haven't bothered me til about 3 months ago. All of a sudden within a couple of weeks of each other both forefeet started hurting, and most of my shoes became uncomfortable. I thought I had neuromas, odd for both feet. My first visit to the podiatrists brought a bunion diagnosis. I got a cortisone shot on the 2nd visit to help with my second toe, since ANY pressure from above became painful. That has improved, but my forefeet are sore most of the time. I've tried lots of ready made shoe pads, and just got fitted my my podiatrist for orthotics.

    SO my question is about perspective. I'm getting used to my limited abilities: no fitness walks, no flexing of my toes in Pilates, such as plank pose, no sqwating to garden, no standing for long periods, only one pair of shoes that feels ok: EE width running shoes. Biking is ok. And I can get a workout gardening, but when I look at the garbage bag of shoes that hurt in my closet, and think about my friends who I can't walk with any more, I feel ready to move towards surgery.

    But these message boards have me SCARED about surgery! Also I have talked to plenty of friends and acquaintances about their experiences: slow recoveries are the norm. If I'm doing 2 feet I have to wait a long time between, according to my PT friend who has more sense of how long recovery takes that the Doc.

    How do you know when you've had enough pain and are ready for surgery? Is there a chance that orthotics and the right shoes would make my pain tolerable? Does waiting for your feet to get worse create more problems, such as worse hammer toes that require their own surgery?

    There you have it. I wish the doc appts were long enough to get all my questions answered.

    I''ve got 2 doc appts lined up for August with surgeons who get good reviews around here. Mine is nice, but very young and I want someone who has done a lot of there surgeries.

    Help me find perspective!

     
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    Old 07-19-2008, 11:34 AM   #2
    Janesfoot
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    Welcome to the board. I came to the board because I was 10 days post-op and was experiencing pain. I think it is fair to say that some of the readers and contributors use the board because they want information, support and reassurance they are not alone. Many of the threads are written because people are frustrated, in pain etc. Hopefully you will notice many of the writers do progress in recovery, but it can take a long time for some. That being said, you will be the best judge of when and if surgery is for you. I'm 48, and have had bunions for many years, but didn't know it. I learned to avoid shoes that hurt the bumps and got on with my life. A year ago I began having foot pain that wasn't on the bunions. I went to the doctor who told me that bunions were the cause of the pain. My feet, especially the right one, went downhill fast and I ended having a double bunionectomy on the right foot in May. I'm doing well now, but still have pain, but more from stiffness, definitely not pre-surgery pain. My mother had bunions, and had bunionectomies when she was 44 and 50. She played tennis into her late 60's. I used her recovery and subsequent return to an active life as my inspiration. I also thought it is better to have surgery while I'm "young" vs. older. I will need to have my left foot done eventually, but already my quality of life has improved. I think you are wise to be pragmatic, to research and in getting multiple opinions. Good luck.

     
    Old 07-19-2008, 12:28 PM   #3
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    I had hallux limitus and a dorsal bunion + arthritis. I put off having surgery as long as I could, in part because of the horror stories I heard. I tried taping, othotics, rocker shoes, etc. Now I wish I would have had the surgery 5 years ago. I was exactly like you, watching from the sidelines because my stupid toe would not bend. I saw 3 doctors who had 3 opinions in my case and I talked to a few PTs, and eventually went with my original podiatrist. Now I am nearly 7 weeks post op. I have had no pain and the foot looks great. BUT I followed post op directions to the letter and am still elevating my foot over my head on the couch about 21 hours per day. I use my standing time to exercise and do a few chores, but not much at all. I am doing my range of motion exercises. I am flabbergasted by how well things are going. I am in this for the long haul. I have read too many posts here of people who think they can push things too early. My Pod told me in the beginning he wanted me to elevate my foot nearly constantly for the 8 weeks. Poor guy, I think I asked him, "But what about this? But what about that?" over and over. Finally I got it into my head: 8 weeks! I started clearing my calendar and planning for this last fall. So far, amazingly good.

     
    Old 07-19-2008, 03:47 PM   #4
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    it looks like you are ready for surgery. it sounds like you are giving up so much in life due to the pain. most bunion surgeries do work. it sounds like you are on the righjt track. i hope both surgeons specialize in the foot and ankle.

     
    Old 07-19-2008, 05:48 PM   #5
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    flaggfish,

    I am 6 months post dbl bunionectomy (both feet at the same time). I planned it for a non-busy time (January). I did as I was told and things went really well. I was in "sandles" and able to walk (sort of) to the bathroom on the first day. I was back at home office work by day 13, back to studio work (I am a potter) by day 19, got back on my horse by 6 1/2 wks. At 6 months I am getting along just fine and have been pretty much since month 3 or so. Had trouble at month 4 trying to keep up with the group in Rome (no surprise there). At present I have occasional pain, but not that constant achy pain from before surgery. Since I've paid more attention to the stretching I've felt better.
    I say go for it, on average I think it's much easier that it sounds like from this board. Remember, most people come here cause they are having problems and want to commiserate.
    Marjorie

     
    Old 07-20-2008, 05:11 AM   #6
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    Question Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    Well. Pohtr, I'm a potter too! Some of the worst days I have lately are glazing days: hours of walking back and forth on cement floors from my ware racks to my glazing table to my kiln.

    And my decision making about surgery would be based on my business schedule, so I'm thinking about January.

    THANKS to all of you who have given me encouragement. I do realize that this board would have more messages about problems, and I see that members have had interesting solutions to the problems, so it looks like a great resource.

    Some of my local friends have had issues that lasted over a year. SO my question was based on trying to balance my current discomfort with potential post-op issues.

    So my next question: I've googled bunions and found some websites. I see you folks talking about different types of surgery.

    Can you recommend a technical website that describes the types of surgeries so I don't have to do so much of my learning curve in the doc's office?

     
    Old 07-20-2008, 01:11 PM   #7
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    i would think the dr would reccomend what type of surgery. i dont know a technical sight, but if you know what the dr has planned, then you would be able to look it up. glad you chose the surgery.

     
    Old 07-20-2008, 01:40 PM   #8
    flaggfish
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    Thanks Debby,
    I know a surgeon will recommend the appropriated type of surgery, and I just want to be prepared for that conversation. My current doc started giving me a rundown on the types of surgery, and it all flew right over my head! I just want an overview site. I found one in my web wanderings that described the procedures and the resulting issues, such as if the joint will still bend. I'll look for that one again....should have bookmarked it.

     
    Old 07-20-2008, 04:51 PM   #9
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    If you google bunionectomy you'll find lots of places to start looking. It helps if you know which type your pod (podiatrist) wants to do. I had even found a site that had a sort of step by step explanation with drawings. If I come across that one again I'll let you know.
    Marjorie

     
    Old 07-21-2008, 06:42 AM   #10
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    I also am 57 years old and am 10 1/2 weeks post op from bunion surgery. I had it done on my right foot five years ago and am very glad I did. I have no pain and my foot looks great. On May 1 I had it done on my left foot. The recovery is taking longer for whatever reason. I had 10 therapy sessions which helped me get my range of motion back. I am in wide sneakers now and some sandals. I am a dancer (line dancing and swing) and am able to do most of that now. I have been told 6 months to a year for full recovery. I was out with this surgery for 10 days (off my foot for 1 week) and in an air cast for 4 weeks. After the air cast came off, I had to train myself to walk again. Funny how your body adjusts to whatever strangeness it's involved in. I will have swelling for another 6 months and I have to be careful how long I'm on my feet. I ice it down every night and it seems to be doing what it should be doing at this point.

    I can't tell you whether or not to have surgery. My doctor told me when it hurts enough, you'll come see me. Obviously, it did and I had the surgery. I think one of the biggest reasons is because it was starting to hurt when I danced, and that was causing me more grief than the actual pain. I kept having spasms in my foot and the pain would go up my leg into my knee. So I guess it was a good idea I went ahead and had the surgery.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.

     
    Old 07-21-2008, 06:58 AM   #11
    flaggfish
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    Every post I make here makes it easier for my poor friends, who must be getting sick of talking about feet!!

    I'm really learning a lot from hearing about recovery times. It's giving me perspective since the state I am in now is nowhere near normal, so descriptions of slow recoveries don't seem so bad: I'm not normal now, can't take a fitness walk, or do a lot of things I could do even 4 months ago. Most shoes are uncomfortable, and I can't go barefoot either. SO why not be in post-surgery recovery phase, instead of this? I guess I'm just realizing that my choice is between 2 less than optimal situations, and the chance of a good outcome will only happen with surgery.

    My doctor is saying I'd be unable to put weight on the foot for 6 weeks after surgery. A friend who had the same recovery regimen rented a wheel chair for her house and also for work. Also I won't be able to drive for 6 weeks.

    My initial thought is to have the surgery in January. But we get snow and ice up here in Vermont. Do you think it's a bad idea to add icey conditions into my recovery? I don't have much experience with crutches, but what little I did have wasn't great.

     
    Old 07-21-2008, 07:14 AM   #12
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    I'm in Maine, and if last winter was any indication of things to come, I would advise having surgery in the spring (or what passes for spring in N. New England!) or the summer. I had my surgery in May. I had a double bunionectomy on the right foot with two osteotomies and pins. I was allowed to put a little weight on the heel, but told to stay off the foot as much as possible the the first week. I was glad it was nice outside, because once I was able to maneuver, I would go outside and sit on the patio. Helped the cabin fever symptoms. I had a walker and crutches. I found that crutches were a menace. I did need to go NWB for five days (I overdid it) and used a wheelchair. It was great because putting any weight on my foot was excruciating. The wheelchair gave me peace of mind. I've read here about others using a rolling office chair.

     
    Old 07-21-2008, 07:15 AM   #13
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    I have had bunion surgery on both feet, and I was able to put weight on it, they gave me a lovely blue shoe to wear for six weeks! The first couple of days it was sore, but I was able to work and still carry on with my hectic life style! I did have one done at a time.

     
    Old 07-21-2008, 09:49 AM   #14
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    Hi Flaggfish,
    I think your thinking is on the right track. It's nice to talk with friends about your foot problems, but if they never had a foot problem, it doesn't seem so bad to them. When you have foot problems, you can be thinking about it 24/7 because you need your feet to function. That's why it's great to sound off or ask questions on this board because many people have been through what you are about to go through, and in many cases, have experienced worse.
    Sometimes I feel bad about complaining about my situation when others have had worse situations. Obviously, only you know when is the right time for surgery. If you are hurting now, you are hurting and not getting any better.
    After the surgery, there will be pain, but at least you will be getting better.
    Depending on the type of surgery you need, the recovery period varies.
    For a majority of people, the bunionectomies are simple and the recovery is short. I've talked with people that did'nt even have to take Tylenol after surgery. Then there are those who have more severe bunions and the recovery is longer and a cast or boot may be involved, and there is more pain involved. Sometimes our lives are so busy we don't have time to take care of ourselves. Perhaps it's time to drop everything and just concentrate on getting your foot better. Good luck on your decision.

     
    Old 07-21-2008, 09:57 AM   #15
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    Re: Deciding to have bunion surgery

    if you will be nwb, maybe that would help you find out what tpe of surgery you are going to have. i had toe fusion done in novemeber 2 years ago. i was in a cast for 9 weeks and i live in chicago. it was difficult with crutches in the winter. you have to be so careful. when i had bunion surgery i had a surgical shoe so i was wb.

     
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