02 October 2016

My Double Bunion Correction Surgery

WARNING: Wordy post with pictures you may never be able to un-see ahead.
As mentioned in my previous posts and on my social media accounts, I recently had surgery to correct my bunions on both feet. Before I go on about my experience, I'll give you a bit of background information about my bunions.
I have had bunions since I was quite young. I would say it developed in my pre-teens. My bunions did not develop due to wearing heels and/or dancing/ballet (I can't dance). Bunions are also hereditary. However, none of my family members have bunions. So I'm not sure why I've got them! I did say to my mum, perhaps I was switched at birth. She did not find that statement humorous.
People who undergo bunion correction surgery tend to be older in age. I was told by my surgeon that bunions do worsen as you get older, and if you get the surgery done too early in life, the bunion may reoccur. If my memory serves me correctly, the ideal age for women is after menopause. 
I personally wanted to get mine done now rather than later for a number of reasons.
1. I think that I would bounce back and heal faster when I'm younger.
2. I don't want to have this surgery after I have kids, as the downtime is quite significant especially if you have dependent children.
3. I'm sick of having to be so pedantic when picking shoes that will accomodate bunions and provide the best support. I also hate that when I find a great pair of shoes, they go out of season and you can't get them anymore.
4. My right foot is worse than my left. The second toe on my right foot has actually started to deviate right (i.e. it's not straight), and I don't want this to worsen.
I went to two different surgeons to get the best quote and different opinions. Both surgeons had different methods of correcting bunions. One was more invasive than the other. Surprisingly, the more invasive one costed more than the less invasive method. So it was a no brainer to go with the less invasive method (also known as minimally invasive bunion surgery - MIBS). In MIBS, the surgeon makes several tiny incisions (approx 3mm) before using burrs to make precise cuts to the bones, resulting in minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. In contrast, the more invasive method (also known as the traditional method), involves larger cuts (approx 5cm) near the bunion, and another smaller one between your big and second toe.
Hospital was a private one (goodbye money). I was told to fast from 8am, and wash my hair and body with Gamophen prior to coming into the hospital at 12.30pm (I was so thirsty by 12.30pm)! It was actually a bit annoying because I didn't actually have my surgery till 4pm-ish. So I starved and had no water for nearly the whole day.
I met with the anaesthetist just before I went into the theatre room. He explained what he was going to do, which was semi reassuring. I did ask if he could knock me out before sticking a needle in me. Unfortunately, this was not possible even after giving him permission to knock me out with a mallet first. Although, he went to find a baby needle for me and his assistant held my hand while he stuck it in me (I'm such a baby!)
After that, I was wheeled into the theatre room, they put a drip thingy on and then the next thing I remember was waking up in my hospital room.
Post-surgery - Day 0-1
I woke up in a private room (specifically requested for a shared room to save cash because the surgery costs a fortune). I only vaguely remember bits of what happened the night of my surgery (was gone with the fairies after the anaesthetics), but apparently I texted my husband because the hospital didn't let him know that I was out of surgery and in my room. We made a fuss of the room because as mentioned before, we didn't want more bills. The night manager actually came in to let us know that the upgrade will be on the house, which I was quite pleased about. I then promptly fell asleep after telling my husband to go home, as it was quite late and I was so drowsy... 8-9pm?
I woke up a couple of times throughout the night as I needed to pee so bad. I was initially quite confused about the urge to go, since I haven't had any water since 8am pre-surgery. I called for the nurse and learnt that the drip in my arm was the reason for the urge to pee. I really wished someone warned me about bed pans. It was the weirdest feeling using a bed pan. It was also kind of embarrassing. 

TIP: Bring some flushable wet wipes with you.
The next morning, I was sick of using the bed pan (I used it twice throughout the night), so I thought I'd use the toilet with the aid of the nurse. I got up and felt so sickeningly nauseous (see what I did there... sickeningly) from the anaesthetic (Note: I've had general anaesthetic before, but have never felt sick after, so they must have used some serious strong stuff). I successfully used the bathroom after throwing up. Unfortunately, the nauseousness lingered for the rest of the day. I threw up 5-6 times, and could barely hold any water/food. All I wanted to do was go home, which I did after having a shower at the hospital, visitation from the surgeon and a quick physio lesson on how to use crutches. The shower was an interesting experience. Both feet (which were bandaged quite heavily) were wrapped in garbage bags and taped up. I stood up in my private bathroom, but sat down on a high plastic stool with my feet sticking out the shower door at home.
I was still nauseous when I was discharged from hospital (against the advice of the nurse, but I just wanted to go). She wanted to give me anti-nauseous stuff through my IV, but I refused because the first lot didn't work and I was just over it. I took a heap of sick bags with me when I left the hospital and made good use of it at home.
It didn't help that the painkillers I was given can make you nauseous, so I tried not to take too many. I think I stopped after the second day. I also miraculously stopped throwing up soon after too.
I didn't experience much pain. The anaesthetist did say that he was going to give me a local anaesthetic around the ankles before he knocked me out, and the ankle block is meant to last 12 hours. I was also given painkillers at the hospital through IV, which helped.
Post-surgery - Day 2-13
I spent most of my days lying in the couch being waited on hand and foot. It was a tough life :P
I started becoming more mobile around Day 10, and could stop using crutches shortly after (but I dragged them around with me upon the husband's insistence) 
Stiff soled, heavy black sandals
Pain levels were bearable. I had to wear stiff soled, heavy black sandals during the day. They started to hurt my feet after around Day 7 though. The pain was like blisters being rubbed against constantly where my bunions were. I started to only wear the sandals when I was moving around (i.e. took them off everytime I laid on the couch). The nights of day 12 and 13, I started getting pain near my big toe on my left feet. It was a mild pain, and it just felt like a bit of plastic underneath my bandages was pressing up against my toe (I did not see any plastic bits when the bandages came off).
Post-surgery - Day 14 onwards
Day 14 was the day I got my bandages off. You have no idea how good that felt. I was so disgusted at how flakey my skin was. It stayed fairly flakey for quite a few days despite numerous attempts at exfoliating and moisturising. Feet were also quite bruised. I don't want to know what they did to make them that bruised. 

I was given bunion sleeves, which cost a ridiculous $80 a pair (see pic below)! I was told to wear cotton socks over them to keep my toes together, and to wash the bunion sleeves every night before bed (they dry overnight).
Bunion sleeves with swollen, flakey feet
Fairly tiny wounds with scab on right foot
I was so excited to finally be able to wear my new Nike Free Run 5.0 (recommended by the surgeon in a size larger than my usual size), but the surgeon said that I'll have to wear my heavy stiff soled sandals, as my feet will be too swollen for shoes. 
I elevated my feet when I got home, as I was going out later in the afternoon. I managed to successfully put my Nikes on without any dramas. I did experience (and still do) discomfort after a few hours of walking around in shoes because of swelling. 
I was such a little chicken when I took my first shower without bandages. I was so scared that it'll hurt (and it did a little but nothing too painful). As I had a bit of a scab on my right foot (see pic above), it started bleeding a bit after my shower, so I dabbed it dry with a hand towel and sort of wrapped it with the towel when I went to bed to avoid getting blood on my sheets.
I have to massage my wounds daily to smoothen the scar tissues. I found this quite daunting at first, but it's a walk in the park now. I use baby oil and massage by rubbing in one direction (with slightly more force as days go by). I also have to do a couple of exercises twice a day.
It's been 22 days since my operation, and I'm doing really well. Flakiness have all gone, and I can walk almost normally. I haven't driven yet, but I feel quite confident that I will be able to in a few days. The surgeon advised that you can drive as soon as you are able to slam your foot on the brakes.
I'm meant to take 4 weeks off work (well, I took 1 week off, and am really meant to be working from home for 3 weeks), but I'm going to try go in for a few hours in on Wednesday. I don't know how I'm going to go on a 45 minute train ride to work with the swelling, but hopefully it'll all go well. 
I have one final tip if you are considering bunion correction surgery. Please ensure that you've got private health insurance cover! My private insurance would not cover this surgery, as I have a lower hospital cover. This whole adventure has costed upwards of $15,000. :'(
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