Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paul Bunions


  My co-worker Karen calls them Paul Bunions.  "Poor Paul," she would say as I hobbled around in my scrubs.  Of course, both Pauls were aggravated as I just spent several hours standing on a hard floor.
  The pain wouldn't stop me though.  I would still exercise 2 hours/day 5-6 days week. I was used to it by now.  I would imaging myself at a spin class with only the discomfort of lactic acid to deal with rather than the Pauls screaming at me from below.
  I've hesitated for years to have bunion surgery.  I'm 33 years old and throughout my 20s, I've had multiple consultations with several surgeons. I've had bunions for as long as I could remember.  I've never been able to wear high heels due to the instant pain I get from the pressure on the balls of my feet or wear flip flops because my toes would crunch together over the plastic piece that went in between them.
  The last two and a half years of my life, I've become fairly active.  Although I lost over 30 lbs, my bunion pain became more intense and frequent.  It has become increasingly difficult to find any shoe that fit my feet.  To compensate for the Pauls, I would choose a half size bigger which would cause my heels to constantly slip out of my shoes. 
  My increased frustrations lead to a consultation with Dr. Jacques Brunet at the Ottawa General Hospital.  I asked my family physician in Kingston to refer me to him since I had recently talked to someone that had both bunions removed at the same time with him and was satisfied with the outcome.
  My boyfriend Tim, who has a medical background, attended the consultation with me and was not convinced bunion surgery was the best route for me.  I had already been wearing orthotics for years and I felt ready to explore the next step.  I was positive that I was ready to proceed this time and was very eager to hear what Dr. Brunet had to say. "Are you double jointed?" asked Dr. Brunet. "No," I said as he took my fingers and contorted them in funky directions. "Yes, you are. Look!" he said.  "Oh, that's weird," I said.  "You were destined for bunion surgery," he said, "I wouldn't wait any longer than two years to have them operated on."  I left the consultation pretty upset.  I guess was eager to hear what I thought Dr. Brunet would say and not what he actually did say. Only one foot could be operated on at a time since I would be non-weight bearing (NWB) for 5-6 weeks post-operatively and I shouldn't wait any longer than two years to have the surgery. You mean I have to go through this TWICE in two years!!! WTF!! Tim left the consultation confident that I should get surgery.  What a switch!

  I booked my surgery for my left foot for October 22, 2014 at the Kemptville District Hospital.  As this day approached, I tried to make the most of my active days.  I went for a manicure and pedicure two days before.  "Only polish on one foot please."  As for my fingers nails, I paid extra for shellac and then realized the nurses and doctors use your fingernails to monitor circulation. I scraped the shellac off off one fingernail the night before, hoping that one exposed nail would be enough.
  The staff at the Kemptville Hospital were extremely reassuring.  I thought I would be more nervous then I ended up being moments before the surgery.  They wrapped me in cozy warm blankets which made me unbelievably relaxed. The anesthesiologist told me that she would be my eyes and ears during the surgery as I was hesitant about being put asleep.  "We're bringing you to OR #2, the room with the view". "Perfect", I said, " that's what I asked for when I booked this."
  When I woke up from the anesthesia, I couldn't believe that I had been asleep.  Dr. Brunet was right there and I told me everything went fine. I felt really good. My foot was completely numb.  The nurse offered me ginger ale with ice chips which seemed like the best thing in the world.  
  Tim was in the waiting room to greet me after surgery and soon after my parents met me to take me to their house in Orleans.  My foot would be frozen for 18-36 hours post-op and I was feeling very relieved.

  If you are considering bunion surgery, I would highly recommend that you purchase crutches, a shower chair and a shower bag for your cast and rent a wheelchair.  Make sure you have someone who can help you for the first week.  I stayed with my parents who work from home and I enjoyed and sucked up every minute of it.  Also, I recommend the HBO series GIRLS to watch, but not with your Dad like I did.

Day 5

 Today is the day when I decided to write my blog; partly due to boredom and the desire to keep my brain somewhat active but also because I wasn't able to find or talk to someone who recently went through a similar experience.  Majority of people that I heard of or talked to all could get both feet operated on at the same time.  What if my first surgery was so awful that I would never want to do it again?  What if I could never return to the active person I once was?  Honestly, I haven't experienced anywhere near the amount of pain and discomfort that I prepared myself for. Granted, I've been faithfully taking my hydromorphone and acetaminophen and I'm certainly looking forward to having my plaster cast changed to fiberglass in less than 48 hours.
  My first legitimate wheelchair experience was today.  I watched a video on YouTube last night of Heather Dugan, who was in a cast and posted workout videos which included many many pull-ups.  She encouraged fellow cast-mates to make sure to continue to do things that are enjoyable and try to get out of the house.  Because I still need to keep my foot elevated, I had to sit in the back seat of the car with my leg spread over the seats.  The wheelchair wasn't so bad.  I managed to wheel myself away from Tim when he wasn't looking and because I'm only at hip height, I was pretty hard to find among the aisles of SAIL.  He bought me a water bottle. By the time I got back to my parents, my foot felt numb. I felt like I burnt the 1000 calories that I ate at lunch (Gabriel's Pizza).  My excursion was definitely one or two days premature.


  1. Hi Michelle,
    Am currently going through the same procedure, having my left foot done several days ago (right foot was done 4 years ago) and I am 56 and very physically active (before the surgery). Reading your blog has been a great help, thanks for writing it!

  2. I'm glad you're finding it useful. Goodluck with your recovery!