Today I wanted to talk to you about the surgery I had done recently. If you follow me on twitter you'll know a little bit about it but I wanted to go in depth about what I got done and how I'm doing.
I got my surgery done in Glasgow and it involved removing a lump, known as mortons neuroma surgery.
This is a bumper post guys, in the hope that it'll help anyone going through this experience, so buckle up!
So lets go back to the very beginning! I have had foot pain for years now, roughly 15 years in total. I have been to all of the doctors in my practice many times over and they have never once gave me any help. I was fobbed off at high school with 'growing pains'. At uni and college I was told it could be wearing high heels (I never wore high heels to uni or college) or maybe the weight of my bag or maybe shoes that were too flat or too high or this or that. I never got any useful answers and I felt like I was never listened to. Fast forward 15 years and I have just learned to live with it. My doctors never so much as gave me an xray or sent me to a specialist (thanks NHS) and I thought I'd have un-explainable pain for life. Remember - recurring foot pain is not normal, it means something is wrong.
What Pains Was I Getting?
It ranged from a mild uncomfortable feeling to sharp excruciating pains in the ball of my foot (the bit between the toes and the arch). It sometimes felt like a snap inside the ball of the foot, or like my bones were being clicked in and out of the socket, or like someone was stabbing my foot.
These sharp pains could cause me to cry, walk with a limp and I've even been off work for days at a time. The pain came and went regardless of the shoes I was wearing, what I was doing or how long I was on my feet for. To ease the pain I'd need to stay off my feet for hours or days at a time. Some shoes did make it easier - wide, comfy and flat. Trainers, converse and Uggs became my besties.
How Did I Get Diagnosed?
I seen a specialist via Bupa and he knew what was wrong within 5 minutes. I was completely shocked at how fast he diagnosed me. If I'd seen a specialist via the NHS I could have been spared years of pain. He asked me a few questions, felt my foot and instantly knew what was wrong. He even said it was pretty common! He sent me for an MRI of the foot to confirm his diagnosis - once the results came in he let me know my options.
If you would like the details of my surgeon then please don't hesitate to contact me.
What Was Wrong?
Turns out, all that was wrong with me is a lump. A little lump between the bones in my foot, sometimes known as a mortons neuroma. The lump pushes out between the bones and clamps down onto the nerve - causing a lot of pain. The lump can get inflamed which results in more pain. It usually occurs between the 3rd and 4th toe, although mines occurred between the 2nd and 3rd. It can happen in one or both feet. I have one in both feet but my left does not cause a lot of pain so I chose only to get my right foot operated on.
This is where a neuroma is located and what it looks like. Images borrowed from google.
How Is It Fixed?
Some people say their pain can be lessened with insoles or massage but mine was really past that point since I've had it for years now.
An injection can be made into the lump itself to stop it from becoming inflamed but my surgeon advised me that this treatment would not benefit me and I would only get a few weeks of pain relief at most, so I went for the last option - surgery. Surgery fixes this problem in around 80% of cases - odds I was certainly happy to take.
Surgery involves cutting the lump itself out in hope of giving the nerve more space and stops pressure on the bones. Surgery is usually done from the sole of the foot or the top of the foot but my surgeon cut in between my toes and up to the nerve. This left me a tiny scar compared to most people, something I'm happy about because I was worried about my tattoo getting fucked up.
Most people are back walking normally 6 - 8 weeks after the operation but in some cases it takes up to 4 months and in very rare cases it can take 9 - 12 months.
Before the operation
Ok, I'll admit it - I was fucking terrified. I've never had an op before and I'm a 'worst case scenario' kinda girl. I was scared of the general anesthetic and the pain I would be in when I woke up. I didn't have to do any special prep for the op except the usual things; pre-op assessments / blood tests etc. I was not allowed to eat or drink from midnight onwards - this was so hard for me because I drink nonstop.
The day of the operation
I went into the hospital at 7am. I had my own room in the hospital so I stayed there till about 9am. My boyfriend sat with me all morning to calm me down but when I was wheeled to theatre I lost my nerve and started crying. My theatre nurse and the anesthetist calmed me down and spoke to me while they inserted my cannula. The anesthetist gave me some stuff (who knows what) that made me feel drunk and I stopped crying and started chatting to him. That's the last thing I remember!
I woke up from my operation in the recovery room and the pain hit me as soon as I opened my eyes, it was agony! I told the nurse and she gave me some morphine. Well, shit. That stuff is great! I felt like I was floating on air and the pain went away really quickly. I remember being so pissed off because I wanted a drink of water and I had to wait until I was transferred back to my bedroom. I also cried a little but I had no idea what I was crying at because I felt high as a kite.
They took me to my room really quickly after I woke up and I had a drink and passed out for hours. When I woke up I was given tea, toast and a biscuit. I ate the biscuit then fell back asleep.
By this point it was around 6/7pm and I was ready to be released. The physio came round and taught me to walk on crutches which was really painful but it had to be done for them to ensure I was fit enough to get out.
I got given a supply of cocodamol painkillers (8 a day) and ibuprofen (6 a day) and my boyfriend took me home. I fell asleep on the way home and was sleeping almost as soon as I got back into my own bed.
This is how my foot looked after the surgery.
I was given the following advise:
Stay in bed as much as possible for 2 weeks at least, 3 if possible. Walks to the bathroom / kitchen only.
When walking, walk with my weight on my heel.
Keep foot elevated to help reduce swelling.
Do not get my bandage wet.
Do exercises while in bed - making 'circles' with my foot and moving my foot up and down for a couple of minutes every hour to help circulation.
No shoes for 3/4 weeks depending on healing.
Day 1 After Op
I felt horrendously sick and my foot was in a lot of pain. The doctors said the general anesthetic could make me feel sick; they apparently gave me an anti-sickness tablet after the op but I have no recollection of that at all. I slept most of the day and when I woke up I was wishing I had more morphine!
It was very hard to walk with my crutches because of the pain (I couldn't put my foot down) and how unsteady I was due to the cocodamol. The cocodamol made me feel really out of it - slurring my words, sleepy etc.
Day 2 - 7
The pain level went between a 2 (with tablets) and an 8.
Continued very much the same as the first day, only with no actual sickness. And more tears. I did feel really sick though, the painkillers gave me a bad side affect of feeling sicky and ill. Oh, and they made me really spotty. Lucky me! My dad made my meals and sorted my tablets etc for me. My boyfriend had to help me with things like washing haha how romantic! I'm lucky he's a strong boy so he could put me in and out of the bath. The first few times my boyfriend washed my hair I was pretty sure he was waterboarding me!
I could not feel my toes this entire time. I could certainly feel the pain where the surgeon made the incision and where the lump was cut out though!
Day 8 - 11
Pain started to ease off but I still couldn't put my feet down while I used my crutches. If I did, I felt painful shockwaves shooting up my foot. I still needed painkillers but I was not taking 8 a day, I cut them down a bit and only had 1 at a time if the pain allowed it. I still needed my meals made and help walking / washing. I began to feel my toes again, woo! First my big toe and my baby toe, then the others followed.
I got the big bandages off on day 12. Thank goodness! They were beginning to really bug me because of how bulky and heavy they were. I was really nervous to see my foot because after the op I googled it (bad move) and most people end up with huge scars. I don't have anything against scars and I am not squeamish but I am easily freaked out when it regards my own body - I never said I was brave!
I was pleasantly surprised! My surgeon made the scar tiny and neat, truly a testament to how great a surgeon he is. He wanted me to keep a light bandage on for another few days to let my scar heal a little more. I was in pain while they cut the knotted stitches that poked out of my skin, just to prevent it from snagging. The stitches holding the skin together were not cut as they were disolvable.
Day 13 - 21
Without my padding, even the littlest things hurt my foot. It was really difficult sleeping, whenever the weight of the duvet touched my foot the pain woke me up. Even with painkillers, I felt really sore. Still limping and using my crutches. I could now get my foot wet and my first bath felt like heaven! Since I could see it now, I could see how swollen my foot was. There was a massive difference between my operated foot and my normal foot.. My stitches fell out, you can see the little holes in my skin below. I began using bio oil on my scar and doing foot exercises - scrunching my toes, wiggling my toes and pulling my 2nd and 3rd toe apart to prevent the scar pulling the toes tight together. The exercises hurt and my middle toe barely moved when I tried to scrunch them. It looked like I was giving the middle finger with my foot! A new party trick perhaps?!
I am unsure why but I felt exhausted this whole week. I barely left my bed but I felt nackered the whole time.
This picture shows the visible marks on my foot. You can barely see the scar just over 3 weeks post op. My 2nd and 3rd toes really hurt this week, like, really hurt.
How amazing is the scar though?
Day 22 - 28
I am writing this post at the 4 week mark. I can walk short distances without my crutches now but I still get random shooting pains and walk with a limp. My foot is like a balloon, inflating and deflating. Even walking around the house causes my foot to swell badly and it gets extremely painful. Weirdly, it goes a different colour from my other foot when its swollen!? An angry shade of red. I was a bit worried about it but my foot hasn't fallen off yet so I'm ok I think.
I am now allowed to put soft soled shoes on, I've worn trainers once and it felt really strange on my foot.
I now barely feel the pain from inside my foot where the lump was removed unless I have my weight on it, certainly not as bad as it once was. My toes still hurt and weirdly, my scar tissue feels more tender than ever before.
I realised I have been very nieve. I thought the pain would go when the scar and the wound inside healed - I didn't realise that walking and the swelling would hurt so damn much. I expected swelling but I thought I'd feel ok by now.
Oh - at this point I was steady enough to get in and out of the bath alone. Three cheers for small victories!
Was the surgery worth it?
So far, I don't know. As I am still swollen and cant walk properly I can't tell if I will be pain free. I haven't felt the snapping feeling or the stabbing feeling in my foot but then again, I haven't been walking much. I'll keep you updated on this!
I will keep updating this post with my recovery. If you have any questions or want to share your experience with surgery then please don't hesitate!