Saturday, December 26, 2009
This is the one about my foot
This one may be a long one, but it's mostly for me. And I might want to warn you, it might not be pretty. I don't really know where this story begins so I will start with 1988, the year I graduated from high school. I was a cheerleader and my squad was pretty good, not as good as the state championship football team, but close. We were practicing for hours every day because we were to be in a National competition in CA. Somewhere in all of the practicing, I had landed on my knee/lower leg and chipped the bone. A few days later, one of my friends came up behind me and put her knees into my knees to make me bend my knees and the sudden jerking motion caused one of those little bone chips to poke into my tendon. VERY PAINFUL. So, a few weeks later I had knee surgery. As my mom was consulting with the orthopedic surgeon, they decided it was a good time to do surgery on my feet as well. I had had bunions since about the fifth grade. (Most likely hereditary since both of my Grandmothers had bunions). So, they did knee surgery and bunion surgery at the same time. Everything went well on the knee and the feet. But gradually over the years my feet slowly seemed to grow back into the old shape. (Instead of my big toe lining up nicely with the inside of my foot and the other toes, it grew this big bump on the side and the big toe pushed inward towards the other toes and making them all look smashed together.)
I didn't really have a problem with it until about 2 years ago. I had decided that I was ready to lose the baby weight (Cole was 2--it was about time, right?), we had finally moved in and settled into our new house, and it was New Years Resolution time. So, I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. Rick and I had done some running in the past and we wanted to do something a little more organized and embark on some serious training. We read some books and found a program and started running.
It was going pretty well, until about spring break time. Rick and I were in St. George for a conference. We went on a six mile run and I practically had to crawl home. I thought I had just bruised the bottom of my foot. I took it easy for a few days. No improvement. Rick thought maybe I had a stress fracture for which there is really no treatment except to take it easy. So, I did that. The only problem is that my foot got worse not better.
I realize that this is not a great picture of anything, but you can see my toes down in the bottom, right where my 2nd and 3rd toes separate. (just in case you want to blame this on the running/training, don't. Looking back at pictures over the prior 5 years, my toes were already starting to do this before I was pregnant with Cole. My feet are wide and they have just spread over the years.)
I eventually went to the dr. on August 1, 2008. Dr. Rogers did an ultrasound on my foot and easily diagnosed a neuroma. It's an easy fix, he says. I have a neuroma because my foot is wide and the pressure from my foot being so wide where the bunion returned caused that part of my foot to squeeze together and after so long that caused the nerve between those toes to become inflamed and irritated. He shot the neuroma (inflamed nerve) with cortisone which works about 80% of the time. Let me just say, it hurts to get that shot. It helped for about a month or two. By the time I went back, I was in just as much pain as before. I mean pain like, I can't walk or stand for more than a few minutes at a time. I remember trying to fix dinner for the kids (mac & cheese--nothing fancy) and having to sit on a bar stool at the stove because I couldn't stand that long. Summer would get the ingredients out of the fridge for me and Sierra would set the table so that I didn't have to stand or walk. Pathetic.
I ended up having 3 cortisone shots. The last one i got just before we went to Hawaii just to see if it would help me get through those couple of weeks since we had that trip planned for months.
Then, on January 8, 2009 I had surgery on my foot. #1 to remove the neuroma (easy procedure, usually takes about 12 minutes) They cut between the 2 toes (my peace toes, as the dr. calls them) and remove the inflamed nerves. #2 to repair the bunion and straighten out my foot to hopefully reduce the sideways pressure on my foot and prevent any further nerve damage. Well, remember how I had had this procedure done once before? It hurt like hell the first time. my memory has not faded on that point. And this time around it hurt even more. The original surgery had left me with a staple in my foot to help the bone heal. We knew it was there, it showed up on the x-ray. But, Dr. Rogers was not prepared for the fact that the bone had grown over the staple. he eventually had to cut it in half (he told me he went to Home Depot to pick up some wire cutters while I was out). And the staple had barbs on it. It didn't come out nicely. He had to remove a lot more bone and do more repair work than he had anticipated. It took 2 hours longer for the surgery than he had planned. This time I have a pin, a screw and a plate in my foot to hold it together and help it heal.
When I woke up, I was in so much pain. They told me I could go home when the pain level got from a 10 down to a 5. I lied. It was more like 50. I just wanted to go home. It didn't get down to a 5 for about a month. I pretty much kept my entire foot iced 24 hours a day just to keep the swelling down and my foot numb.
After 4 weeks, I went back to get the cast off. I was nervous. The dr. x-rayed my foot and was quite pleased with the way my bunion was healing. He was pretty nervous considering the condition my foot was in after the surgery. He really didn't know how the outcome would be.
Everything was good at this point. I went home with a big black boot on my foot and crutches. This meant that I could now shower. However, I could not bear weight for at least another month. So, I had to shower on one foot or with crutches. Not easy, but better than the month before. As my foot began to heal and the swelling went down, my peace toes were coming back strong as ever. So, I kept my toes taped like this for the month I wore the black boot. The dr. was concerned. Once my bones were healed enough to bear weight, he told me to start walking and to keep my toes taped together. This was to strengthen my muscles and train the toes to stay straight and not separate.
It didn't really work. There was a lot of swelling from the surgery and with a dose of bad luck I got a lot of scar tissue which basically just caused my 2nd to to be permanently dislocated.
I tried everything to strengthen my toes. Rick would stretch my foot every night trying to loosen the joint and strengthen the muscles. So, in July I had another surgery. This time, they went in where the neuroma was before and cleaned out the scar tissue. Then they went further down on the outside of my foot and harvested a part of tendon. They cut the tendon on my 2nd toe that was causing it to pull over on top of my big toe. They attached the harvested tendon to the 2nd toe and basically reworked my foot so that the muscles and tendons were pulling my toes into a more correct position. This is what my foot looked like for a month:
I was beginning to feel a neuroma starting in my right foot, so I decided to have them remove the nerve on that foot at the same time. The dr. said it was a good thing because even though I was not in much pain on that foot at the time, the neuroma was already forming there and was actually larger than the one he had removed earlier from my left foot. So, I came home looking like this:
Both feet. Yip. Try getting to the bathroom without using your feet. Showering. Not easy. i couldn't get the pin foot wet for a month. I had a friend who had had this same procedure. She told me that in order to get the pin out your foot, they just go out back to the shed and grab some plyers and pull until it comes out. Great. I was whining to Rick about this. He said, "well, how do you think they got the pin in there?" I don't know. He makes this horrible sound like a dental tool and says, "They just drill in into your toe until it goes in as far as it needs to." I just about passed out after that conversation. When the dr. pulled it out, it was about 4 inches long.
Honestly, by this time I was pretty depressed. I couldn't do anything I wanted to. I hadn't been able to do anything I wanted to for months and months. I was tired of crutches, stitches, scars, screw, pins, and not being able to take my kids to the swimming pool. I know it was a holiday weekend and lots of people had plans. I had plans, too. I sat on the couch and watched TV for 12 hours a day and crawled to the bathroom from time to time. I did a little crocheting for variety.
It was a pretty hard time for me. Rick had trained for, and ran a marathon. I was so proud of him. But I was sad that I could not run with him. Summer got roller blades for her birthday and I just sat on the grass and watched. Cole learned how to ride a bike and I could not ride with him. It was hard. It's hard to be a mom and not be able to do mom things like, cook and clean and do fun things like go for walk and go swimming.
My depressed attitude only lasted for about a month--the length of time that I had the pin in my foot. By the time I got the pin out, I was so excited to be painfree and mobile again. The dr. said that he was not 100% thrilled with the way my toe still drifted to the side. But, as long as I was painfree and the toe was not still dislocated, I was in good shape.
Now, the problem was that I had pretty much been sedentary for 7 months. I had a better record than that when I was pregnant and puking every day. And I was a lot younger. I had a lot of time to make up for.
The dr. told me that the best thing for my foot was to use it. Run. Jump. Walk. Swim. I had to start slow. My foot was very tight. I had to start with stretching. Rick helped me--mostly because I didn't want to pay for a physical therapist. He worked me pretty good. The dr. is pleased with my range of motion considering that I have had the bunion joint reworked twice now and my toe was dislocated for so long. And I have muscles and tendons doing things that they weren't originally designed to do. I have a lot of swelling and I have to ice my foot a lot still. But, the swelling with gradually get better, but it may take up to 18 months after the surgery, so I still have another year left before the swelling is completely gone. I can't do lunges on my left foot. I try, but I have to do some modified moves.
So, this fall we went to Glacier National Park where we walked and walked and hiked and hiked and I did great. Some swelling, but it felt good for the most part.
When we got back from Glacier, we decided to start a training program. Rick and I had done Power 90 in the past and we thought it would be a good program to do again. One of Rick's partners is a coach and so he got us the P90x workout dvd's. We are 10 weeks into a 12 week program. It's hard. I'm not gonna lie. It's weight lifting. It works arms, legs, back, shoulders. There is also yoga and cardio. One of the cardio sessions is called Plyometrics. It is a 1 hour work out of legs and jumping exercises. WOW. that works my foot and legs. And the yoga is killer, but we love it. I have to say that my arms /back/shoulders are in better condition now than ever before. It's hard. I have never worked out so hard that I have thrown up, but I've come close in the past few weeks. You know you're working hard when you almost puke.
We have 2 weeks left int he program. I LOVE it. We will finish just before we go to Hawaii.
When we get back from Hawaii, Rick and I are going to do the P90x series again, but we are going to implement our Marathon training. Rick is going to do another full marathon and I am going to do a half. There are a few throughout the coming summer that will work with Rick's schedule. I'm so excited that we will be doing this together. It's gonna hurt. It's gonna be hard. But, I feel like I need to finish what I started. I want to make up for this last year of not doing anything. I want to do something that is hard and feel the satisfaction of the accomplishment. The furthest that I have run since this whole mess is 2 1/2 miles on the treadmill. I know that 13 miles is a long ways. I don't know if I will be able to run the whole thing. But I know I can walk it if I have to. But, either way I know I have to try. Rick has been really awesome with his encouragement and I look forward to the training. We will have fun and do it together.
oh, and I have the complete endorsement of my dr. He's been great, too. He says that now I have a brand new foot I should be able to do anything I put my mind to. Horray!
This is what my bionic foot looks like today: