Let’s talk about my surgery

Hello everyone!

So recently I’ve had quite a few questions across Twitter, some other platforms and actually had a few emails submitted through my website last night in regards to my surgery. I had promised this blog post a while ago and I didn’t get around to it as my surgery date was bumped so my attention went towards getting ready for it. So sit back, relax, this may be a long one!

When I was around 11 years old, I started getting issues with pain in my feet. At first, doctors and other professionals tried to brush it off as growing paints. When I kept on at it, they tried to say I was faking it as x-rays and scans showed no issues with my feet. Because of this, I stopped all the activities and things I enjoyed, in too much pain to continue with them.

This went on for a few years until I was 15. At 15, I was messing around in my back garden and I fell over some excess fencing that we had. I twisted my ankle and it was agony. We went to our local Minor Injuries Unit where they told me my foot was fractured and strapped me up and gave me crutches. I went on my way, none the wiser. Two days later I received a call from the hospital stating that they were looking over x-rays as part of compulsory checks and they had noticed an anomaly in mine. They asked me to come in which I did the next day. They explained that I had essentially an extra bone in my foot, called an accessory navicular. This is more common than people may think, but for me, it was extreme. They couldn’t understand how it had been missed before. It turned out my foot wasn’t fractured at all.

From here, we went to the doctors and this is when all my treatment started. Taking x-rays, they confirmed that I had it on both my feet, more so on the right foot. This felt right with me as my right foot was always the one giving me most bother. They gave me some exercises to do at home to try and help with it and it was left at that.

For years I tried to chase it up but it wasn’t given much attention. I was getting to be in more and more pain as I got older and the exercises weren’t working. Finally a doctor referred me to a physiotherapist. Physio was so painful but I kept at it, trying everything I possibly could. My physio realised that we weren’t really getting anywhere, he also noticed that I had completely flat feet. Feeding this back to my doctor, I was then moved on to a specialist who knew more about the situation.

At this point, I was around 18/19 years old and on medication for the pain. The specialist took x-rays, went through several tests and asked questions to assess the extent of the condition. In x-rays he found that the extra bone was in the way of other bones, actually causing them to become brittle and fracture and break. Effectively, I had been walking around on fractured feet and hadn’t realised, putting the pain to the extra bone. He also noticed ligament and tendon damage and some other damage, noting that this would degrade over time. At this point, we tried special shoes.

The combination of physio and special shoes was helping slightly, but nothing that was worth nothing. I was put on the waiting list to see my current doctor, an orthopedic surgeon. The waiting list for him was over a year, and I was 22 before I saw him originally. Straight away, he wanted surgery. Because I had waited to see him for so long, I had kind of been in limbo, just taking medication to manage the pain in my wait. The damage had gotten much worse, and he explained that without surgery I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was in my 40’s.

Fast forward a long waiting list and several appointments until 2 weeks ago today, aged 24, my surgery date. (The following may involve gross details!) My surgery involved cutting out the extra bone and reinforcing those brittle and broken bones with plates and screws. Secondly, my feet turn in towards the inside of my body, aided by the fact I have flat feet and the structure of my feet. To try and combat this, they split my heel in half and swung the inside half out to create a larger surface area and try and straighten my feet. They inserted rods in between the heel. Lastly, there is a long tendon that goes from your foot right up the inside of your leg to your knee. This tendon was severely overstretched due to the fact I had no arch. It didn’t have a purpose, I didn’t use it, therefore it had never been strengthened. So they cut this tendon completely, taking a tendon that runs from my baby toes to the top of my foot and replacing it with that instead to try and form an arch. I will ever have an arch, and I’ll have to wear arch supports for the rest of my life.

So post surgery, I was put in a half cast and my foot elevated. The half cast allowed my foot and leg room to swell without getting trapped. A week later, the swelling had gone down quite well, so this cast was removed and a proper hard cast put on. At this point, I was able to see my foot for the first time and it was a bit gruesome. I have stitches all up both sides of my feet and several stitches across my heel, it’s going to scar badly. But to be honest, I would rather have a scar and keep my ability to walk. So that’s where I am now, healing in a hard cast. Recently this cast has been getting a little loose, so I may have to get this changed again soon.

In terms of recovery, my original recovery time was given as over a year. However, teamed with the physio and other work I’ve done, I have decreased it a good bit. At the moment, we’re looking at the foot in 6 weeks to see how it’s healing. If it’s healing well, they will move it into a surgical boot which will allow me to weight bear a little on it and try and get a hang of moving again. There is no certain amount of time for me being in this boot, but once the healing has progressed, I’ll come out of it. At that point, I’ll have to learn how to walk again, my foot will be completely different to what I know. If I’m honest, I’m terrified for that with the pain I’ve had, but it’s an obstacle I have to overcome.

In terms of moving around now, I have to use crutches in my house or for short periods of time, but once I’m outside I’m in a wheelchair. The reasoning for this is my left foot also needs operated on. If I was to use crutches all the time, it would accelerate the damage to the left foot and it would need operated on before I’m ready and recovered from this foot operation. So crutches/wheelchair combo it is!

If you’ve made it this far then thanks for reading! I’m open to any questions, so you can get me over at Twitter or through the ‘Contact me’ section of my blog.

I will continue to post updates on my recovery from surgery for people who are interested, I’ll categorise them as such too so you can search them all if you wish.

Thanks!

Cheryl xx

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