This will probably be my last post on the subject of bunions!

I went the hospital yesterday for my final follow up appointment after my bunion surgery in September 2010. As all has been going very well, the doctor has discharged me.

My walking has continued to improve: I’m just over 4 months now since my surgery.

I got rid of that awful ankle pain shortly after Christmas, which made walking so much easier. My foot is still liable to swell a little, and I have been walking with my weight on the outer part of my foot. But as the swelling and discomfort diminishes, I’ve been able to put more weight on the big toe side of my foot and push off more from that side. I reckon after about 6 months I should be more comfortable.

My big toe is stiffer than it was before the surgery, which I was told about, but as I’m not a dancer or a runner, I’m not too bothered by that. Also I lost some feeling on the side of my big toe, because the surgery affects the nerves for this part of the foot. I was also warned about this, but again it doesn’ t bother me. And in any case I have found that most of the feeling is returning.

Sadly my toe nail was damaged during the surgery, and the doctor told me it might drop off! I feel a bit sicky thinking about that, but I guess it’s not the end of the world!

Onwards and upwards!

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Back to work – post bunion surgery: part 7

I’m back into the swing of work now. I went back just over a week ago (8 weeks after surgery). I live in London, UK and my journey involves a fairly lengthy commute from Essex into central London, taking the tube and/or train to get there.

I am fortunate in that I could fit my swollen foot into my Websters shoes (made with a wider fit), and I took my flat surgical shoe with me in my rucksack so I could put it on if my foot got too tight and uncomfortable during the day.

My first day at work was a Thursday, so I had two days at work, and then a recovery period at the weekend. I’ve also arranged to do four day weeks, using up annual leave, to take the strain off as well. When I get to work I can sit down all day so that makes it easier.

I still walk with a limp because of the big toe stiffness, but this is gradually getting better with toe exercises and by making myself push lightly off the toe when I walk, even though it is sore, because this is how it will become looser and more flexible with time.

My foot still gets swollen and sore, but it is manageable with paracetemol and ibuprofen. The wound is looking good, having fully healed up. My last stitch came out on the day that I went back to work. I now use Bio-Oil to rub into the scar to soften it and to deal with the few remaining patches of dry, hard skin from wearing the bandage for 6 weeks.

A couple of days ago I developed a sore ankle. I think this has happened because I am walking in a slightly awkward way in order to avoid the toe pain. I think this compensation has caused a strain on my tendons. Also my foot, ankle and leg lost muscle tone during the weeks of sitting and lying around (when I couldn’t do any weight bearing) and so walking again is hard at first because this muscle has to be developed again. I find it particularly tricky when walking on uneven surfaces, because the muscles in the foot and ankle not yet strong enough to do the job of supporting me, and so my tendons are probably trying to do the work instead, and have become a bit strained. I wear an ankle support to help me with this. It is pretty sore at the moment, so I’m hoping my weekend rest will calm it down a bit.

I still walk with a stick, but not because I really need to, but because I want to signal to my fellow passengers that I’m not steady on my feet and so not to bump into me or push me.

Today I got my foot into my Merrells which I haven’t worn since before the surgery. AND I stood on tip toe for the first time too! I was on tip toe and had my hand very lightly against the wall, more for balance than anything, but I could do it! I still have less upward movement in the big toe than I did before surgery, but this is improving little by little. I can also move the toe down, and scrunch it very slightly. So more movement is coming back. It’s not without pain. Yesterday I was waiting on a cold platform for the train and it really set off my pain. My big toe joint was throbbing most of the day. This morning it is quite comfortable and I haven’t taken any painkillers. Normally, on a work day, I will get up early and have my porridge, and then take the ibuprofen and paracetemol straight away after eating, so they have time to kick in before I have to walk to the station.

It’s been snowing in the UK, even thought it’s still only November. Thankfully I haven’t had any snow where I live but it has made me a bit worried about what footwear I will be able to get on should it snow. So I’ve been surfing the web in the search of a suitably roomy boot. I may have discovered one. I’ve ordered a pair of Karrimor Women’s Mount Mid L Weathertite Hiking Shoes. The comments on Amazon UK suggest they are a wider fit than normal, so fingers crossed. I’m still waiting for the delivery, and I’ll post the outcome!

Update 29th November 2010: Re: Karrimor Women’s Mount Mid L Weathertite Hiking Shoes. These boots were a great success!! I’ve worn them for a trial walk in the park, and they are so comfortable. I had two pairs of socks on, and they are warm and sturdy, and come up round my ankles giving good firm, support. They are manufactured a little on the wide side, but I think this might be because they expect you to wear thick socks with them. And in my case, they are perfect because my right foot is still swollen and wider and needs more room.


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Tips for before and after bunion surgery

Follow your doctor or nurse’s instructions regarding taking any medication and wound care. I’m not medically qualified so I can only tell you what my experience has been. If in doubt, phone your doctor or the ward where you had your surgery.


Get everything you’ll need within reach for the two weeks immediately after your surgery when you will be in bed. This could include your music, your phone and mp3 plus chargers, laptop, and any books you want to read. Also, I found a portable DVD player useful whilst flat on my back in bed for two weeks.

Sort your kitchen out too so you don’t have to reach for things as well. Standing on tip toe is not going to happen for a few weeks! If necessary get yourself a pole or grabber of some description to reach up to windows if you need to open or close them. I guess this bit depends on how much help you will have during your recuperation period. I have been very lucky and have had my mother staying with me and giving me 24/7 support, but I know in many cases this level of support isn’t possible. If your partner goes out to work you’ll have to fend for yourself during the day.

Carrying things is impossible while you are using crutches, unless you can manage with one crutch. A wheelable small trolley or table could be useful to transport a cup of tea or hot food without spilling it. You can find this kind of thing in a mobility or aids shop for the elderly or disabled.  Or you could put a chair and table in the kitchen if there isn’t one already, so you don’t need to move hot drinks or food very far.  When I was alone one day I made a flask of tea and was able to transport it back upstairs so I had tea for the afternoon.  That works, but the tea tasted of that strange flasky taste.

If you need to use a taxi to get around (for your hospital appointments) then get enough cash as you won’t be able to get to the cash machine later.

After surgery

If you are having a general anaesthetic  then get some sore throat lozenges. You might appreciate them after your surgery as sometimes it can give you a sore throat.  And if you don’t get one, then just save them for your next dose of flu!

Get some painkillers and ibuprofen. You’ll probably be given some painkillers immediately after your surgery by your doctor, which are stronger than normal. I was given a week’s worth of Tramadol. But after this time, you will probably need to take some pain killers or anti-inflammatories, so get stocked up.

Two weeks in bed

During the first two weeks you will need to stay off your foot as much as possible and elevate it a lot of the time.  This means spending two weeks in bed and only getting out to shuffle to the toilet and back. So you may be eating food in bed, if you’re lucky enough to have someone to assist you with your care. Make sure you sit up to eat it and stay sitting up for about half an hour afterwards or you run the risk of gastric reflux, which is unpleasant. Prop yourself up with good pillows or buy a bed wedge or back rest.

I found these two weeks frustrating, due to the inevitable discomfort and pain in my foot and also just because you are lying there for days. I got back ache as I couldn’t sleep on my side because my tender foot had to be propped upright and kept away from the sheets and mattress. I found a roll to rest my foot on was a really good idea, because it kept my foot elevated at night, and later on when I got a bit better, I could sleep on my side with my ankle on the roll and my foot slightly elevated off the bed so my wound didn’t touch the mattress.

Showering and washing

Use a plastic bag, with some kind of tape, to cover your foot if you want to take a shower. It’s very important that you don’t get your bandage wet while the wound is healing. In my case, I decided to avoid taking a shower for the six weeks I had my bandage on to avoid any risk of getting it wet and therefore risking infection. So I opted for a flannel wash, which is not that pleasant but it’s not the end of the world and it only lasts six weeks. And when you can finally get in the shower, you REALLY appreciate it!

When the bandages come off – dry feet and stitches

Buy a big tub of E45 cream for when the bandages come off. This is cream for dry skin conditions and was recommended by the plaster technician who removed my bandage. The skin on your foot will be dry and flake or peel off for a while. It’s a bit gross, but it’s perfectly normal and will be sorted out with the cream in a week or two.

I also bought some Bio-Oil for use on the scar. I haven’t started using it yet, but will when the dissolvable stitches have all come out (I’m nearly there, only one left in!).  I found my scar/wound was very hard at first, and the E45 cream has gradually softened it up. I’m sure the Bio-Oil will be good for that as well.

Get a large pair of socks (or two) for when your bandages come off. I appreciated having a roomy sock to put on when I got rid of my bandage so my scar/stitches didn’t rub too much against the sock.

Walking stick

Get yourself a walking stick to use when you are finally learning to walk again in your flat surgical shoe. It will feel very strange when you walk in your flat shoe, after walking about in the wedge shoe for a few weeks, and you’ll need some support. You could still use the crutches you’ve been given. Walking sticks however are not that expensive and can be useful to signal to other people that you aren’t steady on your feet, even if you don’t really need it to walk with. When I started walking again, I found that I was imbalanced on my right leg due to lack of weight bearing on it for 6 weeks. The muscles need to get stronger again, so you experience a period of one leg stronger than the other. A walking stick will help you with this!

Back ache when walking

When I stopped using my two crutches to walk around, I noticed that my good foot in its slipper was lower down than my post-surgery foot, which was high up in a wedge shoe (and later on in the flat surgical shoe). This caused an imbalance in my walking which put pressure on my lower back. So when you start walking about without crutches wear a shoe on your good foot, which will raise your leg up so you are not putting pressure on your back.


A roomy shoe or trainer to wear when you get your bandage off. It took me a week to be able to get my foot into a shoe, after my bandage came off (7 weeks after surgery), despite the fact that my doctor told me it should only take a couple of days. I don’t think they know because they don’t get to see you for another three months (in the case of my hospital) and probably don’t think to ask what your experience of shoe wearing has been (after all, it’s not clinical!). In any case, there is no rush or competition to get your shoe on so take it easy. If you do go back to work, you can always wear your flat surgical shoe for a while.

The type of shoe you might use is one with a short tongue (the bit at the top), so you don’t have to flex your toe too much to get your foot in. Also one which has an extra wide fitting so it can accommodate any swelling, and give your scar/stitches room without rubbing and irritating them. I had a shoe made by Websters when I had my bunion, and it has a wider fitting for the right shoe. I find it is perfect now for accommodating a foot liable to swelling.  However, you might prefer to go out and look for a cheaper alternative, such as a roomy trainer. Do this before your surgery so it’s ready for when you need it.

You may not need this, but I was thankful that I had an ankle support tucked away in my draw at home. Now that I’m walking again and have returned to work, I found that my ankle is a bit weak due to lack of use (6 weeks of non weight bearing), and I have developed a bit of soreness in it due to struggling to walk. I wear an ankle support to help me.


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Bunion surgery recovery part 6

The toe exercises that I have been doing have paid off.  Today I managed to get a shoe on!

This one (below), is tough because it makes your toe sore. You press down on the big toe as much as you can tolerate. My toe goes a bit white when I’m doing this one. I press and hold for a few seconds.

photo of toe exercises after bunion surgery

Pressing down on big toe for as long as you can tolerate

However, the pay off is that for the first time since the surgery (on 25th September) I can get a shoe on.

So I’m in my seventh week now. And it’s one week since I had the bandages off and got rid of the wedge shoe. Not bad. I had to take it off, couldn’t leave it on but it was a real step forward to be able to do it! I’m so chuffed!!

These are my new shoes (see pic below) which I bought from Clarks. They are  extra wide fitting, and are called Edible Petal. These are ideal because I have a very stiff big toe after the surgery so I can’t flex it very much. The short front/top part means I don’t have to flex my toe that much to get it in. And the extra wide fitting (Fit EE) gets me a little bit extra room. I can’t really wear them yet, but will be able to in the near future. My foot will be liable to swelling for a while yet and so it was worth the expense of buying a decent pair of soft and easy to get on shoes!

photo of foot in shoe

Foot in shoe for the first time after bunion surgery

This morning I also succeeded in getting my foot into my Websters shoes. These are called Foxglove (see below) and are bespoke shoes, with generous fitting and a few millimeters extra in the right shoe.

photo of foot in shoe after bunion surgery

My foot in a shoe for the first time after bunion surgery

These were made for me when I had my bunion, and so the right shoe is slightly wider than the left. I walked up and down for about five minutes in these and it was a great feeling to be able to get a shoe on. It feels like a real milestone, although there’s a long way to go yet. Although they were made for my bunion foot, they are great for me while I’m transitioning from my surgical shoe into my proper shoes.

I went for another walk in the park today. I got the whole way round, that’s twice now. Very blustery weather today, but lovely autumn leaves to look at.

photo of park in autumn

Autumn park walk


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Bunion story part 5

It’s now nearly 6 weeks after my scarf and akin osteotomy on my right foot to correct my bunion.

I went to my follow up on Thursday and had my bandages finally removed! And was given a flat velcro shoe to walk in.

So here is the shoe (with my now famous black and green sock!):

Photo of a flat surgical shoe

Flat surgical shoe

and here are my two (bare) feet (bit of a V shape between the big toe and second toe, but normal after surgery, and the gap should close after a while):

photo of two feet after bunion surgery on right foot

After bunion surgery on right foot

And here is the scar after 6 weeks. The lines are drawn by the surgeon to help realign the skin when sewing it back together:

photo of scar on right foot after bunion surgery

Scar on right foot 6 weeks after bunion surgery

I have some discomfort now in my toe/foot as I am now putting my weight on my forefoot for the first time in six weeks. It’s been a bit swollen and sore, but I’ve dealt with that by elevating the foot and taking an ibuprofen. Hopefully it will calm down as the foot gets used to the extra action it’s having to cope with. The big toe is very stiff. It moves backwards (or down) comfortably enough, but not upwards very well. I will need to do more range of motion exercises and put my weight forward on it so it makes it bend. It’s sore at the moment so I’m not looking forward to it, but no pain no gain.

At 6 weeks, and with the bandage off, my right foot has a lot of dead peeling skin, which is a bit unpleasant. I need to bathe it and put E45 cream on it to soften it. It’s quite normal for this to occur when you’ve had bandages on for a few weeks. Bathing my foot for the first time in 6 weeks felt a bit strange but it was pleasurable to feel the water round it.

That’s all I can say at the moment, will update again later as I learn to walk again.

UPDATE: 7TH NOVEMBER: Been out for a walk in the park today. My first real walk since the surgery. And my first outing for 6 weeks that hasn’t involved a trip to the hospital for a check up. The park isn’t far, just down my road and I managed to get there and walk for a bit with my stick. I sat on two benches to rest, then walked back. Feeling really good that I made it. My foot seems ok, bit tired but not too swollen and sore.


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Bunion surgery rehab part 4

I had my follow up appointment at the hospital last Thursday. It was nearly three weeks since the surgery. I had an x-ray to check on the bones and that the pins were all in place. The doctor was happy with that. Then I had my dressing changed in the plaster room. The wound was healing very nicely –  all the arrows they’d drawn onto it were still nicely aligned and it looked neat. My toe looked nice and straight. It was the first time I’d seen it since before the surgery so it felt like a relief to see was had been going on under the bandages! The bandage was replaced, and this time he wrapped it round my big toe and then pulled back and outward slightly so the toe was stretched out into an exaggerated outward position. It didn’t hurt at the time, just felt kind of stretched. The purpose of this was to stretch the tendon on the right side of the big toe (in the middle of the foot)  to lengthen it, while at the same time shortening the tendon on the outside of the toe. In other words the opposite of what it had been like when I had the bunion for years. It’s like training the toe to be in the right position. This results in a visible gap between the big toe and the other toes, like a V shape. But I was assured that the toes would come together naturally in time.  I was also told to do some range of motion exercises on the big toe, pulling it back and forwards gently to try and get some movement back into the joint.

Here’s me doing my toe exercises:

Hand manipulating toe after surgery

Doing toe exercises after surgery

As you can imagine, the toe is as stiff as a board, so this needs to be done over the next three weeks. Then I will have another follow up appointment, at which time I should get rid of the big clompy boot and get a flatter shoe to wear. That will make walking easier and less lop-sided.

After my follow-up appointment on Thursday my foot was uncomfortable again when I got home. Not surprising really after being pulled around a bit. Also I was on my feet a fair bit as I had to walk to X-Ray Dept and back. But today, Sunday, I’m feeling more comfortable. I might even risk a gin and tonic later on 😉


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Post-bunion surgery part 3

I had surgery on 25th September on the NHS for a bunion on my right foot – a scarf and akin osteotomy. I’m documenting my rehabilitation.  Well it keeps me occupied. It’s 18 days since my surgery now. I’m continuing to improve, but do have painful moments. On Sunday I woke up and my foot was very sore. I vaguely remember having some kind of toe spasm in the night when I was asleep, or maybe I got my big toe caught in the blankets, I’m not sure, but that morning it was quite sore and remained sore all day.  Walking to the loo and back was quite painful.  I took some paracetomol and stayed in bed. Fortunately I had some Tramadol left, so was able to take one later on that evening to help me sleep. Next morning it felt comfortable again and the swelling felt like it had gone down again.

I’m still moving around using my bunion boot. Every time I get up I have to put it on – even just to move a few feet to the toilet. I’m sitting at my laptop and am able to do a bit of work from home, although I’m still officially off sick. It’s good to sit up for a bit although I do make sure I lie down and elevate the foot. This reduces the swelling and any discomfort that can arise from that.

One thing I have noticed is that I’m putting on weight. Not surprising really because I’m not moving around very much. I do have some small dumbells near my bed and I try and do leg exercises to keep the circulation going.

Dumbells near my foot

Foot, dumbells and socks!

It kind of gets me down a bit to think of how unfit and wobbly I’m becoming but there’s not much I can do about it while I heal. I knew this would be a long haul with 6 weeks off work and a lot of patience required. On the whole I’m doing really well, but do get occasional pockets of frustration and counting the days.

My appointment at the clinic to get my bandage changed is on Thursday afternoon. I was supposed to go in two weeks after my surgery but they didn’t have any free appointments *rolls eyes*. I phoned the nurse at the ward where I had my op and she said that would be fine, there’s was nothing to worry about from a clinical point of view. Well, that’s ok then. Just as well.  I’m looking forward to the appointment to get the dressing changed because it will be a milestone on the road to recovery, but I have to admit to being a little bit nervous. I’ll see my foot for the first time since the op — and I hope it doesn’ t hurt! The stitches are dissolvable so at least I don’t need to have them out as well. I’m a wimp, I know.

I wonder how people cope if they have a bi-lateral scarf and akin procedure. I can’ t imagine how hard it must be to have both feet done at once. How on earth do you move around to get to the loo!

My carers (mum and dad) have escaped to Ilford today to go shopping and probably give themselves a break (from me!). I was fine until I started to feel cold. The window in the toilet had been left open (not normally a problem but it’s chilly today) so as I can’t reach it, I tried to close it with the end of a broom. The knob thing at the end just came off. I managed to get it back on the broom again, and then had another go with the furry end of the broom. That worked better, window now closed. Also managed to drag the heater into my room and get it plugged in. Feel better now I’ve got some heat. It’s tricky when you can’t move around very much to warm yourself up, you tend to feel the cold more.


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