Back in Action

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Hi everyone!

A lot has changed since I last updated you all. And mostly all the changes in my life are amazing!! A quick recap for everyone of what has changed since August.

  • I have am a full-time student at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst and majoring in Kinesiology (commuting from home)
  • I have been walking on average 8,000 steps a day. Huge improvement from staying at home all day
  • I have changed my diet completely. I found my self drawn to comfort foods because of my surgeries and that was a way I coped with not being active. Bad idea though.
  • Because I have changed my diet and been walking so much more I have lost 6.5 lbs in one month
  • My mood and energy levels have skyrocketed. Fueling your body with nutrients and limiting your consumption of processed foods is where it’s at. Increasing water consumption is a biggie too.
  • As my mom says “You just look more alive”. It’s true. My eyes are more alert and my skin tone has improved drastically. I’m getting my blood circulating properly again and the nutrition.
  • I am managing my health much better because I have the energy and motivation needed to take care of myself
  • I have surpassed the ONE year anniversary for my right foot surgery. No real problems on that front.
  • The negative aspect in my life is the fact that my left foot is still having issues. I get sharp pains moving it and with weight-bearing. I am able to walk with a small amount of limping with my sneakers. If I try to go barefoot it is much more challenging to walk.  I know my physical therapy with this foot was not as aggressive and I’m not sure if that plays a role in the issues now. The pain I am experiencing is where the Evans calcaneal osteotomy was performed and also the talonavicular joint fusion. It could be excess scar tissue causing the pain and the deficit in my range of motion, but I don’t really know yet. I have an appointment to see my surgeon this week and will update you all when I know more information.

back to school

kinesiology

End of Summer Update

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I had planned on updating everyone a lot sooner, but per usual the summer went by much too quickly. I worked 6 weeks this summer as a gymnastics instructor for a gymnastics camp. I had thought that the springy gymnastics floor would be beneficial to my recovering feet. I was mistaken. The instability of the floor was exactly the opposite of what I needed for my feet. I would get out of work at the end of the day not sure if I could walk to my car because of the pain I was in. It would take all evening for my feet to calm down from the day’s work. After some time I discussed the pain I was experiencing with my physical therapist and we both agreed that I needed new sneakers and to cut back on the hours I worked. Fortunately, my job was just for the summer and now I have several weeks off before I start fall classes. I did get new sneakers which made the world of difference. Previously, I had Asics sneakers which had been great, but for some reason the last pair that I had were not supportive around my foot. When I walked my feet would shift from side to side like my ankle was unstable. I also had a pretty bad limp while wearing those sneakers. My physical therapist recommended the brand Brooks because they have great support. After just trying on the new Brooks sneakers I could tell they were so much better than my Asics. I was walking straighter and not limping nearly as much.

Now that I am no longer working I have had the energy to focus on doing my PT exercises and increasing my cardio exercise. I have also found out the importance of wearing my night splint EVERY night. There was about a week that I got a bit lazy about wearing my night splint. I would wake up in the night having to use the bathroom and take off the splint, but then not put it back on after coming back to bed. This past week my pain intensified in my left foot. I was getting a sharp pain with every step and I couldn’t wear my custom orthotic at all. I finally made the connection of the pain to the night splint and within a couple of days the pain disappeared. I didn’t realize how important wearing the night splint really was, but now I know with certainty that it is helping.

Moving on to Summer Days

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Summer means spending countless hours outside, vacations to the beach with the family, barbecues, campfires, biking and my birthday. This summer will be slightly different just because my foot is still recovering and I won’t be as active. It feels like my surgery was ages ago, but in actuality it has only been four months. I still am going to physical therapy, but just at a slower pace than with my right foot. It’s really easy for me to become impatient with everything I still can’t do, but I have to take a step back and be grateful for everything I CAN do.

Summer campfires

Summer campfires

After nine months of staying home and recovering from two very intense surgeries I will actually be getting out of the house and working. I got a job as a gymnastics instructor at my local YMCA where I used to be a competitive gymnast. It will be a refreshing change of pace to have a regular schedule. I will be moving around all day and I am praying my feet can handle this kind of activity. I am sure as the summer goes on it will get easier for me to be on my feet all day.

This past week I saw my surgeon and actually had small operation to remove my ingrown toenail on my left big toe. I wasn’t planning on having it operated on, but it wasn’t worth waiting until it got infected. I didn’t realize that if an ingrown toenail gets infected and it’s not treated immediately the infection can spread to the bone. That would be horrible and not something that I wanted to take a chance on. My surgeon removed a small portion of the nail and then put a chemical onto the nail bed to inhibit future nail growth. This means I shouldn’t get any ingrown toenails on my left foot anymore. It takes approximately two weeks for the toe to heal and I will follow up with my surgeon. When I go for my follow up appointment I should also be receiving my custom orthotic for my left foot. This will give my foot the support it needs to recover fully.

My toe bandaged after the procedure

My toe bandaged after the procedure

I will keep everyone posted as the summer progresses and as my activity level changes.

Spring is Here!!

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Spring is finally in full bloom here in Massachusetts and so is my recovery. It has just been over 3 months since my surgery and I am seeing improvement in my mobility. I started physical therapy this past week and that helped me kick the walking boot to the curb. When I first started wearing my sneaker I was getting quite a bit of pain putting weight on my left foot. Although it was painful I knew that I needed to keep walking on my foot to build up it’s strength. Sure enough a couple days later the pain lessened and I am able to walk short distances without my crutches.  I still spend the majority of the day sitting, but right now I have to focus on my small accomplishments. Like how I have been increasing the amount of time I ride the stationary bike.

This weekend my family and I will be going to a Red Sox game and all of that walking will put both my feet to the test. I will be using my crutches for all that walking, but it will still be a workout. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t cause extra pain.

I will continue physical therapy working on my range of motion, stretching and strengthening my left foot and leg.

Here are some of my favorite flowers that we have in our yard!!

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Lantana

Lantana

Transformation

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I have finally hit the point in my recovery where I can put weight on my right foot. There will be a lot more progress coming up in the future.

For this post I wanted to specifically look at my x-rays to show the transformation of my feet. Before these surgeries I did not know exactly where my feet needed to be corrected. I thought it would be a good time to point out the difference. I took my x-rays and circled the most noticeable change in my bone structure. This is the part of my foot that had the Evans calcaneal osteotomy. This procedure lengthens the lateral column of the calcaneus and aligns the two joints in the rearfoot. The calcaneal bone is cut and a titanium sponge is inserted in between the bone. With my right foot there was a plate and several screws needed to secure the titanium. However, for my left foot the plate was not used.

Pre op 2

Right foot post op 3

Left foot post op 3

Can you see the difference?

Approaching 2 months

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I have passed the 6 week mark in my recovery and everything is going well. I have not been having any pain in my foot unless I do my range of motion exercises. I assume that this small amount of pain is mostly just stiffness. When I am given clearance to put weight on my foot I will probably increase the repetitions of my exercises. I did not want to push my foot much while the bone was still healing. While I feel like my recovery is at a stand still I need to remind myself that each day that passes my foot and body are stronger.

Next week (fingers crossed) I will receive permission from my surgeon to put weight on my foot. That will at least get the ball rolling to start walking. With my right foot I started physical therapy soon after my 2 month mark, but with this foot I am going to wait longer to start. I believe last time I started too soon because by the end my pain got progressively worse while walking. If I wait until 2 1/2 months into my recovery my left foot will have healed just a bit longer and should be stronger.

I was finally able to get the x-rays of my left foot from my doctor and wanted to share with everyone. I also took pictures of my scars just to show how wonderfully they are healing.

One Month on the Flip Side

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It’s officially been one month into recovery for my left foot! Woohoo!

March 11th: It was my third follow up appointment with my surgeon and I was anticipating my cast coming off. I arrived at my appointment and the nurse cut off my cast first thing. Another round of x-rays were taken and reviewed by the surgeon. He is quite pleased with how things are looking at this stage of my recovery. He did give me the clearance to wear my walking boot. It is extremely important that I still don’t put any weight on my foot. The talonavicular joint fusion is very sensitive and needs to heal more before it can withstand weight. The surgeon also gave me permission to do some passive range of motion exercises.

Getting my hard cast cut off was such a relief. I experienced multiple episodes of extreme itchiness and of course I couldn’t itch my leg or foot. Not having a hard cast also means I don’t need my cast cover anymore. I was able to wash my leg for the first time in a month. My leg finally looks normal again without iodine and the buildup of dead skin.

I am continuing to elevate my foot day and night on two pillows. My foot remains bruised but does not appear to be overly swollen. If I do have my foot down for any amount of time my foot becomes reddish purple. Now that my cast is off I have been icing my foot once a day just to help with the swelling.

While I might have some days that I seem particularly discouraged I always pick myself up and try to look at all of the positive things happening in my life right now. Spring is on it’s way and it means new growth!!