Four days ago I had my second round of toe straightening, this time on my right foot. But unlike last time when I had toes two and three corrected, this time it was just toe two. Why did I get my toes straightened? Hammer toes.
What is a hammer toe I hear you ask?
“A hammer toe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This deformity can affect any toe on your foot. It most often affects the second or third toe”
Hammer toes are often (although not always) associated with arthritis, which is what happened in my case. I’ve told the story many times before, but basically, my second toe on my left foot was my first arthritis symptom. It became rapidly very swollen and over a few months started to bend upwards, completely fusing at the joint. I affectionately call them my claws.
I was first referred to orthopaedics in December 2016, just six months after I developed arthritis. It would take a further year to have the initial appointment at the hospital, and another year before I would have the operation.
This time around, I only had to wait 9 months, due to already being ‘in the system’ and my surgeon himself bumping me up the list.
I saw my consultant at the beginning of June and it was agreed that the surgery would go ahead on August 30th. Admission at 7.15am (oh yay great joy early morning).
No food from 2.30am and no liquids from 6.30am. I struggle with this because a) I love to eat but mainly b) I drink a lot of water, probably a minimum of 5lt a day and I hate how I feel without water.
It was the same admission time first time around but I didn’t change for theatre until 3pm and I was so hungry I thought Bob Geldof was gonna burst in to the room at any moment and start a food appeal for me.
Hammer toe surgery is planned as a day case, but obviously you’re not allowed to drive and you need to have a responsible adult with you at all times (not sure why I took my Mum).
But this time, thankfully, I was dressed in my gown and found myself walking down to theatre at 9.30am.
First things first. Vital statistics taken. Very accurate.
“How tall are you?”
I dunno, maybe 5’5”?
“How much do you weigh?”
I dunno, roughly 11st?
“That’s good enough for me.”
Blood pressure great. Oxygen levels great. General health great.
Enter stage left, Colin, my anaesthetist.
I wasn’t worried about any part of the actual operation, but the anaesthetic part was what made me anxious. Last time I was given a sedative and a spinal (in my leg….so why is it called a spinal?) and to cut a long story short, I could still feel every part of my foot being prodded and sprayed and poked. So I was sedated again and given a general. When I came round I felt fine until I sat up and then couldn’t stop being sick for over 36 hours and had to spend the night on the ward and I remember feeling like I would honestly never feel well again. Especially as I’d never had a general before and had no idea if this was normal, or if this was how I was always going to be after one.
I explained my worries to Colin and he was baffled that someone gave me a spinal last time. He said that I would be given a general and then once I was out cold, he would inject my foot near the toes in three separate locations, completely numbing the foot. The idea being I would have no feeling in the foot for 24 hours and therefore no pain, negating the need for any painkillers (especially morphine) which definitely didn’t help me last time around.
The set up at Woodend hospital is different to the last time I was admitted, when I went straight to the ward. This time there was some kind of large waiting room with changing rooms. So once changed in to gowns, I was required to go back and sit on the waiting room chair, watching Judge Rinder like it was any other morning. It made me feel quite uncomfortable to be honest. I’m assured that this is normal, but still. I didn’t like it.
I also didn’t like the fact I had to walk myself down to the anaesthesia room. I felt a little like I was on death row walking to my lethal injection. Not helped by the fact that I wasn’t allowed to wear my glasses and as such was so disorientated, I had no idea where I was going. I was talking to nurses like I’d seen them before because they looked sort of similar to people I’d seen earlier in the morning, when truthfully, I’d never seen them before. All people look like blobs to me without glasses.
On to the bed. A few niceties about where we were all from (I’m from The Philippines, you? Somewhere just as exotic. Essex) and before I know it the mask went on, I was asked to do 4 deep breaths, I felt high as a kite and that was me.
I came round in the room at 11.04. I do not remember what I waffled on about this time but I did say to one of the nurses to check if the large spot on my cheek had gone? She lifted my oxygen mask, looked for a second and replied, nope. Still there.
I was wheeled to the ward at 12.15.
Where I promplty fell back asleep.
Where I woke for toast. Double toast. Plain.
And fell back asleep until 3pm.
What can I say. I was tired.
I also wore my oxygen mask as a very cute hat.
A nurse accompanied me to the toilet, I got back to the bed without feeling sick or dizzy and it was agreed that if I could dress myself I could be discharged. A DAY CASE AT LAST.
I dressed. I was wheeled to the car. And I was taken home.
All the fear and anxiety I had about the aftermath of the surgery gone just like that.
My foot, as Colin promised, was completely numb. And this was very, very strange. After hammer toe surgery you can only bear weight on your heel. Which is great an’ all, provided you can feel your heel. I couldn’t. I felt like I had a wooden block underneath my foot. I was very unsteady and had no idea if my foot was even on the ground, let alone what part of it.
Personally, I hate crutches. They really hurt my hands. I’m spending the first few weeks not bearing any weight on my heel at all, but keeping the foot off the ground, which is fine for now as I’m only in the flat.
After I arrived home, I got straight on to the sofa, petted my cat, had three bags of bbq beef hula hoops and had another nap. I woke up to a Chinese takeaway and could have eaten for 12 hours straight. I was famished.
No pain in the foot because I couldn’t feel anything. Propped up on 4 pillows. Like last time I’ll be sleeping and living on my sofa.
I woke the next morning with the foot gaining some feeling back. It was short bursts of burning pain. Nothing I couldn’t cope with. But gradually this pain increased. The toe was throbbing and worse, the pin felt like it was going to burst out of the top of my foot. I couldn’t medicate the pain away and spent the next two days feeling very sorry for myself.
But here I am four days on. The painkillers (dihydrocodine) seem to be working slightly better and the pin no longer feels like it’s gonna shoot out Alien style. I remain glued to the sofa, keeping the foot elevated for at least 22 hours a day. My Mum helped me to take a shallow bath yesterday, followed by a hair wash, and I feel like a whole new woman. I’m not planning to take another until Thursday so I’ll be smelling like stale milk again by then.
Foot itself feels ok. Much like it did before. I’m not aware that the pin is there, until I slightly catch it or knock it and then believe me, I am VERY aware of that inch of metal jutting out my toe. The bandages feel hot and itchy already but again, it’ll pass. The toe hasn’t been covered with any kind of gauze, this time just a clear film. So when I go to pull the (loose) bandage back, I can see the toe in all it’s very bloody glory. It’s not pretty. But I’m not freaked out by it. When I have my two week check up I’m going to ask to not have it re-dressed. Check up will be my first trip out of the house.
Sick line requested today for 6 weeks, with it likely to be extended for a further two.
So what to do for the next 6 weeks?
Firstly. Rest. Every little task becomes exhausting. I have been limiting my liquid intake because having to haul myself up to get to the toilet takes more energy than it is worth. The painkillers also add to this fatigue, so I’ll spend a lot of my days drifting in and out of sleep. Spending time with Mo, who hasn’t left my side.
I’m going to spend my time reading, watching bad tv and stitching. In a few weeks time my philosophy degree will start so I’ll use my time wisely to get my assignments done in ample time. I say this now but I bet it won’t happen.
I’m hoping to fly back to NL after about 4 weeks to spend some time with friends and that’s about it I think. Just resting, not overdoing it, and making the most of this time off as best as I can.
I woke up at 11am this morning feeling like I’d gone ten rounds with Tyson.
Mike. Not Fury.
Any books or tv show recommendations then please send them my way!!