DISCLAIMER: Some readers may find the following pictures disturbing. Please be advised there are images of my foot post-surgery and during the healing process.
The first two weeks post-op and non-weight-bearing were pretty rough. I was in a lot more pain than I ever imagined I’d be. I was over getting my hair washed outside or in the sink or on the edge of the tub. I was constantly elevating and icing and my entire foot still hurt. A lot of times it felt like my foot was on fire and I couldn’t extinguish it.
Needless to say, I was excited for my first post-op appointment. I couldn’t wait to see what my foot looked like, get my stitches removed and be able to take a normal shower soon.
At my appointment, I was taken straight to the X-ray room and put on a table. My leg was unwrapped and my splint was torn away layer by layer, exposing bloody gauze, before I saw my foot for the first time since surgery. I instantly felt ill. It looked way worse than I ever expected and my toe was perfectly straight.
What’s the problem, right? The whole point was to have a straight toe. But I’d spent so many years seeing my toe crooked that seeing it straight made it appear broken. Plus, it didn’t have a whole lot of feeling.
My foot was bruised, purple and so swollen. The four-inch cut across the top of my foot was much bigger than I thought it was going to be. It was disgusting, to be honest and looked kind of dead to me. I had around 25 stitches removed before it was wrapped back up in gauze and ACE bandages and I received a walking boot.
I was told I could start putting around 20% body weight on my foot and increase the weight-bearing at my discretion, easing off the crutches. I could take the dry dressing off and get my foot wet in three days.
In three days, I woke up and noticed some yellowing on my ace bandages. That’s weird, I thought, wonder what I got on me? I peeled back each layer of bandage and gauze, each one revealing an even yellower substance.
Jimmy and I removed all the dressings to find my foot was leaking an excessive amount of a bright yellow liquid. Jimmy was convinced I had an infection and insisted I call the emergency number I had been given since my surgeon was on call for the weekend.
The lady on the phone was not able to get ahold of my surgeon so I was sent to the hospital’s Primary Care Weekends. The doctor there agreed fluid was coming out of one my suture holes and started me on an antibiotic right away. I was told to call my surgeon’s office the following morning.
Jimmy had to change my bandage a few more times that day because I kept leaking through everything. I know this sounds totally gross, but that’s because it was. I called my surgeon the next morning and was told I needed to come into the office immediately.
When I arrived, I was taken back pretty quickly and the PA came in to take a look, followed by the doctor. It was determined that I did not have an infection, but my foot was leaking serous fluid. Serous fluid is a body fluid resembling serum. It is typically pale yellow or transparent, benign and fills the inside of body cavities.
While the fluid itself is sometimes seen after surgery, the surgeon and his PA had never seen it this far along after surgery and never before seen this excessive amount. Your body typically absorbs the fluid that accompanies swelling, but mine chose to push it out of my suture holes instead.
I was told to keep it wrapped and if it was done leaking in a day or two, I could get it wet. Unfortunately, there’s no medicine to make the fluid go away faster; it’s a waiting game.
I wasn’t done leaking in a day or two. In fact, it was now coming out of other suture holes in my foot. All I wanted to do was take a normal shower – the sponge baths and hose hair washings weren’t fun anymore. I finally stopped leaking after two and a half weeks.
But the weight-bearing wasn’t going so well. Every time I tried to walk I’d crumple. I was also only able to get my foot wet twice before my scabs started opening up, bleeding and oozing.
My foot looked like it belonged to a dinosaur – all scaly and dry and scabbed. And if I stood on it for longer than a minute, it turned purple as an eggplant.