I nervously crutched into the doctor’s office, afraid they would be mad at me for not being able to walk yet.
I was told we needed to get weight-bearing X-rays. Kind of hard to do when you can’t stand or walk, but I gave it my best shot. After taking my boot off and unwrapping my foot, I crutched up the not very sturdy wooden stepladder and handed the X-ray tech my extra set of legs. It was extremely difficult to move around as the X-rays had to be taken facing three different directions. The hardest part was getting down from the ladder.
I moved to an exam room and waited for the PA to come in. She took a look at all of my wounds and X-rays and said I was healing nicely. Slowly, but nicely. Since I was unable to walk without the crutches, she decided it would be a good idea to start physical therapy and I agreed. She said I needed to be off the crutches within the next two weeks preferably.
I started therapy the next day. The therapist did a bunch of measurement and strength tests to determine how much I could move my foot, ankle and toe and how strong those parts were. I was given a list of 13 exercises to do twice a day at home in addition to coming to therapy twice a week for a minimum of four weeks.
The first couple days of exercises and therapy were excruciating. My poor foot was so weak it would shake uncontrollably. The therapist would spend about 15 minutes twisting and turning and stretching my foot and toe. It would bring tears to my eyes.
At about 7.5-weeks post-op, I was finally practicing walking with one crutch. I wasn’t fully weight-bearing yet but could tell I was improving. At around 8-weeks post-op, I moved to wearing and walking in just the boot.
At 10-weeks post-op, I was walking in the boot much better. I had some more issues with leaking from the incision between my toes, but everywhere else was starting to heal nicely. I saw the PA again that week, and she was pleased with my improvement but wanted to extend physical therapy until I’m at my fullest potential.
The thing about physical therapy is it only works if you’re willing to get better. I know I would not be where I am today without the hard work at therapy and home the past several weeks.
At 10.5 weeks, I officially moved into a tennis shoe full time. And now, here I am at 12 weeks post-op. I have to keep icing and elevating. I have to keep wrapping my foot and leg because of the swelling. I still go to therapy twice a week and do my exercises at home twice a day. I can walk up stairs normally now but still struggle with coming down them.
I was told it’ll be at least another month and a half to two months before I’ll be able to jump around or go jogging. I was also told it’ll be about a year before my foot realizes what happened to it – in other words, it could turn purple and keep swelling in places for quite a while. The scars should continue to heal and look better. The incision between my toes should close up soon.
I’ve had some pain and discomfort at the spot on my heel where they took the bone graft. I was told they essentially use an apple corer to punch out the middle of your heel. It looks like I may have a piece of bone stuck there that didn’t come out when it was supposed to or some serious scar tissue build up, so I have to massage the scar daily with lotion or Vitamin E oil in hopes that my body absorbs the bone or moves it back into place.
I was told my toe has probably reached its mobility potential, and I have to say I wasn’t expecting that. I can wiggle it and bend it a little, but that’s about it. My ankle is extremely tight, and that is probably from the plates and screw. The good news there is it should loosen up and become more flexible over time.
But most importantly, I was told I am now allowed to paint my toes. At least the therapists will see a prettier foot during manual stretching the next four weeks.
It’s important to note everyone heals differently, and just because this has been my experience doesn’t mean it will be yours.
If you know me, you know I’ve had numerous injuries and fractures in my lifetime. From my head to my toe, I’ve had splints and casts and braces. Nothing could have prepared me for the rollercoaster this surgery and recovery would be. It has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through.
So here’s to hoping it’s worth it in the end (and it better be!). In the mean time, I’ll be learning to walk again and continuing to do my daily exercises. But I’m glad to finally be seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.