Thursday, November 13, 2014

Post-Cheilectomy - A Dancer and Fitness Instructor's Experiences

And here is the disclaimer: I am not a doctor; I am merely sharing my experience with the desire that it will bring hope to those in the same situation. Always follow your doctor's orders!

After experiencing intermittent pain at the base of my big toe due to osteoarthritis for over 20 years, I finally reached my breaking point when it created a bone spur on the side of my foot. I successfully tried physical therapy last year which really seemed to keep it at bay, but this summer when the pain worsened again I had a bad feeling. I attempted P.T. again but this time around it did not help. We employed not only the exercises this go-round but also a therapy called iontophoresis, which is basically a battery-powered medication delivery patch that administers a steroidal drug through the skin in lieu of getting a painful injection at the site.

I visited my podiatrist and we discussed surgery and decided it was the best course of action. If I had waited too long and the situation worsened too much further, I may have had to get my big toe joint fused, which means I never would have been able to bend it again. For a dancer and fitness instructor, that is anathema!

One week ago today, I had my surgery.  Mine was done with both regional injections (thankfully, done after my propofol had kicked in and I was out) and a mixture of sedatives administered through an IV.

I woke up groggy - just basically feeling very sleepy. I had some crackers and ginger ale and other than some lightheadedness, I felt fine. My surgery was at 8:30 AM and I was home by 12:00 PM.  My advice is this: stay on top of the pain!  Take your pain meds at the regularly scheduled times, even if you have to set the clock overnight because if you don't the pain gets to be a bit much. By then it's hard to play "catch up" with the drugs because they will take 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to kick in!

My other advice is if your doctor tells you to keep that foot propped up, do so!  I was only allowed to get up to go to the bathroom for the first 5 days.  I am healing nicely and I think part of the reason is because I listened!  Also, icing the top of my ankle helped; apparently there is a nerve there and that is why you should ice that area rather than the area that was operated on (at least in my case).  Check with your doctor though.

I only had to use my Percocet twice and it was for overnight. The rest of the time I just took one or two Tylenols with codeine. They might make you feel sleepy but it's better than feeling pain. I took them til the following Wed. morning and that was it.

I am not allowed to drive yet so life is a little boring, what with not being able to teach my classes and all. I am focusing on catching up on emails, taking fun online courses, watching a movie here and there, volunteering to proofread someone's book, etc.

I am able to get around with the nifty little post-op shoe with Velcro straps that they gave me after surgery.  Didn't really need crutches; maybe used them a few times but otherwise simply walked (gingerly) on the heel of my foot and continue to do so today.

Has anyone experienced this surgery and if so, would you care to comment on your experiences?  I would especially love to hear from those of you who have gotten it and were able to come back to dancing and exercising. :-)

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