so, once upon a time, last tuesday (2/24), i went into surgery & came out with a "cast" on my leg that went almost all the way up to my knee.
i guess i should back up a bit. basically, this is a blog called "mormon runner girl", right? yet...over the past several months, there has been a significant lack in posts about running...hm. allow me to explain.
basically, before my mission, i was able to run for miles and miles at a time (i prefer long distance running, aka my ideal race is the half marathon, or 13.1 miles), and i'd only stop because my body would get tired or i didn't have time to keep running. i ran my first (& only, so far) full marathon (26.2 miles) in june of 2012. i love love love running.
however, as long as i can remember, i've always had bunions. my mom had them, my (paternal) grandmother has them, and they can be genetic. however, they've never really bothered me until this past year. when i got back out to byu last fall & started trying to run more often...i started having pain right around the 2-mile mark on my runs, on the right side of my left foot. aka...precisely where my bunion is on that foot.
for those of you who are unaware, a bunion is "...a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. a bunion forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. the skin over the bunion might be red and sore" (mayo clinic). case in point: that little nub on the right side of my foot below:
so there you have it! it's possible to have bunions (especially some that are even worse than mine!) and continue living life normally...which is what i intended to do all years previous to this one. but as soon as it started becoming painful and interrupting my running habits...i knew it was finally time to get it removed. so, one of the biggest reasons i decided to come home this summer (as my parents graciously offered to help take care of me & provide me with room & board for free - thank you!! :) was so i could finally get this surgery done... & get back to running sooner!
so after arriving back in ohio in april + having a couple of meetings with a rockstar podiatrist (dr. danielle mckenna), we made a plan to fix up my foot so i can get back into running asap. the diagnosis of course = removing the bunion on my left foot, but also included some other things i was unaware of (fixing the hammertoe on my second toe, cutting tendons and possibly bones in some of my other toes to help with a corn that had developed/to help the other toes from curling and developing more corns in the future, and the possibility of having to break my big toe bone in order for it to heal properly).
fast-forward to this past tuesday morning (5/24), we headed to the grant bone & joint center for my bunionectomy (& other work as mentioned above on my foot/toes). my parents are amazing & were there for me as much as they could along the way (again...THANK YOU. :). i checked in, got all checked out (vitals, iv put in, & etc.), changed into a hospital gown, had dr. mckenna come & sign my foot (so we could make sure she operated on the correct foot in surgery, i think!), & then the worst part (for me) came...
the anesthesiologist. poor guy, hahahaha. i've had two surgeries done in my life prior to this: tonsilectomy (when i was like 5 years old because i snored so loud i kept everyone in my house awake at night, hahaha), and getting my wisdom teeth taken out (all 4!) back in 2009. literally the main part that freaks me out about any kind of surgery is having to "go under." the sheer idea of someone else being in control of when i fall asleep just FREAKS. ME. OUT. like as though they are giving me chloroform and kidnapping me and throwing me in the back of their van where i may never wake up again or something, i don't know. it just freaks me out. hahaha. so i'm doing just fine (er...minus the anxiety hahaha) until the adorable anesthesiologist walks in and then the flood gates open and i can't stop crying, poor guy. it's not him, it's me. but thankfully, i was blessed with an awesome anesthesiologist who explained how low-risk i was and how healthy i am and how it should be perfectly routine & i will be just fine.
i still cried a lot, but whatevs hahaha. it would be over soon enough!
the nurse came in (& like, what seemed like a crazy amount of medical staff) and gave me my cute little surgery cap & i was told they'd give me my anesthesia (please stop saying that word around me) and so i probably started crying again, hahahah, but my dear nurse, kim d., made all the difference.
i asked my parents to say a prayer with me before going in, and as my dad was praying and our hands were all intertwined, i'm scared out of my mind (again, for the anesthesia, not really for the surgery...my main concern was whether or not i would wake up afterwards haha), and out of nowhere, i feel another pair of hands being placed on top of mine: nurse kim d.'s! we finish the prayer and she gives me this huge, adorable smile and steps away. i don't know what compelled her to do that, but it gave me so much comfort knowing that this woman who would be going into my surgery with me, as my nurse, although i'd hardly spoken a word to her, was there in that prayer with me (& us!), and would be with me through the entire surgery. also, my parents. they couldn't be there during surgery (obviously) but i'm so so grateful for them & all their help, love & support...from start to finish, every obstacle i face in my life. they're the best! even if i felt like i was 5-years-old and getting my tonsils taken out all over again because i was scared and had my parents there with me, hahaha. they're so good to me. (: i love you two!
so they give me my a********* (i don't want to say it anymore than necessary), and i start drifting
and mostly just crying but kept my eyes closed and before i knew it...i heard someone lady say something along the lines of "please stop rubbing your eyes, dear, you might scratch your eye". ...and i'm awake!! and rubbing my right eye like crazy, i think because i'm still secretly paranoid even in my unconscious state that i won't wake up, so i'm doing everything in my power to open my eyes & be awake, hahaha. i'm not sure everything that followed after, but i know they let my parents come back, talked to me a bit, gave me some hardcore drugs pain medication (percocet), and then we took a bunch of pictures to prove that this actually happened and then we went on our way home so that i could sleep for the next two days straight.
the little yellow pin the marks the spot! not entirely sure why it's in there, but i remember dr. kenna telling me that i'd have a pin in my fixed hammertoe...i think it comes out after two weeks or something?
treatment: soft cast ("dressing") for two weeks, and then i'll be switched into a black walking boot for the next 4.
and remember how i said that my nurse is the cutest ever?
"happy healing!! <3 kim d, r.n." #THEBEST. this was so comforting to wake up to!! mama & i are taking miss kim d. brownies once i'm feeling up to it & healed a bit more. (:
so, there you have it. i survived the ane-you-know-what, and felt literally zero pain coming out of surgery (as far as i can remember).
they gave me two of those pain pills and that + the after-effects of the stuff that makes me fall asleep for surgery = by the time i made it home, i pretty much fell right asleep. and literally could not stay awake for very long for the next 48 hours. it was kind of hilarious. i felt like a little baby: i had to be woken up every 4 hours to take my medication (oxycodone, now that i was home) eat something, and go to the bathroom...and then i fell right back asleep. my mom even had to feed me those first few meals after surgery because my entire body felt like deadweight and my arms felt like wet noodles, hahahaha. i think the saddest part was when i tried picking up my water bottle...and i literally couldn't because it was full and therefore too heavy for my weak little arms. thank goodness we keep small 8 oz. water bottles in our food storage in the basement (;
so i slept. and occasionally ate and got up to go to the bathroom. and that lasted basically all day tuesday and all day wednesday. by the time we made it home tuesday, i felt kinda like my heart was racing and i was worried i had taken too much of the painkillers for my little body (they had given me 2 pills, which was the max allowed)...so from then on out i only took one pill, and literally have felt virtually no pain this entire time. i was worried that once i came off of the pain killers that the pain would be overwhelming, like i had read and heard so much about (they wanted me taking them every four hours, from tuesday until friday morning). but by thursday morning i was honestly very much done with being (1) so tired/sleeping all the time, (2) nauseous and therefore unable to eat most things, and (3) constipated (sorry if that's tmi but that's the truth and it was terrible and i'm all about the honesty)...so i opted to stop taking the pain meds right then & there, no matter how bad the pain might be.
...and then i started being awake enough to do more than just eat and go back to bed! like how i could even do the leg exercises that dr. kenna said i could do during recovery (which i have only done maybe once so...gotta get to work on that haha)! and throughout the day, i started feeling more awake, more energy, more hungry (!), not as constipated (!!!), and overall happier. especially because i was still totally pain-free! this is such a huge deal to me, because research i had done + talking with people who'd had this surgery before = everyone saying the first few days are miserable, so painful, & etc. and here i was...just held back a bit by my crutches but besides that feeling totally happy & content!
editor's note: i should mention here that although i didn't really feel any physical pain from my foot while coming off of the painkillers, that first night off of them, i felt something that was probably some mixture of symptoms (on a very minimal basis) of withdrawal, since the pain killers i was taking were pretty strong, and my body had likely gotten used to taking them every 4 hours for about 48 hours at the point that i stopped taking them. however, apart from waking up with a start about an hour after going to bed thursday night and feeling like i had WAY. TOO. MUCH. ENERGY. all of a sudden & feeling like something was going to jump out from the inside of my body (...it was weird and very uncomfortable and i never want to feel that way again)...it was nothing that calling my wonderful brother + mama to my aid to help calm me down (THANK. YOU. so so much. <3) + 4 hours of listening to an audiobook couldn't help cure (after which i was able to fall asleep with relative ease for real). possibly this huge amount of energy was also due in part to the fact that i had slept more in the past 48 hours than i previously thought possible? i'm not sure but that probably had something to do with it, too. regardless, HUGE shoutout to anyone suffering from any kind of withdrawal from painkillers/prescription drugs...that was scary and i'm not sure if that's what happened to me exactly but if withdrawal is anything like that, i can now say, i feel for you. or have felt for you? regardless, i'm sorry you have to deal with that. scary stuff. :/
OKAY. back to happier things. (: thankfully, i have the best support team/family ever. and we have been getting in some good FaceTime during my recovery. thank goodness for technology. (:
although there are still some things that are difficult about being in surgery/being bedridden for a bit due to a leg cast & needing to keep my foot elevated, like having my mom wash my hair for me in the bathroom sink because my arms are so tired/i'm terrified of getting my cast/dressing wet...(okay but really, mom of the YEAR award for doing that for me! <3)
at least i've been able to catch up on some reading! thank goodness for my engl 420 young adult literature class that is keeping me busy with lots of awesome books (:
& a recommendation from older sister ruth - - which i HIGHLY recommend to anyone dealing with any kind of disability/set-back. a must-read during recovery! i'm actually super glad i waited to finish reading it until after i'd had my surgery and was in the recovery stages. stephanie nielson is a rockstar in my book and mega inspirational.
i've had lots of fun looking at how silly my legs look now...one skinny mini chicken leg next to a huge bulky dressing. hahahah. it's great because everyone thinks when they see me that i must be in so much pain or that something terrible must have happened...but it's actually a great relief to be able to respond that i have zero pain, and that it looks far worse than it actually is, hahah. (: #countingblessings
editor's note: in that first photo below my leg's wrapped up in plastic wrap (yes, plastic wrap hahaha) because i am terrified of getting it wet (dr. kenna said to be sure we do not let it get wet!!! or i have to come in to her office & get it changed ASAP) so when i take a "shower" ("showering" is in quotes because it's way more difficult with a leg like this...anyone who's been in a situation like this knows what i mean haha.), i have my entire leg beneath the knee covered in that. i even had a nightmare the other night that i decided to try and "shower" without it wrapped up...and it got drenched and i had a panic attack and it was a sunday so i knew dr. kenna wasn't in the office and i didn't know what we should do. hahahaha. #soembarassing #truestory #exceptitwasadream
through it all i just have to keep reminding myself: STAY POSITIVE. and find joy in the little things. like how everything i do now = feeling like a ninja. whether it's hopping from the bathroom sink to the towel rack to dry off my hands, or hopping down the stairs on one foot, or even little victories, like finally feeling enough energy to get ready for the day and feel like a girl again by doing my hair & makeup & getting dressed up in something other than athletic shorts for the first time since the surgery (i think that took until friday? haha). IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS. slow & steady wins the race...riiiight?
also, crutches are helping me to build some serious arm muscle...and i also don't think my right leg has ever felt stronger. mama called me a flamingo and that pretty much describes how i look when i'm doing pretty much anything standing, with my left leg perched up in the air, but i'll take it. flamingoes are cute. (;
recovery is hard work, but in all honesty, once the anesthesia part was over with and i realized i didn't have any pain, it's really not been bad at all. i'm just slightly dramatic when i want to be. (; i'm super mega grateful for all the doctors, nurses, and medical staff at grant who helped make my surgery literally as comfortable and smooth as possible...literally exceeding every possible expectation!
and while i'm excited to start running again pain-free (!!!!!!!!!!), i recognize that i've got another 5+ weeks in some kind of a dressing/boot, and then plenty of time ahead where i'll need to ease myself back into walking, jogging, & running....but i'm grateful to know that my parents are awesome enough to let me get this surgery done now (& pay for it...literally did i mention that i'm the luckiest daughter ever? that's how they make me feel! <3), and i'm looking forward with an eye of faith to the adventures of the pain-free future! running, hiking, and jumping-filled, for sure. (;
oh. i should mention that i'm also grateful for the lessons in humility and patience that this whole process has been teaching me...i was pain-free tuesday-saturday...when i thought i could do more than i probably should have, and attempted to carry my hot panera soup in one hand, while using my crutches to move to the table so i could sit down and eat...suffice it to say that i don't really remember what (or how it) happened, but i spilled hot soup EV.ER.Y.WHERE. (sorry about that clean up, mama & daddy :/), including all over myself, and fell down on my healing foot...hard. :/
so, needless to say, then i felt some pain for the first real time since my surgery, hahahah. but thankfully it went away relatively quickly, and i'm sitting here at home doing just fine in the meantime until my first meeting with dr. kenna post-surgery on wednesday! she'll take off my dressing to see how my foot is healing (photos to come, if they're not too gruesome hahaha) & then re-wrap it up for the next week until i can get into a walking boot!
there's no way i can finish this post without a HUGE shout-out to my amazing support system here at home of my mama, dk, & daddy. thanks for feeding me, cleaning up after me, washing my hair, turning off my bedroom lights, giving me priesthood blessings (this was all daddy - and something to which i heavily attribute to my quick & painless healing process, click here and here for more info on those) and praying with & for me throughout this entire process (+ a billion other things). i love you guys so so much! thank you thank you thank you!