“Life is short, buy the shoes” has been around for a while. It speaks of modern consumerism, I know, but it also reminds us to enjoy those things in life that give us joy. My ancestors practiced good shoe hygiene, so I have inherited that as well. An Imelda Marcos collection was never my goal. I remember my Grandfather polishing his brown and white saddle oxfords at the kitchen table. They were thick with polish and worn on the soles, but in those days a person only had a couple pair of shoes so we looked after them. Despite the fact I’ve had bad feet since I was a young girl, (or maybe because of it?) I’ve always loved shoes. Mostly I love reeeeeally comfortable shoes that also look sharp. I think Grandpa’s oxfords must have done that for him! So the two weeks of wearing the ‘Frankenstein sandals’ was especially unpleasant for me. Not only were they uncomfortable in a constrained, therapeutic way, but they were highly unattractive. I’ve talked about how I came to admire, if not love, them, but the moment when they came off so the Physical Therapist could examine my feet, remove the sutures and give me follow up recommendations will be a moment I’ll remember for a very long time. Feet were meant to be free!
The Therapist carefully removed the bandages and had a look. Then he said he would remove the sutures. I’ve only ever had small, normal sutures/stitches or the ones that dissolve so what happened next was not what I expected. He told me it would ‘sting’ and to hold my breath and then he started pulling…and pulling…and pulling. It stung. When I looked up his tool was holding what looked like about a 2-2.5 inch (4-5cm) piece of wire! I asked if it was all one stitch or was several. He said it was one looooong stitch. While it was painful it was tolerable with a strong wince of pain. And then he did the left foot…the foot that has bothered me the most through the whole procedure, but had been very little pain compared to the right foot previous to the surgery. Go figure. Again he prepared me by telling me to take a deep breath and he began pulling…and pulling, but due to pain had to give me a break…twice. Honestly, it was like moments in childbirth. It took two more tries to completely remove the suture, and truly it was all I could do not to scream. Enough to make a preacher swear! But as soon as the suture was out the intense pain was over.
As the Therapist began talking me through the exercises and future footwear he mentioned that I could actually wear my OWN shoes as soon as that was comfortable for me! I was so surprised I forgot about the pain from moments before. As I strapped the sandals back on to leave the office, he said to me ‘trust the shoes’. He explained that with normal wear, the sandals would not let me overextend the use of my foot. He repeated it again as we walked down the hallway to the lobby. “Trust the shoes”. New words to live by, and ones that fitted with my affection for shoes. My healing had gone very well, evidently, because the literature I’d read, and the nurse in recovery, had said I would need to wear the Frankenstein sandals for at least another week. Three cheers for extreme self-care in recovery! And three cheers for my husband, daughter and Leni the nurse-sausage for making that all work.
My decisions to be conservative about activity as I recovered from the surgery were rewarded with continued improvement over coming days and weeks. In the words of my current favourite wise person, James Clear (Atomic Habits):
Sometimes all you need for exceptional results is average effort repeated for an above-average amount of time.James Clear
Two days after removal of the sutures I was able to put my own shoes back on, albeit without orthotics or innersoles, and with heavily loosened laces. Since those were recommended by the Therapist, I was fine with that. And no one but me would notice. Likewise I did not walk far in them. I was at a point when the therapy sandals were no longer comfortable for different reasons, so it was a case of a work in progress. Since I had to go out to the Pharmacy to get my seasonal flu vaccine, I thought I’d make my debut in normal shoes again.
The next day I was allowed to get the feet wet and so for the first time in 2.5 weeks I had a shower. Probably the best shower of my life.
At the three week mark I was able to walk around the grocery, but it was pretty uncomfortable. At the four week mark most of the bruising was gone and I was able to reduce the analgesics, replacing them with daily warm foot baths in epsom salts.
I’m still at least a few weeks away from pain free normal feet and walking, but I can see that goal from here…where I’m standing…in my own trustworthy shoes.
Thank you for being tolerant with my missives on this topic. I wanted to complete the documentation in case others are contemplating foot surgery and it might help. Goodness knows there was a steep learning curve for me and perhaps it might help others. I may do a minor update in a few weeks to confirm continuing progress, meanwhile we have other life events unfolding that I will turn my mind and fingers to sharing.