Last night I went to a zumba class. Yes, me and my three month post bunionectomy foot went to a zumba class. And guess what we did? We zumba’d! (I think I just made up a new word, for which I also made up a new spelling).
My fitness level, which only like a year ago, was pretty darn good, is now like that of a stuffed animal. Between my trainer leaving for the sunny skies of California, to the fact that I haven’t been able to exercise full on for at least six months, I am back at ground zero. GROUND ZERO. And my motivation has been hovering around there too, I might add. So last night was great, because 1) It was fun. 2) It was engaging ( I had to concentrate on the teacher to make sure I didn’t fall on my head). 3) I fucking love to dance.
This class gave me the little push I needed to get my groove back in the fitness department. Thanks to my friend Luciana for dragging my sorry (and hefty) ass to Equinox (I think I might have to join this place). IT was just the holiday ho, ho, ho I needed.
Are you sick of me yet? I’m sick of me. Day 5, the boring bunion story.
So, pain was in play yesterday, and Vicodin was happening. No nausea. Thanks, V. Stayed in bed all day, with refreshing Fall breeze dancing through my window. Read magazines. Piles of magazines. Ate one of those delish sandwiches from Clover–Egg and Eggplant. Don’t ask me how they came up with this, because aside from these two items sharing the word “egg,” they got a whole lotta nothing in common, but they are uncommonly good together. I watched the new series “Married,” which is very funny. Peter and Ally went to Anthropologie and bought me a leather jacket to make me feel better, but it turned out to be “vegan.” I only do real leather, and I only eat real cow. Nonetheless, I appreciated the thought of them buying me a gift. I plucked my eyebrows.
Around dinner, I had a lot of pain. My friends brought over ribs and mashed potatoes, and while I didn’t think I was hungry, my friend opened up my boot and gave my poor strangled foot some air, and the pain got better, and those ribs made the whole world look like a very nice place.
I don’t have any pain here this morning. I really want to take a shower because I am gross and disgusting, but I can’t really imagine having the balance to make it work. I go to the doctor’s in the morning, so maybe he will give me some more freedom and I will be able to bathe. A sponge bath is definitely in store for me today. As for my hair, well, forget my hair.
That’s where we stand, or don’t stand, on day 5. I’m ok. And I’ve made it this far, so PARADE.
I didn’t have any pain again yesterday. Unless you want to count the really bad tv I watched. I made my way downstairs, first time I crutched down, and was grateful I didn’t break anything, like my nose. I was once again ridiculously tired, and pretty zoned out, but I didn’t have any pain, and for that I was doing Rockette high kicks (not really, but I would have if I could have).
Then about 9 as I was watching an HGTV competition show, my back started to hurt and I started to feel sore all over my body. I had a hard time getting back upstairs, felt faint, but I did and crashed into bed, until guess who came over around 10:30? Yep, pain. I guess that lovely nerve block got tired of hanging around. Burny and stabby, my foot was a bit of a California wildfire. But interestingly, not near the bunion site, more in my ankle area and heel. I tried to wait it out to see if it was just a hit and run visit, but it was real, so I swallowed the Vicodin down and fell asleep pretty fast, waking up three hours later and wishing for another pill, like an addict. Anyway, I’ve taken three of those little devils now, and it seems like that’s what today will look like. If it doesn’t get worse than this, I should be able to manage, although I am getting a little bit of a throwy up feeling, which is one of my most unfavorite. Alrighty, that’s the wrap. Back to bed (I’m sitting in a chair for the first time). Riley has been perfect company (He always is).
I still didn’t have any pain yesterday(cue the cheerleaders/Mormon Tabernacle Choir/angelic harps), but man I was tired. I slept on and off all day long. I couldn’t really concentrate on tv, but I am reading a really funny book called This is Where I Leave You. It’s just the sort of writing I love, sharp, witty and all about relationships. The movie is coming out in like a week, and has Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll and Jane Fonda. Score. I hope it will go to the Super Luxe in Chestnut Hill where a gimp like me can get into a barcalounger and laugh. Because I still don’t have any pain, I guess the nerve block is still in play. I am taking a souped up anti-inflammatory called Toradol, but that’s it.
The boot is really sort of heavy. Considering decorating it, although how can you miss with basic black? I am definitely longing for a shower, but it would be too much to manage at this point, so I might need to do a little sponge bath today. Where are the cute male nurses when you need them? I am dying to see the foot and what it looks like. But I’m not a rule breaker and the boot is supposed to stay on.
So far, so good. I haven’t even let myself even think about the reality that the bunion isn’t there anymore, I’m much more focused on just trying to get through this period of rest, elevate, ice. But wouldn’t it be cool if I didn’t have a bunion anymore and my foot worked well, and I could wear shoes? Sounds like a fairy tale to me, but hey, I believe in fairy tales.
Bunion Voyage Party, I mean Surgery, 9/10/14, 8:45 am. New England Baptist Surgical Center
After taking 2 milligrams of Valium last night, and eating a perfect last bunion supper, consisting of a shake shack cheese burger and fries, i actually fell into a deep sleep around 10. I woke up at 5 am and was dying for coffee, but instead popped another 2 milligrams of Valium and got dressed. We arrived at the New England Baptist surgical center in Dedham, where every receptionist and nurse looked like they were filming a Crest commercial. I signed all the paper work, plus a health care proxy, mentioning to the receptionist that my burial outfit should consist solely of sexy Jimmy Choo’s or knock me over, fuck me, Monolo’s. (Just in case my family hadn’t taken note.)
I went into my own little cubby, where literally everybody that passed by me was giving me teeth. I was seriously curious if the whole staff got some sort of drugs in the break room, and I wanted in. I got all checked in, changed into the lovely scrubs, had a training session with crutches, where I was pronounced a “rock star” (they gave you kudos’ for breathing in this place, which was just fine with me). Finally Doctor Cullen came by, and told me he did a warm-up surgery before mine, and greeted me by saying, “Well, look at who’s here.” I suppose he was referring to the fact that I’d been talking about having surgery with him for a solid decade and finally was. I walked into the operating room, which was freezing, and made me wonder if I had by accidentally stumbled into a morgue. I started getting the Michael Jackson drug in my IV and the next thing I knew I was awake and asking how I did. I went to my recovery cubby, gobbled down some crackers, and drank some ginger ale, and was stunned by my lack of pain. Another absurdly nice nurse took care of me, including bringing me a rose from the hospital (way to go, NEB, flowers will get your EVERYWHERE). I walked on crutches to the bathroom without a problem. Dr.Cullen swung by and told me I did really well, and that my bone took the screw beautifully. I got in the car with no problem, stopped at Dunkin’ for coffee (because America crutches on Dunkin’), and Finagle a Bagel for bagels and cream cheese (because I rarely eat them, but AM IN DEEP PASSIONATE LOVE WITH THEM, and you should eat something you love when you’re getting part of your foot chopped off). I flopped onto the couch when I arrived home, got a big furry welcome from Riley, a visit and flowers from my sister and brother-in-law and three other friends popped over, who also brought flowers and treats. Peter overcooked (exactly how I like ’em) my everything bagel and slathered on the cream cheese, and with my coffee, a new series, The Chair–a contest between two film makers making the same film–I began my recovery.
The boot is sort of heavy, and sleeping wasn’t that easy, but I still have the nerve block, so no pain. And I’d like to say right here, I could marry that nerve block and live happily ever after. I do have some odd discoloration on my calf, which began blotching and itching last night, but Cortaid to the rescue. I’ll mention it to the doctor today, but thinking that it might be from applying cold packs directly to my skin, which good patient that I am, I did every 30 minutes yesterday, until bed.
My bunion and the impending surgery I knew I would have to have at some point has literally, HONESTLY been on my “to do” list for approximately 15 years. Last night when I woke up, IT WASN’T, well I mean, I had a giant boot on my leg resting on a pile of pillows, so it was, but not in the same way. I have some disbelief and elation that I was finally able to make this choice (I was really not able to make it for all those years, despite trying very hard), that I’ve done it, and that now I’m on the road to recovery (of being able to exercise and shoe shop). I’m sure it might get more painful as the days pile up, but right now, grati-fucking-tude for everything that’s gone right. Buh-bye bunion. Hope the knife hit you in the ass on the way out the door.
Tomorrow at this time I will be all valiumed up, awaiting 7:30 departure for bunion surgery. It’s only been a lifetime in the making, and 10 years of trying to muster my courage, find the right doctor and do it. This thing has plagued me in the middle of the night, when I worry that it will take over and I won’t be able to exercise or walk. It’s forced me to give up one of the world’s great pleasures: shoe shopping. Plus it’s ugly. Plus it’s gotten so big, it’s starting to order its own meal in restaurants (that’s where I draw the line).
I won’t be able to do much for a week, but rest, ice, elevate. And then I’ll be in a boot. And then I’ll be in physical therapy. And then I’ll be in like really ugly wide boxy sneakers, and then around January, I might be able to get myself into some sort of cute-ish real life shoes. Yeah, this is going to be a long haul.
In the end, I hope I’ll have made a smart choice. Sometimes you have to live by the words of Nike and “Just do it.” I sure hope this is one of those times.
I’m doing what I do. It’s starting. The sneaky fear is creeping in on little puppy paws.
“WHAT IF OUR FOOT SURGERY DOESN’T WORK? WE’RE RISKING A LOT. WE SHOULDN’T HAVE IT.” the pessimistic, terrified, part of me says, all scared, and a little snide and judge-y.
“Well, it’s time we take that risk, because it’s bothering us a lot, in terms of, you know living, so lets just try to be positive, and hope for the best,” my smart and rationale side says back, with cool confidence.
“YEAH, BUT WHAT IF OUR DOCTOR FUCKS UP AND WE’RE CONFINED TO A LIFE OF EXTRA WIDE NEW BALANCE SNEAKERS, OR WORSE YET, THEIR BOXES, AND WE HAVE PAIN ALL THE TIME, AND WE CAN’T WALK? THEN WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”
“I think that’s unlikely. I believe that we have to do this, however scary and unpleasant, and that it will very likely make us better, and I hear New Balance has some really well designed boxes,” I rationally lob back to my insecure miserable side.
“WELL, I THINK WE’RE ASKING FOR IT. THE DEVIL YOU KNOW IS BETTER THAN THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW. I THINK WE’RE MAKING A MISTAKE. AND IF YOU MUST KNOW, WE’RE SCARED.”
“Well, thank God you’re not running the show, because I think you’re an ass hat.”
My rationale side usually wins out in these sorts of conversations, but these two are constantly fighting. They’re worse than my kids. This surgery can’t come quickly enough. #23daysandcounting.
Some people fantasize about mcmansions smack on the beach, or exotic vacations in places like Bali and Fiji, or being married to George Clooney, or Anglina Jolie (or you know, at least having sex with them). Others dream about fame, or being so rich they could use their big bills as Charmin. Me? I fantasize about wearing four inch Leboutin’s, toe cleavage, wispy flats, cowboy boots. I daydream of the freedom to walk as many mies as I want to, buy every shoe in Bloomingdale’s or Sak’s or Neiman’s without trying on an endless array of sizes and shapes, and getting all that attitude from the sales people, who by the way are working there, while I’m shopping there, and who get all angry faced when they see me coming because they know that i will require them to actually work, bringing me enough shoes to satisfy Carrie Bradshaw, but will actually not be able to buy a one of them, on account of the fact that my foot is, well, let’s call it “special.”
You’d think it might make me feel better to know that Oprah has one. Or Victoria Beckham, and Tilda Swinton. But believe me, there is no joy in the gross and disgustingly ugly foot malady called the bunion. It’s a deformity of the joint of the big toe.
And mine is the size of my head.
It’s not because I did anything wrong, as doctors have told me, it’s just the luck of the hereditary draw. Thanks, Mom. My sisters aren’t plagued like I am, one of my cousin’s has them, but me, I seem to have won the bunion megabucks. As one podiatrist told me about 15 years ago, “You shouldn’t have a bunion this size until you’re 60.” I was 40 at the time. With a disc problem by age 23, I have walked the girth of the earth to keep my back strong (this is the low-impact exercise that’s prescribed for we back sufferers), and this, apparently while helping my back, accelerated the growth of my bunion. And now, here I am with a bulbous growth so large, normal shoes elude my shopping cart. Wah, wah, wah, I want to wear my Chloe flats without a golf sized growth hitting the side of the shoe like foot muffin top. Maybe it seems like a stupid thing to wish for, when there are so many other more worthy things to spend your dreams on, but let me tell you, live with a bunion for a while and then let’s chat over coffee. Just try and find kicks that don’t look like grieving Italian widow shoes. Attempt to be stylish when you can’t wear heels. I challenge you to dress from the feet up, like I’ve had to for the last decade, and look even remotely like you’re not Amish. Go head, I dare you. You can’t. You know why? Because it would take you years of shopping, sticking your foot in and out of shoes, and a ridiculous amount of online research to know the in’s and outs of a shoe that will be your Cinderella story. For instance, you wouldn’t know to look for soft buttery leather that might give enough to accommodate your bump and your orthotic which will retard your bunion, and that you must wear. You probably wouldn’t understand that said orthotic forces you to go up a size, and resemble Big Foot. You might pass on suede, not realizing its potential to give you style and stretch. You wouldn’t have the savvy to look for a shoe that doesn’t have toe cleavage, because , while sexy, it doesn’t leave any space for your bunion, which will be sticking out of the leather like a lost ping pong ball. You might not realize that boots are a bunion sufferers best friend, because they are often roomier than shoes. You need a bunion shoe buying PhD to tackle this situation fashionably. And even then, there comes a point where you’re wondering if you could rock a pair of New Balance in place of heels without anybody noticing (oddly, this season you actually can).
I have been toying with idea of having this thing operated on for like 10 years now. I’ve been to countless doctors. None of them, except my podiatrist, who would perform a type of surgery that would allow me to walk out of the operating room in a boot, have anything encouraging to say. Orthopedic surgeons go at bunions like they go at everything, with gusto–you’re non-weight bearing for eight weeks. With a back like mine, a surgery like that could whack out the rest of my body so that I become an oversized stuffed animal you put in the corner of your closet and forget about. Seriously, let’s talk about how that would make my back feel, not to mention what it could do to my mental state. They say it takes a full year to recover from that type of bunionectomy: the Lapidus. I mean, why not just poke out my eyes. At least I wouldn’t have to look at my bunion.
Doctors seem to look ruefully at my foot and nod their heads back and forth. My husband had two hip replacements and all the doctors were like, “You’ll be as good as new.” But talk about a little foot bulge decapitation and you might as well talk about having a head transplant.
A few years ago, I decided I would wait until my foot was really disrupting my life (in more ways than just when I put it in my mouth). And, well, it seems like the time has probably come. I have a swelling on top of the bunion now, just for extra attractiveness, and less shoe options than ever. I can really only fitness walk every other day, and if I go over three miles, it begins to hit the side of my sneaker like it’s a bumper car. But I have postponed this thing, that’s kept me up at night, and made me shop for shoes online in the wee hours when I worry about how I might have to move to the Amazon and go barefoot for the rest of my life. I mean without surgery, I am doomed to a life of Nike’s and nice rocking chairs. I’ve got to put on my big girl panties if I’m going to win this battle of the bulge. I know it won’t be pretty, but hell, there are just too many shoes out there. And I’ve got miles to go before I sleep.
So, yesterday, I saw my podiatrist and booked my surgery. It will be at the end of September. I already feel a little bit of relief, just knowing I’ve made a decision. It is called the Austin. I will walk out of the recovery room in a boot (not a cowboy boot, but a boot nonetheless) I will be in that boot for a month, before graduating to, like a lovely Merrill type shoe. (Maybe I will bedazzle them, just to keep my spirits up). I will then do physical therapy, and at 10 – 12 weeks, I will be able to fitness walk. It will be a long road, and this is a big step, but after a decade of pain, reduced function, limited shoe buying ability, and the psychological terror of worrying whether I could make it through a surgery like this, at least I’ve got my foot in the door.