Foot Surgery; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
Five weeks ago today, I had what is called Cartiva Implant Surgery. Basically, I no longer had any cartilage in my left big toe joint. Arthritis had set in and taken over my cartilage which resulted in bone on bone in the joint. OUCH! right?! Although my surgeon did prepare me for what was involved in the surgery, from during surgery to post recovery, I didn’t fully realize what I would actually go through over the course of the process.
So what is Cartiva Implant Surgery? It is a surgical procedure that gives you an alternate solution to fusion of the toe joint due to arthritis. It is a surgery that was first performed in Europe, then Canada, but has only recently been approved by the FDA in the United States. For more info on the specifics of the surgery, please visit the Cartiva website. since the purpose of this blog is just to share with you my personal experience.
As a result of going through this surgery, I’ve been able to connect with many new friends through social media. Some have have helped to advise me based on their own journey. Many have reached out to me to ask questions to see if this is something they might like to do also. Therefore, I decided I would blog about my journey going forward. If you are considering having this surgery yourself, I hope you find this helpful. And if you’ve already gone through this surgery, I would love to hear your journey and learn from you as I continue down this path. I’m looking forward to sharing with you how this relatively new surgery has helped me.
My surgery day was November 8. Prior to surgery my surgeon met with me to go over questions, and prep me for what would take place on surgery day. They also called in many medications and supplements for me to take following surgery. I really liked how my surgeon called these medications in prior to surgery so I could take care of getting those ready and not have to deal with all of that on surgery day.
On surgery day, I arrived bright and early at 5:00am to get prepped. The over all surgery did not take longer than 45 minutes. I was actually home in 4 hours. My surgeon gave me a nerve block during surgery, so I wasn’t in really any pain for the first four days. Ironically, the only pain I initially experienced was in my achilles. Apparently this was from where they had my foot up in a stirrup while surgery was performed. As advised, I started my pain medications the evening of my surgery to get ahead of the pain, since nerve blocks can last anywhere from 1-4 days. Although I knew the surgeon would be giving me this nerve block injection, I did not realize my foot would feel numb, like when your foot is asleep. A feeling I honestly didn’t really like. I was more annoying than anything.
The following day after surgery, I returned to see my surgeon’s PA to have the incision checked and have my bandage changed. Everything looked great so they rewrapped my foot and I returned home to sit with my foot up.
In fact the whole first week post surgery I sat a lot with my foot up! I was not in terrible pain just discomfort from the numbness. But it was challenging to get around. I was surprised that I had to use crutches the first two weeks since my surgeon did not prepare me for that. I think mentally I struggled because let’s face it prior to surgery I wasn’t incapable of doing anything. In fact, I worked out the day before surgery. So for a busy mom who goes 95 miles an hour, it was hard to sit with my foot up and rest!
Once a week I returned to my surgeon’s office to have the incision checked and bandage changed. I really liked how they monitored my care after surgery. Since then I’ve learned some Cartiva surgeon’s do not treat post care all the same. So I’m thankful for one who really kept in contact with me. However, at my 3 week visit, stitches were removed and my surgeon wrapped my foot so tight I was miserable. Apparently this is one way to force the swelling to go down post surgery, but after 4 days I couldn’t stand it any longer and returned to my surgeon to have it rewrapped again.
I have noticed that over all slow, tiny improvements have happened each week. Weeks 1 and 2 I need the aid of the crutches, but by week 3 I was able to get around without crutches. And also week 3, I got my stitches removed but still needed to elevate my foot for long periods of time. 😞 Between week 3 and 4, I went back to icing my foot for 15 minutes at a time trying to help get the swelling down even more. Then, finally week 4 I was released from wearing the boot 🎉 but I was unable to get on ANY of my shoes. I thought I would at least be able to wear one or two pair, but nothing. The only pair of shoes I could find to wear the first day was a pair of old mary jane Crocs. Not the most glamorous or warmest foot wear in winter.
So the next step was finding a pair of shoes that fit! I ended up ordering a pair of slide on UGGS from Amazon and purchased a stretch type tennis shoe from TJ MAXX. Whatever time of year you end up having your surgery, you’re gonna need a good pair of shoes as you learn how to use your new toe. Plus you are going to need to go up 1 to 1 1/2 sizes. I found the stretchable tennis shoe to work well.
After the boot came off, I was surprised by how I was unable to physically move my toe on its own. It was like it was frozen in place. Amie, who I met through social media, shared with me that her surgeon encouraged her day 2 after surgery to begin physically moving her toe back and forth for as long as she could stand it. I’m not sure if I could have done that day 2 post surgery, but it is something I have been trying to do more.
I have also been using the following products to help with inflammation, sloth off the dead skin cells, and help the incision heal faster. I can honestly tell you these products are making such a huge difference for me. If you would like to know more about how to purchase these products, just message me for info or click on the product name!
Best known as a pre-workout drink but can be used for so much more. I have found it to be the best product EVER to help naturally reduce inflammation in the body. Literally my GO TO drink daily to help control inflammation, allergies and auto-immune issues.
I enjoy using doTerra oils. Since my bandages have come off, I have been daily soaking my foot in warm water, epson salt and doTerra Deep Blue. This is helping to heal the incision quicker. A friend of mine sent me several oils to also try for inflammation and stress. (side note: I am in no way affiliated with doTerra Oils but can refer you to an independent distributor if you do not have one)
I have also found that icing my foot daily helps with inflammation and pain. I iced the first few days after surgery and then stopped. After dealing with so much pain in weeks 2 and 3, I started icing again. Ice for 15 minutes on, then 15 minutes off, for 1 hour; then repeat several times during the day. Make sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel before placing on your foot.
As I continue to improve, I will keep you posted. If you would like to JOIN MY VIP NEWSLETTER CLUB just click and ADD YOUR NAME! Until then, keep moving!