Friday, July 31, 2009

oy, my aching feet

"The bunion, the bunion, oh, I hate the Bunion..." (Sung to the tune of "The Bunny" a la Veggie Tales.) I scheduled my surgery for December 21st. Merry Christmas! But it's that or two weeks from now, and I don't want to wear a walking cast for the rest of the summer, thereby ruining the State Fair for the year. I'd rather limp through the holidays. The walking cast is the good news: the surgeon will only break one bone, the name of which I don't know just now, rather than two. Actually, he'll chip some bone away from the joint of my first toe; plus take a wedge-shaped piece out of the right side of the bone in order to reshape and reposition the bone relative to the rest of the foot. Get it realigned over the sesamoid bones, and shorten a ligament to keep it in place. Add one small screw. If it had been worse, two broken bones, I'd need crutches and several more weeks recovery time.

My husband has until very recently been against this surgery, saying it's basically cosmetic and therefore likely to be expensive. I don't complain much about the pain, which is more or less constant; some days I wake up with it. But he finally went online and looked at some of those gnarly photos of the consequences, when the problem is left untreated. That seems to have convinced him, that and my reminder that the damned thing hurts. Yet he's not totally wrong -- even though I'm treating a legitimate deformity, and a fairly common one, the surgery is still considered elective. We'll see what insurance has to say. Doctors don't want to rush you into this -- I'd been told to wait and see six years ago, and the guy I saw Thursday (a charming and weird fellow my age who kept calling me "little lady" and "missy," I can't think why) did likewise -- "Maybe it doesn't bother you as much now as it will later. Or maybe you feel like now is a good time to get it over with. There's no rush. You can go on with it like this for a while yet." I guess now the hospital calls the insurance company, and I have to get on the quote line to see what the damage will be. Since the effing foot isn't rotting off, I suppose some sort of penalty is in order.

Penalized for my flat feet. Apparently, lack of arch support leads to this problem over time. Bones raise, shift, are pushed outward to compensate for unevenly distributed weight. They noticed the problem already when I was nine, and tried little braces on my feet at night -- the condition started cropping up after my knee surgery, when my leg muscles learned to compensate for bones that had been severed and repositioned. I'd been walking funny already for years -- "pigeon-toed" they used to call it -- and the surgery corrected this.

My femurs were cut through just above the knee, and the lower legs turned outward a few degrees, before being reset. Casts from ankle to hip all summer, my eighth year. I started the third grade on crutches, and had to be carried up and down the stairs to and from my classroom each day by our principal. A nice guy, I remember. Mr. Wagner? Perhaps. My third grade teacher's name was Ms. Alt, a name that in German, she said, meant "old." She had a bob, and dark rimmed glasses. She wore turtlenecks and long vests. This would have been 1976 I think. The year of the Bicentennial. First the wheelchair, then the crutches, and weeks of PT. In and out of the hospital. Loneliness there, bad food, crabby nurses. But I was a big celebrity with my casts, afterward, and had lots of autographs. Do people sign each other's casts anymore? Maybe you can't -- they're all made of the colored stuff now. Before, they were white plaster, and you could decorate them with felt-tipped markers. Funny the things you remember.

I hope I never go through something like that with my kid. The dental visits are bad enough.

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