I thought about not posting a current "after" pic at one time. That the pictures I'd posted soon after surgery were enough. But I wanted to be honest about how I healed and show how with time, my result had changed.
That said, my after picture showed that one of the toes on my left foot leans a bit to the side. I wrapped my toes for months, it felt like forever, but that still didn't prevent it. They're bump free and MUCH shorter (hallelujah) but I wouldn't call them perfect. If you're considering having the surgery, ESPECIALLY if you're paying thousands out of pocket, you should consider that and maybe ask your doctor if/how you can prevent it. I believe my doctor cut a slit in each bone on the side of my toe. I don't remember the reasoning. But I think that "leaning" is from not having a bone there to support the side of my toe. Maybe if someone has screws or uses pins during healing, that won't happen, I don't know.
But on the bright side, I could always say they're throwing up peace signs. :)
Being home bound and helpless took a toll on me at some points. When you have nothing but time on your hands and you're staring at your wounds, your mind can go to the weirdest places. Was my doctor the right choice? Did she botch my procedure? Why do my incisions look this way? I had a crying fit when I first saw my feet, I was completely panicked. I felt foolish for going through with the procedure. This blog has been great for those moments. I was also surprised by the comfort I found in Geena's blog and would get excited to see that someone wrote to me. That's why it's so great to have people writing about their experience. Readers (like me 2 years ago!) can relax when they see that they can relate!
I’ve received such great feedback on this blog. I’ve been pretty much done with it but it seems that many people still ask me questions, which is great! Alot are already answered throughout my blog but since people ask them frequently, I thought to create a list of things that might help. If you want a topic added here, let me know and I’ll try to keep this updated.
1. RUNNING / WORKING OUT It was about 7 months before I could be active. At about 4 months, I went out with heels and was in so much pain before I even got out of the car, I almost started to cry. So after 4 months it was only flats and no heels for months after. About 9 months after surgery I wore either flat boots or a VERY small 1 inch wedge boot.
When you go in for your consultation, you’ll likely ask your doctor how long it takes to heal. I would personally multiply their answer by 2, even 3 and expect that to be a more realistic healing time. Especially if you’re doing both feet, in my opinion. I TAKE IT BACK, I WOULD MULTIPLY BY 4 !
2. REFLEXES My reflexes were SO bad for months after surgery. I was so careful crossing the street. I didn’t have the reaction time in my feet that I needed to move quickly. A friend noticed my apprehension and said, “wow you're a really careful street crosser!” haha.
3. WEARING HEELS I can wear heels now, but I’m smarter about them. I won’t wear platforms to work, I’ll wear Aerosoles. If they’re not comfortable, I do not own them. You can make Aerosoles look current! I have going out shoes, but I stick with wedges and 3 inch max heels for daily wear. Espadrille wedges are great, they absorb the shock when you walk and give you height. I wear sandals now, but typically a caged gladiator. I have a fear of people stepping on my bare toes! The worse shoes are patent leather. They do NOT stretch at ALL and hurt. ADDING ON TO THIS POST: after an awesome post from a reader named Val, I want to add that the closed shoes I was able to wear after surgery were hideous. This is because they have to be extra extra wide.
4. BENDING JOINTS ONE OF THE THINGS YOU MAY NOT BE TOLD!!! My joints never bent the same again. My toes are straight and stiff. Hurts like hell if you bang your toe. I didn’t expect it when I was going in for the procedure, so it’s good to know. The movement I do have is ever so slight it’s not even worth mentioning.
5. SOMETHING THAT CONFUSED ME After surgery I was told to rub/massage my joints and try to manipulate my toe by forcing it to bend. That was suppose to help keep some mobility in my joints. But when I went to see my doctor months later, I told her my joints weren’t bending and she said that she didn’t want them to. Because if they bend, the hammertoe would return. I can understand that, but I wonder, why was I massaging my toes then? And why didn’t I know I wouldn’t be able to move my toe BEFORE I went in to have surgery? I love my doctor, but if I’m being honest here, then those are thoughts I did have. I agree with a comment left by a reader, this is no small detail! I would never think to ask my doctor if my toes wouldn’t be able to bend after. That’s like going in for a nose job and having to ask if you'd still have the ability to smell.
6. HEALING After a week the stitches were out, then the yucky black scabs have to heal, then the soreness and swelling, which took the longest. My healing before I could do physical things like workout classes was about 7 months.
7. FLOPPY / DISCONNECTED FEELING TOES After surgery my toes, especially the one near the pinky, felt “floppy”. Like there was no bone connecting my toe to my body, like it just floated in my skin. That floppy feeling was scary and people have written to me about it. That feeling went away and the toe got stronger, even though it seemed like it was impossible.
8. PAIN This wasn't a pain free surgery. It was bearable, with some higher points of pain where I didn't expect them. When I woke up from the surgery I felt heat emitting from my feet and they felt very heavy, like 2 cinder blocks. When my bandages were first taken off a week later, that was the highest amount of pain for me. The bandage was stuck to my wound (dried blood) so when it was taken off, it pulled at my incisions. Had I known it would have been so painful to do a bandage change, I would have asked for a numbing shot. I can’t ever put that feeling into words. I cried. I think I was even traumatized. The other pain that was more constant was more a soreness. 2 years later and counting, I still ache if I’m on my feet for a long time (like a 3 hour dance class, but maybe everyone’s feet hurt after that).
9. MY DOCTOR Someone asked me what my doctor’s name is and I responded in the comment section initially. I’ve since deleted it. I want to be honest here, and I don’t want to worry about censoring myself. I love my doctor, but I don’t want to publicize her name and practice. If you want to know my doctor’s name, I’ll think about it and consider emailing her name if you ask me for it (she’s downtown in NYC).
10. SHOTS I had one session of shots to help with the pain in my joints. I can’t remember if it helped the pain but I know my toes changed ever so slightly in appearance. I didn’t like it. Those two toes are ALWAYS swollen now.
11. MY OPINION If you’re psychologically bothered by something or in pain from your condition and you have the ability to fix it, I think it’s worth looking into. I think you should know all the facts and unfortunately, we aren’t always given them. I hope you can educate yourself before making a decision that requires healing that I find to be extensive with permanent changes to your body.
12. REGRETS 2 years later, no I don’t have any that I can think of. There were things that I didn’t expect but I’m glad the pain I had from corns that rubbed and toes that were too long for a shoe is gone. Now I walk over 2 miles daily at minimum and I wouldn’t have been able to if I still had painful bumps on my toes. But that's not to minimize the healing process, I did not enjoy it.
Those are things I think people should prepare themselves for before having the procedure because they possibly won't be prepared by a doctor. I hope this helps!
Anonymous asked: I'm scheduled to have... Hammer toe surgery on both my feet and 4 toes (my second toe, which is longer than my big toe and my pinky toe). I was wondering how long it took for you to be able to wear heels and before your feet looked/felt normal. I'm excited and nervous. I'm sick of digging my toes into the sand, I want to wear sandals and feel confident.
Hi there! At 5 months I still couldn't wear heels without a lot of pain. I still don't wear heels actually, more for the health of my feet, but I would say 8 months later I wore heels and felt comfortable in them. My doctor told me pinky toe surgery has a different healing process because in a shoe, your pinky is constantly being rubbed against, so maybe if you do a summer surgery you can wear flip flops or a sandal while healing. Since it would take so long to heel I decided not to get the pinky done.
My feet looked "normal" at about maybe 7 months after but it can take up to a year for swelling to go down I hear. My toes very swollen for a while (you'll know they still have swelling because they float haha! They don't touch the ground while swollen), but I kept my toes wrapped in bandages for like 6 months and then I gave up, I couldn't do it anymore! I believe my swelling went down considerably after about 9 months.
I started to feel somewhat back to normal as a person though at about 4 months, whenever I had stopped limping hard. Because the limp, since both feet are done, was really a very hard limp, I didn't expect that. In terms of normal feeling in my feet, my feet have never felt the way they did before, I mean I have sensitivity back but I can't bend my toes in the middle. I should upload a video to show what I mean, maybe I'll do that soon.
I just always say that unlike some cosmetic surgeries, there is work I had to actually do that I didn't expect, time consuming work like properly cleaning the wounds, wrapping the toes for MONTHS before going to work, toe exercises etc. It wasn't what I expected, I thought I would go in, have it done, rest and heal and get back to life. So back to normal is something that came at a very very slow pace for me, slower than I would have liked. I hope this helps, and if you've made up your mind already I would love to hear about your progress along the way! Some of the blogs helped keep me from losing my mind when I felt certain unexpected things while healing!
So I decided I'd do a blog answering some questions I've received. If you have questions, please send and I will answer as best I can based on my experience :) I'll try to keep it short, but this one will be long. I tried editing it so many times but it's no use!
~ANONYMOUS asked: Do you have any regrets?
The thing I realized with this surgery is the recovery was far more extensive than I can ever have imagined (that is hammertoe AND shortening surgery cuz remember I had both). It seems easy, especially because it is a relatively short surgery process, but it's extensive in healing. My doctor compared it to a very controlled accident with a car running over your foot! I don't have any regrets, absolutely not. But I am surprised at how easy I thought it would be. I took off of work for 2 months and I thought I would be able to walk when I got back to work without having anyone know I'd done anything. WRONG! I was limping SO HARD, people said it was painful to look at me because they could feel my pain. Not to scare you, because it isn't a constant pain. The pain comes when you accidentally bend your joints, so you have to walk and not bend your toes. That's hard work! And I wasn't on pain killers, they made me dizzy. I had both feet done at the same time so it contributed to my hard limping (wanted to get it over with). I do have a freedom now, especially in the summer, where my thoughts are never on my feet. I am extremly happy with my decision and the fact that I take care of the body part I always neglected :) but I don't want to paint a rosy picture that leaves out the reality that it is a surgery that requires healing and alot of proper care on your part. If you are going in and you have decided it is right for you, then you will be fine and you will be happy! You won't be disappointed as long as you know that your doctor does his/her part in the operating room and you have to do your part when you get home for weeks, possibly months, after. Good luck, I'd love to hear about your progress! If you get scared or have any questions during the healing process, I am happy to write back based on my own experience.
~STEPHANIE asked: After 28 days... did you doctor recommend that you start trying to use your toes more? Did she say that the more you walk on them, the easier it gets? Can you finally bend your toes, run, exercise?
I was told I could start massaging my joints and trying exercise, such as picking up a towel or object with my toes, at my own pace whether that be right away or waiting until I felt I was ready. I couldn't do it right away, bending was just TOO painful. I didn't feel pain if I left them alone. When bending became bearable, I tried forcing the joints to bend but I never felt much progress. I guess scar tissue had already developed. But I always tried before bed. The mobility I have in my toes now, a year later, is only at the tip, not at the mid joint. That's why I got the shots, twice now. It breaks up the scar tissue and really loosens up the joints. I've only gotten them in my right foot so that I can do a comparison and there is a difference. But the foot that isn't getting the shots looks better... because the toes getting the shots seem to have gotten boney. When it bends there is a weird little elevated bone that feels like a pebble and I'm afraid that the bone will rub against my shoe and give me the look of corns again. It sounds obsessive, but I didn't go through all this for nothing! At least when it was stiff, it was straight and there was no way I could have gotten corns again because there was no elevated bone for my shoe to rub against. I hope I'm describing this in a way you can envision. (If anyone has gotten the shots in your toes, please reach out and tell me your before and after experience please!) I can run, exercise, dance, etc without any issues but probably couldn't until... (I'm guess-timating) 7 months after. I'm sure everybody is different. But with my case, it would have been difficult. I believe Geena was able to sooner (http://geenassurgery.blogspot.com/ ) Last year, about 4 months after my surgery I started walking alot. At least 30 blocks a day. I had to walk off the weight I gained anyway because being immobile will put a good 15-20 lbs on any body type. I believe she did say walking was good for my feet. But elevation is really important, even months after I still elevated my feet occasionally to watch tv etc. Because the swelling is the biggest obstacle initially. Actually, you don't even see results at first. When the swelling subsides, that's when your toes look shorter! It's like they shrink!
Questions I have for myself now are:
Do I want to not be able to bend my toes fully ever again in order to never get a corn again? What is the down side to not being able to bend the middle joint? The only time I really notice that I can't bend my joints is if I gently bang my toe. It hurts to high hell because rather than bend a little to absorb some of the shock, it stays stiff! My friend said to me the other day, "big deal if your toes don't bend". I guess I'm afraid it will affect me in the future, and by then it will be too late to break up the scar tissue. So I'm trying to determine now which is the best for me. I'm going to talk to my doctor. She also does laser treatments to loosen scar tissue. I'll see about that, although the lasers take longer to work. On a positive note, I got a chemical foot peel and I recommend it!! It doesn't hurt or burn and it left my feet so soft! So nice to take care of me! xoxo
So I wondered what was going on with my site, not a single comment! Little did I know I had them disabled. I changed this and you can now leave a question or comment if you wish :)
Update: I will post new pics soon. I am happy with my result although still have stiffness in my joints. My doctor wants me to get steroid shots where the scar tissue has developed, so far I got just one. It's just really hard to let anything painful near my feet! It's not the shot I worry about it's the wiggling around she does, it hurts and it gives me the creeps. My toes look 1,000 times better and I refuse to wear heels other than on special occasions in order to keep them bump free. The only complaint I have, and it is a small one, is my right foot 3rd toe is bending/leaning to the right at the tip. It's the only one that does :/ I really wish it wouldn't do that. This 3rd toe is also a smidgen longer than the 3rd toe on the opposite foot. Everyone says they don't notice but I wonder if they're just being nice. Oh, I also am a smaller shoe size. A half size smaller, how amazing is that? I guess I always had a certain size foot but with the long toe it made me wear a half size larger!! OK, I'll post pics in a few days :) Bye!
Is anyone able to fully bend their toes the way you could BEFORE this surgery??? It has been 6 months since my surgery. Although I had limited mobility in my joints before, I cannot bend my toes anywhere near what I could before. I have done toe exercises and wiggled my toe manually as instructed by my doctor and STILL they do not bend. They are stiff and the slight movement they do have is not a straight bend but a crooked weak bend, if that makes sense. There is also a soreness in my joints that doesn't go away. I'm curious as to whether this is a common, permanent side effect to this surgery or maybe I just got the short end of the healing stick. I'd love to hear from you. Of course I will also speak to my doctor!
It's been 5 months since my surgery and I still wrap my toes in bandages and wear compression stockings to keep the swelling down (my doctor said this helps them heal much better). I don't have pain, unless of course I trip which I seem to do a lot of lately! My toes bend on the joints near the tips but not in the middle joint, oddly. I think eventually they will bend because at one time the tips wouldn't even move. The only "pain" I have is soreness in the joint if I try to maneuver my toes to the side. They still look different week to week and really, compared to how they were before, anything would be an improvement! I still can't wear heels but that's the compromise to cute future feets :)
First things first - PLEASE DISREGARD MY PEDICURE! I did it myself and it's terrible. But it helps show how short the toes are getting. Also, I'm aware that the before feet pic is pretty bad but I never saw a point in taking care of feet I hated lol I swear the rest of me is not gross like that!
The weirdest thing about my surgery is my toes just continue to shrink! Initially I didn't see more than a slight difference in my toe length but WOW, they get shorter everyday! Swelling will continue subsiding for months so things will only get better. Right now my toes don't even touch the floor, they float! Also, you'll notice a shineyness on my toes lol. It's the topical medication I use. It creates a water barrier and somehow makes em sparkley. They are still very bruised and the right foot still has a scab! It's been months! a scab still? That's crazy!
The left foot has a toe that is curved, but didn't have any bumps so I didn't include it in the surgery (the second to last baby toe). I have regrets about it but realistically, I know I wouldn't be able to walk at all if I did have it straightened. The same toe on the right foot has caused extreme walking problems since it's taking longer to heal and I still, 2 months in, walk with a limp. Especially at the end of the day. So the left foot looks less than perfect but I can live with it. It also doesn't feel "floppy" or disconnected from my body anymore. It's getting stiff and strong. And my toe bumps? gone!
Wow, this has been so extensive I never would have imagined but now that the results are starting to show through, I'm excited!
It's been 2 months since my surgery. I haven't written because I'm back at work, boooo. Plus, my computer crashed and I just got a new one! So I will be posting before and afters in the VERY near future. So far, I limp everywhere :/ Mainly my right foot, it's still very bruised. My swelling is substantial, too. My toes won't even touch the ground! They are floating sausages in space. But everyday, I see and feel a difference. I know this is all boring w/o pics so I am going to work on that asap!
My doctor asked me to excercise my toes my massaging the joints as well as mimicking picking up an item, such as a towel. But my toes are VERY uncomfortable on certain surfaces so I didn't bother. Well, today I accidentally stepped on bubble wrap, (as a result of yet another electronic from the boyfriend), and I really liked the feeling! So I decided bubblewrap would be my new excercise buddy. Here is what I do:
- Using bubble wrap with the EXTRA large bubbles, I try to grab the plastic. Not much grabbing happens, but it's just enough to bunch the plastic and work the joints without the joint pain. These are my toe squats! Ha!
PS: After 4 weeks my toes still feel very weak. I can tell the 2nd and 3rd toes are getting stronger (or stiffer) but my 4th toe (near the pinky) feels awfully dead. I'm going to pay extra attention to her. Just another reminder that this surgery, fantastic as it is, is NOT an easy quickie. But so far, other than my "Melancoly" post, I'm positive and have no regrets!
It's been 28 days since my surgery. I still can't walk very fast and pretty much limp or what I call "waddle" wherever I go, with little to no pressure on my toes. But I'm basically home alot, blah :/ Everyday is like groundhog day. I eat, shower, put medicine on my incisions and change my bandages. The other day I showered for the 1st time standing up. It's not that I couldn't, but balancing is not easy because there is ZERO strength in my toes. In fact, I tried standing on my bed the other day and I couldn't because toes extend back a little when you stand on a bed (try it, you never think about it but they do! Toes really are here for a reason lol!). I think about things that I can't do, like running, and I can't wait to "try" it again. I really do miss being mobile and have been somewhat humbled by this experience. In New York City everyone, (yikes -incuding me), moves so fast you either keep the pace or get run over. I hope I can slow down and take a look at where it is I am rushing to in the future because people have almost run me over. LITERALLY.
Tomorrow I see my doctor about whether I can return to work next week. My biggest discomfort about returning to work, aside of course from my snail pace and 5 bandaged toes, is my coworkers asking OVER AND OVER "oh my god, are you ok!, what happend?". I'm still thinking about how I will respond (or lie, ha!). I know people are genuinely concerned but "my feet, my business" :) Hey I like that response... TTYL!
Sunday I bought new walking "shoes" from Easy Spirit. They're called "Motion" and come in an extra wide width. They fit when I bought them but as swelling varies from day-to-day, I put them on 2 days after buying and they didn't fit! But my doctor ordered me to NOT wear the surgical shoe any longer so I had to. But luckily, a friend decided to RIP OUT THE SOLE!!!! Now they fit like a roomy glove! What a great idea!
Thanks to ShadyLady at http://higharchhammertoesurgery.blogspot.com/ for suggesting New Balance sneakers in extra wide widths. Those are next on my list of purchases!
Tomorrow will make 3 weeks since my surgery. I'm still pretty much bed bound but only so I can keep my feet elevated as much as possible to keep the swelling down. I saw my doctor yesterday and she explained everything she did, showed me xrays (they really show how short the toes have gotten, something I can't see through the swelling), and explained what things I might see in-and-around the wound especially what is normal (seeing some flesh in the wound) and what is not (pus). I felt immediate relief! Also, my incisions looks so much better today then they did 2 days ago. So it's not as scary. As of Sunday night I've been changing the bandages 2x's a day and wrapping the toes together with non-stickie stuff the doctor gave me.
The most discomfort is coming from the incision on the toe near the pinky. But that little toe looks the best. It is so straight, I never even thought it looked crooked but now, wow it looks amazing! Too bad I didn't have bumps on that toe on the left foot or I would have had straight matching toes! Now the left side has a crooked toe (but that toe doesn't have bumps so I didn't bother having surgery on it-surgery isn't to be taken lightly!). Let me take pictures so I can post them soon. Bye!
Today I washed my wounds and had to tape my toes together myself. Seeing the incisions makes me quesy, seeing what's coming out of the incisions (it looks like flesh or fat or hard dried yellow-ey skin or bone shards). It scares me to death so I broke down. I loosely washed one foot and massaged some ointment in. I grabbed the second to last toe, and it feels completely disconnected from my bones. Like it's floating in my skin and it can easily bend backward. I feel terrible and this feels like the worse thing I've ever decided to do right now. I pray this feeling subsides because I truly feel like I just lost my limbs and am just so stupid to have done this to me. I haven't even washed the other yet. I am just too messed up. Everyone who I google has neat incisions. Mine are not "neat" (they were done on the side) and the skin looks so bunched. I feel like no one understands why I feel so upset. I wish I knew that someone else went through this and it did actually subside :/
*UPDATE: I called my doctor today and told her about my "breakdown". She was so awesome (I love her!) and I'm going to see her tomorrow so she can calm my nerves and make sure everything's ok. Today I applied the anti fungal cream twice and wrapped the bandages on my toes twice and I was completely ok! I hate having these moments of anxiety, but I think if you don't have them, you're not really normal! I feel like I should start my entries with "Dear Diary" going forward!
**UPDATE to my UPDATE: I don't have bone shards coming out of me. I'm just a big baby. It's flesh in the wound I saw and 2 days later, I couldn't see it anymore! Everyday the skin sheds more and more and well, I want the skin to shed! Also, the reason the skin is "bunched" is because my doctor doesn't always use pins. I believe she uses the taut side incision to hold the toe straight but also she bunches the skin with stitches because going from long to short toes, you will have extra skin. So bunching it with stitches, it forces the skin to fall off. Whew! My regret was VERY short lived :)
Yesterday my doctor removed my stitches, I was so grateful that it didn't hurt! I didn't even need the numbing needle, ahhh! Now I can massage my feet and excercise the toes but I'll wait a few days, my incisions still bother! I try to bend them a little but they don't curl much. But I feel a huge difference between 2 weeks ago and now so I know I'm getting better, woop woop!
Now, I'm dealing with the after affects of antibiotics. *TMI warning alert*.... they can create... yeast overgrowth (what? I gave a warning!). So my mouth (thrush) amoungst other things, are suffering. So many things u never think of when having surgery. But I'm admitting it because if anyone is out there reading (which I doubt), I want you to know if you're having surgery that these things happen!
5 more days until the doc takes out my sutures, woop woop! I was thinking of taking them out myself... Just kidding :) Can you believe there are tutorials online that show you how? Yes, I've been so bored I googled it.
I cleaned my apartment today, sweeping, did dishes, cooked. Nothing strenuous. My boyfriend did anything requiring bending (um, just throwing out garbage... with men less is always best!). The soles of my feet are sore since I balance on the back of them and not on the toes. I feel like I'm thisclose to walking somewhat normal looking. I'm very impatient, arg! Ok, breath Tootie...
As of yesterday, I stopped having footsie related panic attacks. I'd been feeling really restless, helpless, bored, frustrated with these shoe contraptions.... But I'm ok now :)
Last night I felt swallowed whole by the various bed pillows I use to elevate my legs. I pushed myself up with my heel to get out of this bedding burial and when I did, one of my toes sort of flexed. Yikes! I haven't used these foot muscles in days and it felt odd and sore. You never realize how much your toes move until you shouldn't move them. I felt soreness, it gives me the creeps, but I'm a big baby. I have no pain at all and I'm not on pain killers or over the counter pain remedies.
As of I think yesterday, I stopped sleeping only on my back. I can lay on my side but I keep my legs elevated. I try not to let my legs cross cause something tells me I'll stop the blood flow and get my feet to swell (yes, I think THIS detailed!).
Today I watched Titanic and my honey bun was nice enough to buy me a coconut shake and ferrero rocher chocolates to pass the time, mmmmmm. My feet will look smaller, my figure... not so much. For the record, I asked for bananas but he bought platanos. Bless his little heart. He said "these ARE bananas". Um.. they're solid green. They're so not bananas.
So now I'm just waiting for him to leave so I can watch my DVR'ed Twilight on Showtime in peace :)
Since I was a kid, I was born, wait, CURSED with these mythological creatures known as my toes. My sister inherited green eyes and long straight hair and well, I inherited THESE... instruments. What my sister so lovingly refers to as "finger toes". I'll admit, I've lifted items with them, why not? I once accidentally caused bodily harm to a family member who fell and landed on my feets. I escaped unscathed while she, on the other hand, has the back scar to prove that in a struggle between her and my feet, she loses. After 3 years of searching, I found a doctor I felt comfortable with and scheduled surgery to give me the standard human anatomy I so deserve. Here is my journey from toe talons to what I hope to be demure, polish worthy little footsies!