Morton’s Neuroma: Surgery and Starting Recovery

DISCLAIMER: I am writing this so that others who are, have been, or will be in this situation have some insight into what it may be like like. Everyone’s experience is different, this is just mine. I am not a doctor. I’m simply going with what my doctor has told me and my own personal preferences. I try not to get too graphic, but some of this subject matter may still be quite unpleasant to some people. Please consider yourself warned. This is a lengthy post!!

Crutches

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling the urge to blog frequently, but my energy levels have just been totally depleted as of late. Maybe it’s the healing process, maybe it’s the awful heat, or maybe my body is just trying to catch up on all the rest I’ve missed for I don’t know how many months. I’ve been more active on Twitter than I have on here because, let’s face it, it’s easier to scroll through Twitter with your phone in your hand and one eye open than it is to type out a blog entry from your phone. On top of that, WordPress for Android and I, we haven’t been getting along so well.

This has been an interesting couple of weeks!

August 7th was the date that was settled on for my surgery, and I was one big giant mess to put it nicely. The closer the surgery date got, the more frantic I was. I was trying to clean like a madwoman, make sure all sorts of things were taken care of, and changing my nail polish on an almost daily basis. Yes, I’m weird. I do that when I’m stressed.

I ended up having to fast the night before which did not make for a very happy girl. Seriously, if you deprive me of my coffee or my tea, things have the potential to get ugly. But somehow, I managed with everyone around me remaining unscathed. I was scheduled to go in at 6 a.m. to prepare for surgery at 8 a.m. I was told to go in in comfortable clothes, with no nail polish, makeup, lotion or jewelry. I understand all of these requirements entirely, but talk about a blow to my girlishness, yeesh! I was the first patient to arrive at the building, and it didn’t take long before they were leading me back to change and get an IV started. The IV process, I’ll tell you, was not pleasant. The first attempt by the nurse to place the IV was on the top of my left wrist. It just didn’t go well at all, (lots of bleeding) so she moved the IV placement to the top of my left hand. Again, it wasn’t very comfortable, but it seemed to work at least initially. After some time though, they started to administer medication through the IV and that’s when we ran into trouble. I noticed a very strong burning sensation on my left forearm and looked down to find that it appeared to be swelling. Well, it wasn’t so much swelling, as  medication was leaking into the tissue. Not fun folks, not fun at all. They finally switched the IV to my right hand, and all was well with that.

By this point I was pretty nervous, and the nurses could tell. I’m truly thankful that they were so sweet and patient with me. I waited for a little while, but it wasn’t too long before the anesthesiologist came in to speak with me before the procedure. She was very helpful, answered all my questions, and explained how everything was going to work. She determined that they were going to do a nerve block for me, and would only resort to something like general anesthesia if absolutely necessary. She preferred not to do that, and felt I would be just fine. (Thankfully, she was right, so no general anesthesia was necessary.) The nurse filled in the anesthesiologist on the IV incident, so the anesthesiologist decided to go ahead and give me my versed before I was wheeled in for surgery. She told me not to be nervous, and that “this will make you feel like you’ve had three margaritas” which of course, wasn’t a bad idea to me at the time! After a few moments I mentioned to her that I could feel a slight burn around the IV site. She said that’s the versed, and the burning will pass. The same moment she said that I suddenly started to feel pretty good. I remember saying “Woah. WOAH.” grinning, and that was it folks. That was it.

I seriously don’t remember a single thing from that moment on, until my mother came to get me in recovery.

Versed does not just cause sedation, but it causes a period of amnesia, so I still have no memory of the surgery or parts of a few hours afterwards. I know I was very sleepy, and a little uncomfortable, but I wasn’t feeling any pain. All I remember is immediately wanting coffee which was luckily already on the agenda for my mother (even though when we pulled up to the Starbucks drive-through, I was in the passenger seat snoring. Apparently it gave the server quite a giggle.)

I was not really in pain initially when I got home. My mom immediately helped me get into bed and we got my foot elevated. The majority of my foot was still numb from the nerve block (which actually lasted a few days). I had been prescribed ibuprofen and some hefty pain medication. Though the instructions said “take every 4 to 6 hours for pain as needed” I did not take it consistently. If I started having quite a bit of pain, I would take it, but it would knock me out or make me incredibly loopy so I didn’t like that too much. (Note: Always determine the medication routine that is best for you with your doctor. I’m not saying to do what I did, as I only did what worked best for me and my stubborn streak.) There are times when I probably should have taken it, but didn’t, because I didn’t want to sleep during the day. I wouldn’t suggest following in my footsteps.

It did not take long for me to start experiencing some serious discomfort and swelling though. I have the benefit of having an Ergo bed, which made adjusting my position incredibly easy without needing someone to grab some pillows to stack under my feet. For the first several days if I even kept my foot below my heart for any period of time, it would start to swell back up. One day it even had me a bit scared, because the entire foot was hot to the touch, painful, and felt hard as a rock. I could hardly even move my toes. Constant elevation and an ice pack were what finally brought it back to normal. Strangely enough though, a few days later it was just the opposite. It became incredibly painful, and frigid, as if I had stuck my foot in the freezer for a few minutes. Even after wrapping it in multiple extra blankets, it took a good bit of time for the temperature to return to normal. The most surprising part of both instances were that I had done nothing differently. I was in bed, relaxing, the temperature in the room was nice, and I otherwise felt fine.

During the first week and a half especially, I had to use an ice pack frequently. They did send one home with me from the hospital that I could strap to my foot, but be careful with those, as mine started to deteriorate after the first couple of days, and you really need to keep the dressing on your foot dry. (Tip: To keep your dressing dry when using an ALWAYS wrapped ice pack, place the ice pack under your knee so that it cools the blood flow to your foot without potentially getting your dressing wet. This made a world of difference for me and was much easier than trying to balance the pack on my foot. – Do NOT use an uncovered ice pack by itself!) I experienced a burning sensation at the incision site, some random painful spasms now and then, and throbbing off and on. I can’t tell you whether you will experience these things or not because, again, everyone is different. Though my doctor told me this was all normal, if you do experience something that feels strange, it is really better to call your doctor and be sure. I was not allowed to remove the dressing the first week I was home. After that I went in to the doctor and he changed my dressings and checked on the incision. After that, I was allowed to (gently) wash the incision, and to redress it myself.

Now if I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now. I am not a graceful person. At all. I can trip on flat surfaces with nothing around, and if there is something that can be run into, some part of my body will likely discover it by accident. That being said, being on crutches just makes me one big (sort of) walking disaster waiting to happen. I have lost my balance a few times and landed on my healing foot. The first time, I caused it to start bleeding again. Thankfully after about the first four or five times I landed on it (I told you I’m not graceful!), I managed to start getting the hang of walking on crutches. Sort of. Mostly. I think. (Note: If you will need crutches, and purchase them ahead of time, I would suggest practicing with them if you’ve never used them before!) I definitely, definitely should have practiced first.

I’m now just past the two week mark from my surgery date, and things are certainly better. I still have pain, and some days it’s enough that I need to take the heavy duty pain medication, but those days are less and less now. However.. I have not made as much progress as I was hoping to have made by this point. Despite the podiatrist saying the entire healing process would likely take two months, I for some reason had it in my head that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be that long. I had planned on being back up and moving around frequently, cooking, cleaning and tending to my usual mom/wife activities. Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way. I have a pretty dark and ugly bruise on the top of my foot, presumably from the trauma of the surgery. Though the enormous green and yellow bruises from my IV spots are finally fading. I have always been a slow healer, so you would think I would have taken that into account.

Eh… not so much. I am still stuck in bed quite a bit, or on the couch, or in the recliner. I tried walking on my still healing foot for the first time two days ago. I’m not proud to admit I was tearful through the process. It hurt. It was uncomfortable, but I did it. I’m taking it slow, despite the fact that that drives me nuts to do so. Slow or not, I do see progress, and that’s what’s important. I’m truly grateful that I have my family to be there and help me out. Things would certainly be far worse without them. Despite my frustration at being out of work, I remind myself that everything happens for a reason, and on the upside it does make it a little easier to focus on recovering. Luckily my incision is healing up nicely, albeit slow, and it looks far better than I thought it would. You know, minus the pen marks the doc left there from surgery time. ;)

The best advice I can give is let yourself heal. Call your doctor if you have a question. That’s what they’re there for. If you need help, ask for it. Your health is important. I hope this was at least a little helpful to those of you dealing with this same thing. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment or send me an email!

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Links to my other posts regarding my Morton’s Neuroma experience:

The Back Story

When It Rains It Pours

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13 thoughts on “Morton’s Neuroma: Surgery and Starting Recovery

  1. I had the surgery and fell on crutches too. I ended up renting a knee scooter for a month, but only really needed it for 3 weeks. It gave me a new sense of freedom! lol

    • Crutches were the absolute bane of my existence until I could hobble around without them, haha! Had I heard about a knee scooter I very likely would have rented one instead of wasting my time with crutches!

  2. I’m having this surgery tomorrow and so scared. Can somebody please reassure me that it isn’t as scary as I think? I want to back out but I have other huge feet problems other then the neurons. Any sort of reassurance will help:)

    • I can tell you that I was an absolute nervous wreck before my surgery, and really debated backing out of it, even on the morning of! It was nerve wracking and I won’t lie, the healing process is not fast. However, I can tell you that the discomfort I still have while my foot heals is NOTHING like the horrible pain I had before the surgery. I still have my not-so-great days, but even those don’t compare to my “normal” days before the surgery. I hope that helps! :)

      • Thank you for responding so fast!! I’m a mess, a complete mess. I’m expecting 3-4 weeks of couch time with foot up, no problem. I’m going to see if I can get the nerve block rather than general anesthesia like ypu.As far as physical activity, are you back to normal? I’m not a runner but am into fitness and curious if I’ll even be back to normal by may/June. Thank you so very much for your time. I REALLY appreciate it:)

      • You are so welcome! I understand, I really do! I was a disaster! After my first month is when I started to really be able to (sloooowly) get up and move around more. However I may not have started healing as quickly as most would. I am mostly back to normal. I still get discomfort if I overdo things (like running errands all day) and at times, even if I step on something while barefoot (very painful!). When you get back into working out, just take it slow and don’t push yourself too hard! Your body will let you know when it has reached its limit. Feel free to email me any time if you have questions or just need someone to talk to about it! :)

  3. Hi Chel.. I’m having the surgery on March 14th.. My question is did your doctor do the incision on the top or bottom of your foot? I’m having it on the bottom. how long did it take until you were able to drive again? I’m having my right foot done and then in the fall I have to do my left.. Ugh!!!!! My kids are 7 and 9.. I’m freaking out because I think my husband will be over it by day 3.

    • Hi Suzanne,

      Yes, my doctor did make my incision on the bottom of my foot. He said he has had a much higher success rate with less chance of the neuroma reoccurring if the procedure is done that way. I’ll be honest, it was a while before I could drive. At least a month and a half. HOWEVER, take that with a grain of salt; I often heal slower than most people so you may or may not heal at a similar rate.

      My son is 11, and I had him helping out a lot around the house! (Just an idea for you!) It kept him busy, made him feel good to be able to help his mom and dad, and took some of the pressure off my husband (and mom). You’re probably going to be bed-ridden for a little bit, as any moving around will likely be on crutches because you NEED to keep the incision nice and clean to avoid infection. My husband took time off work to be home to take care of me, and my mom was also here for about a week to help me right after the surgery (when my husband couldn’t be here).

      Have you talked to your husband about what the recovery will entail? Is he taking time off? He may not like it all that much (I know it likely got annoying at times for my husband) but what it really comes down to, is it’s your health and well being at stake. A brief period of time where things might be a little frustrating is well worth it, considering how much pain and suffering it will prevent down the road. (Seriously, my doc said my bones were actually spreading into a V shape because the neuroma kept growing!). I can’t imagine not having done the surgery, despite still having minor problems 6 months later.

      I know I rambled a lot, but I hope that helped!

  4. Hi Chel,
    I’ve had Morton’s for the past 10 years (it started when I was 17…) and it just keeps getting worse, even though I can try and manage the pain, I really don’t want to have surgery, although my doctor keeps pushing me towards it. I have had a few injections, which last about a month, and then the pain comes back. My main concern is the surgery itself that I really don’t want to have. Can you please update on how your recovery is going? Are you able to wear any type of shoe? Including high heals (which I haven’t worn in 10 years…) I understand that for many people, even though the pain goes away they cant wear any shoes they like.
    Did you also have internal scar tissue from the nerve? If so did it go away? I would also like to know about the recovery time, have you completely recovered yet, and how long has it taken overall?

    Thanks for the help,
    Hannah

    • Hi Hannah, I’m SO sorry it’s taken me so long to answer! I’ve been sick as of late, so nothing on the computer has gotten much attention.

      I understand your hesitation, believe me! I didn’t want to have the surgery either. The idea terrified me. However, my podiatrist said that my neuroma (which was between the third and fourth metatarsal) was big enough that it was starting to push the bones apart into a “V” shape. With as much pain as I was in daily I cannot even imagine what it must be like for you having one for ten years!!

      My surgery went really well, but I can tell you that I don’t usually heal as quickly as most people. It took me some time before I was able to get up and function entirely on my own. Currently I can wear whatever shoes I like, though to be honest I’ve never been a frequent wearer of heels. (I’m already tall, and not at all graceful, so I’m always afraid I’ll hurt myself in heels! Haha) I wore them for Halloween with my costume, and after a few hours they certainly caused some discomfort. But remember, I had only had my surgery a couple of months prior. I have tried to stay away from wearing converse though despite my love for them. Mainly it’s out of my own personal fears of the converse constricting and pushing the bones together too much. For all I know, they could be perfectly fine to wear.

      I do have a little internal scar tissue, though you can’t tell by looking at my foot as the incision actually healed beautifully. (The scar is almost non-existent).

      I am not fully recovered. I wish I could say that I am. I am almost to my 8 month mark (on April 7th I will be) and I still have off days. If I have to go run errands all day or I’m cleaning house all day, I have to take breaks and get off my foot. However, I can tell you that 8 months out despite any pain I still have, it is NOWHERE near as bad as it was before the surgery. I even have days where I’m nearly if not completely pain free.

      My suggestion would be to have a serious discussion with your doctor. Make a list of all your questions and concerns, and don’t let up until he/she addresses each one. Make sure you are comfortable with your potential surgeon too if you decide to go through with the surgery. That’s really important!

      Sorry for practically writing a novel, and I hope that at least helped a little. Feel free to contact me any time!

      Best of luck,
      Chelsea

  5. I had 2 neuromas removed from my right foot at the same time on February 12th. I’m 4 weeks out and I have pain right at the base of m y toes underneath my foot. It’s real sore to touch. Did you have that problem? I also have significant pain after just walking around the house…..

    • Hi Layla,

      I’m sorry it took me a while to answer.

      Yes, absolutely! It took me a good three to four weeks just to start getting around (very, very slowly) without crutches. I had a lot of strange pains, particularly in the first few months after surgery. Pain in the toes and at the base of them was significant, and just walking down the hallway caused me quite a bit of pain.

      You’re only four week out, so remember – take it easy!! Give yourself a chance to really heal, and any major concerns you have DEFINITELY talk to your doctor about them. It’s really and truly better to be safe than sorry. I can’t tell you how many times I harassed my podiatrist with questions afterwards, and I’m grateful I did.

      Feel free to contact me any time!

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