I went back to work on Monday, although I’m not all the way recovered yet, here’s my advice for getting through the first six weeks. Standard disclaimer, I’m not a dr so this is just the stuff that worked for me and it’s skewed for people who live by themselves.
Before you go for the operation, make sure that your fridge and freezer is stocked with food that is easy and quick to prepare. Make sure that all the laundry is done and you’ve changed the bed. I gave Ma and Kathy and Adam a spare set of my keys. If you have someone lined up to come in and help you/do the shopping etc, give them some cash for shopping before you go in – I’m funny about this and you may operate differently but as I’ve mentioned about 100 times, I don’t have much money and it’s awkward for me to ask if I’ve bought shopping etc so it was important to me that the people doing me a massive favour by shopping for me had the money to do it, without dipping into their money.
If you are a smoker, stop – seriously smoking inhibits your bodies ability to heal bones, don’t do it.
2. TransportIf you don’t drive and anyway you can’t drive at all for the first two weeks or drive a manual car for 6 weeks. Sort out someone (friend/taxi etc) to pick you up from the hospital and transport you to and from your appointments. Which is the point that I thank my brother for coming all the way over in the cab and taking to and from the hospital. That was great because Ma and Ben went for a coffee while I was having my stitches out! Also remember parking charges, I was in the hospital for about 55 minutes and it cost £6!
3. Help You are going to be pretty useless especially at the beginning. I was both more and less helpless than I expected. Ma came to visit twice a week, she shopped for me and also did some housework mostly washing up, laundry, ironing and changing my bed. She also washed my hair once a week, which given that I couldn’t shower for two weeks, went a long way to helping me feel cleaner. I was clean, I did wash everyday but it’s not the same as a shower and I couldn’t have done that even with a bag over my leg (couldn’t have stood for that long!). This was vital for me, first it was expected company, second I didn’t feel that I was living in a mess and lastly because she brought Jelly Babies! By the end of week 4 I was doing a lot more by myself but I still needed help with changing the bed, ironing and hoovering!
While I’m thinking about it, showering. Once the stitches are out, you can get your foot wet but you can’t put any weight on it and you are probably (especially if your shower is in your bath like mine is) going to need help. So hopefully, you have someone in your life you can cope with being naked in front of!
4. RestIn the first two weeks, your foot should be raised above your pelvis about 95% of the time, including when you sleep. Don’t skip this, when I got out of hospital on the first day, I felt so good and thought it would be fine, however, the nurse had told me that I was to view myself as pretty much housebound for the first two weeks and that was good advice, it’s a pretty traumatic thing to do to your foot and it’s important that you give your body time to adjust and recover. It’s important for your healing that the blood goes to your foot so the only thing you can do, is put it up as much as possible and wait! I couldn’t wait to get the itchy bandage off and felt a lot better once I could see my foot, even though it looked terrible!
5. Routine Having said that rest is vital, it was also really important to me that I didn’t spend all day in bed. I know that some people do especially in the first two weeks and if that works for you, go for it. However, I felt that I needed some kind of routine to my day AND that spending all day in bed would make going back to work extra difficult. While I wasn’t going to get up at 6am every morning, I was up by about 8.30 on weekday mornings and about 9.30 on the weekend. I washed, put on underwear and a clean pair of pj’s. Ok, once that was done, I spent the day on the sofa, but it divided the day and I didn’t feel like such a slob and it kept my bedroom for sleeping in.
I also set myself up with what I needed next to the sofa, so I didn’t have to get up unless it was to refill my water bottle or get something to eat.
The local anesthetic, is long lasting and didn’t fully wear off until two days after the surgery, I took the painkillers the hospital gave me for the first couple of days and sometimes just paracetamol after that. I don’t think that I have a very high pain threshold, I do think that having my foot up as much as I did helped prevent me needing constant painkillers. In the first three weeks, I noticed that when my foot was down either because I was sitting at the table or standing, my foot hurt, when I put it up it stopped hurting. The hospital said not to take ibuprofen or any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because of my asthma but the paracetamol worked fine. When I had my stitches out, the nurse said that if I needed any more painkillers, I’d have to go to the GP and that almost all the people who’d come in to have stitches out had asked for extra painkillers, so be prepared.
This is the hardest part, I just wanted to get better and quickly and everything stayed much the same for the first 3 or so weeks, but by the end of week 4 I was seeing real improvement in my ability to walk, move my foot, stand and have my foot down. I don’t think I would have if I had tried to do too much in the first weeks.
I’m trying to remember that at the moment as I struggle with not being able to wear proper footwear and only being able to walk at half my usual speed. It will get better but I need to be patient!