Friday, 28 December 2012

Let's get practical

I know that at the moment, most of my readers are friends and family, or people who 'know' me off various internet forums (hi everyone! *waves* and apologies to those who are disturbed that I have a real name! lol).

But I started this blog mainly with the intention of it being helpful to people planning to have bunion surgery, because a lot of what I knew in advance about the recovery period was gleaned from blogs.

So this post is probably only really of interest if you are going to have bunion surgery, or a friend or relative is. But of course, everyone is welcome to read!

I found that my surgeon and hospital did not give me any information on how the recovery process would go, or what I might need to make it easier. If you go private, or live in a country where you have to go private, you might get a better level of information, but if you are NHS, you may well find this really useful.

So here are the things I think you need to know, or need to get.


* A beany lap tray (or two). These are so useful, for using a laptop in bed, eating meals in bed, writing things in bed, you get the picture. Or even as a kind of table to have next to you on the bed. You definitely need one. I borrowed two.

* A pouffe or high footstool. For elevating your foot when you're able to get out of bed. Get one as high as you can, or add pillows/folded blankets to make it high enough. Your feet should be higher than your hips ideally. This also has the advantage of marking you out as needing special care, and even small children seem to honour that (well, a bit, anyway).

* A wheelchair. Not absolutely vital, but if you'd like to be able to leave the house before you can walk on crutches, or if you'd like to go further than you can walk on crutches, then a wheelchair means you can be pushed places. I used mine to go to the Little Lady's nativity play, which I would otherwise have had to miss. I got mine from the Red Cross.

* A decent pair of ergonomially designed crutches. Another thing that's not absolutely necessary, but they are much more comfortable than the NHS ones. I imagine you can get them from the Red Cross, although I borrowed mine.

* A toilet frame. Another Red Cross item. I've already said in another post how much I have valued this piece of equipment. It has enabled me to go to the toilet by myself, which is vital for dignity. Without it I would have had to have someone lift me on and off the toilet.

* A large pair of soft socks. For keeping your toes warm when/if you go outside. You can buy fleece things on the LimbO website but they are a tenner (!) and of no use afterwards. You could always make a fleece toe cover, but socks are easier. I bought a supersoft thermal pair in a size larger than my usual one (6-11 when I am a 6).

* Lots of pillows. For elevating your feet and propping yourself up. I use three behind me and about four for my feet, plus a rolled-up duvet tied to keep it rolled. Yes, it is a lot!

* Lactulose. We covered this before but both anaesthetics and codeine cause constipation. Lactulose is a gentle way to resolve it. Nuff said.

* Help at home. There is no way you will manage on your own, even if you have batch-cooked and/or live on ready meals or takeaways. You will get tired easily, you have very limited mobility, it is not going to work. Try and organise someone to be with you 24/7 for at least four weeks (ideally more), or for someone to come in to do mealtimes and cleaning if that isn't possible. If all else fails, employ a cleaner and cook. Seriously. Do not try to do it yourself.

* A TV in your bedroom (if you don't have one already). I hooked up an old computer in our bedroom so I can watch catch-up TV. I haven't used it all that much, but I prefer it to watching TV on the laptop, and it's nice to have it available.

* Waterproof cast covers if you want to be able to shower (or you can strip wash at the sink instead). If you do want to shower, I suggest you might also want a waterproof chair to sit on while you do it. Personally, I haven't bothered with showering but am just washing at the sink. My surgeon recommended LimbO covers, but at £15 each, I decided to live without. YMMV.

* Mobility scooter I think I'm going to hire one of these when the hubby goes back to work. I can walk with crutches a little now but as I have the Little Lady, I'm concerned I won't be able to keep up with her or keep her safe. With a mobility scooter, she can sit on my lap while we ride into town or to preschool. I definitely think it will give me more freedom than I would otherwise have, and would enable me to go shopping.


* You will need help washing your hair. If you don't want to be a greaseball for nearly two months, then you will need to get help to wash your hair. The way I have found works best for me is to sit on a chair next to the bath. I sit on the chair sideways with my back facing the bath and then lean back on the edge of the bath, which I pad with a folded-up towel. You will get wet! Get a friend or loved one to wash your hair for you. If you prefer (and I do) they can just wet and rinse it while you do the actual shampooing and conditioning. This does make the back of your neck hurt so sitting up at points throughout is helpful.

* You will have to strip wash. Before I had my casts changed, I sat on a chair at the sink, then washed with a flannel. I am lucky enough to have a tilting wall mirror so I could see my face to wash it, but you could use a standalone mirror, like a shaving mirror. Now I have the smaller casts, I am able to stand at the sink instead of sitting.

* You will have almost no concentration. Before I had the operation I thought I could spend my recovery time knitting, writing and generally catching up on things. But I have found that I can't concentrate on things for too long, so have spent most of my time surfing the net, reading magazines (even books are beyond me!) and doing only things that I can spend small amounts of time on. This is not the time to decide to write that novel, IMO.

There are probably more, and I'll edit and add to this post as they occur to me or as I encounter them. Feel free to add your own in the comments.


  1. A bunion or hallux valgus Surgery in india is a swelling on the inner border of the foot affecting the base of big toe.

  2. Hi just found your post, I'm 51/2 weeks after surgery foot seems swollen and sore today, feel like I've gone I expecting too much too soon x

    1. I'm so sorry for not replying! How did it all go?
      It's too late now but yes you probably were expecting too mcuh but we've all done it! It's so hard being immobile for so long. Hopefully your foot is now lovely and pain free.

  3. Thanks for the info. I am due to have double bunions removal Monday fortnight - my question: how did you get upstairs the first time you came back from hospital?

    1. I can't totally remember now but I think I did it on my bottom, backwards, but I may have walked slowly with assistance.
      Good luck! Hope your surgery goes well. If you'd like to write your own recovery story then I'd be happy to publish it here.

  4. Thanks for your super quick reply; much appreciated.