Sunday, 9 December 2012

Thoughts on pain (or lack of it). Day 7

I know that many people reading this will be considering having bunion surgery themselves. And I also know that the main thing you hear or read when you start to look into surgical correction of bunions is pain. Lots of it.

Pretty much everything I read before I had my surgery said it would be "the worst pain ever", that I might pass out from it, that it would be so awful I wouldn't want to have to go through it again (see my surgeon's comments from the pre-op appointment).

And yet, as I said the other day, I'm just not experiencing that.

Now, I know I have quite literally a whole army of people praying that I will have an easy, complete and pain-free recovery, and I believe wholeheartedly in the awesome power of prayer, so yeah, it could be that.

But I'm also wondering if, maybe, it actually isn't necessarily all that painful?

I don't want to negate anyone else's experience. If they have been through the surgery, and found it excruiating, then that is their truth, and I'm not trying to call bullshit on them at all. Everyone experiences pain differently, and what's bearable to one person is bring-you-to-your-knees awful for someone else. I get that.

After all, ask any mother her experience of childbirth and you will get a different story each time. Some people need the full panoply of pain relief to get through it and others don't even want a sniff of the gas and air.

I guess what I want to do is talk about how it isn't necessarily really painful to have your bunions done.

I do know that I am on a veritable cocktail of drugs. I take 60mg of codeine, 1,000mg of paracetamol and 400mg of ibuprofen four times a day. That's a lot of medication. And I know that that might well be making a huge difference.

In fact, it must be, because at night, when I have to go from 10pm till 10am without any drugs, I do feel it. But I only feel it in a five out of ten kind of way. It hurts, for sure, and it is a sharp kind of pain, both right inside the joint and along the incision site, that pulses in an unignore-able (sic) way.

And yet, it's really not that bad.

Bad enough that I'm not prepared to stop taking the meds in day, for sure. I'm pretty certain that that would be utter foolishness. The doctors gave me the drugs and I intend to take them. I've even got another prescription of codeine from my GP of 100 tablets to keep me going for a few more weeks, till I get my dressings changed.

But all the blogs that I read while waiting to have my surgery told tales of agony, of passing out in toilets from the sheer awfulness of having hobbled to have a wee, of not being able to sleep while painful incisions throbbed all night long. And I'm going to take a punt here, that all of those people were also on medication. And yet they found it painful.

Maybe I'm just being a very good patient. Some of those bloggers did talk about "doing lots of housework" or even exercising in these early days after surgery.

I think that's plain insane.

The instructions from the hospital are to elevate your feet about 90 per cent of the time for the first two weeks. To rest your feet and allow them to heal without loads of blood flowing down into them, which can increase swelling and, as a result, pain.

So maybe the lack of intense pain is because I'm resting, I'm elevating and I'm staying in bed.

I'm not the only person to come out this side of bunion surgery with a bewildered 'what happened to the agony?' feeling.

A few people talk about it in the comments of this blog post. WARNING: the post begins with a reaonably graphic picture of a post-op foot, with Frankenstein-style stitching. There's no blood, but if you're squeamish you might want to click and scroll.

And this rather encouraging thread on a foot health forum has a number of posts where people talk about having had less pain than they expected.

In fact, one of them even says exactly the same as me - that obeying doctor's orders really does make a difference in both your pain and your recovery.

So if you're considering bunion surgery, or even on the waiting list to have it done, take heart. It really might not be as bad as you think. It isn't for me.

*Caveat: I gave birth naturally, at home, with gas and air for only the last hour. It is entirely possible that I have a very high pain threshold.

1 comment:

  1. I am a week and three days out from my double bunion surgery. The first two days I was in a great deal of pain but it was definitely not the "worst pain of my life" and I didn't feel I would faint from it. I'm not in casts by the way, just bandages with sutures underneath and in surgical shoes (the ugliest things I've ever seen). I don't tolerate pain medications well and certainly find nothing enjoyable about them so I know what you mean about not getting addicted. However, the other day, although it didn't seem so at the time, I overdid it. That night my fee throbbed and ached and I had trouble sleeping. Lesson learned. I've been elevating and icing most of the day since then and I have been sleeping better. Today I feel great but I'll take it easy as you say. My stiches are supposed to come out Monday yay!