Saturday, 16 February 2013

Two hospitals, one day, and three orthotics.

Thursday was a busy day, and not just because it was Valentine's Day and I was sorting through my large pile of cards from admirers for the best part of the morning.


Actually, I did end up with three cards - one from the hubby and two from the Little Lady, bless her - but I was busy because I had two hospital visits.

The first was at the Royal Berks to the orthotics department. You may remember I'd asked to be referred when I had my casts off, and the appointment came through very fast.

It turns out that it came through too fast, and I have to go back in a month, but I did have a full appointment anyway.

I saw someone called Emma. I'm not sure what her title was because I didn't catch it (does anyone ever? They just rush their name and title at you as soon as you walk in and I'm lucky if I remember their name) and she isn't listed on the department's web page so I can't look her up.

What can I say about her? She was young, probably mid to late 20s, she was Scottish...oh yes, she nearly crippled me.

Obviously she needed to examine my feet, but she took hold of my left big toe, grabbed it and then YANKED it up towards the ceiling!

I nearly hit her!

It was so painful, but she didn't feel the need to apologise. She just carried on.

I did ask her to be more gentle, and we managed the rest of the examination without incident, although afterwards she said "I thought you were going to assault me". If I had, I'd only have been returning the favour!

I wasn't very impressed with Scottish Emma, which is a shame as we share both a name and a heritage, but she told me all about how bunions are not caused by anything at all, and are not only purely genetic (that bit's true) but "just happen". Hmmm. Not what almost every other medical professional will say, but she certainly seemed to believe it.

Another medic to add to my "do not believe" list I guess.

I came away with some insoles for my shoes, with added-on bits supposedly making them a bit more tailored to my feet.

When I go back they will see whether I need custom-made ones, which was what they were going to make for me this time but can't. The ones I was given cost £50 while the custom ones cost £150, so I imagine they'll try to avoid making some for me if possible.

This is what they look like.

The coloured bits are the added-on sections.

And this is the box, in case you're interested. Emma told me that it is cheaper to buy them direct from Talar so if you want to get some then this is the box to look for. I had a look on their website and am not sure which ones are mine exactly, but they definitely are cheaper direct.

Emma told me to wear them for short periods and build up to a full day because the foot has to get used to a new position. I figured that I am a) not walking much and b) getting used to new foot function anyway, so I'd just wear them whenever I wear my trainers.

That appointment done with, and a new one booked for next month (at which I hope I get someone else), I went to my local hospital in the afternoon for a physio assessment.

Townlands Hospital is a cute community hospital which has been saved from closure numerous times, although much of it has been shut down, including the maternity unit. These days if you want your child to be born in the town then you have to have a home birth (which is exactly what I did, although not for that reason).

We still have one building left, which houses the minor injuries unit (like a mini A&E, very useful) and the physio department, plus X-ray facilities, and other things such as clinics. My first appointment with Mr Nugent was at Townlands; it's an excellent facility to have.

Enough eulogising!

My appointment was with Ed. Unlike the RBH physio bit I went to while on Hunter ward, which was like a storecupboard, Townlands has a large room filled with equipment, although there was only Ed and me there.

We chatted about my history and operation, and Ed had a look and tested my mobility.

Sadly, because nobody measured my mobility before my op, we don't really know how much I have lost. Ed says there's no 'normal' so it's impossible to say, which is a shame really.

But what I do have is the ability to bend my toe 35 degrees, which is about two-thirds of what Ed can achieve, so I'm not doing too badly. I am pretty hypermobile, so I probably had much more than that, but average will suit me fine.

Apparently my toes are weak and stiff, but that's only to be expected really. Thankfully, Ed approves of all my exercises (see here and here) and just added in one more, which uses an elastic band (very high-tech!) as a resistance band for my big toes.

Basically I have to use the band to pull my toe in one direction, like towards me, then use my toe to push against that the other way, then swap and do it in the other direction. This will build up my strength in my toes.

Ed also had a look at my orthotics, and devised me a different one, for my most painful foot. It's a short-term fix for my pain when walking. The idea is that my other toes are lifted up so that when I propel off from my toes the big toe doesn't have so far to travel.

In the short-term this will help me learn a new gait or way of walking that is correct, as at the moment I'm tending to either walk stiffly, or to propel off the side of my foot.

This orthotic looks like this:

It's basically made from thin foam board (probably not the proper name for it) like the stuff you can get for crafts, and some cut up pieces of that padded sticky stuff (also not the proper name) that you can get from Boots, like this.

All very Blue Peter, but it does work.

One thing you might notice is that it has been cut to my actual foot shape. Yes, that is my actual foot shape! Amazing. I'm so pleased.

I see Ed again in a couple of weeks. Our goals are to maximise mobility and minimise pain, so we shall see if we can manage it.

Ed did say he might read the blog, so if you are reading Ed, then hello!

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