What Led Me To Getting Flat Foot Surgery
Leading into my flat foot surgery experience, let me first tell you, my feet are VERY flat. They are so flat that the walls get jealous! How they got this way I am not quite sure, but I believe I was born with them as I have worn orthotics in my shoes since I was 13 years old to help give my feet more support.
(Due to popular demand, I’ve recently added a product list at the bottom of this page of things I’ve personally used while recovering from this surgery that you may find useful.)
The thing with flat feet is that some people have them for their whole life with no issues whatsoever. For other people, however, flat feet can cause massive issues. I did not really think about my feet until roughly 3 years ago when I was 24 years old. Before that time I could walk and skip and frolic on the beach barefooted with no issues!
Once I turned 24, however, I noticed my feet becoming painful and tired after walking longer distances. I felt a fatigue in them that I hadn’t felt before. It was perhaps the beginning of me limiting my activity levels.
Throughout the next 3 years of graduate school, I noticed my feet affecting me more. I remember one day walking a bit further than usual because I was meeting some friends from school at a bar in Manhattan. Walking to the bar was not that big of a deal. Walking back, however, I definitely noticed the pain. It felt like a burning, stabbing pain in both my feet. I was lucky that I had a good deal to drink to numb the pain, because it hurt bad!
After that incident, I visited my foot doctor and he gave me a Cortisone shot in my Posterior Tibial Tendon, which was quite inflamed. I then had my foot put in a boot for weeks.
The Cortisone shot only provided temporary relief though, as a few months later I was getting pain in that foot again. My other foot was flaring up too. I could also feel my knees having pain. It was at this time that I seriously considered getting flat foot surgery.
EDIT: I had an older video here I didn’t like, so I removed it.
This newer video is actually me after my 2nd flat foot surgery over a year later.
So now that you have some background, let’s talk about the actual experience itself!
My Experience Getting Flat Foot Surgery
The day was October 28th, 2014. It was 11:00 AM when I arrived at the hospital with both my parents. I then walked with them to the surgery waiting room.
It did not completely sink in what was about to happen. This was even after signing papers a secretary gave to me.
The moment that what was about to happen truly sank in for me was when a nurse came into the waiting room and escorted me to the pre-surgical area. It was at that moment when I laid down on the table on my back that I realized what was coming. It was at this moment my anxiety levels were beginning to shoot up! I knew that the flat foot surgery was imminent!
My anxiety levels were not made any better by the nurse asking me questions such as “You know all surgery carries the risk of death, right?” and “Do you have a living will?” I wanted to respond, “Of course I don’t have a living will, I’m only 27 years old and I’m here to get flat foot surgery so I may walk better, not die!” But I simply responded, “Nope”. She said, “That’s okay, that was kind of an intense question, wasn’t it?” I responded, “Yeah it was!”
Luckily for me, there was a relaxing picture by the ceiling in the curtained off pre-surgical area I was in. It was of a beach. A relaxing beach. I focused on that beach intensely to calm my nerves. This was quite hard to do, however, as in the meantime I was getting an IV needle put into my forearm, getting EKG pads applied to my chest and getting my leg cleaned and shaved. I just kept focusing on that beach to calm my nerves though for the flat foot surgery that I knew was coming.
It was then that the Anesthesiologist approached me and spoke to me. He said some things to me, but I was only pretending to listen. I was extremely eager to get this flat foot surgery over and done with! After the Anesthesiologist spoke with me, the last person who walked into the room was my doctor. She went over everything she was going to do to me during my flat foot surgery one last time. She was going to do the following in the list below. Some technical language is used below, so feel free to skip past if you don’t feel like reading it!
- Medial Calcaneal Osteotomy – This involves cutting my heel bone, moving it more centrally and inserting screws to secure it.
- Outer Foot Expansion – This involves lengthening the outer part of my foot so the position would be more corrected.
- 1st MTP (Metatarsophalangeal Joint) Fusion – This involves fusing my big toe joint to better position my foot. This joint was also to be moved downwards more.
- Removal of Damaged Posterior Tibial Tendon – This tendon is involved in supporting the arch of your foot. I had posterior tibial tendon dysfunction and my tendon was becoming damaged from wear and tear.
- Flexor Hallucis Longus Tendon Transfer – This involves transferring this tendon to where the Posterior Tibial Tendon is to lend more support.
- Gastrocnemius Lengthening – This involves lengthening the Gastrocnemius calf muscle because if your calves are tight, you are more prone to going into a flat footed position.
My Time In The Hospital After Flat Foot Surgery
So after seeing my doctor, I was wheeled into the surgery room and before I knew it I was out like a light. The surgery had begun!
Apparently, the flat foot surgery lasted six and a half hours! But for me, it was like I was in a time capsule, because it felt like it was over very fast! I remember waking up in the surgery room and being wheeled into the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). Here I was given dosages of pain medicine and had my vital signs repeatedly monitored. Remembering I had flat foot surgery, I looked down and saw a humongous cast wrapped around my foot.
It truly kicked in at this point for me. I had done it. I had flat foot surgery. I was pretty groggy at this point and wanted to sleep. My surgery began at 12:30 PM and it was now 7:00 PM. I was surprisingly in little pain at this point. This was likely due to the copious amounts of pain medicine and general anesthesia I was given. To give you an idea of what I looked like, here is a picture of myself after having had flat foot surgery.
If it wasn’t for the large dosages of pain medications and anesthesia I was under the effects of from my flat foot surgery, I might have displayed a look of annoyance. My nurse kept whistling to herself nonstop!
It was driving me insane, but I couldn’t do anything about it. As you can tell from the picture of me above, I was well out of it at this point! While the nurse was incessantly whistling to herself, I recalled valuable advice left to me by my Anesthesiologist.
Always stay in front of the pain! Take your pain medicine as soon as you feel tingling in your foot. If you don’t, it will feel like you got shot in the foot.
I felt like I was in a severe hangover from my flat foot surgery, so I couldn’t tell if I felt tingling or not. So to avoid severe foot pain, I demanded more pain meds. A side effect of pain medicine though is that it suppresses your breathing. Due to this, the oxygen levels in my body were dropping. That is why in the picture above, you see the oxygen tubes going in my nose.
After I was stable, I was wheeled up to my hospital room. Although I was glad to be away from the crazy whistling nurse of mine, I was expecting something horrible to come. I was expecting a small, unkempt room. I was expecting to hear other patients screaming into the hallways like I was in a psyche ward. It turned out none of this occurred though. I had three people transferring me and they wheeled the bed I was laying down in next to my hospital room bed. They wanted me to transfer over to the other bed. The thing is though, after Anesthesia, you feel incredibly weak. Simply lifting my head up was causing me to shake. I had never felt so weak in my entire life!
After several futile attempts to move, I gave up and laid there like a bag of fertilizer. They had to do the hard work of moving my dead weight. This wasn’t as hard for them as I thought it would be though. They already had a thick sheet beneath my body and used that to wrap me up and transfer me to the other bed. By now it was nighttime.
That night was a blur to me given the combination of all the pain medicine and Anesthesia I was on. What they do after flat foot surgery is they put you on a pain medicine schedule. I was taking Dilaudid every 3 hours and Percocet pills every 4 hours. I learned later just how POWERFUL those pain medications could be! That night, to me though, was a complete fog.
When I woke up the next morning, my Anesthesiologist walked into the room. He reminded me again of how to manage my pain. He said he had something for me that would help me. It turned out it was a Nerve Block. He said having flat foot surgery was no joke in terms of pain and I needed it, so I gladly accepted! He then inserted a tube into an already open area in my leg and injected it into me.
For the next 12 hours, I actually felt pretty good. My leg was not in that much pain as I had the nerve block and I was still taking my pain medication. Over the next 12 hours, I was pretty satisfied. I had a call button in bed that I could press to call a nurse to assist me. The food wasn’t as horrendous as I thought either. Also, as an added bonus, my nurses were all pretty attractive!
As the following night approached though, I found out just how painful flat foot surgery could be! I remember feeling tingly sensations at first, but then the floodgates opened and the pain came. It came upon me furiously, with little mercy. It was like needles were repeatedly piercing my foot. It was a deep, stabbing, burning sensation that was unrelenting. Even the pain medications were having little impact in that moment. The pain was that powerful! A doctor on the night shift actually had to come in and see me. I was asked to wiggle my toes and did so. After that, they told me I looked fine and they left. But let me tell you, I was still in extraordinary pain!
That night, I was frantically slamming on the nurse call button like a madman! I could tell I was beginning to drive them crazy after hitting it several dozen times in a row. When you are in great pain, you can become pretty impatient! Each time after I slammed the call bell about a dozen times in a row, someone on the line would talk with me. I could tell they were growing exacerbated with dealing with me though. She would reply back saying, “You’re not the only patient!” and I would respond “IT ISN’T THAT HARD, JUST GET HERE NOW!”
Even with the pain medications I was being given for my flat foot surgery, I was being driven to a frenzied state. I felt like just screaming my lungs out!
After many hours that night, which seemed like an eternity, the pain medications finally began to kick in.
Read More Below…
The severe foot pain I was in began to fade. I suppose the huge amounts of pain medications I was given began to take effect and I became extraordinarily drowsy. I managed to snap this photo of myself before I completely dozed off.
Remember earlier when I told you about how the pain medications you get after flat foot surgery are powerful? Well, it was at this time I found out! I remember hearing voices speaking to me as I slept. It was incoherent what I was hearing, but I definitely heard things. I remember replying to what I was hearing, but I think I was incoherent as well! Not only was I being spoken to, but I saw shadowy figures on the wall. It was shadows darting from one side of the wall to the other side. It was one of the most surreal experiences I had ever had. I was hallucinating!
For the next several hours, I was in a cycle of hallucinating, passing out, waking up and hallucinating some more. I kept hitting the nurse call button for more pain medications, so the hallucinations continued.
The Thursday Morning After Flat Foot Surgery
The hallucinations had continued for me until about breakfast time Thursday morning. I had the flat foot surgery on Tuesday, so it had now been roughly 2 days I had been in the hospital for. It was at this point that they were obviously planning to discharge me.
After eating breakfast that day, I sat in my bed watching TV for a several hours until the physical therapist arrived at around lunch time. In order for me to be discharged home, I first had to demonstrate that I was safe. Let me tell you though, I wasn’t at all! The anesthesia was still affecting me, as were the pain medications. When I sat up with my legs dangling off the bed, I was shaking. The leg that I had flat foot surgery on was spasming. When I stood up using the walker for support, it took ALL my strength!
While standing up, I was shaking uncontrollably while holding onto the walker to support me. The physical therapist gave me a look like this….
After that, she basically said there was no way in hell I was leaving the hospital that day, so I was bound to spend another night. My exercise for the rest of the day was to sit up in a chair for several hours. When you are laying down in bed for a very long time, it takes your body a while to adjust. By sitting up right, I was allowing my body to adjust to an upright position. My foot was still aching heavily from the flat foot surgery, so I had it rested on a stoop. That is how I spent the rest the day Thursday until nighttime. I did not mind, as I was in a fog from the constant painkillers I was being given.
At nighttime, I was again in severe foot pain. The doctors don’t kid around when they say that flat foot surgery is no joke! If you fall behind the pain, it feels like someone has shot you in the foot. Luckily for me, the nurses at the hospital I was at were very quick and efficient. After a few hours of being given large dosages of pain medications, my pain had calmed down again. I believe at this point I was switching back and forth between sleeping and hallucinating. I was truthfully in a daze that entire night. I remember talking to myself, but I don’t remember what it was about, nor what I said.
All I know is that night, I was extremely out of it. From the strange hallucinations I was having and talking to myself, I was likely in a state of insanity. I’m glad I was alone in my hospital room!
Me slipping in and out of consciousness and hallucinating lasted until about breakfast time Friday morning.
The Friday Morning After Flat Foot Surgery
My morning started off with me getting an injection in my hip. In fact, each morning started off this way. When you are in bed for a long time without moving much, you are at risk of developing a blood clot. This is something you definitely do not want, as a blood clot in a vein can break off. Once this happens, the clot can lodge itself somewhere like your heart or brain, which can potentially be fatal. This injection is to prevent the blood from clotting as much.
Once I had my blood pressure taken, I ate breakfast. I had a feeling this was the day I would be leaving the hospital.
The physical therapist came once again in the afternoon. It was easier for me to stand up this time with crutches and I wasn’t shaking as much. However, I felt very dizzy! She left once more and told me to sit in my chair again to get the blood flowing to my brain.
Fast forward to the afternoon and the physical therapist came back again. I actually managed to walk this time with the walker without feeling dizzy! I was ready to go home!
Despite being in severe foot pain, I wanted to greatly get home. I was growing tired of being in the hospital. I had been pressing the nurse call button so much that the woman on the other end of the line was giving me an attitude. I was also growing tired of being in the same room. I had wanted out of there as soon as possible!
Luckily, I had a ramp outside of my house, so I did not need to be completely comfortable with crutches. I was good enough ambulating with the walker, so I was ready to be discharged.
The Journey Home After Flat Foot Surgery And Final Thoughts
It was Friday night and I was ready to be discharged. Despite me taking more pain medications, I was still in severe foot pain! The pain from my flat foot surgery was as powerful as ever. I felt the intensity of it while ambulating to a wheelchair that would be used to take me to a car. I was having someone else drive me due to it obviously not being safe for me to drive.
The pain after flat foot surgery is especially powerful when your foot is dangling downwards. This is because the blood begins to pool, which causes your foot to swell. This is why it is so important to keep your foot elevated up on a pillow while you are laying down. Because my foot was much below my heart while in the wheelchair and during the whole car ride home, I was in extreme foot pain! I was in so much pain I was gasping for breath. The person who was driving me home must have thought I was ready to keel over at any moment.
Once home, I was gasping for air like a fish out of water. It felt like my foot was going to explode. I was wheeled up the ramp to the first floor of my house, where I flopped over into my bed. I plopped my leg up on a stack of pillows and laid on my back. I didn’t feel like moving, I was like a bag of dirt. I stared up at the ceiling, thinking of all I had been through with my flat foot surgery.
I could go on now about my home recovery from flat foot surgery, but I’ll spare you. This entire article has been long enough! My time in the hospital after having flat foot surgery was extremely painful, but I managed to get through it. My advice is as soon as you feel any sort of tingling in your leg, take your pain medication! The pain comes on fast and furiously and can definitely catch you off guard. Despite me being very diligent on my pain medication timing, I still fell behind the pain a few times. It was during that time I had severe foot pain and truly felt what true agony and torment was! So be sure not to fall behind your pain!
My second crucial piece of advice is to keep your foot elevated above your heart as much as you can. This will bring blood back to your heart and limit swelling in your foot. Believe me, doing this is crucial to limiting how much pain you experience after flat foot surgery!
I hope you enjoyed this article on my flat foot surgery experience. In the future, I will be writing a second article on my home recovery from flat foot surgery.
Products I Recommend After Flat Foot Surgery
I’m adding in this section since I’ve had numerous people asking me about things I’ve found useful throughout the whole recovery process.
A Shower Bench
Even though I wasn’t safely able to get in my shower for a month or so, when I was able to, I found this EXTREMELY useful for me. Keep in mind, you can’t put full weight on your surgical foot for about 3 months. And unless you have the balance of someone at the circus, you aren’t gonna be hopping on 1 leg in the shower!
The shower bench I used indeed was very useful for when I was only able to put full weight on 1 leg.
A Suction Cup Shower Balance Grip
For safety reasons, I used a couple of these in my bathroom. It can be tough hopping around on one leg having to keep your surgical foot off the ground. For this reason, I found these to be quite useful.
A Waterproof Cast Protector
When I did shower, this thing was Crucial for keeping the cast dry. You CANNOT have your cast get wet while you have it on. Therefore, I highly recommend you get this if you plan on taking a shower while you are recovering.
An Ankle Stabilizing Orthosis
This item is VERY useful in supporting your 1 good foot. Keep in mind, it is going to be working extra hard while you recover. From the time you get flat foot surgery it is about 3 months until your other foot can handle full weight. So, in my opinion, it is a very good idea to provide extra support to the foot you are going to be using. I highly recommend getting this and using it.
After this surgery, you will need to be on your back for several weeks while you recover. This is because if you go upright, the blood rapidly pools at your foot. This will cause swelling and MUCH greater pain! Therefore, a lot of time is spent on your back with your foot propped up on pillows.
So you kind of need a sort of nest space for yourself while you recover. At least, this is what I did. I used an extra shelf to put everything I needed in arms reach. This made things far more convenient and easier for myself.
After flat foot surgery, you’ll be likely using these quite a lot! You might as well practice with them before the surgery, rather than after!
Go and buy crutches from Amazon now!
Workout Resistance Bands
For the sake of maintaining strength, I found these to be quite useful. They are light weight and do indeed challenge your body. I also like how effective they are for working out your back. I used them myself in bed, as you can see in the video below!
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