Sorry if looking at my bunions grosses you out. But there they are.
In case you don’t really know what you’re looking at, here’s a clue:
I went to see Dr. Miller, and he looked at my feet. He said, “Holy crepidus, woman! Those are enormous! How do you even walk?!” Only he was much more diplomatic about it, so it came out something like, “Yes, those are significant.”
We talked about my pain level, and I told him that while the right one bothers me, the left one is worse. He rubbed the left one and asked if it hurt. “Well,” I replied, “it’s not comfortable.” He asked if I’d seen anyone else about them before, and I told him that I had been seeing a doctor in Indianapolis when I lived there, but now that’s just too far to drive. He took some x-rays and we talked about options.
Basically, I’m going to need surgery, which I already knew. Dr. Miller said it’s up to me how long I want to wait. My previous doctor had said to put it off as long as possible, until I just can’t stand it anymore. Dr. Miller wasn’t so extreme. He just said I needed to decide when the pain and the inconvenience were enough to make me consider it.
We looked at the x-ray of my feet, and it showed that the first metatarsal angles way out. I wish I’d taken a snapshot of the x-ray to show you how the bone doesn’t line up with the ones next to it. But if you really look at the pictures above, you can probably get a good idea. It goes out, makes an angle at the bunion, then goes way in, pushing my big toe toward my other toes.
I asked him about orthotics. My previous doctor had prescribed custom orthotics for me, and I really feel like they aren’t working as well as they used to. Dr. Miller said that he almost never prescribes custom orthotics because he feels that they aren’t worth the expense. He told me about a store in town that sells orthotics that should be able to help just as well. He said that just going to Wal*Mart or something and buying off-the-shelf orthotics probably wouldn’t do it for me, but this other store would probably have what I needed. (Incidentally, this is the same store where I went to look for cute shoes that I can wear with orthotics.)
So that made me happy, because my insurance doesn’t cover orthotics, but also a little bit peeved because if I’d known that custom orthotics weren’t needed I’d never have gone to the expense in the first place.
Dr. Miller and I discussed surgery. He said that for me, the procedure would entail cutting that first metatarsal bone so it could be straightened so that it’s more or less parallel with the other metatarsals. Then the tendon between my big toe and the next one would have to be stretched and the tendon on the outside of the bunion would have to be shortened, and the bunion itself would be shaved off. (Ew. Just saying that gives me the willies.) He said that surgery is definitely a big deal. If it were just shaving off the bunion (shiver), it wouldn’t be so big, but cutting that metatarsal is definitely a big deal.
We talked about recovery time. He said that he would expect that I would be feeling okay within about three months, but I wouldn’t be able to run for about six months. He said I could bike before that, and that swimming would be okay, but that running would take some time.
So this is something I’m thinking about. I do want to go see if I can get some orthotics that will help, but right now, we have insurance and we probably won’t have it forever. Even with the insurance, our out-of-pocket costs may approach $5000, so this is something I do not want to pay for without insurance. I’m thinking about having it done in October, so that I can go ahead and run the races I have planned, and still hopefully be off of crutches by the time the snow and ice come in earnest.
This isn’t something I want to do. Surgery scares me, pain scares me, and not being able to run for six months scares me. And if it weren’t for the expense, I would probably wait another few years. But it is my hope that in another few years, I won’t be working full-time anymore, and that means that I probably won’t have insurance to help cover the costs. Of course, I also realize that the cost of the surgery will probably mean that we’ll be delayed in paying off our debt. But I guess being delayed for a few months is better than having to pay for the whole shebang ourselves.
Stephan is helping me think through this, but I’m about 70% sure I’ll be having surgery this fall.