Turkey Trot

This morning, I’m going to run a Turkey Trot.

When I went back to the doctor on November 12, which was eleven weeks post-op, he said I could do some light jogging.  I was ecstatic, and that afternoon I went out and ran a mile.

My foot was fine.  The rest of my body was wondering what the heck I was trying to do.

Thankfully, anything with the name “Turkey Trot”  is likely not going to be competitive.  I think the course is three miles, and I honestly don’t know how much of it I’ll be able to run.  I haven’t run more than a mile at a time since I had my surgery.  I could maybe push it and run two miles, but three?  I might collapse in a heap because my legs have forgotten what it is to run.  And by that time, my foot might be swollen enough to rival the gigantic Snoopy balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

But I’m still going to try.  Because it’s only two weeks until my second surgery, and then three months after that before I’ll be permitted to run again.

So, I might just be trotting, or even walking — heck, maybe just strolling.  But I’m going for it anyway.

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Bunions: A Comparison and an Update

I’m nine weeks post-op.

The foot is looking better.  There’s still a little swelling, so I still ice it at least five nights a week.  The long incision is still a bit tender, but the short incision doesn’t bother me at all.  I can usually walk without a limp, but sometimes the foot is sore and I get my swagger back a little bit.  I can walk the dogs about a mile before I get too sore and tired.

I had noticed that there was a little bump on the longer incision.  It looked a little like a pimple.  I tried to scratch or rub it off, but that didn’t work.  I went to see my family doctor today and I asked her about it.  “It’s part of the stitch,” she said.

“But they stapled it,” I replied.

“They probably stitched it on the inside,” she explained.  So a little piece of the stitch is sticking out of the incision.  “Does it hurt?” she asked.

I told her it didn’t hurt, it’s just a little bit annoying.

She said, “Well, it’s not infected, so if it doesn’t hurt, I’d just leave it alone.  It’s such a short piece that taking it out would be more trouble than it’s worth.”

I forgot to ask her if it would be there forever.  I’ll have to ask the surgeon when I return to see him on November 12.

Meanwhile, I called to try to get my next surgery scheduled.  I’m hoping for December 10 because that would fit best with my work schedule.  This time, instead of going to work the Monday after surgery, I’m planning to take Monday and Tuesday off, and to work shortened hours the rest of the week.  It was a little ridiculous going to work three days after surgery.  I don’t really want to do that again.

And if I have surgery December 10, then by February 11 I’ll be with the left foot where I am today with the right foot.  February seems kind of far away, but the last nine weeks have gone pretty fast.  I just hope that those nine weeks will pass equally as quickly.

Considering Barefoot Running

I was reading my Runner’s World Magazine this month, and there was a great big article in it about barefoot running.  Barefoot running is rather a craze right now, and people wanting to run barefoot but simultaneously protect the skin of their feet have been buying shoes like the Vibram Five-Fingers.

Here’s a photo of these shoes, courtesy the Vibram website:

They are certainly interesting looking.

The pharmacist where I work occasionally wears his FiveFingers to work.  They are brown and kind of suede looking, and it really makes him look like he has gorilla feet.  He says they are very comfortable, though.

There are also a lot of shoe companies marketing minimalist shoes, like the Nike Free Run+…

Photo courtesy Finishline.com

…or the Terra Plana Evo…

Photo courtesy Amazon.com

…or the Ecco Biom.

Photo courtesy Eastbay.com

But the point of this post is not the shoes, interesting though they are.

I’ve been thinking about barefoot running, especially after reading the Runner’s World article, which seemed pretty balanced.  Proponents of barefoot running say that we were meant to be barefoot, meant to run barefoot.  We weren’t born with shoes on our feet, and if we ran barefoot, we’d have fewer problems with injury.  Humans weren’t intended to have these thick-soled, high-heeled, cushiony things at the ends of our legs.  If we ran barefoot, they say, we’d be more in tune with our bodies and how they are feeling.  Most running shoes sold today encourage a heel-to-toe running form, whereas running barefoot causes the runner to land more on the ball of the foot.  The supporters of barefoot running say that a heel-to-toe form leads to back pain, plantar fasciitis, and other injuries.  They say that running barefoot or in minimalist shoes strengthens the feet.

Skeptics say that there’s no evidence to support the idea that running shoes cause injuries.  They say that running itself — the hard surfaces, the pounding — is what causes injuries.  (Supporters say there’s less pounding when you run barefoot because you land more lightly.)  They say that it’s when people switch from modern running shoes to barefoot running that they really get hurt.  (Supporters say that’s because the runners didn’t make the transition gradually and allow their feet to get used to the changes.)

When I examine the arguments, those who support barefoot running seem to have a stronger case.  It feels like the opponents are just saying, “Nuh-uh.  Can’t prove it.”

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  Did I have more problems with my bunions because of the kinds of shoes I was wearing?  If I had been running barefoot, would I have needed surgery to relieve the pain I was having?  Of course, there’s no way to know that, and now that I’ve got one foot done, I’m not going to cancel the other surgery just to find out.  But maybe it could have been a factor.  I don’t know.

When I’m able to run again, I’m not planning to go out in my bare feet and run through the streets.  Or even the sidewalks or the trail in the park.  There’s too much gravel and broken glass and tiny pieces of metal that could cut me or dig into my skin.  And I don’t know yet what kind of running shoes I’ll buy.  I’m used to having to search hard to find shoes that can accomodate both my bunions and my overpronation.  (But if I were running barefoot, would the overpronation be as much of a problem?  I wouldn’t be landing on my heels as much, so maybe I would not have the problem of rolling my feet inward as I step.)  Next spring, I’ll be bunion-free, and that will certainly change the kinds of shoes I’m able to wear.  I’m not sure if I’m ready to try a minimalist shoe… especially one that looks as strange as the FiveFingers.

But maybe I’ll try kicking my shoes off and running a couple of laps around the soccer field while Chef plays pick-up games at lunchtime.  Or maybe I’ll go down to the park, take off my shoes, and run in the big green space in the middle of the paved path.

It certainly can’t hurt to strengthen my feet and become more aware of my body as I run.

Do you have experience with or an opinion about barefoot running or minimalist shoes?  I’d love to hear it.

Transitioning

At my appointment today, my doctor said just what I was hoping he would say: that I can transition to regular shoes!

I no longer have to wrap the foot, but I can if it makes it feel better.  I should probably keep wearing the splint so that all the toes keep going in the right direction (straight).

He also answered the other questions I had:

Did he remove a piece of bone? He did remove a small piece of the bump on the side of the foot, but he did not remove a piece of the metatarsal.  Instead, he made an angular cut, hinged it with one screw, and then slid the bone until it was straight.  Then he secured it with the other screw.  I can’t really visualize what he was saying, and he even said that when you see it in surgery it makes perfect sense, but it’s hard to explain.

Am I going to regain flexibility in my big toe? Yes.  He said it will take some work on my part.  I’ll need to wiggle it around manually, and he suggested some exercises to do, but he said that by the next time I come back, I will probably have flexibility again.  If not, he’ll prescribe physical therapy, but he said most of his patients don’t need it.

Is there something I can do to reduce the appearance of the scar? I actually didn’t ask him this question because my friend Talley, who is a nurse, already told me that I can use Mederma or some Vitamin E cream to help with that.

What activities can I do when? Basically, Dr. H. said that I should do it gradually, but I’m free to walk, cycle, or swim as I feel comfortable.

I feel like my foot hurts more when it’s cold outside.  Is this normal?  Am I imagining it? He said I’m not imagining it, and it is normal, but they don’t really know why.  Some people think it’s the hardware, but he said I don’t have very much hardware, so he doesn’t think that’s the cause.  He said that I will probably have soreness all through this winter, but I should be fine in subsequent winters.  (And that’s good, because I’m never gonna get Chef to move south.  I think he’s still hoping for retirement in Alaska!)

I didn’t ask yet about the next surgery, either.  It kind of slipped my mind, partly because I was so excited about being able to wear regular shoes again!  I’m not too concerned, though; he said the x-rays look great (thank you very much), so I think that means I’m healing just fine.

Deductible

Hopefully, if Chef or I have any accidents, we’ll have them before December 31, 2010.  That’s because we’ve met our deductible for the year!

Our insurance deductible is $1500.00.  Our responsibility for the surgeon’s bill was $858.87, all of which went toward the deductible.  For the surgery center, $641.13 went toward our deductible, which brought us up to $1500.00.  After we’ve met the deductible, insurance pays 80% and we pay 20%.  We had an additional $240.25 that we needed to pay the surgery center for our co-insurance, which brought that bill to $881.38.  We’ve already paid those two bills.

Based on our Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from the insurance, we also expect a bill from the anesthesiologist in the amount of $274.56, and a bill for radiology and the post-op shoe in the amount of $12.00.

We also paid about $12.50 for the pain meds I was prescribed after surgery.

Therefore, the total cost for this surgery, assuming there are no other bills that I’m missing, is $2039.31.

Since the other surgery will be done in December, before a new deductible period starts, our costs should be less next time.  If I’m doing the math right, we should have to pay only $814.81.  First, we’ll need to pay only 20% of what we paid in deductible this time.  Also, I won’t need to purchase the post-op shoe because the one I have can be used on either foot, so I’ll just use the same one.  Also, I won’t need to get new prescriptions because I didn’t take all the medication last time, and I intend to hang onto what I’ve got in order to avoid paying another co-pay.

One of my co-workers often complains that we don’t have very good insurance.  I’m not sure if she’s dissatisfied with the amount of the deductible, or the items that the insurance chooses to cover.  But I’m just thankful we’ve got insurance.  We went a number of years without it, and while we managed okay, it sure is nice to have reduced out of pocket costs.  My employer pays my entire premium (up to $500/month per employee is paid, and my premium is lower than that), so all I have to pay is the deductible and co-insurance.

Someday, I won’t be working full time anymore, and we’ll have to say goodbye to company-paid health insurance.  At that time, Chef and I will probably need to look into other options.  Unfortunately, since he is self-employed, it’s harder to find affordable insurance.  Several years ago we had looked into it and couldn’t find a plan that was worth the cost, especially since we’re both relatively healthy people who don’t use the insurance that often.  (This year has been an exception with all my chiropractor appointments and this surgery.  But we decided to do the surgery now specifically because we do have insurance.)

I’m not sure how the new Health Care Bill will affect us, because I don’t really understand what’s in the bill.  (Does anyone??)  And we’ve got at least another year to see what happens (what changes are made, and whether the bill even stays in effect what with talk of repealing it).  But as my time as an insurance-covered employee comes to a close, I’ll start doing research on other plans to see what’s available and affordable.

Are there any self-employed Americans reading?  What do you do for health insurance?

Any readers with company-paid insurance?  What’s your deductible?  Also, would you ever decide to stay in a job just for the insurance coverage?

Questions That Need Answers

It’s a week until I go back to the doctor for another post-op check on my foot.  I’m eager to go, because I’ve got a lot of questions.

1. Did the doctor take a piece of bone out of the first metatarsal?  I don’t know how he could have straightened the bone if he didn’t, but I’m not sure.  If he did take a piece out, how big was it?

2. Am I going to regain flexibility in my big toe?  I can bend all my other toes, but I can’t really bend that one right now.  If I won’t regain flexibility, how is that going to affect walking and running?  If I am going to regain it, is it strange that I haven’t yet?  When can I expect to be able to bend it?

3. Is there something I can use to reduce the appearance of the scar?  I mean, I am used to not having pretty feet, and I didn’t have the surgery to get pretty feet.  But hey, if I can have pretty feet as a side effect, I’ll take them.  And if I can do something cheap and easy to minimize the scar, I’ll do it.

4. What activities can I do when?  I know I can’t run for a long time, but when can I bike or use the elliptical machine?

5. When can we schedule the next surgery?  (I need to know by what point I need to have my Christmas shopping finished!)

6. Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?  Okay, I guess the foot surgeon might not know the answer to that one.

Prettier

Still swollen and a little bruised, but looking much better than it was.  Those toes aren’t so far apart, and the bunion is gone!

The incision is healing, as well.  That purple marker is very stubborn, but it’s washing off slowly but surely.

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