feet, morton's neuroma

Hanging up my boots – Morton’s Neuroma

I have a high pain threshold but there is always a limit to what can be tolerated day after day and I hit that limit with the devil that is Morton’s Neuroma.  Little bit of a backstory without boring the pants off you.  I first experienced pain in my left foot almost 11 years ago whilst out running.  I can only liken the pain to repeated dislocations and electric shocks in my toes…not all of them.  It was very specific.  Despite visiting the doctor and being sent for an Xray, MN wasn’t mentioned and I never bothered to Google because I accepted that it was something I would have to put up with for the rest of eternity.  It came and went but mostly, it meant that running was kept to a minimum and swearing was increased to unmentionable levels.

It was some years later that the telltale signs appeared in my right foot.  The levels of pain were much greater than in my left foot and once they kicked into action, my life appeared to revolve around my feet and the agonising pain that only seemed to worsen. My thoughts turned to amputation of some of my toes, despite realising that the pain was originating in my foot.  That might give some indication of the level of pain experienced.

I wouldn’t mind if I had worn tight shoes or high heels but they distant memories of a life once upon a time ago when my mind was on other things, apart from my feet.

Fast forward to the end of 2018, I had hung up my hiking boots and running shoes and had arrived at the point where I could no longer bear the pain.  After visiting my GP, I was told of MN although I did not test positive for all the usual tests.  That’s the case with most diseases and injuries though and I was adamant that this would be sorted one way or another.  The waiting times on the NHS were longer than I was prepared to wait and so I decided to fund the investigations and subsequent treatments myself.  Consultations, X-rays, MRI’s, ultrasound guided cortisone injections and a sort hand from writing cheques.  Yes, I still have a cheque book.  It’s not as if I go on holiday or waste money on luxurious items and so I felt justified in spending my emergency fund on something that would hopefully transform my life and rid me of the disability.

I wanted to believe that the cortisone injections would work and they did, for about 3 hours.  Once the local anaesthetic had worn off, the amount of pain in my left foot was so bad that I actually cried whilst rocking back and forth on my hands and knees.  It was as if someone had poured boiling water on the top of my foot and the skin had slowly peeled away to reveal the underlying nerves and fascia.  This lasted around 36 hours and then subsided to a level that was ten times worse than I had originally experienced in that foot.  It did take my mind off the other foot, which had been the one that I had considered to be unbearable.  On returning to see the surgeon for my follow-up appointment, I made it very clear that I would not be repeating the injections any time ever.  I have no doubt that for some, they provide relief from the torturous pain but for me, it was not the case.  Surgery was planned for the 8th March and I set about preparing myself.  I was looking forward to the day because I was pinning all of my hopes on this surgery.  One of my sisters had undergone the surgery a couple of years ago and had experienced complications that required further surgery.  This was not to put me off because I was left with no other option.

 

If you are preparing for this surgery then I might advise the following before the big day.

  1.  Accept that you will be lying or sitting with your foot elevated for the first 10 to 14 days.  This isn’t an option but a necessity.  This will aid the recovery process by reducing the swelling, pain and possible complications.  That’s not to say that you are completely immobile.
  2. Gather your books, sewing, knitting, computer, treats and other luxuries and make sure they are within easy reach and not a trip hazard.
  3. Don’t expect too much of yourself.
  4. Eat and drink well and wisely and don’t fret about weight gain.  There will be plenty of time to deal with that much later when you are up and mobile and in need of a goal.
  5. Meditation helps with the discomfort or pain and if it’s something you haven’t yet tried then give it a go before your surgery.  There are lots of useful videos on you tube.  Being able to focus the breath and the mind can be life altering and enable you to get through some of the more difficult days.
  6. Make sure there’s someone around to help with food, chores and shopping.  Even if you feel like you can walk around in those first few days, do not do more than is advised by your surgeon.  It will prolong your recovery time and increase the risk of complications.
  7. Be patient, sing songs, wear bright lipstick and crazy hats or whatever tickles your fancy but do retain a sense of humour and don’t be too upset by the surgical shoe that should, quite frankly, be sent to Room 101.  It could always be worse.
  8. Ensure there’s a clear path between your sofa, bed, chair and bathroom so that you minimise the risk of trip and toe-stubbing hazards.  I can tell you now that stubbing ones toes post-surgery is bloody painful and so is dropping something on the said foot.
  9. Wear comfortable clothes and try to distinguish between pj’s and day clothes so that day and night do not simply merge into one.  It helps to give some structure to the day.

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The surgery itself was mostly unremarkable.  I got to sleep one of those sleeps where you lose track of time and suddenly it is all over.  I was free from pain apart from the very sore throat.  According to the anaesthetist, I was very tight.  The resulting cough was short lived and made worse by remnants of lubrication used during intubation…apparently.  I’m able to report that my sense of humour remained intact at the thoughts that crossed my mind.

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