Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Feet

When do feet stop being cute? Many babies and young children love to play with their own feet. To this day Gideon still does sometimes. And many of them even like to chew on their own toes (as you can see Lily demonstrating in the picture below.)

(Gideon finding his feet.)

But when do they morph from cute, to gross? When we start walking so much that they become calloused & rough? When we start sweating in our socks?

I can't tell you when, but I can tell you that I've had gross feet for most of my life. Not just in the usual ways that most people have gross feet, but because mine have been somewhat deformed for as long as I can remember due to bunions on both feet. (A bunion is a bone growth on the outside of the big toe.)

In addition to being unsightly, bunions are also extremely painful. And sadly, genetic. Just ask my mom, aunts, and several of my sisters. I would rarely ever wear flip flops as a teenager, and by the time I hit my twenties I flat refused to wear flip flops at all (except of course at camp, or in the MTC or any place where you had to use a public shower facility, because EEW!) I always chose sandals with wide straps that would cover the deformity of my left foot. In addition to a huge bunion, my big toe had grown crooked, making my foot look especially nasty.

Six years ago, when simply walking up and down the stairs became practically unbearable, I finally decided to visit a doctor. I had been told several years earlier by a physician that no doctor would do a bunionectomy on someone my age. He said there was too much chance that the condition could return and we'd end up doing the same surgery again in 20 or 30 years. But when I was no longer able to stand on tip toe on my left foot, I decided that was a chance worth taking.

Enter, Dr. B. He's an orthopedic surgeon who is awesome. He took one look at my left foot and told me it was the worst bunion he'd ever seen on someone my age. He didn't push me into the surgery at all, and I was comforted when he said that even if we did have to do it again in a few decades, at least I would be pain free for those decades. That to me, made it all worth it. The surgery was fairly involved since they not only had to take off the bunion, but they had to cut the tendons in between my big toe, in order to try and straighten it out and get it to grow back straight. After six weeks on crutches, 8 weeks in horrible, flat boring shoes and another 12 weeks wearing a toe brace at night, I'm proud to say that I haven't felt any pain at all in my left foot. At least not bunion pain. (After dancing all night at Jesse's wedding in 4 inch stillettos, I did have blisters and foot pain of a totally different kind. But I digress.)

Despite the small scar, which I don't think anyone but me notices anymore, you can't even tell that my foot was ever so badly deformed. Still it took me two years before I was able to wear flip flops. I remember because they were red, white & blue flip flops which I bought for the 4th of July 2005. I still remember standing in the store at the check out line debating whether or not to purchase them, even though they were so cute. The thing was, that even though my left foot looked great, my right foot still boasted a very unsightly bunion. I finally decided to buy them and wear them, though I made a vow that if anyone said anything about my bunion, I was never going to wear flip flops again.

Naturally, no one even noticed. In the years since, I've gone to wearing practically nothing but flip flops in the summertime because I love being barefoot, and it's pretty much the closest you can get to being barefoot in public places. There have been a few people now and then who have noticed my feet and commented on the bunion, but by the time anyone did, I wasn't as sensitive about it anymore. I usually just tell them that if they think that's bad, they should have seen the other foot before the surgery.

As I said earlier, I've always had pain in my feet, but because the left foot was so severe, I tended not to really notice the right foot. It isn't as bad as what I remember the left foot being, and it definitely doesn't look as bad, so I just deal with it.

And then came that moment. It's been a few weeks ago now, maybe even a month or two. But it was morning and I was mixing up some baby oatmeal with mashed banana, when I stood on tip toe to get something out of the top cupboard. The pain that shot through my right bunion, caught me so off guard that I actually fell down. (I caught myself on my knees, but it was enough to scare Gideon and he started crying.)

I was stunned. How did I get to this point? How bad had it actually been? I thought back over the previous six years and started to notice little things. Like the way I shift my weight when I'm standing so that I put as little pressure as possible on my right foot. Like how when I'm running I always take tylenol or ibuprophen to help take the edge off. Like when I'm done with a run, I always, ALWAYS, sit down and put my right foot up. Doesn't matter where I am, I just do. I noticed how the throbbing sensation in that bunion almost never goes away. And I noticed that when I walk up or down stairs, I actually put more weight on the outside of my right foot. How long have I been doing that?

I finally decided to pay another visit to Dr. B. He confirmed everything that I already knew. That the condition of the right foot isn't as severe as the left foot was. But that it's definitely severe enough that a bunionectomy would be beneficial. In the end he left the decision to me. He didn't push me either way. I knew going in there that's what he would do. That's part of the reason I like Dr. B. If he had a definite medical opinion about whether it would be good or bad, he would have shared it, but in a situation like this, the only determining factor is my pain level. Do I want to continue living with it? Or am I ready to be done with it?

And I've decided that it's time to be done with it. I understand the risks of the surgery, I've been through it before. But I also know the difference that surgery made not only in getting rid of the constant pain, but also in boosting my confidence enough to wear flip flops in public. And frankly I think it's going to be worth it, just to finally know what it's like not to have foot pain. I can't even imagine what that might be like because it's something I've had to deal with for so long.

The good news is that this surgery will be a lot easier than the previous one. It's a simple bunionectomy. Not cutting tendons, no foot brace. There are still the six weeks on crutches, and of course flat, boring shoes for a while, but no toe brace this time. We're waiting until July for two reasons, the first being so that I can still run the Liberty 5K. (It may be painful, but now I'm more determined than ever since I'll have weeks of recovery after the surgery where I won't be able to do anything.) The most important reason being that my family will be back from their travels so I'll have a little extra help. Heaven knows that with the munchkin this time around is going to be very different.

The bonus is that Travis is thinking he can work out a way to get back here and be with me for the surgery, so that will be even better. Anyway fingers crossed for that because if he doesn't make it back then, we may not see him until October. (They're so behind on that job already that they've started to say it's going to be 6-7 months instead of 3-4. Travis is pretty bummed about it. That's a long time to be away.)

One last thought before I go. Bet none of you expected I was talented enough to get an entire saga out of my feet.

Not the Koninginnedag Celebration I remember!

So April 30th, is a Dutch Holiday known as Queen's Day. I remember it as being one of the most fun days we had over there. It was a party the entire country over. I still have an orange hat with flashing lights from the celebrations (thanks to Rene!) Anyway it was a lot of fun. Even if it was rainy and cold that day so many years ago.

But today's celebration wasn't so much fun I guess. Apparently someone drove a car through a crowd of bystanders and police barricades trying to take out the Royal Family. It sounds positively horrible, as he plowed through people and sent bodies flying into the air. Several were killed and several more injured, but the Royal Family was spared. Still, it kind of made me shiver to hear what had happened. That's not the fun-loving party I remember on Koninginnedag.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's just not fair!!!!

Travis is fishing in paradise, and this is what we have to wake up to!

we went fishing today. Orlando has never been and wanted to go. The only thing I caught was his flip flops after he fell on the corral and couldn't get up. All he caught was a bunch of nasty cuts on his feet, legs, and arms. That is his flip flop floating off in the center-right of this picture.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

now it is a big park but it was the site of a major battle the torpedo and the bomb are at the entrance

were we had lunch, Cali has alot on these girls

left-overs from WWII at gun beach

2 man sub
if that is considered an actual height of soldiers, they are really short


Monday, April 20, 2009

The Coolest Shoes Ever

Don't you wish you were cool enough to pull off Dinosaur flip flops!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

its not a dog terd its a sea cucumber
fish in the sea
sea cucumber

our newest roommate

Saturday, April 18, 2009

dead lizard in the window

orlando at the beach, new roommate

white sand beaches

philippine ocean

lovers point


Birthday Bash!

Today is my nephew Jonas's 7th Birthday! Unfortunately they live across the country, so we didn't get to attend his birthday party but I understand it was awesome because it included a barbecue and a minor league baseball game.
Instead we went to Braxton's birthday party. (He turned 4 yesterday & they had a surprise party for him at one of the local hotels so he could go swimming.)
But first, we had to help grandpa in his yard.

Braxton is way into Sponge Bob these days. I have to say that's a pretty sweet cake.

The man of the hour

The view from their room was spectacular!

The boys were definitely ready to go swimming!

Since I live in a landlocked state that is also cold for the majority of the year, we really don't get to go swimming much. I kind of forgot how tired it makes you. Gideon was dozing all the way home and I think I might actually go to bed early tonight.