Betty Lou's Newest Hardware

November, 2002

This time it was because the "great" toe on her left foot (the uninitiated might call it the "big" toe) had migrated, and was continuing its migration, so far to the left that it had also deformed the adjacent – second – toe. When the doctor who had performed her previous triple arthrodesis told her she didn't need a corrective operation right away, she was thinking he meant a couple of years. Wrong – he meant until after the holidays! So she decided to have it done immediately to be recovered in time for travels in the spring.

And also before the first snows would arrive in late January or February – so much for that prediction!

Fortunately, the snow didn't arrive until the day after her post-op appointment, a week after the operation.

Although the operation to correct "Hallux Valgus" is a bunionectomy, it turns out that at least ten procedures fall into this category, some allowing the patient to walk out of the doctor's office, others involving a cast and no weight-bearing for two months or more.

In Betty Lou's case, it included cutting and realigning the bone, holding it in place with a screw until it healed, and adjusting the tightness of a tendon and a joint capsule. Since the second toe had also been affected, it also was realigned and held in place by a really long pin. You can tell by the staples that this is the same foot that had the previous operation.

A general anesthetic was required but she was back home the same day. However, there was to be no weight-bearing on the foot until the post-op checkup a week later. They thought crutches would be all that was needed but after a day of hopping she was sore all over and we once again borrowed a wheelchair. Elevation of the foot and application of ice packs helped reduce swelling, but Percocet was required the first couple of days.

She'll be wearing a negative gradient shoe for the next five weeks, when the sutures and hardware are removed. Betty Lou calls it her Geisha boot. In the meantime, she's not to get the sutures or pin wet, since water can carry germs into the foot, causing infection in the bone. For outings that might involve snow she sports a fashionable outer sock which used to be a Washington Post newspaper bag.

© Copyright 2002 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved