Posts tagged: bunion surgery

Post-Surgery Update

By , March 6, 2010

I’m back! My surgery went fine, and recovery is going well! The first week was rough because of the way my body reacted to the strong narcotics I was taking for pain. My poor body really gets the runaround with any kind of medicine; it’s very sensitive and doesn’t tolerate much more than Tylenol or ibuprofen! The reaction scared me enough to swear off any and all meds, so the pain was pretty yucky for a day or two, but then calmed down. It sure has helped that I’ve gone through this same surgery once already, since I was able to immediately put into action all the tricks I learned last time — a couple of which go against my post-op instructions. (As a side note, I’ve learned that doing what works for my own body will always trump the post-op instructions!)  So I’ve had my foot on ice packs, out of the black air cast, and elevated above my heart for almost every single minute of the last 11 days. It has made for a smoother recovery than last time, by far!

I’m definitely getting cabin fever though…oh my gosh. Last week, winter broke and today is the first day since October that we’ve had all our windows open. Last week on a 60-degree-day my mom took me over to their house so that I could lie outside in the sun in the backyard and get a nice dose of Vitamin D. How glorious it was! I wish I could just go outside for a nice long walk, but that will come soon enough; I just have to be patient. I still have another month on crutches, and then 6 weeks after that with a walking cast. I can’t wait till I’m all healed!

So this weekend I need to plan the vegetable garden and start my tomato seeds inside. Admittedly, I don’t really enjoy planning the garden. I don’t enjoy planting seeds, either. I live for the harvest! 😉 Anyway, here’s a picture of my stitched, swollen, and bruised “Franken-Foot,” 10 days post-op. Doesn’t look too horrible, does it!

Healing From Surgery, Part 4: Nourishing Foods

By , February 21, 2010

Welcome to another installment in my Healing From Surgery series!

For an introduction to the series, and the pre-/post-surgery homeopathic regimen I created, visit Part 1: Homeopathy.

For instructions on how to make your own Antiseptic Herbal Wash and Herbal Wound-Healing Oil, visit Part 2: Herbal Wound Remedies.

For my recommended skin-healing remedies, visit Part 3: Topical Skin-Healing Remedies.

Part 4: Nourishing Foods

Today for Part 4, I will be talking about foods that are especially nourishing for both before and after surgery. My second surgery is the day after tomorrow, so I have been trying to eat an extra-nourishing diet with emphasis on calcium-rich foods since the surgery involves lots of bone trauma (cutting down one part of a bone in my foot, breaking the bone in another spot, putting in a bone graft, installing a metal plate and 4 screws, and then cutting some muscles through another incision).

Last time, I had prepared lots of lovely, nourishing foods for myself to eat after the surgery. However, I was so nauseated from the anesthesia and pain medication that all I felt like eating was stuff made with sugar or white flour — ginger ale, popsicles, seltzer water, pretzels, saltine crackers. Anything with fats or whole grains was totally unappetizing to me. This was a little distressing because I knew that my body needed nourishing foods more than ever, but I couldn’t even think about eating them. So for this surgery, I am really focusing on nourishing foods beforehand. Plus, since I’m not allowed any vitamins, herbs, or other supplements for 14 days before surgery, it’s a great time to focus on eating nutrient-dense foods (which I feel are better than supplements anyway).

Here’s what I’ve been eating and why:

  • Kefir & Yogurt – rich in calcium & a wonderful probiotic (especially good after the course of antibiotics given during surgery)
  • Dark leafy greens like kale – rich in calcium & other goodies (cooked with bacon because the fat facilitates nutrient absorption)
  • Soups made with Bone Broth – rich in calcium and other minerals (recipe forthcoming)
  • Cooked bones – after making bone broth, the ends of many bones are soft enough to eat! An excellent source of calcium.
  • Coconut water (a.k.a. coconut juice) – for these 3 days before surgery, I’m drinking coconut water (different from coconut milk) to keep myself nice and hydrated. Coconut water is like nature’s Gatorade. In tropical areas, it’s used for dehydration, and for young children and the elderly who are convalescing.
  • Liver pate – extremely rich in nutrients like Vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, protein, trace minerals, etc. Liver is so good for you!
  • Eggs – all-around good nutrient-dense food
  • Canned fish w/ bones, like sardines or smoked herring – rich in calcium and just all-around good for you. Fish bones turn very soft in the can, and are eaten right along with the fish. Sounds gross, but I love the crunchy vertebrae in canned salmon!
  • Lots of fresh fruits & vegetables. My current favorites are mandarin oranges (clementines) and lunch salads made with lettuce, tomato, fresh parsley, fresh dill, diced avocado, bits of chopped ham, and a buttermilk ranch dressing (OMG yum!).
  • Sunshine! Vitamin D is very important for bones. During the winter it’s hard to get enough Vitamin D from the sun, so I like to supplement with Fermented Cod Liver Oil & Butter Oil.

Knowing what I do now, I bought myself the foods that I know I’ll feel like eating (photo below). Even though they’re not ideal foods, I feel that my diet is good enough that it can “forgive” a couple weeks of not-so-nourishing stuff. And when I feel up to it, I’ll be drinking lots of water with fresh lemon or lime juice added; lemon & lime are very nice for flushing out the liver…and I’d like to get as much of the anesthesia out of my body as I can. An even better post-surgery tonic would be coconut water with fresh lime juice added.

Nausea-friendly, post-surgery food: Ginger Ale, Coconut Water, Applesauce, Trader Joe's Fruit Jelly Candy, Animal Crackers, Oyster Crackers, Seltzer Water, Candied Ginger, Pretzels

Since I craved lime popsicles last time, I decided to make my own this time, with better ingredients than the store-bought ones.

I dissolved some raw honey into warm water, then added freshly-squeezed lime juice and some lime zest. Since I don’t have any reusable popsicle molds, I just poured the sweetened lime water into my handy Mickey Mouse Ice Cube Tray (a Disney World souvenir! :-)). They’re the perfect size to pop into my mouth. If you don’t happen to have your own Mickey Mouse Ice Cube Tray, you could use a regular ice cube tray and only fill the cells half way (so that the cubes are small enough to fit into your mouth).

Mini Lime "Popsicles"

Random News Update

By , February 3, 2010

Geez…sorry for the lack of posts lately! Life has been insane. Work has been unusually stressful and soul-sucking for the past month, and I often just come home and collapse onto the floor in front of the space heater and veg out! Sometimes the last thing I feel like doing is staring at a computer screen for another couple hours, after an entire day of it! Thus, the lack of posts. When my life gets stressful, I’ve learned how important it is for me to pace myself, practice good self-care, and make sure I have plenty of relaxation & down time.  🙂

Anyway, in other news, a few areas of my site have been acting stupid lately and I finally tracked it down to some strange code issues with my “How To Make Your Own Cat Food” post. I deleted that post completely, and will re-post it for you soon! (UPDATE: I re-did the Cat Food post. Click here to view it.)

My hubby, F., and I have a lovely little road trip to New Mexico coming up pretty soon, which will be absolutely wonderful! I can’t wait. It will be a VERY much needed vacation! And then on February 23rd, I’m having more surgery — this time on the other foot. Bunionectomy with osteotomy. It will be another big, tiring ordeal, just like last time. I’m not looking forward to it, but at least I’m getting it over with so that I can stop dreading it. And I won’t be at work for at least a few weeks, which I’ll appreciate (oh that’s an understatement). Also, tangential to that, I realized that I never finished my Healing From Surgery Series! Good gracious. Since it will help me prepare myself for the next surgery, I would like to hopefully continue with that series soon. (Hopefully.)

Well, I think that’s about it for now!

How has life been for you lately??

Healing From Surgery, Part 3: Topical Skin-Healing Remedies

By , November 9, 2009
Natural Skin-Healing Remedies

From left: Tea Tree Oil, Goldenseal extract, Homeopathic Bone Strengthener, Homeopathic Arnica Gel, Homemade Herbal Wound-Healing Oil, & Virgin Coconut Oil

Time for another installment in the series!

For an introduction to the series, and the pre-/post-surgery homeopathic regimen I created, visit Part 1: Homeopathy.

For instructions on how to make your own Antiseptic Herbal Wash and Herbal Wound-Healing Oil, visit Part 2: Herbal Wound Remedies.

Part 3: Topical Skin-Healing Remedies

After the bandage was removed, I didn’t really put anything onto the actual incision sites (except my Antiseptic Herbal Wash) until they were more healed (therefore, less risk of sealing in any infection).

I kept my incisions clean by washing them with gentle (castile) soap and water; the nurse I talked to urged me not to use either hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean or “sterilize” my wounds; they’re too caustic and harsh on the new tissue that’s forming.

If a wound looks like it’s getting infected (pain, heat, swelling, oozing/draining, and/or bright red color around incision), the essential oils of Tea Tree, Manuka, and/or Lavender can be used neat (full strength) right on the wound (or diluted, if you prefer). I used them a few times on my wounds just to help prevent infection. You can also use a thin layer of regular ol’ triple antibiotic ointment; in my experience, that stuff really does work. However, you don’t want to totally slather it on, because it might trap moisture inside the wound.

As a side note, I also exposed my wounds to direct sunshine when I could; MRSA (drug-resistant Staph) is killed by sunlight. You can read an article with similar implications here: CBS News: Blue Light Kills MRSA. (Though, the sunlight method isn’t totally foolproof since MRSA bacteria can cluster together and form a protective cover over itself called a biofilm, sheltering it from its environment.)

(Obviously, when in doubt, have your incision looked at by your doctor, since infections aren’t to be taken lightly.)

Goldenseal extract is another good topical remedy for infections. It has broad-spectrum antibacterial properties, but keep in mind that Goldenseal is not a systemic antibiotic. In other words, Goldenseal does not course its way through your blood, killing bacteria in its path. Rather, it acts as a contact disinfectant — killing bacteria, fungi, parasites, and protozoa that it comes into direct contact with in the mouth, GI tract, urinary tract, and on the skin.

Also, Goldenseal is one of the most over-harvested and endangered wild medicinal plants in North America. Even so, many (most!) of the Goldenseal that is sold is “wild harvested” or “wildcrafted.” While these terms sound enticing, do avoid them! Instead, only purchase Goldenseal that is “certified organic” or “cultivated.” Herb Pharm puts out a nice, certified organic Goldenseal extract that does not contribute to the demise of this precious healing plant.

Fortunately, Oregon Grape is a more abundant plant, with very similar properties. Oregon Grape root is a great replacement for Goldenseal root!

Anyway. Twice a day for a month or more after the bandage was removed, I put homeopathic arnica gel and virgin coconut oil (which is great for skin) all over my foot, avoiding the incision sites. The arnica gel definitely reduced the bruising discoloration, although my foot still felt bruised to the touch. The coconut oil was great for moisturizing. I noticed that since my foot was swollen, it would get very dry and itchy (like, scratch-it-with-a-steak-knife itchy) unless I was careful to keep it moisturized twice a day.

Once the incisions healed more, I began spraying my Homeopathic Bone Strengthener spray directly onto the skin over the bones that were healing. I also continued to take the spray under my tongue.

And lastly, I began using my homemade Herbal Wound-Healing Oil on the incision sites, and continue to use it daily. I also massage Vitamin E oil (from a punctured capsule) onto the scars.

All in all, my foot looks great! It’s not swelling too much, it’s not visibly bruised at all (though as I said above, it does still feel bruised to the touch…for me, arnica takes away the ugly color, but not the pain), and the scars are healing quite well. Of course, I’m not sure what my foot would have looked like without all these remedies. But since the incisions are healing so well, I definitely feel that they’ve helped.

Do you have a favorite natural skin-healing remedy? I’d love to know!

Healing From Surgery, Part 2: Herbal Wound Remedies

By , October 21, 2009

Calendula Petals for Herbal Wound-Healing Oil

Welcome back!

For an introduction to the series, and the pre-/post-surgery homeopathic regimen I created, visit Part 1: Homeopathy.

For Part 2 today, I’ll be showing you how to make Herbal Wound-Healing Oil and an Antiseptic Herbal Wash. You can make these and keep them on hand for cleansing and healing any type of wound.

One thing: Be careful when applying the Wound-Healing Oil to burns or infected areas, because they may heal over “too quickly,” sealing in heat and bacteria. For these situations, make sure the burn has completely cooled, or that the infection has first been treated with a good antimicrobial preparation.

For me…since the incisions were on my foot (where there’s a higher risk of post-surgical infection because of decreased circulation), I conservatively used only the Antiseptic Herbal Wash until the wounds had completely closed up and there was no sign of infection. At that point, I no longer needed to use the Antiseptic Herbal Wash…and began to then use the Wound-Healing Oil.

Herbal Wound-Healing Oil

Herbal Wound Healing Oil

Wound-Healing Oil infusing on a sunny windowsill

Making herbal oils is easy because you don’t really need any special ingredients or equipment. Herbal oils can be made by either hot infusion or cold infusion. For a hot infusion, equal amounts of herbs and oil (often olive oil) are simmered over low heat for a few hours.

Cold infusion is a much slower process whereby you pack a clear glass jar with herbs and oil and let it stand for several weeks, often in the sun. Sunlight encourages the herbs to release their active constituents into the oil. Cold infusion is the best method for fresh plant material, especially for more delicate parts such as flowers. Since my herbs were fresh, and I was using delicate calendula flower petals, I chose the cold infusion method. Olive oil is very good for cold infusion because of its resistance to turning rancid. The intensity of sunlight and the length of time the herbs are infused will affect the strength of the end product. For a stronger oil, strain out the first batch of herbs, add a new batch of fresh ones, and infuse again for another few weeks.

Cold Infusion Step 1: Gather your plant material — either dried or fresh, or a mix of both. I used all fresh plants this time (fresh is almost always better). Any medicinal plant will work, and you may use just one type, or a mix. For my Wound-Healing Oil, I chose a mix of antiseptic, skin-healing, and bone-healing plants:

Sage (leaves) – antiseptic

Yarrow (leaves) – antiseptic, heals wounds, anti-inflammatory

Thyme (leaves) – antiseptic (contains Thymol, a very potent germ killer)

Comfrey (leaves) – heals wounds, assists with bone fusion (it’s also known as “Knitbone”)

Calendula (flower petals) – antiseptic, heals wounds, anti-inflammatory

Step 2: Chop the herbs into little pieces. Stuff them into a clear glass jar that has a lid. Pour olive oil into the jar until it completely covers the herbs. You may need to poke around with a spoon to get the oil to seep down to the bottom of the jar. If there’s any plant material above the oil, it will probably mold, so try to pour enough oil in to cover everything. I had a little mold growing on the surface of the oil after a few weeks (probably on a plant piece that wasn’t submerged), but I just scooped it up and threw it away. No harm done.

Step 3: Screw on the lid, and place the jar in a spot where it’ll get plenty of sunshine, but where it won’t be disturbed. (Again, if any herb pieces are washed out of the oil and onto the side of the jar, they’ll get moldy. It’s not a big deal, but if they get moldy you should scoop them out.) Leave it there for at least 2 weeks, but preferably 4 weeks or longer.

Wound-Healing Oil. Twice infused, strained, and ready to use.

Wound-Healing Oil. Twice infused for a total of 6 weeks, strained, and ready to use.

Step 4: Set up a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Pour the contents of the jar into the strainer and squeeze the herbs tightly in your fist to get as much oil out as possible. It’s a messy job; don’t wear your Sunday best. Run the oil through the strainer again if any plant material accidentally got into the bowl. Discard the plant material.

Step 5: I like to puncture a Vitamin E capsule and squeeze it into the jar of finished oil. Vitamin E is a good preservative. Store the oil in the fridge for a longer shelf life.

Step 6 (optional): For an even stronger oil, chop up a new batch of fresh or dried plant material, and put it into the oil you’ve just strained. Place in the sunny spot for a second round of infusion. For my Wound-Healing Oil, I strained the oil after 3 weeks, and then added more fresh Calendula petals and Comfrey leaves (both fresh and dried), and left it to infuse for another 3 weeks.

Antiseptic Herbal Wash

Making the Antiseptic Herbal Wash

Making the Antiseptic Herbal Wash

Antiseptic Herbal Wash is what I applied to the surgical incisions until they were completely healed. After I made the Herbal Wash, I froze it into ice cube trays, and then stored the ice cubes in the freezer. Each night, I would take out a cube and let it thaw in the fridge. Then, both morning and evening the next day, I would pour the liquid over my foot, rubbing it into the wounds. It didn’t sting, but I tasted a little bit of it once, and it was very strong and very disgusting! Not something you want to drink, certainly! After the wounds had completely closed up and there was no sign of infection, I then stopped using the Wash and began using the Wound-Healing Oil.

Step 1: Gather your plant material — either dried or fresh, or a mix of both. I used all fresh plants this time (fresh is almost always better). For this Antiseptic Herbal Wash, I chose these medicinal plants:

Sage (leaves) – antiseptic

Yarrow (leaves) – antiseptic, heals wounds, anti-inflammatory

Thyme (leaves) – antiseptic (contains Thymol, a very potent germ killer)

Lavender (leaves) – antiseptic, soothing

Step 2: Chop up the plant material, and place into a large jar that has a lid. Pour enough boiling water over the plant material to cover it completely. Screw the lid on loosely. (If a lid is not used, the precious volatile oils will dissipate into the air.)

Step 3: Let the mixture steep until the water has cooled to room temperature…or longer. I let mine steep for the whole day. Pour the water through a strainer, squeezing the herbs tightly to get all the water out. Discard the herbs, and either refrigerate or freeze the herbal water. Again, I like to freeze mine into ice cubes that can be defrosted when needed.

Antiseptic Herbal Wash frozen into ice cubes

Antiseptic Herbal Wash frozen into ice cubes

Healing From Surgery, Part 1: Homeopathy

By , October 19, 2009

Homeopathy for Bone Healing

Before the recent bunion surgery on my foot (bunionectomy with osteotomy where the 1st metatarsal bone was broken, a wedge of fake bone was inserted, and a plate and 4 screws were inserted to secure the area), I thought about what I could do beforehand to prepare my body to heal well afterward. I prepared in many different ways, and there are also plenty of things I’ve done since the surgery to support my body in healing. In this “Healing From Surgery” series, I’ll be sharing everything I did, including:

  • extra-nourishing foods I’ve prepared
  • herbal remedies I’ve made
  • supplements, creams, and alternative therapies I’ve been using

I’ll be focusing especially on bone health & healing, since the surgery involved cutting one part of a bone, breaking another part, and installing 4 metal screws into it. So this series would certainly apply to healing from a broken bone, too.

Part 1: Homeopathy

I used to think it was total hogwash, but I’ve had a few surprising successes with homeopathic remedies, and I find myself turning to it for minor first aid issues. Any suggestions for good online resources? So far, is the best from what I’ve seen.

Homeopathy is a form of vibrational medicine (it’s not “of the physical realm”), and therefore will not interfere with any other drug or treatment, so combining homeopathy with western medicine is not a problem.

Here are a couple good explanations of what homeopathy is:

Hyland’s website

Society of Homeopaths website

Before my surgery, I consulted a few different homeopathy books and put together a remedy regimen for myself:

Beginning one week before surgery, I took:

Arnica 30c – twice a day (to prepare for bruising, swelling, trauma of surgery, soft tissue damage, etc.)

Phosphorus 6c – twice a day (to prevent hemorrhage during and after surgery)

Homeopathic Calm Drops – as needed, for fear and anxiety

Then, after surgery I took:

Arnica 30c – each hour for the first day, then multiple times a day for the next couple days, easing off to twice a day for the next 2-3 weeks (for bruising, swelling, post-surgical trauma & soft tissue damage)

Nux Vomica 30c – twice a day for one week (to help rid the body of the anesthesia drugs)

Symphytum Officinale 6c – twice a day for about 4 weeks (for healing of bone fractures)

Calcarea Phosphorica 6x – twice a day for about 4 weeks (For the Hyland’s brand that I got, it was 4 times a day. Just follow dosage instructions on the bottle.) (supports bone health & healing)

King Bio Bone Strengthener – One dose (3 sprays) into mouth or on affected area up to 6 times a day. I’m still taking this remedy until the bone has healed more and I’m walking comfortably.

Of course, I’m not sure if all these remedies have worked. I don’t know what my foot would have looked like or felt like without the remedies. But I will say that my hubby and I were genuinely surprised at how little swelling and bruising we saw when the bandage was removed after two weeks. Even my neighbor, a nurse, was impressed.

As for the bones, of course, who can say? Who knows if the homeopathy helped. However, so far my x-rays look good, and I’m right on schedule for healing; in the next few days I’ll be weaning off crutches (yessss!). At the next visit, the doctor may even let me put my foot into a regular shoe…which would mean that my healing is ahead of schedule. And also, I’ve been doing lots of other things to support my healing process, which I’ll write about in the other parts of this series. Perhaps each little thing plays its own part. I know that I’d do this homeopathy regimen again, though. Since it probably helps, and certainly doesn’t hurt, why not?

Foot Surgery

By , September 16, 2009

Lindsey Foot Surgery

Geez, sorry for the unannounced blogging hiatus! Last Wednesday I had bunion surgery where they re-aligned the big-toe joint in my foot by breaking the first metatarsal bone, inserting a wedge of fake bone, and securing the break spot with a plate and 4 screws. The surgery went well, but the past week has been…interesting. The recovery has definitely been more difficult than I expected, with intense pain and intense nausea from the anesthesia & pain meds. And I’m getting kind of tired of lying flat on  my back with my foot propped high up in the air! Bleh.

Hopefully, though, I’ll be getting back to posting more regularly! I’ve got lots of neato things to show you. 🙂

EDIT: I had the same surgery done — bunionectomy with osteotomy, with a plate and 4 screws inserted — on the other foot on Feb 23, 2010. Here’s an update from that surgery.

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