It’s day #45 of 46! That means I get to return to reality and be a productive human being again. But, of course what was supposed to be my first day back at work has turned into a snow day due to a big ol’ nasty Nor’easter! Gotta love New England. So my hospital is closed tomorrow and half the day on Wednesday. Happy Snow day everyone! What’s one more day off? As you should expect by now I have my concerns, but we’ll discuss that later. This post is a combination of two weeks #5 and #6. Week #4 just kind of happened. Came and went with no rhyme or reason.
Week #5 was pretty exciting in bunion recovery world. That was the week I had my follow-up #2. After my follow-up I started walking around the house IN A SHOE! and sometimes barefoot for an hour or two. I had to re-teach myself how to walk. I’ve lost the ability to grip anything with my toes, which makes sense after not using them for weeks. So when I started walking I was walking flat foot and not rolling on my toes like one naturally does. So if I walk at a snail’s pace I can really practice the act of walking, or one could say that I am ‘gait training.’ Toward the end of week #5 I was still experiencing a very noticeable pain near my plate. For the most part the throbbing had subsided, but the pain remained consistent and present a majority of the time. So I called my doctor to discuss this concern. I was very clear in describing the discomfort I was experiencing, when I was in it, and what helped to relieve it. As he reviewed my x-ray, he again casually reassured me that everything looked in-tact. He told me to take prescription strength Aleve (2 every 8-12 hours) and if during my next follow-up appointment it is still bothering me, we may have to consider removing one of the screws. He said this was a simple procedure. I did not ask how long I would have to be out for or push the topic further. So I did as instructed and ignored the pain I was still experiencing. That Saturday I participated in a local volunteer group event and was up for over five hours! I think that is the longest I’ve been out and about since my surgery and it felt great!
Week #6 has been even more exciting than week #5. I know hard to believe, brace yourself. In the beginning of week six or even over the weekend of #5 I noticed what looked like a dry skin rash starting to develop on the big toe of my surgery foot. My foot has been very dry since I got the stitches out, so I thought nothing of it. It is important to know that dry skin and skin issues are a huge pet peeve of mine; they give me the heebie-jeebies. I take lotion baths after every shower and even when I don’t shower I moisturize every day. So, you can imagine that my foot was driving me absolutely cray. I moisturized like a mad woman in hopes to get my foot looking normal and tried to let it fix itself. In the meantime, I’m practicing how to walk and trying to increase the range of motion in my toes by stretching and wiggling them. I am proud to announce that I can officially walk without the use of crutches and my gait is improving on a daily basis. I can even go up and down the stairs without crutches, which means no more shark backpack adventures for Moose. I monitored the rash on my foot on a daily basis and it was getting increasingly more itchy so I decided to start taking a Claritin in the morning.
By Wednesday I noticed that it was getting progressively worse and it had spread to my arms. It wasn’t painful, it didn’t look like hives, it looked like clusters of tiny raised red bumps that were insanely itchy. I called my PCP (primary care physician) explained what happened and they were able to see me the same day. After examining my foot she explained that she thought it was either a generalized eczema (eeeewwww….really not that gross, but again, I HATE rashes) or what she thought it really looked like, an allergic reaction. I’ve never had any known allergies to metal, but my brother is allergic to some metals and will come down with contact dermatitis when he touches fake gold and (I think) nickel. This raised an eyebrow with my doc for sure. She explained that it would be abnormal to have an allergic reaction to the surgical hardware this far out from the surgery, but we cannot yet rule out a metal allergy. She also explained that if it is eczema, that it is very coincidental that it started on my surgery foot and that I may have touched my foot to something which may have caused some kind of bacterial or fungal infection (ew. vom.). So she prescribed me a topical steroid to use on my foot and my arms. She said she would consult with my podiatrist and get back to me with his recommendations as well. Like most medical processes, I was told to use the cream but if it gets worse to call right away. My podiatrist told my PCP that titanium is a pretty hypoallergenic metal and that it would be very rare for someone to have an allergy to it. He told her that it was most likely an unrelated skin issue and that this rash is not being caused by the surgery. I again did what I was told. My new daily regimen consisted of a Claritin and Aleve in the morning, prescription steroid cream twice a day, an OTC hydrocortisone lotion throughout the day, and two tablets of Benadryl at night. With this regimen I was still waking up in the middle of the night with the urge to scratch my foot and the rash continued to get worse.
By Friday the rash on my foot was severe; areas with blistering, areas with increased raised red bumps, swelling, and still incredibly itchy. It also spread to the palms of my hands, parts of my legs and stomach. Just dandy. I was able to speak to my PCP that day and she expressed genuine concern that the rash on my foot was getting worse. She didn’t want to blindly prescribe oral steroids on the off-chance that the rash is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection (steroids suppress the immune system. If there is an underlying infection and steroids are started, it will only exacerbate the infection and it will unleash its fury. So she wanted me to be seen to rule out an infection versus allergy. Of course she didn’t have any available appointments so she recommended that I go to an urgent care center. When I heard this I broke down. Tears started streaming from my eyes and I became overwhelmed with feelings of frustration, confusion, fear, and helplessness. I hung up the phone and sat there crying. I know pathetic, right?
I feel the need to explain my frustration here; I do not cry that easily. From the throbbing pain to the rash that developed on my foot, I never once felt like my podiatrist took my concerns seriously. It felt as if no one was listening to me and until I saw my PCP did I feel like anyone wanted to help me. It’s an awful feeling to feel helpless when it comes to dealing with your own medical care and needs. I truly feel that whatever caused this rash is a direct effect of the surgery. Whether it be an infection or an allergy, I don’t know. How coincidental is it that the rash is the most severe on my foot, it started on my foot, it’s along the incision where the plate and screws are, and I never get rashes!??! All of these feelings and unanswered questions caused me to just breakdown. I know It’s okay to get defeated every now and then, but if I didn’t pull myself out of it I would only regret it. So I’ve been thinking positive thoughts and know that eventually we’ll get to the bottom of this.
**End Side Note**
I didn’t know what to do. Aaron wasn’t going to be home for 3-4 more hours and the last thing I wanted to do was pay for a cab to go to another hospital. A couple of minutes after I hung up with my PCP, I got another call from her. I could tell she felt badly for me. She told me that she had consulted with another doctor and gave me a list of allergists so I can be tested for a metal allergy. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate her genuine concern. It is such a relief to come into contact with professionals who are passionate and great at what they do. I mustered up the energy to call one of the allergists she recommended only to find out that their first appointment wasn’t until the second week of February. I immediately felt crushed and gave up calling. Knowing that my doctor’s office had walk-in hours on Saturday, I decided that I was stable enough to not go to urgent care. Instead Aaron and I went for beers and dinner at our favorite local bar.
Come Saturday morning. My foot was not any better. So Aaron and I braced ourselves for a long wait to be seen at my PCP’s office. After examining my gross foot, she again felt that my symptoms were more of an allergic response versus an infection. So it was decided that I would start on a course of Prednisone, oral steroids. I was started on a high dose of 60mg and tapered from there. I was told that if in 1-3 days I experience any cold or flu-like symptoms that I will need to go to the ER for IV antibiotics. Fun times, right?! If you’ve never been on P, you’re not missing out. It is a great drug and does wonders for various ailments but it also has its annoying side effects. It makes me feel constantly hungry and antsy. Occasionally I feel the effects of bloating, irritability, and insomnia as well. So now my new regimen is Claritin, Aleve, and Prednisone tablets (starting from 6 down to 1/2) in the morning. Now that I’m on oral steroids it was recommended that I no longer use the hydrycortisone cream, so I’ve switched over to an eczema therapy moisturizing cream. I’ve also found it soothing to take Aveeno eczema therapy baths.
It has been two days since I’ve started my Prednisone and I’m not in the ER. Cheers. I have still been pretty itchy but the creams, baths, and positive joojoo are helping. The rash overall is getting better and very slowly starting to go away. I no longer have the raised red bumps on my foot and the generalized swelling and blisters have gone down. There is still a very obvious rash but day by day it is seeming to get better. Yay? Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked that my foot is improving. But, I’m terribly concerned that once I’m done with the Prednisone my symptoms are going to return and I’ll be back where I was a week ago. My next step in this fun process will be to see my dermatologist and also an allergist to rule out any metal allergies. I’ll start asking more questions when I have more answers. Right now it only stresses me out because there is nothing I can do but wait. #waitingpatiently…not. Oh and through all of this, I started my physical therapy. It’s going great so far, but I’ll most likely do a separate post about those.
I’ll keep my devoted follower(s) updated on how I’m doing and together we’ll see how this saga unfolds 😉 Thanks again for reading this (long!) post about my rashy foot. Sorry if I grossed you out. I decided not to include any pictures because it’s just gross, and no one wants to see that. Until next time…