Introduction

Hello everyone!!

I’ve been reading up lots of your blogs, comments and reviews over the last month or so as I get myself ready for the first of two operations. I thought I’d start my blog before my surgeries for two purposes; 1) share a bit about me, my injury and the procedures I’m having, and 2) get some advice from you wonderful people.

This will be a long post but I hope it gives you all a good insight and builds the story for you. I promise to try and keep future updates short and sweet.

About me

I’m a 30 year old male from Scotland. I play football (Soccer), golf and like to run every now and then. I work in banking, and I am engaged to get married (2021). No kids at the moment - but I suspect it won’t be long after marriage!  I was born without a thyroid, but have managed it very well throughout my life with medication.

For as long as I can remember, I have always suffered with incredibly painful heels and pain in the sole of both feet. I’d describe it as almost as if someone was digging a knife into your foot. The pain wasn’t always ever-present, but would flare up after exercise, or even longer walks. Sometimes it’d be one foot, other times both. I’ve played football most of my life, but the last two years have been incredibly difficult. After one training session, or game I’d be in agony for three days, whereas before I’d usually manage to go again the following day with heat rubs/ compression socks.

My Injury history

Now you’re probably wondering “What did your doctor say”? - We have the wonderful NHS over here in the UK and whilst it is great, it has it’s limitation in terms of funding, and the timescales for things getting done are incredibly long. I think I first went to see my GP about my issues around 7/8 years ago, and at the time was told it was plantar fasciitis, but I’d be referred to the hospital for an Ortho assessment. 6 months went by and I finally had my appointment. At the time there were no obvious signs for bone issues (although no scan/xray was carried out), and that the GP’s assessment of PF was probably accurate.

So for a few years, I would take advice from my GP and the internet. I treated my pain as PF, using insoles, compression socks, night splints, doing the necessary stretches and exercises. Sometimes I’d go a few months with “a little” pain, then there would be months where I’d be crippled for a day or two after.  I would visit my GP a few times over the years, but was continuously told the same thing, given the same exercises and the odd pain medication when it was particularly bad, not once was I referred for an X-ray or MRI. I should note here that I love the NHS, my mum is nurse for the NHS and they do so much for our country, they are just not very well funded, but I won’t go into any political debates.

Then in 2014 I was injured playing football and suffered compression syndrome and a huge blood clot in my left calf. I had to have 3 surgeries in 4 days in order to save my leg. That put me out of football for 2 years, so I turned to coaching. From 2014-16 I didn’t really do much in terms of high impact sports/running as my injury didn’t allow, and I think throughout this time I didn’t really notice my foot pain as much.I returned to football late 2016, and was back loving it. The first year or so went okay, with the pain similar to what I’d experienced before.  From around September 2017, things started to turn really bad. The pain was getting to the point that I’d be struggling after warming up pre-match/training and as a result changing the way I ran (i’d go on a side of either foot). This slowed me right down and the guys in the team jokingly mocked that it looked like I was ice skating. The pain progressively got worse, where it was almost ever-present. The only time I’d not have pain was if I rested for 2 weeks in a row, and even then a 30 min walk would trigger it.

I gave myself a good rest from May-July 2018 without any football. I returned to pre-season and things were pretty much the same, but I was aware I only have a few years left of football so wanted to power through. This wasn’t a smart idea - My ‘new’ running style was having an impact on other parts of my body, and in the first game of the 2018-19 season I tore my left hamstring (grade 3 tear).  It was at this point I thought there’s something more than PF going on here.

So I got my hamstring seen to and had physio to recover from that. In November ‘18 I returned to my GP for PF. I stressed how much agony I was in and how much it was affecting me play football. Again, I was referred to ortho but knew this could take months to get an appointment. It was around February that a colleague mentioned they used our work’s private medical benefit to get his shoulder fixed. I immediately enquired about this and it turned out we had full private health care cover with Bupa.  This was when the game changed! I called up straight away, and booked an appointment with an Ortho Surgeon. I was seen within 10 days and what we found was unreal.

My Diagnosis

At my first appointment the Ortho Surgeon had a good feel around my feet and was concerned with the shape and feel of them, and so immediately sent me for X-rays. Within 30 minutes, I’d had my X-rays and was recalled into his room. The images showed HUGE Bone Spurs, and some damage to my Plantar. Not only this but I had a bad case of Haglunds Deformity. The Plantar was the least of my worries, and probably caused by the other two! My left was particularly worse than the right, and admittedly suffers more pain that the right, but nonetheless the same issues were obvious in both. There were two particularly large bone spurs on each heel that were jagged like a shark’s tooth, and those were piercing into my AT.

I’d have to say, I wasn’t surprised, or disappointed, but relieved. Relieved to finally find out what had been causing me the pain all this time and why it was getting worse.

My Prognosis

We discussed all the options available to me, and of course surgery was one of those options. The Surgeon recommended we try a course of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy to both my plantar and the achilles, in order to try and avoid the need for surgery. I had 3 sessions on each foot over the course of 6 weeks but it did absolutely nothing at all for me and the pain was perhaps more obvious.

A week after my final course we met again and this time we went into more detail on the surgery option. He explained that there was a quite a bit to do and the recovery would be long. The Surgery includes; Lengthening my calf, removing my AT (Debridement), shaving away around 1 inch of the Haglunds Deformity bone, excising the Bone Spurs, reattaching my AT, and carrying out a “Topaz coblation” (many small piercings) on my Plantar.

As the issues are present in both feet there were three options; 1) do both at the same time, 2) do one now, and then the other a year later 3) do them both within 8 weeks of each other (Left first, then right)

The first option was a no for me, it would mean being wheelchair bound for around 10 weeks until I could FWB on both feet. I wouldn’t want to put that stress on my Fiancee, or my family in the city.

The second option was a possibility, but given I’d be getting married within a few months of the second surgery I didn’t want to be recovering in the build up to, and again leave it all to my Fiancee. This also meant a good 2 years before full recovery, which for anyone is exhausting.

The third option seemed the best fit. I’d not need a wheelchair, and was comfortable that the recovery plan discussed would allow me to build up the strength in my left foot, before having the op on the right. There is also the option of moving my second surgery out by a couple of weeks if required. Yes the recovery would be more difficult than having just one foot, but the period would be roughly the same and it would be one “period of pain and recovery” rather than going through the cycle again.

My next steps

I have a holiday in Tenerife (Spanish island off west coast of Morocco for those not familiar) booked for 23rd August, so I wanted to make sure my ops were after that holiday. The operation for my Left foot is on 9th September ‘19, and my right foot is scheduled for 30th October ‘19. I’ve been indulging myself in a lot of the blogs and comments on this site (massive help - thank you so much!) and been getting myself ready. The blogs have really got me mentally prepared for what my body (and mind) is about to go through.

I’ve ordered myself a chair for the shower, as well as a waterproof cast protector so that I can wash. I don’t get crutches as part of my cover, but thankfully still have two from my previous injury.

The plan of attack;

9th September - Left foot surgery

2 weeks in Cast

4 weeks in boot with 3 different levels of inserts, 1 removed each week

1 week out of boot (Weight bearing to be measured / judged).

30th October - Right foot surgery - If Weight bearing is not good on left foot at this stage then it will move out a fortnight.

Then repeat!!

I’m looking forward to this time next year when I should hopefully be running around and playing football again. I’ll probably not post another blog until the week of the op/ after it, but I’ll respond to any questions / suggestions / comments you all might have.

Feel free to ask away and please do make suggestions as to how I can make my life easier! I’m keen to get myself mobile and strengthening again. I am very optimistic that this will be a huge improvement on my life.

Info on Haglunds Deformity - https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/haglund’s-deformity

Info on Bone Spurs - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/osteophyte/

Info on Plantar Fasciitis - https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/heel-pain-(plantar-fasciitis)

ADMIN - PLEASE FEEL FREE TO REMOVE LINKS IF NOT ALLOWED.

3 Responses to “Introduction”

  1. Hi PaulMc. I had surgery 4 weeks ago for a full ATR. Like you, i bought a shower chair that works out very well. Also bought a long plastic cast cover for my splint that goes up over my knee - it’s longer than others, but i like it as it really ensured that i kept my splint dry. I’d also recommend that you buy/install a handheld showerhead. I bought one on Amazon for $20 (Aquabliss brand, i think) and it works great and really glad i have it. I have also borrowed two knee scooters to get around on (one for upstairs and one for downstairs) and they are much easier than crutches, although i do occasionally use crutches as well. The first week is the worst - it gets better after that. Good luck! Paul

  2. Thanks Paul!
    Thankfully I already have two shower heads installed and one is handheld. Like you I have the chair and cover bought, and have crutches and walking sticks ready at home.
    I’m less inclined to go for the knee walkers as I want to use my upper body to get about, but we’ll see how that progresses!
    Hope your recovery goes well

  3. I would also recommend the vacoped boot, though I never got one, but it was the same price as the doctor ’supplied’ one but it allowed you to vary your range of motion. I found the fixed position to be troubling in a standard boot, but the vacoped would give safety plus some range of motion, potentially decreasing your recovery time. They sell on ebay for half price.
    Your plan sounds like a good one, sorry to hear about Europe’s public’s health system.
    I also had vinyl flooring and what worked best for me was an office chair with rollers, I could scoot around safely and quickly. I found crutches to be dangerous and cumbersome, but I used them and a scooter outside the house. But knee scooterss can be quite dangerous with irregular pavement, and someone reruptured their AT because of a fall, also someone reruptured because of a a bad step, so those would be my concerns.

    Enjoy Espanya!

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