Foot Surgery Update: 1 Year Later

Today, February 4th, marks one whole year since I had foot surgery!

Just as a recap, I had surgery to fix a problem with my posterior tibial tendon… basically my feet have really flat arches and there was a lot of inflammation in my left foot around the tendon that connects from the foot arch to the calf muscle. I had been in a boot for the latter half of 2019, and nothing seemed to be helping my foot get better. Hence, foot surgery! (For a lengthier description of the surgery, you can read my post from May 2020).

June 2019 – my coworker and I matched!

At the time of surgery, I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to go running again, and I hoped that I would at least be able to walk normally again in the near future. For a long time it seemed like it neither of those things would ever happen – but they did!

I wanted to give an update as a way to encourage those who might find themselves in similar “is-there-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel” situations – the short version is I’m about 95% back to normal! (Hooray!)

Things I can do today:

  • wear a pair of matching shoes (aka. no boot!)
  • walk long distances without assistance
  • climb stairs
  • jog, run, and sprint (that last one only for short distances)
  • balance on one foot (left and right)

Continued limitations I have:

  • must wear very supportive shoes (no cute flats, flip-flops or high heels!)
  • need to wear orthotic inserts inside my already expensive supportive shoes
  • some pain/tightness occasionally with my left foot and calf
  • need to monitor and be better aware of my body – if something hurts, I need to honor it, not push through the pain – maybe this isn’t a limitation, just good common sense!

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Focus on What You CAN Do

Back in April, I wrote a post about how I had been consistently running for an entire year.

Today, I’m sharing a post explaining why I may not be running anymore at all.

First, a little history. If you read my blog, you know that my husband and I recently got to go to Japan for 11 days to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We left May 11 and returned May 21. Among the many other things we did there, we also did a ton of walking! I don’t remember a specific instance of injuring my foot, but about halfway through our trip my left foot was hurting pretty badly. So much so, that I opted out of doing some of the things we had originally planned to do on our trip.

I hadn’t been running or exercising on our trip, so after we got back I decided I’d wait a few days and then try going for a run. My foot still hurt, but I pushed through the pain (being stubborn comes in handy sometimes.) I ran two more times that week, and then decided that the pain was getting worse. I told myself I’d take a week off of running to let my foot heal. I wasn’t too happy about this, but I had done this before in the past for injuries, and figured this was just another one of those times. No big deal, I’d just wait a week or so and then get back into it.

I actually ended up waiting a week and a half before I got back out to go running one morning. I had not been having any pain for 4 or 5 days, so I was optimistic as I headed out on my 2.7 mile route. I think about halfway through my run was when I could tell that left foot was beginning to hurt again. By the time I made it home, the pain was bad. And this time, my ankle was swollen too.

Some people might have chosen that day to make an appointment to go to the doctor, but not me (remember, stubborn!) I thought I’d rest it, ice it, etc. and see if it got better. After an entire week of having a swollen ankle, I made the appointment.

“If I had your feet, I think I’d cry every day I had to walk on them.” 

Not exactly what you want to hear from your doctor, or anyone for that matter. He told me that I had most likely sprained a muscle or ligament and wanted me to wear a boot for a few weeks. He told me that I should never wear flip-flops or cute shoes again – I needed to go for the “ugly old lady shoes.” He also told me, that because of the way my feet are designed, my left foot bends too far to one side, which means I overcompensate and put all my weight on one spot on the other side of my foot – which is what caused my injury. He told me I was not built (literally, my feet were not designed) to be a runner, and that I should look for a new sport.

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Still Running – One Year of Exercising!

Last year in April, I decided to start regularly working out. I have definitely always had an on again/off again relationship with exercising. At the beginning of 2018, I was in an “off again” phase. I had just started grad school towards a Library Science degree, and as it turns out, grad school added a bit of extra stress to my life. (Go figure.) 

I decided to start exercising mainly as a way to cope with stress. I was in the midst of a stressful group project with school, and I was so stressed out that I had literally started losing my hair. Exercise was one of those things that I knew was going to help my mental and physical health, but I had convinced myself I didn’t have the time. I worked full time, I had a young child, I was tired!!! Until one day I just decided I was done with the excuses, and I would just start doing it. (Read more about how I motivated myself to start exercising here.)

I started out running 2-3 times a week – and I surprised myself when I had kept it up for a month, and then two months, and three… I surprised myself even more when I started to look forward to it. (I also surprised myself when I began having major hip and shoulder pain from running… a reminder I’m not as young as I used to be!) 

I told myself if I made it to the year mark, that I would write a post about it: so here it is. 1 year of exercising. 1 year of staying steady with a goal. 1 year of not giving up on something. It feels good.

I did have one major low point in past twelve months about Christmas-time through February. I had gotten a cold and had stopped exercising to recover, and I had just finished a really stressful semester at school, and things in life kind of seemed like they were falling apart for a bit. My energy dropped, and for a few months even when I tried to exercise, it was hard. I had lost progress and speed on my runs, and even just doing a slow jog felt like I was running underwater. I know my mental health was at a low point too – it’s so interesting how our bodies and minds are so intertwined. I really thought this was the point I would give up running.

During this time, I still managed to go on runs, though some of the time it averaged only once a week, and some parts of the run I would just walk. But the point is, I kept going. Really by the end of February I started noticing the runs were getting easier again. The weather started getting warmer, and I was enjoying running outside again.

Today, I went on a run around ACU’s campus – my normal route. From my house and around the trail it’s about a 2.7 mile run. I don’t run it very fast – I average between 9-10 minute miles. I wish I could say that after a year of running, I’ve made some amazing gains in strength or speed, or even my physique. I haven’t really made any of those gains, but I have stayed steady – which I think is also a worthwhile goal. Sometimes that’s the best we can do – and it’s good enough.

I am good enough.