My Tarsal Tunnel Journey

To make a very long story short, I am once again asking for your prayers. 

I will be having foot surgery on Thursday, and need prayers for the success of the surgery and a smooth recovery.

Just before Christmas last year, I was hurrying in the kitchen, and slammed the inside of my ankle against the door of the open dishwasher.  I really slammed it hard – so much so that we thought it could be broken.  When x-rays came back negative, we treated it like a bad ankle sprain: lots of ice, elevation, and rest.

But, it didn’t get better.  So, I was put in a walking boot for 6 weeks.  Still, there was no improvement.  So, my doctor recommended that I try resting it completely – no weight bearing – for a couple months, to see if that helped.  I used a nifty knee scooter to get around the house, crutches when we went anywhere, and relied heavily on help from family and friends to get through our days.

However, instead of simple ankle pain, I was now getting symptoms of nerve compression or injury.  I had hot/cold sensations, shooting pains throughout my entire foot, tingling, and was losing function.  At times, I couldn’t curl or wiggle some of my toes!

After bouncing from specialist to specialist and undergoing a myriad of testing, we finally found a foot & ankle orthopedic physician that was able to help me.  He diagnosed me with Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, meaning scar tissue and inflammation from my injury was compressing one of the major nerves that runs along the inside of my ankle, then branches to innervate most of my foot.

tarsal-tunnel-syndrome

We tried every non-surgical treatment possible, because surgery just isn’t ever the best option for a busy mom with 5 kids! There is also no guarantee that surgery could fix me, so we tried:

  • nerve medications
  • anti-inflammatory medicine
  • months of rest, followed by months of physical therapy
  • TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)
  • expensive, custom-made orthotics
  • really expensive shoes that felt better than the orthotics
  • and finally, a steroid injection

After all of that, I had a couple months were I was feeling pretty great again.  I could do small grocery-store trips, walk out to the swing set with the kids, and stand in the kitchen long enough to prepare a meal.

But, when the steroid injection wore off, I was back to where I started.  We tried a second injection, but it had less effect than the first.  We even tried replacing the offending, dangerous dishwasher and remodeling the kitchen! (Did I mention this has been expensive?)   While that did make me feel a lot better, it didn’t do much for the pain. 🙂

I am in quite a bit of pain every day, and many nights the pain keeps me awake.  In many ways, I have learned to live with the pain. If you come in my house, you may not even notice that I lift one foot off the ground while I’m doing dishes, or that I am walking around with an ice pack strapped to my foot.  If we’re standing around talking, I may rest my knee on a chair, or suggest we find a place to sit down.  But, by the end of every day, I am hurting a lot.

At this time, my best chance of feeling better is to have the Tarsal Nerve Release surgery.  On Thursday, my surgeon will clear out any scar tissue that is compressing the nerve, and remove a tendon sheath to give the nerve more space.  After the surgery, I will be in a cast for a month, with no weight-bearing, then in a walking boot with physical therapy for 4-6 weeks.  If all goes well, I will be back to hiking and waterskiing before too long.  My surgeon is confident that I will be able to go back to doing all of the things I love to do, and be pain-free after the recovery period (which may take up to a year).

However, there is no guarantee that the surgery will be successful.  This procedure has a higher failure rate than I would like, so I truly need and appreciate your prayers.

Maybe, while I am sitting around with my foot up after surgery, I can catch up on posting some cute kid photos on the blog! 

In the meantime, here’s Matthew enjoying some time on our boat this summer:

This is the life!

 

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