By: Dr. Mindi Dayton

Wednesday morning, POD #2 I started in my sunroom and then around 9:00am decided I wanted to shower and freshen up as we had family coming into town for the holiday.   Paul had offered to help me shower prior to leaving for work, but I felt pretty confident I would be able to navigate it myself and I didn’t feel like doing it first thing in the morning.

I had planned on having one of my daughters take me into the office to have my dressing removed and get my compression sleeve and boot, but since we had taken the dressing off during the night and Paul was going into work, I decided to forego that and have him bring the items home for me over lunch. This is one of the perks of being a surgeon and having your husband as one of your partners😉 (so don’t ask your doc to bring your supplies to your home😂 ).

I should note that we see all of our patients for their first post op 3-4 days after surgery (or as close as the schedule allows). We feel very strongly that it is important to be seen at this time to evaluate for incision healing, wound concerns, and infection, and we want to get the dressing off and allow patients to start showering and get them into their boot to be able to start walking.  We avoid the boot at the time of surgery and use a bulkier compression dressing. This allows better control of swelling, and we feel it is more comfortable for the patient as the boot can be very irritating and we can’t tell how the foot is situated in the boot.  We never use a cast, and only use a splint if a patient needed a calf muscle lengthening as part of their overall deformity correction.

So, after undressing I used my crutches to get myself right to the edge of the shower and then I was able to safely step in by applying weight to my right heel and shimmying to the middle of the shower, so I didn’t slip. We have a walk-in shower with just a little lip so it was pretty easy.  There was some discomfort doing this, but nothing bad at all.  I then stood with most of my weight on my left foot with my right heel down to help me balance to shampoo and condition my hair.  We have a small bench in the shower, so I then sat down to wash my leg and foot and the rest of my body.

Many of you may be thinking, “What do you mean you showered?!?! You can’t do that until your stitches are out at 2-3 weeks!”  Well, this is 100% not true. The idea of waiting until stitches come out or 2 plus weeks after surgery to shower is not based in any science or research at all. It is based in traditions that get passed down over the years and believed to be truth, without questioning or really thinking about it. Then, it becomes our reality and truth, even though it is wrong. Research and science have shown that it is perfectly safe to shower as early as 48 hours after surgery.  You can learn more about this by checking out the papers we have published on the topic:

We allow all of our patients to shower after their first post-op visit 3-4 days after surgery. After this time, there is no significant dressing/bandage needed to the surgical site- just a Band-Aid or a piece of gauze if there is a little drainage or to keep the boot or compression from rubbing directly on the incision or catching on the stiches. We believe there are so many benefits to early water exposure. Some of these include:

  1. Feeling better emotionally and physically
  2. Nerve desensitization: getting the foot to feel like it is yours again and the water stimulates the nerves to help them normalize
  3. Remove dead skins cells and surface bacteria to decrease risk of infection and get the tissue healthy quickly

Honestly, I can’t think of a single patient in 16 years that I have told to not get their foot wet after their first post-op visit.

As I was combing my hair and putting my make-up on, I did force myself to try to put my right foot flat on the ground. It was a little uncomfortable doing this as it caused a pulling sensation across the top of my forefoot primarily, but it is important to get your foot used to being on the ground and in the right position early on, so you don’t create learned behaviors of holding the foot in a poor position.

After getting ready for the day, I assumed my position in my chair in the sunroom again with my leg elevated. Paul came home over lunch and brought my boot and my Incrediwear ankle sleeve and boot sleeve home. I tried to put the sleeve on myself (I like to be self-sufficient), but this proved too difficult, and I was scared to pull it in on over my foot and couldn’t stretch it enough while also bending down to my foot.  Paul was able to help me get in on without any difficulty. (I should say now so I don’t forget, that by the next day I was able to comfortably get the sleeves on myself.) It felt good to have the slight compression to my foot and ankle.

I hung out in the sunroom until our oldest son and his family arrived at our house from Minnesota.  It was wonderful to have our two grandsons’ home and that helped to pass the time faster. I moved out to the living room to be with them and then our middle son and his family came later in the evening.  I took it pretty easy and stayed on the couch or chair most of the time, with a few trips to the kitchen. I walked some on my heel and used my crutches some.  I noticed that as I got more tired in the evening, and I didn’t have the foot elevated quite as consistently it would feel more uncomfortable to put weight on the heel.

We had a fantastic night, with lots of “baby shark” being sung led by our grandson Loxley 😊, and our oldest grandson, Wylder was very careful to make sure that the “jelly fish” (some unrelated toy that he was going around “stinging” people with) only stung grandma’s leg and not her sore foot 🥰.

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