Dec 092014

Today’s post is one I’ve been meaning to write for a while, but I took some time to really think about what I wanted to say. It’s honestly not the most cheerful news to share, and if you’re grossed out by feet you might want to stop reading right here, but it’s pretty important to me and will wind up having a big impact on my upcoming fitness routine, so I know it’s time to share.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed that I never, ever post pictures of my feet. There was this one rare shot in my recap of my trip to Punta Cana, but even in that picture one foot is hiding behind the other. Why is that, you ask?

It’s because I have a severe bunion on my right foot. A bunion, also known as hallux abducto valgus, is when your big toe points inward toward your other toes, creating a pointy bone on the side of your foot. See it there in the picture below?


I know you like my PJs 😉

Bunions are caused by a couple of different factors. According to my podiatrist, 80% of people with bunions get them from wearing shoes that are too tight, or push all your toes together (like ladies whose shoes are too narrow, or who wear high heels too often). The other 20% of bunion cases are caused by genetics, which is the kind I have. My foot looked like this when I was born, and there are a few women in my family who have bunions as well. Unfortunately, these genetic bunions are usually more severe, and are often harder to remedy.


Speaking of remedies, you may be wondering what happens when you have a bunion, and if it needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, the only way to fix a bunion is through surgery. Sure, you can buy different inserts for your shoe or try night braces (I’ve tried ’em all) but my doc swears they don’t do any good, and I have to say that in my experience, he is absolutely right.

Now of course surgery is pretty drastic, so you may be wondering why in the heck you would get surgery on your foot just because a bone sticks out. What’s the big deal, right?

Well, for me, my bunion has grown extremely painful in the last year or so. There are certain shoes that I no longer wear because after just a few minutes in them, my foot will be throbbing. Even once I take the painful shoes off, my foot will continue to hurt, and it’s starting to get really uncomfortable and annoying. All the running doesn’t help, and each and every time I run, my foot is painful. That’s a lot of pain. I would say that my foot hurts each and every day, and some days it hurts worse than others.

Here you can see how red and irritated the skin is after wearing a cute pair of booties all day.


I’ve always known I would need to have this surgery one day; even when I was a little kid I went to the doctor for my foot and he told me that one day, “when you’re in your 20s,” you will probably need to have surgery. Blissfully, that seemed so far away, so I didn’t give it much thought.

Then a couple years ago I saw another doctor, who confirmed that surgery was in my imminent future. He told me to wait to have the surgery until I was in a lot of pain, since the recovery is pretty brutal and takes a long time. I remember happily replying that my foot didn’t hurt that much, so I would wait. Then I went on my way and once again, put my foot problems on the back burner.

Then this year, for whatever reason, my foot started to really hurt. A lot. I went to the doctor before Thanksgiving, and he gave me the news I was dreading – it’s time.

So what’s next? Well, I will be getting surgery on my foot on January 9. I will have to be on crutches for a month, and then in a boot for about 6 – 10 weeks, depending on how fast my foot heals. That means I will (hopefully) be out of my boot sometime in March, and can slowly start working my strength back up for running and other fitness activities at that time.

The doctor did warn me that it could take months (even after the boot) before my foot feels comfortable again, and it could even be up to a year before it’s fully back to normal. Yikes.

Of course this means that the DC Rock ‘n Roll half in March that I already have a bib for is now out (I was so excited for that race!!) and I am going to have to find an alternative way to stay in shape in the late winter/early spring (I have a feeling my abs and upper body will be ridiculous!). Although all of this news really depressed me at first, I have now come to accept it.

My foot has been bothering me so much lately, that I know this is something I need to take care of. Fabio pointed out that I’m only 25 years old, and I have a loooong life ahead of me. Do I want to spend the rest of my life in pain? No. The doctor also told me that the younger I am when I get the surgery, the easier the recovery will be, so it just doesn’t make sense to put it off any longer. My job is going to let me work from home while I’m on crutches, which is a huge help.

All of this is to say that the blog is going to be a bit light on the fitness front at the beginning of next year, so expect a lot of recipes and food talk instead. 😉 I hope you’ll all continue reading even though there will be less fitness talk, and I will do my best to continue varying my posts and keeping things interesting.

For now I’m trying my best to stay positive about the whole thing, but you can bet I’m scared and more than a little sad about it. Sigh.

Question of the day: Have you ever been injured/out of the fitness game for so long?

 Posted by on December 9, 2014

  26 Responses to “Toe Troubles”

  1. Good luck Chelsea! Recouping will be tough but I know you can do it – and bounce back pain-free, which will be SO worth it.

  2. Thanks for sharing! I know it is hard to be out of commission for so long, but looking back on it it’ll be the right choice and you can continue forwards with less pain!

    I had signed up for a 20K 2 years ago way in advance and a few months before the race I hurt my hip and couldn’t run for 3 months. I couldn’t run the race and it sucked, but I was able to find other workouts and I’m glad I gave myself the time I needed to heal.

    Best of luck and youll come out ok!

  3. You were just waiting until your best friend finished PT school, right? I think his is definitely the best choice right now, I had no idea it was starting to cause you so much pain! It’s going to be a tough recovery but we’re all here for you and it will be so much better in the end!!

    And man!! I wish I wasn’t so busy next semester, I would totally buy your bib from you for the Rock and Roll!!

    Love you and you will kill it in this half on Saturday – it’ll be an awesome last hoorah before the surgery and you’ll be great!!

    • Thank you Dr. Sam! I will definitely be asking you a bazillion questions about my recovery, and will probably bug you to no end about when I can start running again 😉

  4. Hi Chelsea! Long time reader but haven’t ever commented but now seems like the best time.. I have bunions (and hammer toes) on both feet due to genetics as well and am 6 and a half weeks into recovery from a joint bunion and hammer toe operation on my right foot and have to do the other next year. I’ll be thinking of you lots and wish you a speedy recovery and seriously, if you have any questions at all, please ask!

    • Thanks so much, Ashley! It is really helpful to know I’m not alone in this. I’m sure I will have lots of questions along the way, and will probably be reaching out to you via email!

  5. Hi Chelsea, I thought this video of this poem might help. It helped through when I had a stress fracture in my tibia during my senior year in track and field last year. I was depressed and defeated, but I tried to look at the bigger picture, that my healthy is more important than running. At times you feel sad and literally go insane because all you want to do is get your sweat on, but try to be patient. I was in a boot for three months, and crutches for one and it was absolute torture, but I was patient and listened to my doctor and body. It may seem as though everything is falling apart, but just remember you have amazing people in your life that love you so much! I think your pretty awesome person too!. I hope everything goes well and you have a great recovery.

    With lots of love,

    • Wow! This is such an amazing video! I just bookmarked it and will definitely keep it handy for those dark days. I also just sent it to my best group of girlfriends! Thank you so much for the kind, thoughtful words, and for encouraging me that everything will be ok! 🙂

  6. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! Just think, you can catch up on your reading and report back to the blog with lots of reviews, we would love that!!

  7. Ahh I’m sorry to hear this – but what a brave post! My mum had really bad bunions on both her feet (inherited from her dad, strangely enough) and she had surgery over ten years ago on both feet. I think she her toes broken and then realigned (or something along those lines) and then she had to wear these big solid bandages on her feet and be on crutches. But she says it was the best thing she ever did. Like you she was in a lot of pain with her feet but now she has no issues and her feet look fantastic. She constantly gets pedicures and wears flip flops in the summer all the time because she loves showing them off so much. Though it sucks you’ll be out of the fitness game for a while, like Fabio said, you’ll have so many better years of fitness ahead of you – especially with running.
    I have slight bunions on my feet too but not nearly as bad as my mum’s or yours. No pain but they do make my feet rather ugly!
    I hope the surgery goes well for you! I think you’ve made the best decision. Races will always be available in the future.

    • That’s the procedure I need done too – they will break and then realign a couple bones in my feet. Sigh. Thanks for the encouragement though! I love hearing about your mom’s story; I can’t wait to get pedicures and not have the ladies yell at me that my toes are too close together!!

  8. I’m sorry to hear this Chelsea…my mom has struggled with this too. She has contemplated surgery but now doesn’t want to deal with the recovery at this time. Seeing the pain she is in I think it is the right decision fixing the problem now. You are gonna rock this half this weekend and then have some much deserved rest. And I selfishly can’t wait for recipes!!

    My senior year I was in a cast, walking boot, wheel chair, and crutches. It gets annoying not being able to do everything on your own but lean on those willing to help! Bonus – you will be getting a killer arm workout on the crutches.

  9. I’m sorry you have to go through that, Chelsea! If it’s any consolation, my mom had that exact same bunion surgery twice (one on each foot) and she was walking around in her boot VERY quickly, like it was nothing. I wanna say she was only on crutches for a few days but I might be wrong. She’s extremely active like you and now she has no pain when she exercises and can wear “cuter” shoes (her words) without them hurting her. I think you’re doing the right thing getting it taken care of and out of the way now! Here’s to a speedy recovery for you 🙂

  10. Such a bummer!! I know a few people who have had the surgery though, and they ALL say it was worth it in the end. So I guess that’s something to hold on to at least, right? And it’ll just give you some time away from fitness so you can come back all gung-ho and ready to go! I’ve never been injured enough (knock on wood) to take me out of the game for a longer period of time, but being pregnant has definitely put a damped a little bit on my workout routine since I have to be a little more careful. But I will say that it has made me ready to jump back in when I can, and I’m sure it’ll be the same for you!

  11. First, I’m sorry about your foot troubles. My dad had the same surgery at a much older age than you and has never regretted it for a moment. His were due to ill fitting shoes i believe.

    Second, I find it funny that I love your blog so much considering I don’t seem to have a lot in common with you at all (except that I run). I esp love reading about your adventures with the BF and the dog. I will definitely be reading even after the surgery!!

  12. I am sorry you will have to go through the period of convalescence. The time after the surgery will be the hardest part. I had surgery on a deformed (from a bad break a couple of years ago) last Friday. I am missing my morning yoga the most. I can still do some poses but down dog ang poses where you need to flex your feet are OUT. I will be thinking of you and sending healing light your way.

  13. Hi! I am a PT and I work closely with a surgeon who is a foot specialist. I have treated many patients who have had bunionectomys. The time frame you mentioned above for your recovery is very long compared to the patients I treat. I know that every surgeon performs surgeries differently and have different protocols, but my patients are encouraged to wear a slipper/boot immediately after surgery for 6 weeks and only use crutches for 1-2 weeks depending on pain level. Most of my patients are ambulating without crutches and with the boot about 2 weeks after surgery, without too much pain or gait disturbances. Anyways, I’m curious what your friend Samantha has learned currently in PT school about the protocol/ time-frame because your tine-frame seems REALLY conservative.

    Did your surgeon recommend PT after surgery??

    Best of luck with the surgery, all of my patients who had the surgery are so happy they did and are back to their very active lifestyles!

  14. I have a bunion as well and will eventually need surgery (it doesn’t hurt right now). Fingers crossed that it’s a speedy recovery for you!

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