Bad luck with foot surgeries

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Over 3 years ago I hurt my right foot and went to the orthopedic after walking on it for 3 weeks. It was broken and I had torn ligaments. I was in a cast for 6 weeks. But that didn’t stop me either. I’m an on the go person. Working, taking care of my family and every one else. They took the cast off and I tried to continue my life. But the foot kept giving me trouble. I went back to the doc and he would just put cortizone shots in it and it would keep me going. I quit the shots and just walked on it. 3 years ago I couldn’t step on it any longer and went to a new orthpedic. He immedialty put it in a cast and said I need surgery. I had surgery and the worst scenario happened. I had to have the major extensive surgery. My surgery experience wasn’t good and had to return back to the hospital 2 with a 2 day stay the last time. My recovery from there was ok. I was in a wheel chair for 10 weeks and I had to depend on every one else to help me. I was still having trouble with foot in therapy and went back to the surgeon during recovery and he had retired. I had to find a new surgeon. I then went to another and was told my foot was not stable and had to have another surgery. The surgeon said he would fix my foot. Two weeks recovery. This surgery experience was so much better and the recovery at home was good. Until the 7th day. I got pain in my foot. I was not putting any weight on it and got pain so bad I couldn’t stand it. Returned back to the hospital ER in the middle of the night. The ER doc opened all the surgery dressing and I had a infection. My surgeon came to the ER and said I would need surgery right away. I was wisked to surgery again and again by 6pm the next day. The next day a nurse came into my room and wisked out the patient in the room with me and told me that my lab test revealed that I had ORSA. I had no idea what that was and I was put into isolation. I couldn’t get any info from anyone and finally called a family member who worked in another hospital who told me I had staph infection. I was devistated. I had buried a friend who had died from a staph infection. While in the hospital I believe I had a nervous breakdown. They put me on Valuim. I cried all the time. I couldn’t sleep, I didn’t want to eat. I couldn’t get any information from any one. My surgeon said to just try and relax. Yeah right! I also have trouble with IV’s. My IV would only last about 4 hours and they’d have to redo it. They finally sent me in an ambulance to a bigger hospital and a shunt was put in my chest for the IV. But I do remember my surgeon telling me that I had ruined his perfect record. None of his other patients had ever gotten staph before. I was then sent home with home health and an IV for 8 weeks and the valium. I had a few episodes of crying when the IV had problems and of course I was back in a wheel chair for 10 weeks. My recovery was slow. I returned back to my surgeon 12 weeks later with problems and pain in my foot and the surgeon said he didn’t see any other problems and that he’d consult another doctor and he’d call me. That was the last time I ever heard from him again. I called his office 3 times in the next 6 weeks and he never returned my phone calls. I then had to find another doctor. I went to someone who was recommended and was told I needed surgery again but would have to wait if I could 2 years because of the stap. So I was put in a boot cast for two years. I then went to a orthopedic surgeon and was told that they could do surgery to fuse the foot and then have another to fuse the ankle. I’d be in a wheel chair for at least a year. They have to take a piece out of my hip to fuse the foot. That I still won’t be able to use my foot very well. I’m always in pain. I was also told by another doc that the hardware in my foot could have the staph colonized and that if I had surgery again, the staph could blow back up. I have opted not to have surgery. They have made me a brace for my foot that will fit into a shoe to get me out of a cast. Everytime I go to any of the docs I get upset and cry. The pain management doc wanted to put me on antidepressants and group therapy. That upset me too. I had to quit my job because my foot is too painful and swells. I can only walk on it for 30 minutes top and standing in one position about 10 minutes. So even standing and doing all the dishes is impossible. I use to travel all the time. Even by my self. But all that has changed. I haven’t taken the antidepresents. I don’t think I need them. I don’t like the side affects. I talked to an psycholigist and she said she thought I was handling everything well. But the last few weeks I’m wondering if maybe I need help after all. When I went to get the brace, I was upset all over again. I cried for two days. None of my shoes fit. I had to buy new shoes 1/2 shoe size bigger and wider. Now my left shoe is too big. Also some other back ground info. These last 3 years, I have also lost my sister to cancer and a tree fell on my house in the middle of the night and had to bail out of my house. It took out the electricity and also filled my house full of smoke. (25 years ago we bailed out of it when it caught fire). Also what didn’t go thru the roof hit my car I had just gotten painted and a new convertible top put on. My aunt who is like a mother to me has also gotten cancer. But so far she’s doing good. I would appreciate any advise you can give me. I think I’ve been over whelmed with everything. Also I’m sorry for the length of this. I wanted to give you all the back ground.

A. I guess the morale of the story is, don’t have an operation until have you have had at least several medical opinions. I would, for you own mental health, consider consulting an attorney for medical malpractice. Part of your anxiety comes from helplessness and helplessness means lacking power. It could help you to know that an attorney would be on your side. It’s a long history of surgeries for a problem that had a simple beginning.

Either this is the most extreme run of back luck I have ever heard or there have been some medical mistakes along the way. You have described yourself as a strong active person, a go-getter, but when it comes to your medical condition, you’re helpless. I would encourage you to empower yourself by getting multiple medical opinions and retaining the services of an attorney to protect you and your rights. Any good therapist can help you return to the psychological state of mind that you had before your accident. Any good orthopedic surgeon could help you with your ongoing foot problem. Good luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Apr 2005

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2005). Bad luck with foot surgeries. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/04/11/bad-luck-with-foot-surgeries/