Transitioning to Shoes After TAR Surgery

It’s been a somewhat challenging couple of weeks. Now that I’m over six weeks out from my TAR surgery, I’ve been able to achieve the next phase of recovery. I’m now out of the walking boot and into hiking boots pretty much full time.

Transition Protocol

I’ve been following the protocol given to me by Dr. Clanton at The Steadman Clinic that has a two week procedure for moving fully into a shoe. It hasn’t been the easiest transition.

Text of the two week boot weaning protocol.

Partly because it’s winter, partly because I want to protect my ankle with a high-top boot and partly because I wear them frequently at other times of the year, I’ve chosen to transition into my hiking boots. They’re pretty stiff and inflexible.

I have an unusual foot in that it’s very wide across my toes. It’s been difficult to find boots I can wear in the first place without blowing ‘em out at the ball of my foot after a year or so. Plus, I have hammer toes and the knuckles get rubbed raw before a day of hiking is out. Pretty uncomfortable.

Numbness and Discomfort After TAR Surgery

The problem with transitioning out of the extremely comfortable, big, soft walking boot is that my foot and ankle are still swollen. Additionally, something happened during my TAR surgery that caused some numbness mainly across the bottom of my foot. It’s behind my toes but also involves them. It’s kinda like there’s a fat one inch rubberband around my foot.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced numbness in a finger or toe. It’s uncomfortable and sensitive. Additionally, the problems I’ve had with the abrasions between my toes from the original tight splint and the not-as-yet healed incision on my instep make it unpleasant to put on the boots.

Despite this, I’ve forced things but just haven’t done a whole lot of walking around.

Unlike the transition from crutches to 100% weight-bearing, I haven’t been in any rush to be in shoes full time. If it takes longer than two weeks I’m okay with that. I’ve worn them to and from PT appointments and pushed myself to wear them on errands but it’s a relief to take the boots off when I get home.

Driving Again Finally

I’ve tried using a very thin sock but my toes are too sensitive. A thick sock causes too much pressure and tightness. Forget about wearing the expensive compression socks the clinic sold me after my TAR Surgery. It’s like wrapping my toes in a very tight bandage. Uncomfortable to say the least.

Each day though, things get a little better. Not every day, but there’s progress over time. At least I can drive now! Nothing like independence.

PT with Matt Pokorny at GTO Therapy in Golden continues to help me heal. I religiously do the exercises a couple times a day. He works on the swelling, flexibility and scar tissue. I ice my ankle several times a day especially after I’ve been in the hiking boot.

Getting Outside Once Again

I’m still pretty hesitant when it comes to the stairs and make sure to hold the railing firmly. We’ve gotten some pretty good snows and if I go out at all I use trekking poles and am VERY careful. If I go out in the snow wear my Sorels which I can lace up tightly around my ankle and keep loose around my toes.

After one good snow, while walking around in Sorels and with my poles, I found this beautiful big buck and his girlfriend wondering amongst the tree and fresh snow
After one good snow, while walking around in Sorels and with my poles, I found this beautiful guy and his girlfriend wondering amongst the trees and fresh snow.

Sleep is still fitful. I wear the walking boot at night but the discomfort of my toes and the 90 degree angle the boot forces on my ankle wakes me up. I haven’t been able to figure out an adjustment to the boot so I can sleep through the night. Acetaminophen helps and I end up taking another Acetaminophen PM around 2:30 am.

Thankfully, I’ve used the last of the Lovenox anticoagulant injections. No more poking myself around my navel. I’ve got another follow up appointment with Dr. Clanton just before Thanksgiving. After that, we’re going to head down to our condo in Scottsdale until after the first of the year. Some warm weather will nice after all the snow and cold we’ve had this fall in Colorado. Maybe I’ll even get to go hiking in the desert and wear shorts and sandals. Hooray!

By Dennis Jones/Dreamcatcher Imaging