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A Dose of My Own Medicine

Lessons learned from a foot surgeon undergoing foot surgery - Dr. Oster

One of the factors that motivated me to go into podiatry as a young man was, in fact, a bit personal.  Being born with bilateral club feet, I felt I might have a little more empathy for folks who suffered from foot and ankle pain.  It’s been a long 34-year journey, but one heck of a lot of fun.  And those clubfeet?  Every once in a while, they need a little tune-up.

Treatment of pediatric clubfoot and adult clubfoot is dramatically different.  Pediatric clubfoot is very malleable and flexible, allowing for serial manipulation of the foot and casting.  Adult clubfoot, on the other hand, is much more rigid.  The rigidity of the adult clubfoot means that many of the procedures used to correct adult clubfoot are going to be fusions or bone resection.

My most recent clubfoot surgery was performed to correct subluxation of my toes.  A partial met head resection was performed and the toes pinned in a corrected position.

So what does a foot surgeon learn from the perspective of being a patient?  Here are some thoughts:

  1. Surgery doesn’t really hurt that much.  In this day and age of using fewer opioids post-op, if coached well pre-operatively, you really don’t need a lot of pain medication.  In my case, that would be none.
  2. Strangers can be quite kind.  Most of us go out into the world with a degree of cynicism.  When you have a disability, it’s often surprising to see how kind some strangers can be.
  3. Crutches are really noisy.  I’m certainly not sneaking up on anyone.
  4. Time slows down when you’re non-weight bearing.  Is it time to pull the pins yet?  Albert Einstein discovered the theory of relativity after foot surgery (just kidding).
  5. Surgical teams are awesome.  Undergoing general anesthesia, particularly when the doctors and nurses are your peers, you wonder; did I say anything stupid?  My team is tight.  They smiled and just said, “you were fine.”  Nice to know both the personal and professional sides of my co-workers.
  6. Life goes on.  Like the old song says – you got to get behind the mule in the morning and plow.

Thanks to everyone who helped me this month.  And a special thanks to my bride.  She’s a good’n.


Dr. Jeffrey Oster
Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM

Medical Advisor

Updated 12/24/2019

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