“I Got A New Foot For My Birthday”: One Dancer’s Experience with a Bunionectomy and UFAI (video)

When Jaime Dwight’s husband Steve complained of foot pain, she knew just what to do.

“We thought it was a neuroma,” she said. Without wasting any time, she loaded him up into the car, and together they took the four hour drive down to the University Foot and Ankle Institute.

Bunion Patient, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Jamie and her husband Steve

It was a long stretch of road, but they knew it well. Six years prior, the couple had endured the same road trip four or five times, shuffling back and forth from their home in San Luis Obispo to the UFAI office in Santa Monica. Except back then, it was Jaime in the backseat, cozied up with blankets in the mobile “bed” Steve made for her.

Jaime had tap danced her way from kindergarten up through high school, and continued dancing into adulthood. But all that time spent on her feet had done a number on her “hoofsie,” as she calls her feet.

In 2010, the bunion on her right foot had become so severe, she could no longer dance, or even wear her regular shoes. She was forced to quit. “I couldn’t even get a pedicure. It was too sensitive for anyone to touch it.”

“My Bunion Kept Getting Worse Over Time”

Bunions are known by the signature bony bump that protrudes outward from the base of the big toe. But a bunion is more than just a minor annoyance: it’s a mis-aligned bone. The first metatarsal slowly slips out of place in the midfoot, and tilts the big toe towards the lesser toes.

Bunionectomy Patient, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Jamie with her adult tap group

Bunions have complex, multifactorial causes, but they do tend to run in families. Jaime knew she was more susceptible to bunions because her aunt had gone under the knife for the same condition.

The type of shoes you wear and the activities you enjoy can also increase your chances of getting a bunion, or exacerbate one that’s already there. Bunion regulators and conservative treatments can help, but there is no magic cure, actually there is no permanent cure besides for surgery. Not that everyone with a bunion needs surgery, despite what some doctors say. They key is the amount they hurt and how they are negatively affecting your life. Bunions are almost always progressive,“ meaning they get worse over time. And being a dancer, that made it even worse,” Jaime said.

Jaime’s Search for a Good, Solid Provider of Quality Health Care

Finally, Jaime decided she’d had enough. She visited one of the few podiatric specialists in her area, but the doctors as well as their offices didn’t instill a lot of confidence. “It was really easy to get an appointment, and there were no other patients in the waiting room,” she said. “I thought to myself, this isn’t a good sign.’”

Jaime found another surgical center in Orange County, which is even farther away than UFAI. But something was off about that experience, too. “You go into this fancy lounge, with fancy decorations, and watch a video….It was so very sales pitchy.”

When she found the team at UFAI, she felt she could finally breathe a sigh of relief. “There were so many good reviews. They seemed like a good, solid provider of quality health care.”

She met with Dr. Briskin, who did not disappoint. “I had a great interaction with him. He made me feel very comfortable and was so helpful and professional and had a great dry sense of humor. There was no sales pitch. I could just tell I was in good hands.” On a day in mid-December, 2010, Jaime got her bunionectomy. Or, “I got a new foot for my birthday,” as she wrote in her blog.

The Road to Recovery

“It turned out I made the right decision as the condition of my feet made my surgery particularly complicated. Once they saw my bone they discovered their density had decreased dramatically over the years, which slowed down the fusion process.”

It took 80 days before she was completely crutch-free. In the weeks it took for Jaime’s foot to heal, she spent her time lounging on the couch, reading, getting pampered by her husband, and blogging about her recovery.

Jamie created this time-lapse video to show off the progress of her healing post-op. We hope you will watch, it’s really fun!

Today, she’s back to dancing, and even found a tap dancing program for adults in her town. “Now I never have any pain,” she says. “I can tap dance, I can go hiking, everything!”

“If you ever need a podiatrist, you MUST visit The University Foot and Ankle Institute and say hi to Dr. Briskin for me!”

Learn more about Dr. Briskin and the team of foot and ankle specialists at footankleinstitute.com.

One comment

  1. I really enjoy wearing heels, but a bunion is starting to grown on my left foot! It’s not yet severe enough to go see a foot doctor about it, but it’s scary to think that it could get worse. Poor Jaime, I can’t imagine being in her position, but I’m so glad that her surgery was successful! Hopefully my bunion won’t get to that point.

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