• Learn: In the Hospital •
• Always keep your foot elevated! This will reduce swelling and ease pain.
• It's always a good idea to apply ice packs to reduce swelling, but more often than not, the pressure from the ice can cause a great deal of pain when applied directly to the no-toe area. So instead, please the ice pack around your ankle. It will still reduce swelling without putting any additional pressure on the wound.
• Avoid putting blankets directly on the stump area at first. Just like with the ice, most people experience discomfort with any added pressure on the wound. If your foot becomes cold, start with a sheet, then slowly work up from there.
• Distraction is the name of the game! For some amputees, a great deal of the pain can be similar to phantom pains; the nerves are basically confused and are still remembering the impulses from the lost toe(s). This is unfortunate, since most pain medication might not be able to affect it. The best way to avoid this is to acknowledge where the pain is coming from, then distract yourself. Many people find movies to be very helpful, while others find music and/or reading more distracting. Keep your mind active and occupied and you'll find yourself more comfortable.
• Never, ever let the pain get ahead of you! There is something beautiful in this world known as Pain Management. It's a theory in modern medical science that not all pain is a good thing, and that it should be avoided whenever possible. The best way to practice this theory of medicine is, of course, to follow your doctor's advice. Follow it to the best of your ability! Typically advice about pain management is related to when you take your pain medication and to what degree. More often than not, pain medication is doled out every four to six hours. If this is what your doctor recommends, keep to this schedule! Never deviate from it until your doctor tells you otherwise! Many new amputees fall victim to the feeling of comfort that can come a few days or even a week after surgery; they start to feel better, the pain subsides, and they think this is a signal that they can stop taking their pain medication. Ignore that urge! During the initial stages of recovery, if you have been on this pain management schedule, it can begin to feel like you're not in any pain at all. However, eight hours after your last dose, more often than not, that pain will start to come back.
Unfortunately, if you have waited this long and skipped a dose in your regiment, it may be too late. If you start up again after a pause in your dosage, it can sometimes take many hours before the pain medication catches up to your screaming nervous system. Think of it as a race - the pain medication is neck and neck with your pain receptors, each fighting for the lead. Never, ever risk letting the pain get ahead of you! Follow your doctor's orders, follow them religiously, and don't ever get complacent.
This may sound too serious, but it's vitally important. Most medications that are administered after surgery aren't just about pain. Sure, that helps, but many pain killers also help reduce swelling, such as IBProfen (commonly known as Motrin.) When administered every four to six hours, your pain medication will keep you comfortable and reduce the strain on the stitches in your feet, thus helping to ensure a safer, smoother scar. When pain is easily avoidable, don't become complacent about it. Do everything you can to ensure your comfort and your entire experience will be all the more controllable.