Walking back happiness
More than 40 years of walking the wards took their toll on Brenda Garrety's feet. She knew the arches in them were not in the best condition but nothing prepared her for the pain she woke with one morning.
The 67-year-old said: "Without warning, I woke up in excruciating pain.
"My right foot was red-hot and really swollen. It was so sore, it did feel as if someone had stuck a red-hot poker through my foot.
"I couldn't think what had happened and wondered if it might be gout."
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As chance would have it, Brenda, from Glenfield, had an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist due to problems she was having with arthritis in her knee.
She said: "I had an ultrasound scan and the specialist said it was not gout but that it was a problem with the tendon in my foot.
"The only solution was to have an operation to try to correct the damage."
Brenda, a former director of nursing at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, said: "The surgeon had to get to the tendon by breaking open my heel and he discovered that the tendon was torn in three places.
"But the operation was not as bad as the recovery process, which was absolutely horrendous.
"I couldn't put any weight on it for six weeks after the operation and even after that I had to have intensive physiotherapy to strengthen the tendon."
Brenda was pleasantly surprised when the plaster was taken off four weeks after the operation.
She said: "I thought my foot would be black and blue but it was only a little bit swollen.
"But, I did my exercises religiously to strengthen the tendon again.
"At the start, I couldn't even stand on my toes, but with the exercise I was gradually able to build up my balance.
"It really hurt to start with, but I did the exercises several times a day for a good few months and now you wouldn't even know that I had had surgery."
However, she warned: "I did a lot of preparation before the surgery to make sure everything at home was at the right height so that I didn't put any weight on my foot. You don't realise just how difficult it is going to be."
Brenda is delighted to have her mobility back – although she admits she is not a big walker.
She said: "Walking is the most boring activity, but I do a lot of travelling which I enjoy. I have worked in Egypt and I love Dubai and South Africa.
"I am not sure I could have done anything to prevent my foot problem.
"I think it was just down the wear and tear after nearly 40 years in nursing when you are never off your feet.
"Looking back, I think I could see my foot turning in a bit as the tendon was getting damaged.
"At one stage I did spend a fortune buying a special pair of shoes which were supposed to support my arches but they really didn't do much good."
Brenda, who had the operation last year, has not looked back and is planning her next holiday abroad.
The British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society is made up of orthopaedic surgeons with an interest in surgery of the foot and ankle.