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Finally it had to be done. My two big toes were starting to push the other toes to the side and more and more I started to walk on the edge of my feet. In a few years’ time I probably would not be able to walk normally anymore.

So, I had to find a way to solve this and it was clear that an operation was needed as confirmed by both my general practitioner and a physiotherapist who diagnosed Hallux Valgus. But where to go? In The Netherlands they make a slit in your foot under anesthetics (either full or with an injection in the spine) to cut off the bunion and putting a screw through your toe to straighten it. You would have to be with your feet up packed in casts for weeks.

However, I heard of this clinic in Spain, Alicante, the Clínica San Román. The main doctor there has 25 years’ experience in treating Hallux Valgus, removing bunions and straightening toes. He only makes a small incision in the foot, cuts off the bunion and puts the toes straight securing it with a tight bandage. Anesthetics is local so you can walk straight from the operation room out of the door; or, at least that is technically possible but of course you need to heal which will take at least 6 weeks.

I emailed the clinic and they responded quickly on all my questions. Of course I was anxious because a feet operation is quite something. Because of the ease of communication, my worries were quickly put to rest and I decided to take the plunge and do both feet at the same day so I did not have to repeat the healing period. The clinic also filled out the necessary forms for Allianz, an international insurance agency, and soon it was confirmed that the operation would be fully paid for. By email, the clinic let me know all the information and what they needed from me and I went to a local hospital to do the required X-rays and blood tests beforehand. These were then sent by email to the Clínica San Román and the doctor there could tell me straight away that my left foot had a chance of getting better of 80% and the right of 60%. Good to know for not getting my expectations up too high (people with less serious bunions report being able to walk on high heels after a few weeks and one person I met drove her car the same week of the operation). I would need to plan for a longer healing process. The information of the clinic mentioned at least 6 weeks of healing and having to have the bandage on but also that sometimes the healing would take longer and that occasional pain and sensitivity might occur for a period up to 6 months. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth it and decided to go for it. The clinic could make an appointment to have the initial physical examination and operation on both feet done on the same day in total agreement with my planning.

So, I booked into a very nice apartment at the sea, some 12 km of Alicante (a taxi was around 27 Euro to the clinic and 47 Euro to the airport) through a very helpful real estate agent (Durien, at Costa Coveta SL <costacoveta@costacoveta.es>) from The Netherlands, but based near Alicante. This agent also answered all my queries about room possibilities and transportation and helped my friends to find directions and even agencies for rental equipment for disabled people (wheelchair, motorized and manual) for one friend who came to visit. The agent even had a few tips for the aftercare (e.g. take plastic covers for feet and legs for showering from a pharmacy in Holland because the ones you get in Spain are not very watertight) and provided crutches free of charge and also arranged for wheelchair service at the airport on the way back. With this apartment with a view at the sea and my good friends visiting, I thought it would be OK to have my feet up for a while.

 

On the agreed day I was guided to the hospital by a dear friend. And oh was I happy that a friend accompanied me on this day because to have endured the treatment and returning home afterwards alone would have been a bit much although not impossible. The entrance of the clinic was nice with the good smell from a candle in herbal oil and a smiling lady at the reception. A few other female patients were sitting with their feet up or in black after-operation shoes, waiting to have a check-up. We chatted in Dutch as in any animated doctor’s waiting room in The Netherlands. Another friendly lady working at the clinic took me to the first treatment room. The physical examination did not take too long and the doctor, a dignified Spanish gentleman, concluded that all was well and ready for the operations. Of course the rest of the day with the first operation, then waiting outside the clinic (luckily it was sunny weather) for a few hours and then the second operation, were not the nicest of my life. The nerves in my feet happened to be very sensitive and it proofed to be difficult to have the local anesthetics done because my feet would involuntarily jerk. But the doctor and female assistant were a good team and while the assistant checked in with me continuously and kept some conversation going to take my attention away, the doctor did what he had to do. Some distraction was provided by the stylishly clad wife of the doctor, who manages the clinic’s administration, who popped her head into the window of the operation room before the operation started to discuss a few things with the doctor which made it all feel very homely and human which I prefer over purely clinical settings. There was a barrier between my upper body and my legs so I could not see what was happening but over the barrier the assistant could look at my face and see if everything was alright. I was certainly not alright as my feet were so sensitive and my imagination did the rest despite all kind of rational talk that it was for my own good, my own decision and that it would make me walk better in the end. Anyway, indeed after the second operation which lasted almost an hour, I could stand up from the surgery bed and walk on my 2 newly added black post-operation shoes assisted by the assistant. Except for the fact that I was so exhausted from the stress that I nearly fainted and had to lay down again but a fresh bed was quickly provided. After that I was grateful that the clinic provided a wheel chair free of charge and my friend rolled me straight into a taxi called in by the clinic. Even regarding that this had not been an easy day, I felt well taken care of by the clinic staff and my friend.

The clinic had given me antibiotics, painkillers and some vitamins for faster healing. But nothing was given as a stomach protection which proofed to be difficult as I experienced nausea with this combination of pills. As the doctor later explained, he rather does not give stomach liner preventative, only if there is a problem with the stomach. I would have preferred to have had stomach protection medicine with me during the period of taking the prescribed pills instead of having to go back to the clinic to get them (which was not possible as it was a holiday and I could not move easily).

I found my experience at The Clinic San Roman, from first contact by pone to my day of the operation, to be extremely informative, helpful and above all patient and kind.

The whole process was explained in depth to me in ways I could fully understand. On arrival, the care I received was wonderful and throughout my treatment the professionalism and courtesy of all the staff confirmed that I had made the right decision to travel from the UK to Alicante.

I would urge anyone seeking a similar procedure to do like wise. To be able to walk out of the clinic was amazing ( no crutches, no plaster casts ) My heartfelt thanks to Dr.San Roman Senior, his son and Yvonne for my new ‘ feet ‘.

Sheila D.

I consent to the San Roman Clinic using my testimonial.

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Sheila D. julio 28, 2017

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