12 weeks post-op. Cruising along.

Week 12 has arrived and it kind of snuck up on me. Early on I was fixated on this week because my doctor kept telling me “The tendon itself won’t fully heal for 12 weeks.” It automatically became an important milestone - like life could begin again and rehab could start in earnest after week 12. But instead of being a big moment, it’s another week of slow and steady progress with no major issues. I’ll take it. The first 3 months drained me so I welcome the uneventful weeks.

Random observations:

  • Of all the activities in PT or at home, walking and getting on with daily life appears to be my best rehab prescription. Each day my gait feels better and my ankle gets more flexible. I still do my basic ROM exercises, but for the most part keeping the house running and chasing after my son provide plenty of work.
  • Going down stairs got slightly easier this week. I’m not confident alternating feet yet, but I can do it (last week I couldn’t, or didn’t want to try).
  • I’m now thinking in terms of a non-limping percentage of my walking each day. As in, Thursday I didn’t limp maybe 40% of the time. I feel like I default to a limp and have to make myself even it out. I hope to see that get better each day or week. I’m definitely ahead of where I was last week.
  • I’m still surprised by the muscle loss in my right quadriceps. I expected the calf to shrink. I guess I didn’t think about the whole leg essentially being out of commission for a month. To remedy this I go up stairs right leg first the entire way instead of alternating - the reverse of how I went with the iWalk! Time to get in gear, right leg. I’m supposed to add some leg presses to my PT routine soon and I’m sure that will help.
  • Aches and pains come and go on each leg. I’ve come to expect something different each day. Might be my left (good) Achilles ticked off about something, my right hamstring getting tight, my toe hurting. There’s always something. Nothing alarming, so that’s good.

That’s about it for this week’s wrap-up. It’s amazing how surgery day on March 10 can feel like it was 100 years ago or yesterday depending on how I look at it. Even a month ago I was wondering how I’d manage a trip we have planned for late July. Now it all seems possible. So for anyone out there in the 0-8 week range feeling gloomy, I hope you experience the same change in mindset that I did. A lot of things that seemed scary or impossible don’t look so bad now.

10 Responses to “12 weeks post-op. Cruising along.”

  1. I’m with you on random pains. Interesting they didn’t start happening until about week 13 for me. Not sure why - guess more things are getting pushed harder now. Mine are always in my surgery leg and seem to move around. As long as they don’t pain me for too long in the same spot I’m not worried.

  2. Hi, liking the blog, you’re about a week or 2 ahead of me, I completely ruptured mine in the last week of March.

    Interested in your walking im doing 1 to 2k a day, but just really struggling to get anywhere near a proper gait I look like an extra from the walking dead, limping along. I’ve had no real advice on how much walking to do, I’m a week out of boot/crutches at 10 weeks and wondering if it’s possible to push too much? feeling exactly the same about stairs too, even forgot today on the last step and led with the wrong one, took some quick adjustments not to fall head first. Looking forward to your next update!

  3. I didn’t get advice on how much to walk, either. I try to do as much is comfortable each day and every day feels a little better. There’s a big difference between this week and how I felt at week 10 or 11, so I hope you’ll be able to say the same thing. I was hobbling around like a zombie, too.

    What I’ve learned so far is that it doesn’t do me much good to continue past a certain point of discomfort - I limp more when I get sore, stiff, or tired, and I think that leads to bad habits. I consciously try to reach that point each day and then back off in the evening. Seems to be working so far as I can get later into the day before I decide it’s enough.

    I’ve also seen a pattern of slow progress or a plateau, followed by a “big” feeling. Yesterday, for example, my ankle somehow felt twice as good. For a second, everything felt almost normal. That was after a period of 2-3 days in which I thought I’d hit a plateau.

    It helps that my son is 2 and can’t go very fast. We take walks around our neighborhood and it’s the perfect pace for both of us right now. I can concentrate on my gait and he can have time to look around! In fact, that makes me realize that I focus more on slow, good form than distance at the moment.

    I also started doing some slow motion walking/running. Sounds kind of goofy, but I go up and down my hallway trying to make the best possible motion for each. It helps me with balance and form, I think, and doing that a couple times a day for a few minutes has helped my body remember how to make the proper motions. At least, so it appears to me. I haven’t had much help from physical therapy so I’m making some of this up as I go.

  4. My doc said if it hurts don’t do it. Things are healing so you need to let them heal. When I first started walking in my boot I went 2 blocks (that was at 6 weeks) and I walked very slowly and took small steps so I could do a fairly normal gait. I just was able to take the heel lifts out of my shoes and had to go back to small, slow steps again in order to walk normally. Today is the first day where everything felt pretty normal without heel lifts. I decided to not wear them for the dog walk today and was doing great. Got some soreness toward the end of the walk so I just slowed it down and took smaller steps. As PJ said - focus on how you walk. If you walk normally it’s harder! You are flexing the foot/tendons more. So take small, slow steps. Small so you don’t flex as much, slow so you can pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t worry about distance - walk as much as you can without hurting and in good form. :)

  5. Great to hear your feedback guys. ☺

  6. Hey PJ, thinking back did you ever get little sharp needle like pains in your achilles? Yesterday I went pretty hard in PT and I woke up with a stiff upper achilles/calf. I decided to go on a walk to loosen it up, but had to turn around because of multiple sharp needle like pains towards the bottom of my Achilles (no where near where it ruptured). They didnt last long, but were different than what I have had in the past. They Immediately stopped once I regressed to a complete limp walk verse trying to slow walk properly.

  7. Yeah, I’ve had kind of a stinging pain down in that area (back of the heel, below the incision). I think it has happened after workouts or a lot of activity. It still comes and goes, but not as often. My guess would be that the tendon is getting stressed at the insertion point on the heel. Of course, check with your PT/doc for real advice. :)

    Anytime I have a feeling like that I tend to take a day off, maybe wear my compression sock (I don’t wear that much anymore), and skip any workouts for a day.

    It’s always something, though. Yesterday I did about 3 30-second sessions of light jogging. It felt really weird, but not pain or anything. By evening my foot had ballooned out like it hadn’t in a couple months. I don’t know if it was coincidence or related to the jogging, but it was kind of funny. Back to normal today.

  8. You were correct! With a day of rest it feels much better today. My foot’s swelling is still pretty consistent, but I am still pretty early. Similar to what you said about the 12 week mark I seem to be really working towards that. I know its just going to be another week, but I cant help but feel that is my last Time based milestone.

    I read that you are able to go downstairs alternating legs. I am no where near that. My PT said my flexibility is as good as we need it, but when walking down the stairs I cant bend my knee far enough flat footed (bad leg) to reach the next step with my good foot (idk if you can get that visual). Im really not in a rush, but I noticed I was behind you when we have been pretty much on the same time schedule. I am kind of nervous to mention tightness to my PT because last time he did cupping. One of the weirdest/uncomfortable things Ive ever done.

    On another note, have you been able take off on your bike yet?

    Happy Healing!

  9. Glad it feels better today!

    I probably didn’t describe the going down stairs part very well. It still doesn’t feel right — I just meant that I could start hobbling down alternating legs. For me, it’s like the front/top of the ankle is stiff and just won’t give at all when I try to make that step (just like you described). So I tilt my foot down on the edge of the step, then put my good foot down on the next step, if that makes sense. It’s been getting better gradually. Hope that puts your mind at ease - I can alternate, but it’s kind of like limping down the stairs.

    I haven’t tried my regular bike yet. I’m up to 25-30 minutes on the exercise bike and could probably go longer. It gets so boring, though. I’ll probably try a real bike ride this weekend. My leg feels stronger so I hope it feels different this time.

    Congrats on getting to 12 weeks!

    Oh, forgot to add: At some point around 12 weeks or so I realized my bad foot had the same range of motion as my good foot. I never did much stretching because I was scared of the “healing long” stories. Now I still feel stiff on one side but I’m happy with the ROM overall.

  10. Thank you! Technically still have 6 days to officially hit 12, but who is counting… I used to hate stationary bikes, but I started listening to audio books while I ride and walk. Makes the time fly by if the book is good. I cant wait to hear about the ride! My bike has collected dust for 2 years now, and I have been itching to ride it.

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