I had my last follow-up appointment with the orthopedic surgeon this week (week 20, if you’re counting). It took all of three minutes and most of that was taking my shoe and sock off.

“Looks good,” he said, “Questions?” His bedside manner is too blunt for most, but I like to think that he knows I’m not one for small talk.

I only had two questions: When can I start running and what signs should I watch for that I’m pushing too hard? He said I can start running - light jogging to start - at week 26.¬† If I’m pushing too hard, I’ll either pull my calf muscle (because it’s still relatively weak) or experience soreness similar to the first month post-op.

I’m about a third of the way toward achieving my goal of 20 one-legged calf raises. I can do 9-10 reps now, but I’m not really getting all the way up on my toes. Nothing to do but keep working on it!

That’s the new goal. I flirted with the idea of running a mile (this after walking a mile at the 90-day mark), but I’m about to go on a long vacation and jogging isn’t my idea of a vacation. And so calf raises it is, 20 of them, on one leg.

At the moment, I can only do three. Kind of freaky¬†how difficult it is! Part of it is getting over the fear that it’s going to rupture again with all of my weight on one leg. Part of it is getting stronger. Much stronger.

In other news, my handicapped parking pass expired just when I was getting used to rock star parking in front of every restaurant - damn! And I had another appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. It took him five minutes to say everything looks fine and to come back in another six weeks.

After seeing me twice a week for five weeks, Meghan dumped me. I knew it was trouble when she told me to sit down, “I need to talk to you.”

“I read through your chart,” she said, flipping through my chart as she said it, finding it easier than looking at me. “You’ve been making great progress and I think you’ve reached a point where I can’t really help you anymore. I could continue to see you, but I’d only be running you through exercises that you can easily do yourself now. It’s time for you to move on.”

My initial reaction was disappointment. I look forward to my PT sessions and associated my therapist with a rapidly improving Achilles tendon. We still had two more sessions to go?! And then I broke out laughing at the absurdity of my feelings - Meghan was in fact “breaking up” with me, but it was a good thing because it meant that I’d cleared another hurdle in my ATR recovery.

She was laughing too, and we laughed even harder when she said that I could still drop by any time if I needed another session. Yes, we can still be friends. ;)

I’m happy to report that my 90 day trick is a done deal! Just 90 days after my ATR surgery, I was able to walk a limp-free mile. There was no magic involved, just a lot of diligence in following doctor’s orders and doing the physical therapy.

I’ve got a treadmill in the basement, so here are the details. I walked for 30 minutes at 3.5 mph. That actually ends up being more than a mile - 1.6 to be exact - but I was feeling good and didn’t want to stop. For an added challenge, I threw in three small hills (3% grade). The first mile was easy, but my calf tired quickly after that and I was limping again near the end.

Now what? I think my next goal will be to run a couple of miles, but I’m not sure what a realistic timeframe would be. Another month or two I’d guess. Have to think about that.

In the meantime, I’m taking a more aggressive approach to therapy. I bought a couple of those rubber disks and am doing the balancing exercises daily. Both feet - Meghan says it’s common for people to rupture the other Achilles because they’re so focused on the recovery of the one that was repaired. Uh-uh, not me, no way!

One week from today, I’m going to get on a treadmill and walk a mile without limping. That was the goal I set for myself just before going into surgery, my “90 Day Trick.”

I’m going to need all 90 of those days. I’m not in any pain, but I’m still limping. My physical therapist likes to say that I’m walking with a weak calf, not limping in a traditional sense because of pain or joint issues. Pretty fine line if you ask me. Let’s just agree that I’m not walking normally.

Therapy is more focused on building strength these days. Toe raises, single- and double-leg, and balancing on one leg while standing on a rubber disk are the most challenging exercises. Just this week, I started light plyometric exercises. I’m “hopping” from leg to leg, but doing so on this machine that allows me to do so with a fraction of my full weight. It’s sort of an incline squat machine with a sliding seat; the steeper the incline, the more weight on your feet.

My wife talked me into a yoga class last weekend. It was a 90-minute, Bikram-style class called Power Yoga. For those who don’t know, the Bikram-style is also known as “hot yoga” where the room is heated to about 105 degrees. Having never done yoga before, let alone in a sauna, I found it incredibly challenging. Several of the exercises involved standing on one foot, so my injured leg got its most strenuous workout this year!

As sore as I am (still two days later, mostly my abs), I think it will help my ATR recovery. You need to stress the muscles to make them stronger and this is the time to push the limits a little. I’ll be ready, so I’m very much looking forward to next Tuesday!

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