So I said in my last post that I would write about my experience having surgery on my ruptured Achilles. To recap, I injured my Achilles on the night of July 1st, and went in for surgery 8 days later on the morning of July 9th (last Thursday). I was actually very eager, albeit nervous, to go in for surgery and have my useless frayed tendon ends reconnected. Being in a splint for those 8 days was somewhat torturous. I knew my injury wasn’t getting any better, and reading more and more about the injury and subsequent uphill battle to rehabilitation was only making things worse. Something about sending the signal to my foot to flex downward and having nothing happen was extremely unsettling. Surgery was my official first step in this marathon back towards life with plantar felxion.
My father drove me in to the surgical center for an 8AM arrival. I was told the surgery would be at 9:2o AM, so I should arrive at 7:50. They estimated the procedure would last until 10:40, after which I would be wheeled to general recovery where I would slowly come back to as the drugs wore off. Those were my expectations going in and luckily for me, that is pretty much how it played out. There were no curveballs or surprises, which I think is a good thing when it comes to surgery, unless when I wake up they tell me that it wasn’t as bad as they had thought and I should be doing squat thrusts with 5x my body weight by week’s end. So upon arrival I was promptly brought to the pre-op area, told to change and pretty much hung out on a gurney in my little pre-op/room hall area. I had to change into a surgical gown, and then the nurse deftly hooked the IV up to my hand, which I have to admit was nearly painless. It was kind of a strange feeling - I could feel the cold liquid run its way up in my arm. I should say that this was my first surgical procedure for all intents and purposes, as the last one I had was conducted during birth and so I have no recollection of it. After a little wait, I met my anasthesiologist, who basically told me he would be giving me a relaxing sedative before I was wheeled off to the operating room, and then he would proceed to slug me with 6 different drugs. All I know about the drugs is that at least one was an antibiotic as a measure to avoid infection, and whatever the other 5 were, they sure did a number on me. I vaguely remember being wheeled into the operating room. There were a few nurses in there setting the procedure up (or cleaning up the leftovers of the previous one - I felt like a peice of meat on a conveyer belt going in for my turn) and my memory starts to fail me right about there. I think the anasthesiologist put a gas mask over my mouth and told me to breathe deeply, but I could be making that up. I also remember him unleashing some concoction into my IV. Either way, I didn’t wake up until over 4 hours later in the general recovery area. It was around 9:30 when I was wheeled into the OR and around 1:30 when I started emerging from my slumber. My pain was not that bad, but I was by no means comfortable. I also noticed I was in a big cast, an unpleasant surprise (I knew it was coming, but I’ve never been in a cast before) after growing used to the much smaller splint I was in leading up to the surgery. After a good hour and a half of waking up, complaining of moderate pain, being given multiple dosages of liquid percoset, waiting for the percoset to kick in, having to prove to the annoying nurse that I was capable of walking on crutches even though I had been on them for the entire week prior (doing a lap around the ward), going to the bathroom to ensure that the anasthesia wasn’t preventing me of urinating, and arguing some more with the bitchy nurse about driving left-footed but then just lying and telling her I wouldn’t just to get her to recant her threats of telling the doctor and/or possibly more, I was finally allowed to be discharged and head home.
All in all, it was a very smooth experience, other than the cantankerous nurse in general recovery. I already had a healthy stash of vicodins waiting for me at home since the doc prescribed them to me the week before when I came in and he told me I would need surgery. I am very happy with the progression of things so far and I am looking forward to the steady march back to normalcy. It has only been 5 days, and I know I shouldn’t be counting, but its tough not to with the widgets telling me everytime I log into my account here. I am keeping a good attitude, as I know this is going to help. Hell, I may even use my crutches to start talking to girls when I’m not in the office. I was a little nervous about the method of anasthesia I would be administered as I had heard a number of different ways people on this site had gone through. I was releived to not have to choose. I was also relieve that I didn’t have one of those spinal blocks as the thought of that scares the shit out of me. Anyways, thats pretty much it for now. The surgery is over and I am happy to say my tendon is back together…for now. Lets hope it stays that way. In the meantime, I am driving around lefty, which I find to be a cinch. People make a big deal when I tell them, but I would not be doing it if I wasn’t totally confident in my ability to drive that way. I have a desk job, so other than the day after the injury and the day of surgery, I pretty much haven’t skipped a beat. Last point I want to make is even though I am in a cast, I can feel when my ankle is swelling up by how much space I have in the cast to wiggle and shake my foot around. I noticed at work, when I am in an office chair and my foot is dangling/resting down low on the ground, it can swell up and get a little uncomfortable. Icing helps when I get home, as well as elevating - I put the ice right at the lip of my the cast where my leg enters as this cools the blood going down the leg and is the best I can do short of dumping ice cubes down into my cast. My first follow up is in a week on Monday, July 20th. I’ll plan my next post for then.
I discovered this site in the days after meeting with a specialist (I met with him one day after my rupture on the night of July 1st - just last week) and having been told I will need surgery to repair my ruptured Achilles tendon. I injured it during a basketball game for a league that I play played in on Wednesday nights (silver lining: my team hung in to win the game, despite us only having 5 people, which went down to 4 when I went down with about 3 min left in the game). I have to say that this site is truly a wonderful tool and it certainly provides an in-depth preview of some of the things I can expect in the coming months.
I am 24 years of age, so I am definitely younger than your prototypical ATR victim. However, I am very active, and I intend on continuing to be so once I tackle this injury and fully recover. I played three sports when I was in high school (Football, Basketball, and T&F) and continued to stay active when I went off to college, playing in intramural leagues as well as maintaining a consistent weight lifting regimen at the gym. In January of this year, I had decided to ride in the upcoming Pan Mass Challenge (www.pmc.org), which is a 200-mile bike ride from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA. I had purchased a road bike in February and began training in May, riding upwards of 30-40 miles per ride with intentions to increase this leading up to the race. Obviously, this will not be happening in light of my Achilles rupture last week, although my fundraising efforts have not diminished. The rupture itself was fairly painful, but not as bad as I thought it sounded before the whole ordeal. It happened as I was planting my right foot while stepping backwards in order to change direction longitudinally (forward). Right as this was happening, I believe my defender stepped on my foot and as I shifted my weight, “POP!” I went down quick and knew this was not your typical ankle sprain. As I have read others describe on the site, I initially thought someone had kicked me in the back of the ankle or something of the sort. I actually looked up to see if someone who was running around on the 2nd-floor track that went around the gym may have accidentally dropped a dumbell that found its way to my heel. Reality slowly began to set in. I was helped off of the court by two teammates, asked someone to call an ambulence, and eventually landed in the ER.
In the ER, I was treated promptly by a doctor, who administered the dreaded Thompson test on my affected leg, which I proceeded to “fail.” She ordered some X-Rays that were negative on any bone damage, and then gave me a preliminary diagnosis of a ruptured Achilles tendon. I headed home, dejected and despondent, but not before being prescribed some Vicodan. I was also placed in a splint that ran from the middle of my foot (bottom) and halfway up my calf secured by two Ace bandages. I visited an orthopedist the following day, who confirmed the ER doctor’s diagnosis. He then advised that I undergo surgery to repair the damaged tendon, which is what I had expected having visited several websites after a simple Google search on the matter. Since I am very active, I wanted to get the surgery done ASAP and begin the recovery process. We scheduled it for Thursday, July 9, which just so happens to be today! I will devote my next post to the details of the surgery. I can say that it went well, and I am not in too much pain (I am taking two 5-500MG Hydrocodone tablets as needed for pain). So far the experience has pretty much in line with expectations as formed by reading the plethora of information on the web and on this website. I was a little bummed to learn I would be put in a cast for 3 weeks following the procedure, as I am anxious about atrophy, but I am not totally opposed to this.
I have read several accounts of people who seem to elect the accelerated recovery path. This seems great and all but, despite my unease about my cast and impending atrophy, I still have my qualms about this approach as well. I will bring this up with my doctor when I go in to get stitches removed in a week or so, but I am not convinced early weight bearing is necessarily good for my purposes. You see, I am young and active and often play high-impact, fast-paced sports. Before this injury, I could dunk a basketball, which probably put a tremendous amount of stress on the AT. That being said, I would rather endure a slightly longer recovery process with the peace of mind that comes with knowing the tendon is fully mended and ready to be rehabbed. I do not doubt that I could adopt some of the early weight bearing methods I have read about and that I could subsequently get back into shoes much sooner than a more conservative approach to recovery, but I question the long term implications of this. I fear that in the context of my sports activities, I might be more likely to rerupture the tendon compared to if I am a bit more conservative in letting the tendon heal. I am not a doctor by any means, but I wanted to get that out there and see what anyone else thought of it. I’ll post something on the surgery tomorrow.
Thats all for now…sorry for the length! I’ve been sitting on the couch all day so I am a little bored. Looking forward to recovery.
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