Week 14 and the misshapen calf muscle

I am a little more than 14 weeks past my surgery and am quickly regaining strength and mobility. I can do calf rises just fine, and I feel like I could take off running if I wanted to, although I’m waiting a little longer to try that. Strangely, though, as I regain my calf strength, the muscle appears more misshapen, relative to my good calf, than it did early in the recovery.

A little background: I injured my calf muscle about three months before I tore my achilles. It felt like a bad tear, but the clinic doctor I saw suggested there was nothing that could be done, so I just tried to rehab it. In hindsight, everyone seems to agree that this tear likely contributed to the achilles injury, and part of my PT involves working the scar tissue in the calf.

That calf muscle now looks like it is balled up and misshapen, and it is more noticeable as I regain strength and size. Is this simply due to routine muscle atrophy? Has anyone else had a similar experience? My concern is that the initial calf injury was much worse than I realized (imaging was never done to assess the damage). My calf currently looks and feels as if one of the muscle strands or ligaments that pulls the calf down toward the achilles is missing, causing the muscle to bunch up nearly the top of shin. Will this work itself out?

The Other Achilles

I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because the recovery has been going so well. It has been 10 weeks since my surgery, and I am walking in two shoes, without a limp. Physical therapy has been incredibly helpful, and my ability to walk is returning just in time for the warm weather. After getting the cast off, every day has been better than the last, which has put me in a damn good mood.

The only issue I’m having now is soreness in my right Achilles (i.e., my good one). I assume this is just because of overuse as I compensated for my torn left Achilles. But, I have never felt this type of tightness and soreness in that area, except right before I had the ATR. After seeing a few posts about the higher likelihood of a second rupture, I am particularly paranoid and sensitive to Achilles soreness. Has anyone had a similar experience with their good leg? I can imagine nothing more frustrating than rupturing my right Achilles just as my left one heals.

Overdue Cast Removal

After the surgery, I was in a cast a total of four weeks, which turned out to be about one week too many. I had the second cast removed yesterday, 30 days after the operation. A few days prior to removal, I started to experience severe itching and irritation, caused by hair regrowing around the surgical site. The day before the cast removal, it transitioned from itching to pain, and I started to worry about infection or something more serious. By that point, I was counting down the minutes until the cast came off.

When it did, the sight wasn’t pretty. I had a giant blister, about the size of a quarter, on the inside of my heel. The area around my incision was very red and covered in much small blisters and bumps. The incision itself looked alright, although it was definitely more irritated than it should have been at this stage.

My excitement about getting the cast removed had faded when I saw the state of my leg. It felt a little like a setback, and was disappointing for a couple of reasons. First, it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been in the cast for so long. It seems that others have transitioned to a boot at two or three weeks, and I wish my doctor wasn’t quite so conservative about that timeline. Second, it’s frustrating because it is partly my fault. I made it worse by rubbing my leg against the inside of my cast to scratch my itch, and by beginning partial weight bearing in the cast, even though the doctor recommended no weight bearing at that stage.

The doctor didn’t seem to think it looked infected (in his two-minute evaluation). My main concern now is making sure it stays that way.

The Itching

Here is a rough timeline of my post-op experience so far:

  • Day 1: Extreme post-op pain that fades within 24 hours
  • Days 2-18: Fairly easy and pain free
  • Day 19: Area around wound begins to itch
  • Day 21: Itching spreads to entire leg as hair regrows inside cast
  • Day 22: Itching feels like the bites of 1,000 fire ants
  • Day 23: Madness starts to set in as itching intensifies
  • Day 24: Consider removing cast myself to deal with itching
  • Day 25: Consider amputating leg to deal with itching

I suppose I should consider myself fortunate that itching has been the worst of my problems since the surgery. But when it is keeping me up at night and there is nothing I can do to reach it, I start counting down the days until I get rid of this cast. The wound itching wasn’t bad, and it was expected as part of the healing process. But they shaved my entire lower leg for the surgery, and as the hair grows back it is setting my skin on fire.

I haven’t found a good solution yet. Icing seems to help. Pulling on the gauze in my cast allows me to indirectly scratch the itch, but it probably just irritates the skin more. Does anyone else have ideas?

Foot Ulcers?

I’m currently two weeks post-op. A few days ago, I started noticing sores on the tops of my toes. At first, I thought they were bug or spider bites, because they were red and itchy. But there was also blistering on the bottoms of my toes, which suggested something else like foot ulcers or a circulation issue. Here’s the strange thing: This is not on my surgery leg. It’s on the toes of my good foot.

Flying after surgery

So before I ruptured my Achilles, I had plans to take a 3-hour flight on March 20. But when I asked my surgeon, he recommended waiting a couple of months after surgery before flying. This is in part because he thought it would be difficult to navigate airport security and a cramped airplane while non-weight bearing (he takes the conservative route). But it is also due to the elevated risk of blood clots and DVT while flying.

Has anyone else received similar advice? My surgery was on March 2, so the flight would be less than three weeks post-op. I certainly don’t want to risk DVT, but it seems as if my surgeon is being extremely cautious about this. I have read that others have flown within a few weeks after surgery, and it seems like precautions could be taken to prevent clotting. Thoughts?

Post-Op Pain (Or Lack Thereof)

It has only been four days, but I have been pleasantly surprised by the lack of post-op pain. The pain was pretty severe immediately after the surgery (7/10), and it was difficult to sleep that night. However, once the pain medication kicked in, it went away and just never came back. I stopped taking the pain medication less than 24 hours after surgery and have been fine. I’m talking 0/10 on the pain scale.

Is this a common experience? I was expecting it to be more painful for a longer period of time. I’m actually surprised that a large incision in the back of my leg could be so painless. Not that I’m complaining.


My surgery–initially scheduled for this Thursday–was moved forward thanks to an opening in the schedule, and I had it done yesterday. Overall, it seems to have been a success. The pain was pretty severe initially, and it was very difficult to sleep last night. But now the medication seems to be kicking in, and the pain is much more manageable. Not bad.

The only unexpected outcome was that I woke up with a busted lip and what looks like the beginnings of two black eyes. My entire face was sore and sensitive to the touch. Has this happened to anyone else? I thought that maybe I hit something as they were trying to turn me over on the operating table. But I’ve read elsewhere that some people thrash around while under anesthesia, and that could be the cause. The doctor didn’t mention anything after the operation and it’s not a bad injury, but it is strange trying to figure out what happened while I was unconscious.

The Waiting Game

Two weeks after my Achilles tendon rupture, I’m waiting for my recovery to begin. Here’s basically what happened so far:

  • 02/12: Injury and trip to ER, where I was diagnosed with ATR and surgery was recommended
  • 02/17: Follow-up appointment with orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed it as ATR and recommended surgery
  • 02/19: Radiology appointment for ultrasound, to see the extent of damage
  • 02/24: Follow-up appointment with orthopedic surgeon to review ultrasound and (once again) confirm surgery
  • 03/06: Scheduled surgery (this was apparently the earliest available time slot)

So my scheduled surgery will be more than three weeks after the initial injury. Everything I have read and heard suggests it is better to do the surgery soon after the injury, but I can’t find any details about why, exactly. Is the surgical repair more difficult? Does waiting make the recovery process less successful? I’m concerned, but not sure why.

The delay also makes it seem like my recovery has not yet begun. The ER doctor put me in a boot, which I have been wearing since. He said it was fine to put weight on it, and after the first few painful days, I am full weight bearing without discomfort. At this point, though, I am not actually healing. I am just living my life with a torn Achilles until surgery day finally arrives.