I am 36 years old, fairly active, worked out 5 times a week. Blew my Achilles playing tennis – POP, “blow” above my heel, and I am on the ground waiting for an ambulance. This happened around 5:30PM on Thursday, October 9. I was taken to the small injury department in St. Mary’s near Paddington.
There they did the calf squeeze test, and broke the bad news – a complete Achilles tear.
Now, I am new in the UK, and don’t know how to navigate the health system. I am fortunate to have private insurance, which I think may have done me a disservice (read on).
I asked one of the doctors whether I should use my private insurance, and he said that he personally would, so I followed his recommendation. In retrospect, I think I may have been better off going the NHS route, because it’s 10 days later I still don’t know who is going to treat me, where and when.
So – they took X-rays, put a temporary plaster on the front of my leg, told me to expect a call from a doc. All in all, I was in and out of the hospital, on crutches in about 6 hours.
Friday, October 10
I get a phone call from a doc, let’s call him Mr. Spine. Scheduled an appointment for Tuesday, Oct. 14, with a view to do surgery on Wednesday the 15th evening. I looked him up on the web – guess what – he turned out to be a spine surgeon. At this point I may have gotten paranoid, and decided to myself that I am going to get a second opinion from an orthopedic, and quickly booked an appointment (Mr. Ortho1) for early Wednesday the 15th.
Friday was also the 1st day I started running a fever.
Tuesday, October 14
During the appointment, Mr. Spine did not attempt to see the foot because it was covered with temporary plaster. When I asked him about his specialty, he said that he indeed specializes in spine surgery, but Achilles rupture surgery is so simple, he could do it with his eyes closed. But – if I prefer he’ll be happy to hook me up with a lower-limb doc, and immediately proceeded to call the other doc (Mr. Ortho2).
So, somehow I ended up with 2 appointments with 2 Ortho doctors – Wednesday the 15th with Ortho1, and Monday the 20th with Ortho2. This could be a subconscious slip – in my line of work we bid out every job to at least 2 vendors. Now that I think of this, some time off work is not such a bad thing – looks like my work practices are getting too intertwined with my personal character.
I weighed my options, and decided that I’ll pick one of the two Orthopedics to take this forward, and cancelled the Wednesday surgery with Mr. Spine. Perhaps I should have had more confidence in him, and would have been on my path to recovery by now.
Wednesday, October 15.
Mr. Ortho1 was a lot more thorough with his investigation – he took the temporary cast off, said that the foot is too swollen to cut it right now – the skin will tend to spread apart after the surgery. He also ordered an ultrasound for Thursday the 16th, and hooked me up with a boot.
Thursday the 16th.
The ultrasound doc told me that I don’t have a complete tear – that I have a complicated partial tear, very inflamed tendon, a lot of damage close to the calf, and a bad case of tendonitis. Now I don’t know whom to believe – the ultrasound doc, or the original ER doc, who did the Thompson test.
This brings me to my first question to the combined wisdom of this board:
Question 1: How is it possible to have a positive Thompson’s test with only a partial rupture?
Mr. Ortho1’s explanation was not convincing – he said that this may be due to pain (what pain?) and swelling. He scheduled a follow-up for Monday the 20th, and said that surgery is not necessary.
So – at this point I have 2 appointments for tomorrow: 1st visit to Ortho2, and a follow-up with Ortho1.
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