2.5 Weeks Post-Op

The Pain

I’ve been really lucky that this whole process has been minimally painful. I think the highest rating I would give this entire process (including injury and surgery) is a 3 out of 10. In some ways, I am lucky that it was a complete rupture; it was less painful than a partial tear (according to my research)! I do get a little bit sore at times, but I don’t regularly take any pain medications. The crutches have displaced my back a bit and that has been pretty frustrating. I’ll have a heat pad on my back and ice on my ankle at times. I’m pretty high maintenance right now. I think part of it was just trying to do too much too soon. I slowed myself down this last weekend and it helped my back tremendously.

The Scar

It feels like surgery was months ago and personally I think my scar looks that way as well. It looks pretty damn good! I’m lucky that my surgeon used surgical glue instead of sutures. It definitely was the better option for me. It’s healing really well and I am excited to start using some scar treatments on it. I am pretty confident that I can minimize the scar. I do live in Southern California so I am already thinking about how I will have to protect the scar from the sun in the future. From my research, scars cannot tan, they just burn. One thing that is for sure is that this injury is making me much more aware of what I can actively do to take care of my body.

The Tendon

I’m totally willing to admit that I am vain. It may seem random, but my ankles were actually part of my body that I really liked. I am definitely disappointed that my tendon is always going to be thicker. My PT told me that I can massage it to help break down scar tissue so I have started doing that frequently. I am trying to also drink bone broth frequently for the collagen benefits. I think I will start taking pictures to help show how it develops.

The Calf

I know a lot of people deal with uneven calves and mine has shrunk quite a bit. I have been measuring my legs each week to see how much muscle I loose. People tell me not to do it but I don’t really find it upsetting. It’s fascinating how quickly your muscles atrophy. My left leg (injured side) is generally an inch smaller in every place than my right.

Activity

Last Friday (2 weeks post-op) I didn’t elevate my foot at work. I was horrified when I saw how swollen it was at the end of the day. It caused a little bit of panic. I think I have been afraid of using this injury to be lazy, but I realized that I just need to slow down and let myself heel (pun intended). I can only go about 1 block on crutches before I am burnt out. I was a very active person before the injury, so it is pretty humbling. My gym is a huge part of my life but I have realized that getting my heart rate up is too taxing right now. Just moving a stretching is going to have to be enough. I think most of us here are eager to get back to our old selves, but we all go thru the process of realizing that you just have to be patient. I am excited to retest all my major lifts at the gym when I can. Then retest them every few months. I’m hoping that watching myself regain strength will be empowering.

Starting Recovery

The Mental and Emotional Impact

I am a pretty sensitive person who believes in embracing emotions rather than repressing them. With any injury, there are a lot of thoughts that go thru your head. Especially for someone who is active, an AT rupture is greatly going to impact your life. Luckily, I have a lot of people at my gym that have experienced injuries and are there to support me. I was back in the gym 2 days after my injury with modified movements. Regardless, there have been a lot of ups and downs but overall I feel like I have handled the injury well. Based on the circumstances, my Dr believes that this was a freak accident and that there are no underlying health issues that may have caused this. I don’t think that I have fully grasped how tough the recovery is going to be but it has not been too difficult to stay positive.

The Positive

This injury has been a great reminder to slow down. There are things that I want to work on that just have to be put aside (i.e. sailing, salsa dancing, certain types of cardio). Right before the injury, I felt like my attention was being drawn in a dozen different directions and now I have more of an opportunity to focus. At the gym, I now have a chance to focus more on upper body and abs. I have a new appreciation for my body’s abilities and I think that I will find more enjoyment in my accomplishments during recovery.

The Negative

Of course there are¬†¬†negatives that are very obvious but I wanted to talk about the ones that are taking up my headspace. My Dr did not assign a maximum level of recovery which I greatly appreciate. Considering that I am younger that the typical age for this injury and that there are so many factors in recovery, it seems so arbitrary to give a number; everyone truly is different. BUT let’s say that 90% really is the maximum recovery, is that based off your level of health/fitness at the time of the injury? I know that I am (or was) capable of more than where I was when I was injured. So am I never going to be able to reach a higher level of performance? I know that there is a lot of work down the road and there is not a definitive answer, but it is something that I have been thinking about a lot.

The Diagnosis and Surgery

After the injury, I immediately iced the back of my calf. There was pain but it was not horrendous (or at least not what everyone says a rupture should feel like). I even slept thru most of the night.

Urgent Care (1 day post-injury)

One day after the injury, my mom helped take me to the local urgent care. We really didn’t know what I needed to do but urgent care may not have been the best choice. The doctor that I saw definitively said that my achilles tendon was intact. X-Rays showed no broken bones (I already was certain of this) and they put me in a boot. I was told that I would need to wear the boot for 4 week and to go to PT for a month. I did not feel confident in the diagnosis which is probably because there was not really a diagnosis.

Seeing a Physical Therapist (3 days post-injury)

By Wednesday, I met up with my friend who is a PT. At first glance, she did not think my injury looked too bad. There was minimal bruising and swelling. She had me turn onto my stomach and did a Thompson test. That is when I got the “ohh girlll…” She let me know that she was feeling a gap and that she recommended that I go get an MRI asap. I already had suspected that something was torn and an MRI would help give a definitive answer of what was wrong.

Seeing an Orthopedic Surgeon (10 days post-injury)

My mom and I did some research and reached out to friends for an orthopedic rec. We were pretty lost in figuring out who to see. A close friend recommended a surgeon in the area that had a great website and great reviews online so we decided it was the best bet. I got the soonest appointment available (10 days after the injury). The orthopedic surgeon looked at my ankle briefly, performed a Thompson test and let me know that he was 90% sure that my achilles was ruptured. An hour later I was having and MRI and then headed back to the office. We confirmed the rupture and surgery was recommended due to my age and activity level. We were very confident that we had the right doctor for the surgery. Surgery was scheduled for 2 days later (12 days after injury).

Surgery

The only surgery that I have ever had was my wisdom teeth, so there was definitely some nervousness. I also had less than 2 days to prepare, so there was not much time to think. Part of me was a bit torn though; I walked into the surgery center without any pain in my ankle but I also knew that this was the best option for me. The worst part of the experience was definitely the IV, but even that was not that bad! I think my experience was pretty standard. After the procedure, I was a bit bothered not completely understanding or knowing what happened after I passed out. They gave me some additional pain meds and sent me on my way. I think I was there for under 5 hours total.

Post-Op

While the first few days post-surgery are supposed to be the worst, they really weren’t too bad for me. While I was on pain medications, I never felt like the pain was unmanageable. I kept my foot elevated any time that I was not in the bathroom. I was very lucky that I had my mom the take care of me. By day 3, I was only taking Aleve. The worst part was that the splint they put me in was a bit too tight on my toes but we did some adjusting ourselves. I went back to the Dr on day 3 and that was probably the worst part. I was nauseous and exhausted the entire time. I had to lay down for a lot of the time at the dr. I figured that it was just part of the process of getting back to activity but it was still humbling and frustrating.

About Me and the Injury

Hi Everyone!

I cannot really tell how active people are here, but I figured that sharing my journey might be therapeutic. Maybe I can find someone to “walk” thru this journey with (pun intended). I’ll start with a bit about me and how my injury occurred.

About Me

My name is Andrea and I am 25 years old. I was not much of an athlete growing up but after college, I became pretty involved with Crossfit. I know what you are thinking… of course she got injured doing Crossfit BUT it was not a WOD or heavy lift that did me in. I was working out about 4x a week and trying to add in some additional activity. I sail small boats, enjoy salsa dancing, and walk frequently. I eat well and am considered the health buff of my office (not that that means that much).

The Injury

By Sunday August 12th, I had already had a pretty active weekend. I was pretty sore from some workouts, had spent some time in the ocean, and had done quite a bit of walking. On Sunday, I walked 3 miles to the gym, had a tough workout, and biked 3 miles home. My body was pretty tired. My roommate asked me if I wanted to go to Sky Zone, one of those trampoline places for kids. My body was tired but I was starting to try to lean out by adding more cardio, so I napped and convinced myself to go. While there, I could tell my body was just tired. I normally would be doing handsprings and tucks but I was barely feeling up to jumping. This particular gym had a warped wall (think American Ninja Warrior). I had done a similar thing during Tough Mudders and the kids were all doing it fine, so I didn’t think it would be too hard. It took me a while to work up the courage to try and finally I took a stab at it. My first step on the wall and I knew something was wrong. I hopped off the wall pretty quickly and sat down on the edge. Nobody even realized that I had been injured. I knew something was wrong but I was not able to articulate what hurt. I was briefly nauseous but nobody thought it was serious. My roommate carried me to the car. It was not until that I had to climb the stairs to my apartment that I started crying (another reason why I did not think it was too badly injured).