andreea’s AchillesBlog

My journey in learning to appreciate my achilles

196 weeks on

So here I am 196 weeks since my Achilles rupture and it all seems but a distant memory. In the 196 weeks since that troubled time, I have been running steadily, walking up and down mountains (”tramping” a we call is in New Zealand - my current home), did lots of yoga, swimming, even played some tennis (which is how I did my Achilles in)…had a baby, ran post-baby and now I am pregnant again. It just goes to show that the body is an amazing and wonderful thing, capable of more than our minds allow us to imagine sometimes. I am very happy to have had good care along the way and to now feel like I have my body back!

For anyone reading this and going through this or any other injury, I wish you strength, good recovery and most of all, good head-space - one of the most important factors here (at least I felt so)!

Gaining independence

Here I am after spending a very hectic and tiring and super-fun week in Egypt (our summer holiday booked ages ago) - by the way, if there is one place you want to avoid while being a recent cripple or recently returned to able-body-dom, that place is surely got to be Egypt! I think being slow-walking (or let’s say balance-challenged) just screams out to the eager merchants of Egypt: “Come get this one, they can’t get away!”. But I survived and so did my tendon.

So, I am now back to the physio. This time, however, in spite of the one-on-one treatment, I have been placed in the loving care of my local ankle gym group. The gym is like a little shop of horros with small trampolines, gel cushions and wobble boards. However, they promise if I am good I will run again so I will do as I am told. After one hour in the gym, I walked home (first time in 2 months that I leave and return unattended! what freedom!), I crashed and slept for a whole hour. My body was thankful for a bit of adrenalin on the stationary bike and a bit of movement.

My physio also cleared me to walk as much as possible in order to build up my strength. No hills (or at least no up-hill slopes), but other than, all good.

Walk Forrest Walk!

Steady progress

It’s been another week and another PT appointment (number 3)…and it sounds like it was my last. My PT gave me more exercises to do (I can now balance for 1 min) and signed me up for the “Ankle Strength Group” which is a group that meets twice a week in the local physio gym and does one hour of strengthening exercises under the watchful eyes of the PTs. I still walk with a little limp but my gait is slowly improving and will get back to normal once I can roll nicely over my bad foot.

I did about 10 slow (slight) heel raises under the PT’s observation and am supposed to do 2 lots of 8 each day, twice a day. I also still continue with stretching my tendon, and practice rolling over the foot nicely - controlled poised walking - for at least 2min a day. Finally, she showed my boyfriend how to massage my scar (that was actually almost soothing).

Feeling positive, even though still about 2 months away from my first run apparently. Boo! Come on clock and hurry up I need some endorphins!

1 week on at the 2-shoes stage

I have been under the guidance of my PT for one week now. My progress is apparently excellent and she is pleased that I am getting more and more comfortable walking around without crutches in my shiny new 2-shoes (see below, these shoes are great because their adjustable straps allow swelling). She only took my boot away last week for the first time in 8.5 weeks, so lots has happened in the last 7 days. It only took me 2 days or so to completely ditch the crutches. I have a funny limp as I walk, but apparently developing normal gait is going to take some time yet. My ROM is fine, though still a few degrees off the normal range. Calf is weak, as expected. So more playing with elastic bands for me, and more balancing practice too (I could almost do 15 seconds on the bad leg).

One thing she got me to do is to balance on a wobble board. I don’t know if others have experienced this but it looked super dangerous and difficult to me and I was scared stiff of it. The point of this board was to see where I place most of my weight, and as expected, I tend to put it all on the back heel. Apparently, I am supposed to try to consciously shift it more towards the front of the foot, so it is more evenly spread over the leg. I don’t like this wobble thing and hope to never see it again. Anyone else met the scary wobble board?

Apart from balancing and fun with elastic bands, she is also getting me to try and very very gently lift the heel of my legs (including the bad one!) off the ground, while using my fingers to lean on something. This feels dangerous and early and I am too scared to do it. Has anyone else been told anything to do this quite this quickly in their treatment? She said it will gradually help to stretch and strengthen the tendon.

Things are good otherwise, not much swelling to report and I managed to walk 35 min (at my snail pace) without any break stops into town the other day, so I am happy enough with that. No stationary cycle for me yet (my PT does not seem to think it is quite the messiah that other PTs appear to believe it is, so she is not reccomending it. I will apparently join some gym circuit group at some point in the next few weeks though, so maybe then!?! not sure yet).

Happy healing everyone!

In 2-shoes & walking ever so slowly

The physio appointment went very well and she seems friendly and willing to listen to my goals. Thanks to advice from others here, I made sure to mention that my final goal is to be able to run, play tennis again and generally return to my sport. My physio rehab will thus take 3 months which seems thorough and helpful & which will take me to my goal (or thereabouts).

The boot was ditched for good as the physio thinks wearing it will teach me bad walking habits. I am not strong enough to do any stationary cycling or swimming just yet, but the foot’s range of movement is excellent (almost as good as the good foot, only a few degrees off). However in a few weeks I will join the circuit gym group which will prob have me doing proper exercises.

For now I have an elastic band with which to do strengthening calf exercises (see the exercise blogs for details, very similar stuff), I am told to practice good gait walking and balancing on one leg. I do these twice a day. The aim is to be able to balance on the bad leg for 1-2 minutes and of course to get the muscles which went on holiday for the summer (gluttes, thigh & calf) to engage in walking properly again. Yoga is not yet on the cards, though in principle I can try if I feel like it and see how it goes, stopping when the pain gets too much. To be honest, I have enough on plate with practicing walking for now and I am not hurry to pull a “Forest Gump” anytime soon.

Walking in shoes is easier than barefoot (as others found too). And yes, Bigfoot did manage to get into shoes eventually, pushing through the tingles and pain and using a tubular band to keep the swelling under control. Only downside is tubular bands don’t come in pink. Also, despite my impressive array of shoes which I have thoughtfully brought along, the physio said I should wear “whatever is comfortable”. I gather a bit of heal is helpful, but anything goes pretty much (so long as it fits well and is relatively stable).

Walking (see pict) is not easy as the stiff leg is not happy with the situation. Those crutches are sure going to go for good soon too, I can already take steps without them and have worked out how to furniture-walk all the way to the kitchen (furniture-walk is a technical term for leaning on any piece of furniture available in the hope of not falling over). So I just walk very very slowly (I used to be a notoriously fast walker and hated slow people, arrrh the irony!). Also, various shades of purple are all normal at this stage and to be expected. RICE principle can help with this.

As one of my friends put it, one small step for mankind, one big step for Andreea (thanks Annik!)

Happy healing everyone, I am off to paint my nails!

P.S. A word of caution from my phyiso I’d like to share: beware the evilish stairs! Apparently they are the no.1 cause of re-ruptures as pushing off too fast on them is a sure recipe for disaster (particularly as you get stronger and “forget” that your poor achilles is only “newly reborn”).

My foot’s turned purple?

Is this normal? Has it always been purple while walking in the boot and I wasn’t able to see it or am I doing something different now because I am walking barefoot and without the support of the boot (it’s the first day too and I am not putting full weight on it yet as I am still using the crutches)?

Have others noticed this happening?

Out of the boot? Maybe???

My 8 1/2 week app at the doctor this morning concluded the following:

* I am all healed, scar is fine, calf test works fine, all good
* my confidence is rock bottom

So when the doctor said ok take the shoe and boot off and walk to me in your bare feet, I was like “Really? you sure?”. So I tried, but it hurt a bit and I was unsteady (bear in mind I was not using crutches or anything). So he decided I should go back in the boot and that the physio will take me out of the boot on Wed (in 2 days time). WHAT? WHY? If the foot is all good but my confidence is the only thing holding me back, than the confidence will not change by waiting it out in the boot.

It also turns out I still had one wedge in my boot because they FORGOT to tell me to take it out. He said the notes suggested I was already in neutral position, but in fact I still had a wedge there, so hmm ooops, he took my last wedge out and walking in the boot in neutral position felt so much more comfortable, I so wished I’d taken the wedge out myself without waiting for them to say to take it out. But you know what they say: always listen to the doctors. Grrr! I can take the boot off at night and do yoga and stretched without it on as much as I like/can handle. The doctor seemed eager to just pass me onto the physio and he said in two days’ time I’ll be out of the boot anyway.

I am trying to practice walking around the house barefoot without the boot and using the crutches. I figured that gently is better than suddenly doing the whole “walk to me without the crutches” stunt he suggested to try.

Looking forward to Wed & the physio’s advice.
Happy healing everyone!

Fun activities while NWB

If you are anything like me, you might wonder what Boris Becker or David Beckham did when they ruptured their achilles… Well here’s my list of fun things to do (or still enjoy) from the “comfort” of a cast:
* reading (lots of books you always wanted to but never could quite justify taking the time to; among others I finished Vikram Seth’s “A Suitable Boy” at this time)
* learning guitar (or an instrument) or another language
* use your hands: knitting / quilting / crochet
* write that first novel you always wanted to (clearly about someone with an achilles injury)
* make your own website (or update it)
* watch all those DVDs you always wanted to
* have a nice bath (it’s not the same, particularly while in a hard cast, but it can still be ok, with bubble bath and candles and nice music)
* organise your photos / computer / files

Yoga anyone?

Dear fellow achilles-rupture-sufferers,
This is a question rather than a post - anyone know of good useful poses while still recovering from the tendon rupture? I am a great fan of yoga and used to doing it every morning. Needless to say, I can’t do the salute to the sun anymore now and I miss it. I come out of the boot on Monday which might make it easier to do yoga, but also a bit more scary without the support.
I heard from the physio (over the phone while making the first appointment for next week) that balancing on one leg is out (dough!) so no tree-poses for me.
Any advice from yogis out there?
Thanks :)

Just to prove it

Here I am walking in our little Reading flat.