Two Years, 4 and half months on :)

Hi fellow recovery people :)

It’s been a while since I frequented the site, but I kept getting spam messages relating to my blog so I’ve just cleaned out the unwanted posts and thought I’d indulge myself in a little blog update.

The Achilles is as good as gold with no further issues to report, other issues are starting to niggle on occasion (elbow, shoulder and occasional isolated and short term pain in left Achilles seems appear now and again) so I am starting to think I am one of these people who has generally dodgy tendons - but other than that, I’ve continued on the path of a healthier style of living.

Things are good, I managed to get from a post rupture waist size of 40 inches to the target of 34″ :) I fell short of my original weight loss goal by 8 or 9lbs (siting at 201lbs today), still a regular gym goer, playing badminton one day a week and even started Bodycombat classes recently (which reminds me my knees are shot lol) :)

So my milestones sort of went, 5 weeks out of a cast (was a huge relief) 10 weeks able able to drive, 12 weeks back at work (boot set so 30degrees movement), 16 weeks out the boot - life at 20weeks was getting back to normal, but 26weeks I was back playing badminton and I’ve not looked back since then :)

Good luck to all of you, wishing speedy and uneventful recoveries to all :)

8:45pm 366 days ago……….

Was the exact date and time I snapped my Achilles tendon……the weeks of which are detailed here in my blog.

A year on, I can say that the incident and following weeks, provided me with the opportunity to re-evaluate my lifestyle and determine the shape I wanted that to be in future.

Focusing on the positives, injuries like this can present a wealth of opportunity during those rehabilitation weeks.

Before the accident, even though I’d given up cigarettes, my fitness was poor, my weight ballooning and I was probably on freefall heading to an area beyond obese (6′2″ and 250lbs/17st 12lb 40″waist).

Now, having been inspired by the Achilles rupture, I set myself a goal to be healthier and to reach a sustainable target weight of 195lbs 13st 13lb 34″waist, currently sitting at 220lbs/15st 10lb 37″ waist… time to reach target weight 10 more weeks (fingers crossed)

Most of all right now, I am really enjoying being back on the court, playing better badminton than I have in years (even so that does not make me a good player, just better than I was :) ), sustaining a more consistent game throughout the double session than before….finally winning marginally more games than I am losing :)

So whilst the first weeks are less than great, each week after you’re able to ditch the crutches should yield some significant progress and by wk16 you will probably have regular life (minus sports for most of us) back to normal.

I recall not too long ago worrying about the increased chances of rupturing the other Achilles……now I just think, what will be will be and if it happens then I should embrace the opportunity to take stock once more.

Although a mini disaster when it happens, I believe the time it gave me to reflect helped save me from myself, it humbled me, it gave me a better perspective toward people with disabilities, a real appreciation for friends and family and I have come out the other side feeling a better person for the experience.

So to all those on the journey right now - use the time you have positively, it gets better quicker than you think, but longer than you hoped and make the most of the experience.

I will be forever greatful for this site and the people on it - shining lights in dark times, thanks to you all :)

Happy healing all!!

44 Weeks in……

..and still going strong, fitter and lighter than before the injury now - The result of re-starting a reasonable exercise regime is that you are able to keep on pushing, so I am exercising more than ever now - 3x per week, 30mins resistance training and 1hr cardio (split between the elliptical, brisk walking on incline and cycling) as well as badminton once per week.

My eating habits are at a healthy stage, but I don’t stray away from weekend take outs or the odd meal out… life is for enjoyment after all :)

I wanted to reach my goal weight (88kgs /194lbs) by end of June, but base on current progress it’s looking more like Mid September and I’m determined to reach that goal. Once I have done that, I will continue to retain the fitter and healthier lifestyle I’ve re-created.

In terms of my Achilles - there are no major issues, I still limp when I get out of bed for a few steps, same when I get out the car after a few hours drive, but generally speaking I work on my form, strength is good but not as good as I would like although in regards to atrophy… I am within 1/4″ of the other calf.

So for all you people embarking or going through this journey - I wish you the best of recoveries, once you get out the boot things get back to normal reasonably quickly so hang in there and enjoy this site - fantastic resource that will help keep you sane during those early weeks and beyond :)

Wk38 - Faster, stronger, better :)

Hello to all my fellow ATR patients :)

38weeks in and all is well.

I am steadily improving in badminton (still bad, just not as bad now :) ) - Also, I am now a regular at the gym twice a week, so exercising with intensity 3x a week now and either a 30min walk or cycle outdoors as ofetn as I can on the other days (I don;t go out in rain or snow for example). Considering before the ATR I was only playing badminton once a week and not much else for the rest of it I am quite pleased with how I was able to just ease back into it :)

I only wish I’d not let my fitness slip to such a level before I did anything about it….worse still now I am getting back into a reasonable regime, I really enjoy it again….note to self, ipods are great to help keep you going when your exercising, but singing along to your favourite song in a gym is not cool :)

I started the year closer to 18stones than I had ever been before - Since January I’ve lost the weight I gained during my ATR comfort eating phase (14lbs) so I thought I had about 20lbs more to go to reach my goal, but after seeing my doctor, he informed me that I should be aiming for more like a further 33lbs - so that’s the new goal to reach by my birthday in June.

The walking on an incline really gives my calf muscles a good workout, not to mention my back (no longer suffering with back ache) and I’ve really taken to the cross trainer, it helped me sort my gait out for jogging which is no longer the problem it was four weeks ago, I can even “sprint” now but that highlights the need for more strength training.

Something that plays on my mind before exercise (especially badminton) is the higher risk of snapping the other one now, it’s a confidence thing that seems to go away as I get into whichever exercise I am doing - I hope that’s something that diminishes over time.

Happy healing to all


33wks Recovery - Return to the Scene of the Crime

Yesterday on the day of wk33 since the ATR I returned to the courts and played my first games of badminton since that fateful evening of 28th May 2012.

I have to say, the nerves nearly got he better of me, I definitely did not rush to get changed and pack my gym bag, thoughts awry in my mind of ‘what if’s’ for the first time in 3months I really wanted a cigarette (having given up for 9months the cravings stopped a 6) instead I just do the (now regular and usual) warm-up/stretching and make my way out the door, to the car.

So I turned up at the courts, again no rush to get in, heart’s racing a bit now and my hands are shaking slightly at the at the thoughts - having told the lads last week that I was making this comeback today turned out to be a smart move, I did not, no, I WOULD NOT turn around!! If only to avoid the ‘ribbing’ the lads would of given me for bottling it…..I push onwards.

I get to the doors of the courts, deep breath, composure, another deep breath, one more deep breath and I pull the doors open…definitely no turning back now.

I can feel the expression of my face, I know I am showing the fear, the lads on our court and the old boys on the court next to us all come over to welcome me back - what a great bunch of people they are, I find a smile to express my thanks in the warm welcome and set-up the nets “Maybe I’ll just warm-up tonight and then let them carry on and play?” was the overriding thoughts in my mind.

The nets are up, I grab my raquet bag and take ‘old faithful’ out the bag, suddenly the raquets gained 10lbs, it feels heavy “I must be mad to be here” I thought, still I take the lunge and onto the court I go.

Stationary I hit a few returns, doesn’t feel too bad - missed a few returns, timings off (a lot), gently I bounce a bit, I shot goes over my head, I miss it - another goes over my head, I take the step backwards…..yes I hit, then it goes short, instinctlively I am making that ‘exlosive’ movement to get there and return it once more….I am too slow the shuttle hits the ground… the lads laugh of course, such is there way and of course that makes me feel more at ease.

But what just happened was a major milestone - I’d made it to the courts, I’d got out onto the courts and I’d completed the very series of movements that created the ATR without incident!!!

I ended up “playing” 4 games in total that night - Heavier than before, certainly lacking in agility, confidence, speed and intelligence, it’s safe to say I played badly, but I played!!

So did it feel great to get back? I was too nervous throughout to say yes, it was certainly something I wanted to do and I intend to carry on now. Playing form is aweful, it’s very noticeable to me how much more work needs to be done to get that spring in the ankle once more, but badminton was a really good workout for those muscles to get back that memory.

So even more overweight than before, lacking in agility, confidence and intelligence (probably thinking more about myself than the game) I still want to play, I still want to win (although achieving a win was 50/50 at best before the ATR :) ) and I can now visualise the areas of physio I need to focus on…’s not something that’s going to happen overnight or by itself, but I will keep working on it and it will happen….personal target is 8weeks to get match fit :)

My Ortho said he’d get me back playing at 6 months, it was actually 7.5months, so a little late (my fault not his though), but we got there and I feel good (my back, legs and buns ache a lot) I feel really good, today is up there with the best days I have had since the accident.

Happy healing all, recovery is just a matter of time, patience and commitment - time to let the tendon heal, patience during those first 16 “danger of re-rupture” weeks and commitment to do all your physio within your own bodies limits.

Past the 6 month mark…

All things considered, 41yrs old, overweight, unfit, weekend warrior with a snapped achilles, family and regular working life, 6 months on, it’s all good.

I am still unfit, overweight (compounded by giving up smoking and comfort eating during the worst parts of the injury recovery) but exercising toward the comeback to the courts to play badminton - The scene of the crime on May28th 2012.

I can hop, skip, jump, balance, do 1/3 of single leg calf raise, hold my body weight on the good leg hanging off the foot of my stairs… balancing, I have good and bad days for that, good days it feels like I could hold a position forever, bad days it seems less than a minute into the balancing and I wobble, but once I have wobbled I find it challenging to re-gain a stable balance.

Running properly takes some practice - it kind of starts of a bit ‘ropey’ but after a few shuttles the stride etc comes back to me - there’s no real speed (not sure there ever was :) ), but the form is there so I am happily working toward that in my own time.

My walking regime caused all sort of troubles - my good calf tired quickly and I got some cramps so I switched to cycling last week…..I was cycling in the dedicated lanes around our local park when coming toward me was a familiar face of a guy who plays badminton on the court next to ours, I’ve not seen him since the accident - we chatted for a few mins and I started to go on my way, I probably got up to about 70% of my desired speed when BAM!!! next thing I know I am hitting the tarmac with an almighty thud - turns out I’ve just experience my first cycle chain breakage - bruised body, some aches and pains, ego hurt more and I am a good 3miles walk from home :( ……..Pete, the guy I stopped to speak to was his usual comedic self “I’d give you a 9/10 for that fall” we both laughed, some things never change.

The elliptical cross trainer is a really good tool to use as part of your recovery and I am able to pump up the resistance now…. going backwards gives my calves a complete work out.

Physio put me on one months notice - that is to say I no longer have to go back, but of I have any reactions or concerns in the next 30days then I can re-enter the rehab program for assessment and physio.

Summary - I feel good enough to want to go back to badminton, wise enough to probably give it a few more weeks (maybe postpone until January), determined enough to continue with the exercise focus and the desire to lose the excess 40+ lbs during 2013.

My experience:

0-6 weeks is painful, everything is a chore, cleanliness is an undignified process - toughest time of the process for me by a mile.

7-16 weeks is a period of caution and continual improvements, trying to do normal things but within the limits of the achilles (walking, stairs, driving), even when finally out the boot, always keeping the achilles at the front of every thought and keeping the boot at hand 100% of the time for those moments where you want the freedom to do more without the risk - just remembering this is the highest chance of a re-rupture and installing that into my mindset when exercising or outdoors.

17-27wks sticking with my rehab program build on resistance and balance, progress seems to just happen naturally, whereas the middle period was one of milestones that really made you smile - everything for me has been coming back together nicely, there’s not quite that bounce in my foot that I really want, but it’s not as flat as when I started.

I’ve not engaged in the most modern recovery protocols, but at this point in time I am happy with everything, I’ve taken things in my stride had good weeks of exercise and bad ones (either through injury or the occasional lazy few days) and I look forward to reporting back when I hit the courts for the first time.

Happy healing to all my fellow ATR victims - This injury is not permanent but it is life changing, it’s horrible at first and gets better over time (once you’re off the crutches, everything is immediately better) - be mindful of what you choose to do in the first 16 weeks and listen to your body when you exercise - most of all, thank all of those around you, so grateful of the support I got from family and friends :)

This is not goodbye but I think the time is right to say to all on this site whom have been on this journey with me thus far, I thank you all for your support and advice.

Without this site to lean on and learn from, I am certain that this process would of been much worse, we’re all in it together and I am truly thankful for the exisitence of this site and it’s community.

Help with some queries about walking, jogging and recovery please…..

I’ve recently started walking briskley (as if you’re late for an appointment not power walking) for 30mins each day, part way through I start to ‘run’ for 30mtrs (100feet) or so and try to do that twice per walk.

Sadly for me, I’d let my fitness slip long before the ATR occured, my ATR leg (right) was my ’stronger’ leg, the left has just a slither of cartiledge remaining as well as a cruciate reconstruction 12years ago, I think since that surgery I’ve always favoured leaning on my right leg but (over time) I started to exercise less regularly and badminton once a week was my only real exercise (no excuses because we can all choose to exercise if we so wish and I chose other things and work).

My body is adjusting to this new exercise regime and the weight has started to come down over the past 2 weeks (which pleases me a lot but there’s a good 25kg/56lbs to go) but this is just the beginning of making my lifestyle a more active one.

However, what happens is that my ATR foot has little (if any) spring in it and the foot can really slams on the floor unless I absolutley focus on the movement (even then it’s not great)….I think that it’s improving slowly, but I never thought getting back to a jog would be so challenging, I certainly can’t sustain a jog for any distance at all.

Also - I’ve started getting some discomfort in the left ‘good’ leg - specifically at the junction between calf and ATR, or equal position to where the right ATR snapped before as well as general muscle ache (feels like lactic acid build up) in the non atr calf during and after each walk….. so I’d be lying if I said I am not worried, because it concerns me a lot.

I would love to hear of how other people re-adjusted to running/brisk walking - what (if any) discomfort do you discover and how did u manage to get back to running?

Tips/tricks/Pitfalls, good/bad experiences I’d love to read about them all so please post or link me to your recovery blogs :)

20wks and still improving

Time flies, been busy at work and also planning some additional changes so it’s been a while since I have been able to check in… good to see familiar people also improving and progressing.

So 20weeks, I can sort of run, sort of hop… but this is down to a really low level of fitness.

I can’t single heel lift beyond approx 2″ - but I am able to hold a heel lift if I raise with both legs, take the left foot off of the floor and lower on the ATR leg…..not bad considering I was 16st before the ATR and right now I weigh in at over 245lbs or 111kg or 17.5st so it’s a lot of weight to lift on one leg :) - the downside of giving up smoking and snapping ure achilles.

Fitness - I am fast walking 30mins a day now, with a decent gait and slowing down when I tire to make sure gait is priority over speed - I am continuing with the regular physio exercises - I want to lose a bit of weight before I entertain the gym again… I’ve become quite self conscious about it, but this also adds to the determintation.

The ATR ankle region is still a little swollen compared to the other foot and I get a lot of heel pain, feels like a mix of “pins and needles” and a dull ache on the underside of the heel, it’s not enough to make me want painkillers more of a continual niggling sensation.

Overall though the ankle and calf feel strong, the pain at the front of the ankle disappeared, plantar and dorsi flex are equal to or better than the non atr leg.

I feel the return of a “spring” in the step (a more natural cushion) and a more natural gait, I am really looking forward to getting back to sports and becoming even less ‘weighty’ than before the original event that started this roller coaster.

20wks ago, heck even 13weeks ago I thought this nightmare was never going to end but things really started to progress and by week 10 I was feeling ‘too’ confident (watch out for that people) because in terms of walking around and traversing stairs etc, things became easy again….reading this blog site and the unfortunate re-ruptures of some of my fellow ATR’s was a real wake up moment for me to slow it down and be patient once more.

I consider myself lucky not to of re-ruptured during this period and taking things steady focusing on flexibility, although I really really wanted to get back into the gym ASAP I am glad I tried it, but also glad I did not continue at that time, clearly it was too early for me - stamina and strength would have to wait.

There are some people who have healed quickly, became mobile and more active quickly, I have been amazed by some of the stories of what people achieved…….. I’ll be honest, the very thought of doing what these people did at those points in recovery scared the bejooblies out of me… but was impressive all the same.

Looking back, for me, an overweight 41yr old with a family and mortgage, with the exception of “should of been out of the cast sooner” I don’t think I would change a thing about my recovery so far. It’s been relatively low risk throughout and I’ve never really stopped improving.

It’s been important for me to remember that most re-ruptures happen upto wk16 it helped me focused on recovery and listened to the feedback my gave me when I tried doing new things, if it hurt or felt wrong I didn’t do it. I now realise that some weeks the recovery gain is greater than others.

I am looking forward to my focus on fitness and stamina now over the next 3-4 weeks, hoping that the weight will fall off and a single legged calf raise will be the reward for the persistence.

My 2cents to people embarking on this journey, be patient, the first 4-6 weeks are a big drain on you and everyone around you, amazing how quickly we can adapt when forced to though - beyond that life gradually gets back to normal in terms of “day to day”…things like getting back to having showers, losing the crutches, two shoes, walking to the shops, driving, all massive wins on the road to recovery, but it’s still a recovery and as you can see on this site, anything can happen during the ‘danger zone’ up to 16 weeks remain vigilant and be aware of where you step.

Happy healing to all - hang in there, things get better with patience, control and determination :)

One Legged Heel Lift……

16weeks in and Physio session no3

Physio started the usual way with a chat (she knows I want to get a proper rehab workout going at the gym) and a quick visual inspection of walking and standing, then we moved to the bike to check things there, all good after 5 mins the physio gives it an ok….but not to load up the resistance when I am unsupervised.

We move to the cross trainer because the physio knew I was aiming to vary a fat-burning workout on the gym and cross trainer was on my hitlist…..this one was weird, with my foot planted flatly on the leg platform, the eliptical movement simulates a gait and it really highlighted how different my weaker leg movement was compared to the strong one…. it’s an ideal rehab partnership for this injury at this point in time to help synchronise the stride pattern……..another okay to proceed on my own :)

Final phase of this weeks physio was between the parallel bars for support and using the wobble board (for left-right and then back-front balancing) and then one legged stands in one of those aerobics trampolines…..left to right balalnce needs work, but overall balance control on ATR leg is edging closer the same performance of the strong one.

After these exercises the physio asked to see my two legged calf raises, seemed content with the result and asked me to try a one legged heel raise……….”WHAAAAAAAA??????!!!?” was my response…..but she was serious.

I was asked to do the non-atr leg first to use as the aim point, then, feeling more than a little apprehensive, I positioned the right leg, lifted the left out the way and proceeded to move for the calf raise………… my delight I managed less than 2cm’s of lift (but I did lift it :) ) before I hit the wall, I had nothing else to give and although I tried to focused hard for another 3 or 4 seconds, I could lift no more :(

So it would seem I passed the trials and have been deemed ready for the quest for the holy grail, my new mission is to go forward with cycling, cross-training and practice calf raises together and just on the ATR leg, next official physio is in 3 weeks - I’d be well pleased if I can make the single legged heel lift a reaility between now and then.

The other good news was that although I was a bit achy last night after the physio, I felt good this morning, the muscle felt as though it did some work.

As I type this the calf, the tendon, the ankle all feels as good as it did before the exercise and I’ve had no additional swelling as a result.

Just need an exercise regime now, but I am mentally and (officially) physically ready to get this thing going!!

2nd Physio Appt @ 14wks 2days

So some positives came from todays physio session:

Got the “good to go” for using the stationary bike (light resistance), but not the cross-trainer yet….maybe in two weeks….that was my assessment though the physio looked puzzled as if to say ‘yeah right’ :)

Moved onto Standing calf raises/stretching and one legged balancing on an uneven surface, continue with basic exercises.

Standing calf stretch equals a mini “ouchie” - This one comes with some pain local to the original “snappage” point but at back of the calf (near to the bone). So I hold the stretch at that point where I can feel that sensation, not sure if its local scar tissue that needs breaking down or if I am actually pulling on the tendon, the physio told me to be more aggressive in the massage of the calf tendon junction area (the “scene of the crime” so to speak).

Physio was happy that swelling past current form is non-existent.

It does occur to me the physios are certainly being sensitive to any exercise that will put the calf muscle under load, airing on safe rather than sorry - I always get tempted to do more, push more and achieve more, then I remind myself of the journey thus far and try and control such urges.

Seems that my excellent DF is partly due to healing a bit longer than before, I’ve now got a degree or two more flex in that ankle than the non atr one, nothing too serious (I hope), apparently it can happen :)

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