My First Achilles’ Rupture



Three weeks ago, I ruptured my right Achilles’ tendon. Seven years ago, I ruptured my left. We’ll start with that one.

Someone lobbed a long ball down the soccer field and I took off towards the goal. The next thing I knew I was on the ground wondering who the hell threw a rock at the back of my ankle and why. In the time it took for that thought to enter and leave my mind, I realized that nobody had thrown a rock at me and something was terribly incorrect in my left foot.

I hopped over to the sidelines not knowing exactly what was wrong but that I most definitely should not put any weight on that foot. This was only my third time playing with this St. Louis pickup group so I hardly even knew anybody’s name. A few people asked me if I was alright and I said “I will be, just can’t walk right now.” Most everybody was still playing so I proceeded to strap my backpack onto my back and start the long hop back to my car. Hopping with a backpack is awkward to say the least.
I’ve been reading a bunch of Achilles blogs lately and there are several people who talk about hobbling around after the rupture or even this one guy who broke BOTH OF HIS ACHILLES’ tendons chasing after his runaway car and still kept going, stopped the car, and drove it to the ER. Just the thought of that makes me barf in my throat a bit.
There was NO WAY I was putting any weight on that foot, so I’d hop a few yards, pause, hop a few more, lean against a tree, hop a bit more. After a bit I noticed a guy at a nearby baseball game had turned away from the game and was watching me instead. He started to walk over and asked if I’d like any help. “Yes please.” I’m not the best at asking for help (which is perhaps the reason I keep ending up in situations that require that of me) but I’m halfway decent at accepting when it’s been offered. Halfway.
I was expecting him to offer a shoulder to lean on but instead he just scooped me up backpack and all and asked, “Where to?” I pointed in the direction of my car and thanked him profusely.
Cozy in the driver’s seat, I called my fresh new boyfriend (now husband) Mike and told him I thought I broke my Achilles’ tendon. “No you didn’t.” Even though there was a slight divot at the back of my heel where my Achilles should have been, I chose to believe him until a professional opinion told me otherwise.

Since my right foot was fully functional, I drove home and waited for Mike to come take me to the ER. I really hadn’t experienced much pain from the whole ordeal. Just a strong knowing that my ankle was quite incorrect.

At the ER, the first doc came in and had me push down against his hand with my foot. I was able to put apply a bit of pressure so he told me it wasn’t a complete tear. Super. Two minutes later another guy came in and did the Simmonds Test ( most everywhere calls it the Thomson Test even though Simmonds coined it in 1957 and then Thompson came in and ganked it from him in ‘62) which is where they squeeze your calf to see if your foot responds. My foot failed. “That’s a complete rupture.” ATR for those in the biz.

They told me I had options: surgery or no surgery. With surgery, they told me, the risk of re-rupture is lower and the recovery time is less. I had insurance and zero prior knowledge of this injury, so I went the surgical route. (With this second ATR I’m going non-surgical. We’ll get to that later.)

A few days later I was post-op and in MUCH more pain then I ever felt from the injury itself. Enter Percocet. Now I’ve been incredibly lucky to never dip too deeply into the Opiod pool. But that deep end is certainly inviting and my heart goes out to addicts everywhere. With Percocet, everything was dandy. I could tell my foot still hurt, but it just didn’t matter. All of my physical and emotional pain was wrapped in a comfy little cloud.

[Coming off the pain drugs, however, was less than pleasant. My whole body had restless leg syndrome and my liver wouldn’t tolerate ANY alcohol for months. (Mike can tell you about the Rumple Minze incident of ‘13. ) I can’t remember how it felt when emotional pain came back because I’ve likely blocked that out.

I floated through my days reading Hunger Games and watching Community. It wasn’t a bad gig, really. Part of me is afraid that I actually LIKE being seriously injured which is why it happened again. I keep thinking about Andy from Parks and Rec keeping his cast on an extra two weeks so Ann would keep waiting on him.

**Somewhat graphic description of an injury follows. Skip the next paragraph if you’re squeamish or just ate a bunch of Indian food or something.**

A few weeks into my cloud, I get a call from Mike:
“I’m on the way to the ER I cut the tip of my thumb off.”
Now when I heard “tip of my thumb,” I pictured like a sliver. Like maybe he’d need a couple stitches. I crutched my way to the ER to find a much different scenario. Bone shards. Accidental amputation just above the knuckle. Gross.

Mike post-accidental amputation and pre-surgery.
His sister Gracie is helping him remember how a healthy thumb looks.

He was taken to surgery later that afternoon where they filed down his thumb bone, stretched the remaining thumb skin up over the rest of his thumb, and stitched him back up.
I have an incredibly competitive streak. Up until I met Mike, I was used to winning and generally sought out scenarios that allowed me to be the best. But Mike doesn’t really like competition. He just always wins. He even one-upped my stupid injury. AND they gave him stronger pain pills.
This is one reason we’re very good together.

So Mike and I got to spend the next couple of months sitting outside Bread Co. [Panera for you non-St. Louisans], eating pain drugs and bread-sliced bagels, and playing Scrabble. I’m often nostalgic for those pre-dog, pre-toddler, no-job days. It was really the perfect way to get to know a dude. I knew it was love when he gladly helped me remove eight weeks worth of built up foot skin after I got the cast off.

Both of our recoveries were pretty much by the book. After a month or two of cloudy courtship, we started physical therapy and worked our way back to (almost) full function: I’ve kept off the soccer fields and Mike’s video game, bowling, and occasional cup-handling skills have been a bit compromised.

Once I got back to walking and jogging again, I sort of wrote the whole ordeal off as a freak accident. Until 2 weeks ago when I felt a familiar pop in my right ankle.

2 Responses to “My First Achilles’ Rupture”

  1. I find it interesting how different people react to opiods. My first time around (”voluntary” surgery on my right foot to remove a bone spur) I had to be on a regular schedule of anti-nausea pills along with the narcotics, and, of course, they were on different hourly schedules. If I didn’t take anti-nausea drugs on a pretty regular schedule then I felt the urge to hurl. Not pleasant so I got off the pain meds as quickly as possible. The second time around (same surgery on my left foot) I was vegan (for other health reasons) and the pain meds had an even worse effect. This time I had to take the anti-nausea drugs exactly on schedule, even a slight delay meant I had the urge to hurl. I finally gave up after 5 days since it just wasn’t worth having to be so rigorous with the schedule. Fortunately I didn’t really have any pain after that. Unfortunately the drugs were still in my system for a week after I stopped taking them!!! Ugh - random bouts of nausea so I had to carry anti-nausea pills with me all the time. With a little research my hubby found that the opiods are fat soluble so they probably got stored in my body and when that fat was metabolized - instant nausea. Bleah!! So I can’t even imagine why anyone would take opiods voluntarily - LOL!

    But I’m glad to hear you and your boyfriend (eventual hubby) healed up together. I hope he didn’t outdue you this time around. :)

  2. hello there

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