bballmatt’s AchillesBlog

Walking boot - Long overdue update

April 25, 2012 · 3 Comments

Hello all. Everything has been going well in my recovery so far and I’ve strayed from visiting the site and the blog often as I’ve returned to a semi-normal routine. My cast came off two weeks ago and I received a Bledsoe walking boot with some wedges. I am down from four wedges to two, and I’m using only one crutch occasionally. I’ve been nearly FWB for about a week, and tomorrow I will completely ditch the crutch and venture throughout my day without it. Visit the doc a week from today and hopefully everything is still progressing nicely.

Funny, though. On an elevator on my way out of work today, I bumped into a gentleman who asked what I did to my leg. I said, “I ruptured my Achilles.” He proceeded to tell me he just ditched his walking boot after rupturing his right Achilles in January while playing flag football. He then said, “Before I did that, I had ruptured my left Achilles a year before doing the same thing.” This guy had two ruptures, one in each leg, in about a year. I felt bad for him. But as I left him he seemed positive. He was happy to be in shoes again and walking mostly without a limp or strange gimp. He wished me luck and told me it only gets better with time. The positivity was refreshing and a good reminder of this blog and the people who’ve helped me in my recovery.

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Question on re-rupture - Did I?

April 4, 2012 · 3 Comments

OK - So I’ve been doing well in my recovery (I think). But I had a question for everyone. The day after I had surgery, I was scooting myself up a flight of stairs on my bum. I had my injured, soft-casted leg and newly repaired Achilles out in front of me as I went up the stairs, and my injured knee swung in the air from side-to-side as I struggled up the steps. My foot swung rather loosely (not violently at all) as a result, and I felt an intense burning pain and I swear I felt a little bit of a tear in my leg. I gathered myself on the landing and felt intense burning in my leg ONLY for a few seconds. The burn went away and I felt only the dull pain that I experienced all day that came from the surgery the day before. I was told the day after surgery would be the worst, and any type of movement around the area would cause intense pain…which I think I experienced.

I had a follow-up appointment with the doctor last week. They squeezed my calf and did a few more basic tests and told me everything was together and healing nicely. But was that “tear” I felt anything? I honestly forgot about what I did on the stairs when I was at the doc last week, but a day later I thought about it and had a dream about it last night. I can’t tell if I’m psyching myself out after reading a few things about re-ruptures on here. Am I looking too much into this? I have not been PWB let alone FWB on my repaired leg yet, have not experienced any pain since that day after surgery, and there was no swelling and no bruising at the time of my last appointment.

For those who’re experienced with re-ruptures or with strength of Achilles repair, is this anything to be concerned about?

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Your “Other” Leg

April 4, 2012 · 2 Comments

The first few days on crutches I wobbled, swung my arms (and the crutches) wildly, twisted to the ground while trying to maneuver onto the john, and overall struggled to adapt. After a few days, my body adjusted and I cruised around the house like a bionic man. I returned to work last week and am traveling greater distances on crutches. A few times, I roamed outside the office for a few blocks for a bite to eat. During those treks, I started to feel winded, and my good leg was soar for a little bit afterwards, which is expected. The Achilles in my good leg felt a little sore as well, but I couldn’t tell if I was just creating this mentally. I am in the cast and will use crutches for another week.

Which brings me to the point of this post: For those on crutches or who have moved past crutches, how is/did your “good” leg hold up? Experience any soreness in that Achilles while using crutches and exerting the healthy leg with more weight and stress than it’s accustomed? Any danger in seriously stressing the other Achilles while using only one leg?

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Back to Work

March 29, 2012 · 6 Comments

First day back to work today since surgery 10 days ago. Can’t say I missed it. But returning did have many more pluses than I would have thought. It felt good to resume a routine and to leave the house feeling comfortable on crutches and not worrying about my Achilles. I went with a black cast yesterday at the doctor’s office and resisted applying the gold sequins the nurse recommended for younger patients who cheer for the Steelers or the Penguins (Pittsburgh, baby). Regardless, I got razzed pretty good for the cast, but I’ll take it over the couch any day at this point. Someone actually placed a banana peel by my desk and erected a yellow “Caution - Slippery” sign next to it. (Har har.)

Any good stories on returning to work? How long did it take you to get back? Anyone return too soon? Took too much time?

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First Post-Op Doc Visit - Timetable

March 28, 2012 · 1 Comment

Saw my doctor/surgeon today for the first time following the Achilles rupture repair nine days ago. The nurse removed the thick, thick, THICK dressing, and I was relieved to feel fresh, cool air on my leg, feet, toes, and incision. Before I looked, the nurse said, “Wow, this looks beautiful,” and told me bruising existed only around the base of the incision and swelling showed only at a minimum, if at all. Good news. The wound, to me, looks completely healed. But I’m not a doctor.

When the doctor visited he did a quick examination, squeezing my calf in a few places, and said everything was intact. The incision looked “amazing” and should continue to heal in the cast they were about to install. He said I must have been elevating the foot continuously if it looked this good. Again, good news. I have made a point to elevate my leg as much as possible; I would highly recommend it.

In two weeks the cast will come off. I will be fitted with the walking boot with wedges, or “the stiletto” as some people refer to it. One wedge removes each week for three or four weeks until my foot is 90 degrees in the boot. Then I visit the therapist, get my exercises, and begin workin’ the leg back to strength.

The timetable he gave me today differs from the one he gave me when I visited him pre-op. I expected from four to six weeks in the cast and then a long period of time with the boot. My incision has healed considerably, though, and that has changed things. I wanted a boot today, but the doc nixed it. The cast and dressing underneath allow the incision to heal more quickly than placing the foot in a boot following surgery. The cast is a precaution, according to my doctor’s Achilles-healing philosophy. Apparently, unlike many areas where surgery is conducted, Achilles repairs and the area around them may swell for weeks following surgery (this is why elevating consistently is important). If one were to place too much weight or return too soon to walking or weight bearing, then the incision could reopen on its own, exposing the tendon since virtually no fat exists between the tendon and the skin. Yes - it’s as cringing to read as it is to hear from a doctor. This is disgusting to me. But it drove the point home, and I will happily wear the cast for two weeks and continue to elevate.

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Surgery and the Million Dollar “Recovery Time” Question

March 27, 2012 · 3 Comments

My outpatient surgery to repair my ruptured Achilles occurred March 19, 2012, eleven days after the injury. No problems arose during the operation, and I was sent home two hours after it was completed.

With bandages wrapped around a splint on my left leg, the doctor instructed to place no weight on the leg whatsoever, use crutches to move around when necessary, elevate the leg above the heart, take the pain medication when you need it, and to revisit him 10 days after the surgery. Well, 10 days is tomorrow and I visit the doctor for the first time post-op. I have not experienced any pain since the day after surgery and have followed the instructions. I suspect everything is going according to plan.

The plan, by the way, involves a recovery period from 8-10 months, realistically. It may take a year to regain the previous physical condition of the leg and its muscles as well. That’s according to my doctor/surgeon, who knew he was giving me bad news when he discussed the recovery time table with me. I trust him and feel confident in his diagnoses. Unfortunately, I have read many instances where people have surgery and are walking with pain and without confidence 12 weeks, 15 weeks, even 20 weeks after surgery. I know every case is different, but as I learn more about the injury and read personal stories, the feeling that recovery from a rupture takes the majority of a year seems prevalent. The time frame is expansive, disappointing, and slaps you in the face. “I can’t walk normally for 8 months?” But these months will ensure a total recovery and are better than coming back too soon, like hockey player Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils did a few months ago, and risking re-rupture or an unfulfilling recovery.

From the start of this injury, I’ve hoped for the best and expected the worst. I’ve always been somewhat of a pessimist in these types of situations as to not allow myself to be disappointed when bad news is given, which, I guess, allows me to maintain optimism even in the worst circumstances. It seems like a contradiction, and it probably is, but it’s helped me understand quickly that this injury will take almost a year to recover from. Knowing and processing that has put me in a good frame of mind to tackle this without feeling sorry for myself or thinking I can cheat the recovery time frame somehow.

As a 26 year old, 8-10 months is a small period of time in life. I would rather take this time to heal properly than to rush back and experience pain. I encourage others to stick with it and remain optimistic for the long run no matter how difficult it may be.

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8 days after surgery - 1st post

March 26, 2012 · No Comments

I tragically ruptured my left Achilles on March 8, 2012, playing basketball in a local men’s league championship game. I’m 26, healthy, and active. This injury came as very big surprise and as a freak accident to me. I stumbled across this website searching for others who’ve experienced the same type of injury. I am glad there’s a large support community, and I hope to join and contribute to it to help others. I aim to use this blog as an outlet to share my story, my recovery, interesting tidbits I discover about recovery and the injury, and the importance (or lack thereof) of the location of my rupture (just below the calf - I’m told by my surgeon this is an odd place to rupture and could impact my future).

After the injury, a few days passed before I accepted this wasn’t just another high ankle sprain or twisted ankle. When the injury occurred, I was shuffling lightly to gain position before play resumed, and I suddenly heard and felt the all-too-familiar “snap” or “slap,” and I turned around to confront the joker who thought it’d be funny to slap my calf right before play resumed, verbalizing an obscenity in the process. To my surprise, no one was there. I took another step, and that, as they say, is all she wrote. I felt pain rivaling a severely rolled ankle. Walking off the court, I couldn’t use my left leg, which felt as if something was missing. I had to be carried. Upon pressing on various points of my tendon on the sideline, I noticed a large gap in my Achilles.

I purchased an ankle brace from CVS and limped around for a few days. I saw a podiatrist five days after the injury. He ordered an MRI for me and placed me in a walking boot, which was rather uncomfortable and daunting. Eight days after the injury, I saw my orthopedic surgeon, who examined the MRI. He confirmed an Achilles rupture along with stating jokingly I was “another Weekend Warrior” and that “it looks like my NBA career is on hold.” (I do wonder how many one liners these doctors create and how long they have to wait until situations like these arise to say them.) The doctor examined my legs and had his resident video tape the examination because of the odd location of the injury. He discussed options with me. He stressed since I am 26, young, active, and hope to regain my athleticism, then surgery existed as the best option for a 100-percent recovery. I could, of course, neglecting surgery and place the leg in a cast for a few months and let it heal on its own. However, re-rupture with surgery is much lower than simply placing the injury in a cast for a few weeks.

Naturally, since I hope to regain my men’s league championship form one day, I chose surgery. Eleven days after the injury, the surgery occurred on a Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

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