Looking for Vaco Cast Feedback

I’ve been doing a lot of research on that Vaco Cast and I think it’s what I want to rock with when it’s time for me to get booted. I figured if it’s good enough for  teams in the Bundesliga, it’s good enough for me. But my surgeon had never heard of it, so I was wondering if any of you guys who have used it have any feedback to share.

Approaching at the Verrazano

As you can see from my marathon chart I’ve progressed .7 miles on my marathon tracker, which can only mean one thing, my surgery was yesterday! Now I am not just staring at the Verrazano, but getting ready to make my way actions it!

My surgery went pretty well. I didn’t have to be at the surgical center until 9, which meant I got to sleep in. During the two weeks between my ATR and my operation I have been going to work, helping paint the school I work at. I wasn’t going to let anything, not crutches or a severed tendon, prevent me from keeping a roof over my head.

I was very nervous before my operation, which meant I was cracking a lot of jokes with the staff as I waited for Dr. Pagliaro to be ready for me. And since he is such a good surgeon, and thorough, I had to wait about 3 and a half hours before they prepped me for surgery.

Around noon the anesthesiologist came to give me my block anesthesia. It must’ve been a pretty big needle because I could feel it digging in the back of my knee as she looked for the nerve. I was told that this would make my leg numb, but it felt pretty much the same all the way up until they wheeled me into the OR.

And I was feeling pretty good until I they took me into the operating theater. I had never had surgery before, so the reality of what was about to happen overwhelmed me. I wasn’t in there for more than three minutes before they put me under and my nice dream began.

Unfortunately my medicine wore off just as my dream was starting to get good. I was expecting to be really groggy and nauseous but I didn’t feel that bad when I woke up. The only hitch came when the nurse asked me if I could feel her touching my toes. I could, which meant that the block anesthesia didn’t work as well as intended. So much for 29 hours of local pain relief.

That being said I ate my post-op snack, the best juice & cheese crackers ever made, and listened to my instructions. It was about five when they wheeled me out to the lobby and got to see the smiling faces of my rise and her son. I was so relieved to be heading home to start my recovery.

Surgery on Deck

When I first heard my diagnosis I was speechless.  Granted, people get way worse news from their doctors than ATR, and I certainly don’t want to lose sight of the fact that I’ve been blessed with thirty-three years of perfect health. I was taken aback because my Achilles didn’t feel like it was ruptured yet Dr. Fletcher knew what was wrong immediately. It was also strange hearing how bad the injury was; he and his colleague (my surgeon) said that it was a high rupture that would not heal without surgery. I tried to regain my composure and ask some questions but I wasn’t making much sense. July 2012 had started with the passing of Lew, my beloved pit bull that I had owned for the last fourteen years. This injury feels like a physical manifestation of the grief I was feeling.

After the examination room my next stop was the cast (casting?) room and yet another reminder how how great it was to be a patient of Dr. Beede. My clouded mind had me thinking I was getting some kind of air cast or boot, not the Fiberglass albatross that has held me down for the past week and a half. It wasn’t until the nurse started wrapping me up that I realized what was being put on my leg. I was also naive in assuming that an orthopedic office had crutches. Luckily the people at TOG were kind enough to wheel me to my car so I could try to get my hands on some crutches.

Karma definitely wanted me to have a pair of crutches. Not knowing what else to do, I headed for the only medical supply store that I knew of. This despite the fact that it was 6:30 & they close at five. Luckily for me the manager/co-owner was literally standing at the door as I pulled up. He was also a decent human being, so when he saw the condition I was in he made sure I didn’t have to go anywhere else to get crutches. He even made brought them to me in my car and fitted them for me in the parking lot. There’s no telling how my day would’ve ended if I did cross paths with that guy. I certainly wouldn’t of been able to get to work the next day; and despite my ATR I needed to continue to work.

The Diagnosis

I woke up on the morning of July 23rd, 2012 feeling like I had sprained my Achilles. I knew it wasn’t my ankle because I could move my foot from side to side easily. But flexing it up and down? Not so much; I could lift my foot up and down but it didn’t feel very strong. My foot was stiff and I wasn’t about to go for any jogs that morning, but I still had no clue what my diagnosis would turn out to be. I watered my garden, grabbed some breakfast, and headed out to the school for my summer job doing maintenance. By this point I knew I had to go see my doctor to make sure nothing serious was going on.

I worked until about 11 that morning before heading to see my general practitioner, Dr. Beede. After a brief examination he wrote me a referral to see an orthopedist. Beede said Trenton Orthopedic Group was the best in the area, so I made my appointment and  waited for 3:00 to roll around.

Waiting would be one of the overarching themes of my day. I was sitting with what I thought was a sprained Achilles for about fiifteen minutes before I met the first receptionist. Another hour or so passed before I met the second form-filling secretary. When she was done with me I sat for another forty minutes or so before I saw Dr. Fletcher. As I was slowly walking back to the exam room I couldn’t help but think I should be billing them, at my freelance rate, for the nearly two hours that I waited. I didn’t even get any credit for arriving twenty minutes early in order to fill out the obligatory medical history forms.

I was only laying in the waiting room for fifteen before Dr. Fletcher came in. I retold him of my experience on the court the previous day, he gave my now swollen, but not painful left leg a quick tactile examination and pronounced I had a high ATR  that required surgery.

July 22, 2012

That particular Sunday was supposed to be one of those easy summer days that creates mosaics with the memories from other easy summer days. The movement was initially to take me to the beach for a much needed day relaxing with a good buddy of mine. But as luck would have it things came up and my guy had to take a rain check. I was far from bummed though as that just presented me the opportunity to link up with my aces John & Leaf at the park for some much needed exercise via a shared passion of ours, basketball.

Before I talk about the actual game I played that day let me provide a brief outline of my basketball career. I sucked. I tried out for my high schools team unsuccessfully for one year before I vowed to never stray from my first love, football. I didn’t start to really cultivate an interest and then a passion for basketball until my mid twenties, when I was fortunate enough to help the middle school I work for start a basketball program. After four years as the assistant coach I became the head coach, a role I have cherished for the past four seasons. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with some amazing young men and few things in my life gave been more rewarding than watching them work hard and succeed. So as a late bloomer to the game I really only started developing my game recently. I’ve always known how to play the game but coaching afforded me the time to get better. All the drills I’ve ran with my boys was finally starting too rub off on me.

The temperature was around ninety by the time Leaf and I got to the park. It was the perfect day to burn some calories and build my cardio health while having fun. After about twenty minutes or so of shooting around John showed up and along with a random guy at the park we started to play a game of oak. I played pretty poorly until near the end of the game when my jumper started falling and I was able to convert some free throws. I earned a respectable score & finished third out of five players. By the end of our oak more guys started to show up at the park, enough to pick sides for a five-on-five game.

My last basketball game of this ’season’ got off to a quick start. The kid I was playing was quick and had a good shot, especially when his man was setting Prince-like (palms out, not a good look if you’re like me & don’t like sweaty strangers touching you) screens. I made my first shot and dude came back and hit a long jumper of his own. A spirited competition was just getting started.

My summer, and immediate future changed about five minutes into this game. I was making my way back up court to play defense when I felt what I hoped my someone kicking me in the leg. I hoped this was the case because I knew, from my dad’s experience with ATR, that an Achilles injury can feel like a kick in the leg. Unfortunately no one was close enough to kick me in the leg.

Despite the squeamish looks I get telling this story, the injury did not hurt. I thought maybe I twisted my ankle and tried to walk it off. I knew I wouldn’t be able to play the rest of the day when my left foot felt like it was lower than my right foot. So I took my ’sprained’ ankle to the sideline an watched my boys play a couple more full court games before returning home to ice and elevate my ankle. If it still hurt or was swollen in the morning I figured maybe I’ll give my doctor a call to make sure nothing major was going on with my left heel.