Week 16

October 4th, 2016

So it has been four months since the rupture, and I am starting to see light at the end of this tunnel.

By all accounts (doctor and physiotherapist), I am doing well and on the road to recovery. I am looking forward to playing hockey again by the beginning of December and starting to skate at the beginning of November (1 month away)! I will also start running again probably in January as hockey is my primary goal and running secondary.

I am walking normally now (no limp), except in the morning. The tendon is still very tight and takes a while to get warmed up. My physiotherapist says that a lot of the tightness comes from the unused calf muscle. I go for excruciatingly painful calf massages weekly (fun, right?), but I cannot tell you how tremendously they help.

My orthopaedic surgeon has told me that when my leg is back to 80% of my “normal” leg, it is sufficient strength to go back to physical activities.

Once the tightness has worn off, my leg feels more or less back to normal. I do, however, realize that it is still very weak. Daily reminders like trying to trot across the street or climb stairs, make me realize that I still need to be cautious.

I have been very diligent with my physio. I try to get in one to two hours daily, which also includes cardio and non-physio-related exercises. I am also fortunate to have access to a pool, which has been an amazing addition to my routine. So I alternate with pool days and dry land training. As well, there are a lot of exercise that can be done while just standing around or watching TV, so I try to take full advantage of those opportunities as well.

Right now my training consists of:

Pool Training
Lap training warmup (freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke), jogging on the spot (water just over my waist), simulated rope skipping, squats, heel raises and balancing on one leg

Dry land Training
Early on, though research, I was directed to the YouTube channel of Brady Browne (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAr6DFQW4nepXw2BWMYzKsQ). He is a great inspiration as well as offers a lot of wonderful advice and exercises, which are very similar to the ones my physiotherapist recommended. He also went the non-surgical route.

Week 10

October 4th, 2016

My rupture happened on June 19, 2016. By mid-August, I was two months into recovery. I went back to my orthopaedic surgeon, and he took out my heel lifts. This was very surprising for me. From what I have read on the subject, most people seemed to take out their heel lifts gradually.

Now my foot could go more or less flat. The first week, it was very painful and tight, and I started to wonder if my foot would actually go flat again! It was around this time that I started to see my physiotherapist. She told me that I could start working on getting out of the boot. The first “step” was that I could sleep at night without the boot. While I was out of the boot, she also told me to do ankle rotations and pointing and flexing.

The next step was adding weight. At first my foot felt very tingly (pins and needles) even while using crutches. After three days this became more comfortable. The next week (week 9), I got rid of my crutches and was just using the boot. This was so incredibly liberating! No more balancing dishes, cups on crutches.

I found the weeks between 8 to 10 to progress very quickly. By week 10, I am totally out of the boot and walking (and driving). My physiotherapist has told me that I should keep the boot with me as my ankle will get tired quickly. This is true, but I have decided that I’m not going back to the boot. For the moment, I am only wearing running shoes. My ankle is still swollen and the shoes are soft at the back but provide heel support.

The exercises that I am currently working on are heel raises while sitting, ankle rotations with a change of direction every 20 rotations, and weight transfer while standing.

Week 7

October 4th, 2016

It was a very hard summer to say the least. I went from having a wonderful summer planned to really just laying around the house, mostly in bed. I found it very difficult to go from being so active to not being able to do anything. It was very emotionally painful for me to accept. I would say that it took at least a month before I started to look past the injury and think about the future.

Having gone the non-surgical route, I was in a slab cast for two weeks, followed by the boot with heel lifts for six. All non-weight bearing for two months. My doctor had given me the non-surgical protocol. It looked a lot like this: http://dalortho.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Accelerated_Rehabilitation_Program_July-2013.pdf.

He told me not to follow any of it until eight weeks. The only time I removed the boot was when I showered. Other than that, I wore it 24/7 including to sleep.

The first sort of training that I started was on my upper body. I realized that my upper body strength was severely lacking and if I was going to have any type of reasonable mobility, I would have to work on my arms. It was a good thing to work on, and left me feeling that at least I was doing something positive. I was also able to start going out more and navigating our subway system.

I would stress though, that it’s very important to not use free weights but machines only. During this time, you don’t want to take any chances with your stability or losing balance.

I also learned that I needed to rely on the kindness of others. As someone who is used to doing a lot on their own, asking for help was not in my vocabulary. It was difficult to accept that the little things like cooking, cleaning, driving were out of my reach. I truly found it amazing how kind and helpful friends and family were during the time when I needed them most.

Week 6

October 4th, 2016

My achilles story began six weeks ago while playing soccer . . .

At 48 years old, I’m very active. Weekly, I run 3 times and play around 10 hours of hockey. Soccer was new and something I had always wanted to try. The majority of the women in the league were my age and the games were pretty low key.

Four games into the season while running across the field, I heard the pop and dropped to the ground. It was very painful for me. I had been having some tightness in my quad that day and had decided to take it easy. So I wasn’t running hard.

The emergency room doctor confirmed the rupture and put me in a splint. The next day, I had an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon.

Being from Canada (Toronto), the recommendation is the non-surgical route, except if you are a professional athlete. As I had no prior knowledge of this type of injury, I felt very ill prepared to deal with the medical system. I did, however, know that this was going to be a very long recovery regardless.