How to celebrate 6 weeks - go camping!

I’m coming up on 8 weeks post-op as of Friday and I wanted to document the progress of the past 2 weeks.   On week 6, we (my wife and 2 kids with some friends for good measure) went camping.  We have travel trailer (you might consider it more of a portable hotel room so I use the term camping loosely) and were scheduled to go to Mystic Ct area for a family vacation planned since last year.  I was only walking for 1 week at this point and I borrowed a wheel chair for the sight seeing.  My wife was a real trooper pushing me around like that for a week.  I’m a big guy so it was a lot of work.

My big fear was stumbling through the campsite after sitting by the fire and drinking 12 beers.  It was a perfect opportunity for re-rupture.  I was very careful always using a flashlight and roboboot.   I even asked the orthopod about the mechanics likely to cause a re-rupture so I could watch out for it.  It turned out better than fine.  Since I started removing my boot inside, I tried showing standing.  I swear that was the best shower of my life!  How nice it was to be a biped again. 

On week 7 I started PT.  I’ve had two sessions and still no significant pain.  Mainly stretching and very light strengthening (like a mild rubber band, but it all about improvement).    This past Sunday I mowed the lawn for the first time since June 2.   I started it while the wife was out shopping.  She was not happy with me when she returned, yet she didn’t stop me either!  And I don’t blame after all she has been doing for the last 8+weeks since ATR.

Progress has been rapid.  I walk inside without the boot.  Walk outside with the boot, but I am very careful and continuously cognizant of the topography (btw - it’s the heal in a hole motion that will get you).  In one week of PT,  I already have about90% or more of my flexibility.  Every day I walk better, further, and longer.  I suspect this rate slows down tremendously.  I’m going to enjoy the progress in the mean time.   

My goal is to be walking normal with all day endurance 5 months post op.  We have a Walt Disney World trip planned just after Thanksgiving, which we’ve been planning for the last 4 years.  I’m feeling optimistic that I’ll be able to handle it if I keep working the stretching and strengthening.

5-weeks post-op & drove my motorcycle

I had an appointment with my othopod today.  He gave me the order for PT and told me to come back in 6 weeks.  He indicated I can start immediately and maybe be in 2-shoes in a couple of weeks.  He also cleared me for swimming without my boot, which is great since we are going on a family camping trip (RV, not tent or hiking) this coming week.

I drove my motorcycle to work today, to my wife’s dismay.  Since my ATR is on my right side, driving the car is difficult but doable.  I have nearly normal control of my motorcycle as the right foot is only the rear brake and is the least important of the controls.

Now that I’m walking in a boot….

Currently 4 weeks and 4 days post op.  I have been walking for 3 days in the robo-boot.  I’ve been wearing my work boots all the time since they have the largest heal leading to the least difference in height.  So, what are the other solutions?  There must be much better ones than this. 

Also, I’ve been doing stairs always with the injured leg completely strainght, one step at a time.  How long before I can walk up stairs with each foot leading?  I’m tempted to try, but afraid.

EEEWWW

So it was 27 days post-op and I had jury duty.  I went because for sure the alternate date would inevitably been far worse.  My crutch made a bit of scene as most people have never seen anything like it.  I actually got seated on the jury on a criminal case…but that is not important to this blog.  What is important is what happened while I was waiting in the jury pool room.  I took my boot off to do some flexibility exercises and noted my foot stunk!  It was very embarrassing.  When I got home and pealed back the dressing..weell  I think EEEWWW says it all.  The wound was infected and had an awfulstench.  The dressing was only 1.5 days old.  Very weird and I have no good theories as to how this happened.  Pictures proved at the bottom for those with strong stomachs.  Fear not, all ends well.

Worked from home the next day and saw Dr. in the morning.  He cleaned the wound and gave me a prescription for antibiotics and proceeded to tell me to put as much weight as I can stand on the foot.  I was stunned.  Going for gold I  asked how long I can have the boot off…thinking like I could watch a movie…he gave me permission to sleep without this thing.  I can have it off as much as I want provided I do NOT put weight on the foot without the boot on.  Wow.  The day started off poor, but took a huge and unexpected turn for the better.

Interestingly I got home and couldn’t figure out how to walk.  I was too timid.  Three days later I got up on after Sunday morning breakfast and started walking (well hobbling…but how great is this).  Picture of first walk attached (4wks 3 days post-op).

 

Here are the picture.  This is after th Dr. cleaned up the mess.

 

And 3 days later ….drum roll please….walking!

 

Staples Removed @21 days

Well my scheduled appointment to see my doctor got delayed because he caught pnemonia!  Anyway, the substitute removed the staples @ 3 weeks and put me in a boot!  However, he told me to treat it like a cast and sent me on my way.  Had I known how difficult it is to sleep in, I would have prefered another cast. 

A word of caution for newbies considering the “I Walk Free” crutch.  With a boot on, the foot sticks out a lot more and going down stairs takes more care.  It still doesn’t change my perspective on how great the crutch has been.  Just was a bit of a drag…adding to my dissapointment as I was expecting to get cleared to PWB.

Here is a picture just after staple removal.

16 days post-op and finished first week of work

Well, last week I worked.  Mon-Thurs I woked from home, but went to work on Friday as the kids started summer vacation and I couldn’t see being effective.  Thanks to my friend/coworker Tom who picked me up at my house and drove me in (36 miles each way).  I did give him Red Sox tickets, but I’m sure he will derseve more.  My knee crutch worked well and it was nice to get back to work (mentally).  No real issues, except all of the stares / questions about the “I walk free” [when viewed fron the front (i.e. walking towards one another in a hallway) people thought I lost the leg below the knee!]  It was nice to get out of the cage I call home. 

Went out yard sailing with the wife yesterday.  Nice to get out but too much attention from knee crutch.   People are being nice, but I can’t have my foot low for too long or it get’s blue, swolen, and numb.   It takes like 20 minutes.  Can anyone explain why this is?  I’ve read it can be caused in part by the lack of muscle activity.  However, at the computer the good foot is doing nothing and its not blue.  It it restriction from the cast or simply a result of swelling? 

On a brighter note, I see the surgion next Tuesday.  Since I am already in my second cast and near 90 degrees, I am hoping to get the boot.  I know it will still be NWB, but its progress and …you know what it’s like to be in a cast.  I can’t wait to be able to limp around again and be useful.

1 week visit

My original cast was split to allow for swelling.  It split all the way through and was rubbing.  I was concerned about motion near the wound and the Dr. saw me.  They replaced my cast but changed the angle to near 90.  It felt so good to get the cast off.  Even better was the feeling of the AT working as he tested it. 

This also was my first trip since surgery.  Not very exciting, but sure beats sitting at home!  My 10 year old daughter has her 2nd cast for a broken growth plate.  Funny its even on the same leg!  My poor wife have to take care of both of us…

5 days post op

Well today is 5 days post op.  I am in very little pain.  I stopped the vicodin yesterday morning and only used ibuprofen since yesterday.  Pain and swelling have been low.  The only issue is that my toes get dark when I don’t have the foot elevated. 

You’ll all be glad to know I finally took my first post op shower!   Wow, did I stink.  It felt quite good.  Not as difficult as I had envisioned.  Simply used a shower chair and a dry cast shower bag.

Have really started to get used to my “I walk free”.  Its great for so many simple things.  Even going up stairs is a breeze.  Still getting the hang of going down and my injured foot hits the stair behind.  Also went outside and walked around the house yesterday with it and enjoyed the fresh air.  I was temped to play catch with my youngest daughter, but didn’t want to push it yet.

 

I’m starting to check in at work despite planning on taking this entire week off.  I guess when when you bored enough, even work sounds good!

My 10 year old daughter has a cast on the same foot due to a broken growth plate!  She’ll be cast free next week.

The Surgery

Had surgery on June 12, 2009…the day before my 40th birthday.  Not sure I can articulate what I planned for today, but I’m very confident it was not this! 

Thought the surgical timeline might be useful for the poor souls behind me.  Arrived at hospital at 6:15 am.  Entered operating room at 8:00.   Rudely woken from the cast being cut (to allow for swelling) at 10:30.  Felt quite poor, but went back to sleep.  Awoke at 11:30 to find my wife next to me.  Left hospital at 2:30.  Got home and slept to 6:00 pm.  I think they gave me too much anesthesia.  It took a while for my O2 to level to get back to normal. 

On vicodin, but does not hurt quite as much as I thought it would.  From what I can tell, tomorrow will be the worst day.     I have three questions I’d really appreciate responses to.

1.  What has been your experiences, good & bad, with any of the hands free alternative to crutches?

2.  Obviously we all want to recover as quick as possible.  I think lying down with the foot elevated is the best.  But for how long?  When should I start to move around to help my mental and physical state?

3.  I had a great season of camping planned with my two pre-teen girls.  They are very dissapointed.  It it possible to do things like that with FWB, but before 2-shoes?  Surgery June 12.  Is August camping trip without hiking, but plenty of limping in the cards?

Hellow fellow achillesbloggers

I ruptured my right Achilles tendon on June 2 2009 playing basketball.  Wasn’t even moving although I’d like to claim it happend as a result of Dwight Howard crushing slam dunk.  I faked a shot and went to drive to the hoop.  Unfortunately, my right leg fell from below me and recall hearing the infamous pop sound while falling.

Its now been 5 days since my injury.  Surgury is scheduled for June 12, the day before my 40th birthday.  I am in fairly good spirits as I can still work and help out around the house.  I have been very surprised a the lack of pain.  I’m guessing my positive outlook will sour in a week.