Jun 02 2010


Weeks 2-4: Life on Crutches

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On my one week anniversary, I had a Dr’s appointment to check on my foot. That was the first time I saw my doctor since prior to my surgery. At the appointment he told me that everything went well with the surgery. He did say that the ends of my tendons were shredded. According to him, this indicated that my rupture was acute not chronic. I still wonder if the massaging of the tendon the guy at the basketball court did had anything to do with it.

He explained again that I was going to be put into a cast and recasted every week until my foot reached 90 degrees (I was splinted with my foot pointed down) at which time I would be transferred to a boot and be full weight bearing. And like that, I was casted up and sent on my way.

So over the next three weeks I had to deal with life in a cast. The 3 biggest annoyances were trying to shower without getting the cast wet, not being able to carry food from the microwave/refrigerator to the table, and going up and down stairs. But as with any obstacle in life, you learn to overcome it… or at least adapt.

After seeing how ineffective plastic grocery bags were at keeping my cast dry, we bought a plastic cover specially made for protecting casts at the drug store. It was a long plastic tube with, with a hard plastic ring and rubber gasket at the top. I referred to it as my leg condom for obvious reasons. It worked like a charm and allowed me to shower standing up. I know I was supposed to be completely none weight bearing at that point, but I cheated and used the bad leg just for balance… my good leg supported 99% of my body weight, I’m sure.

I don’t think I ever found a good way to hold a plate a food while on crutches, but I did manage to get the job done when necessary. Basically the way I managed was to use one crutch as normal, while the other crutch I held only in my armpit; I needed my other hand to hold the plate. The armpit crutch, I would swing out in front of me allowing me to scoot forward while keeping the weight off my bad foot. Not efficient, but got the job done.

Stair climbing was always interesting. I never had a problem going down stairs. I would put both of my crutches in one hand and use the other hand on the railing to support my body weight as I lowered myself to the next step. After reaching that step, I would reset my crutches to the next step below and again support my weight between the railing and crutches to lower myself to the next step. Not the most efficient (or maybe even safe) but I was comfortable with it.

Going up the stairs, I took one of the other blogger’s advice and went up on my butt. Over the course of the 3 weeks, I transitioned into going up the stairs standing up. I was able to that by standing on the bottom stair, with one crutch in either hand, and stepping with my good foot up to the next step. After my foot was on the step, I would raise my body up afterwards. Again, maybe not the safest way to do steps, but I became quite confident with it.

My recommendation to anyone in this phase of their recovery is to do the safest way possible to get up and down steps, which is probably on their butt. You are always one slip away from rerupturing, so be safe.

I was casted for a total of 3 weeks, each week moving closer to the magical 90 degrees. After torturing my wife with my cast color selection (Week 1: White, Week 2: Hot Pink, Week 3: Christmas), I came out of the cast for good on my 4 week anniversary of surgery. Oh happy day!

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Jun 01 2010


February 24, 2010 - Surgery and Week 1

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Surgery day came. I had stayed up all night to make sure that I could make it to the afternoon without eating. As many know, you can’t eat or drink from midnight the day before until surgery. My wife and mother took me to the hospital. Although it was my first real surgery (I had my wisdom teeth taken out before), I was not nervous at all, just anxious to get on the road to recovery.

After being prepped for surgery, my doctor came to go over the procedure one last time. Hour long surgery, in and out. The anesthesiologist then came to give me a nerve block that was suppose to numb me from my knee down to relieve me of any pain for the next 48 hours. He also gave me what he called, “happy hour”, which is a pretty heavy sedation. I don’t think I was put completely under, but I wouldn’t have known any different. The only thing I remember was waiting to ask the anesthesiologist a question after adding the happy hour to my IV only to wake up in the recovery room.

After the surgery, the nurse had told me that I had slept so long that the doctor had left. My wife and mother were there to greet me when I woke up and to let me that they spoke to the doctor and everything went as planned. The nurse then explained to us the medication I was prescribed and all the dos and don’ts for the next few days, and I was sent on my way.

From the time I ruptured through the surgery I rarely felt any sort of pain as long as my ankle/foot was stabilized. From day 1, I sat on the couch with my foot on the floor without any problem at all. The only reason why I ever elevated my foot was because that was what I was SUPPOSE to do, not because it relieved any sort of pain.

The only time I recall feeling any sort of pain during the 1st week was the night after surgery when the nerve block finally wore off. I think it was 4 am in the morning when I was woken out of my sleep by a throbbing pain coming from my ankle. The anesthesiologist was a little off on his estimation because I still had about another 12 hours left in the 48 hours he said the block would work. I woke up my wife, who was right next to me, after tossing and turning for a half hour and told her my foot was throbbing. She got up to get the medication the hospital had given me. After a couple of hours and as much medicine as allowed by the prescription, the pain was bearable. Of my entire recovery, that was my longest night to date. That episode was the only time I needed to take any sort of pain killer.

Week 1, post operation was a very slow and boring week. I spent 90% of the time on the couch and watched more TV than a human being should. I did try logging on to my work computer the week of the operation. The only day I wasn’t able to log on was the day after I had taken the pain killers. I felt nauseated sitting up at my laptop, so I had to turn the computer off and lay down. Other than that it was pretty uneventful.

I did speak to my doctor about elevating my foot, being that it bothered my sciatic (don’t ask, it’s a long story). I read in some of the blogs that elevating not only helped with pain, but also helped accelerate the healing process. I told him that I didn’t want do anything that would harm my progress, but I would prefer not to elevate. He said that elevating was for my own comfort and that it wouldn’t slow my recovery if I didn’t do it.

On the following Monday, 5 days after surgery and just over a week from my rupture I returned to work. Fortunately, my wife worked less than 1 mile away from my job, so she was able to drop me off. Besides going up and down 2 flights of stairs to the bathroom, which I had began to get the hang of from being at home, it was pretty much the same as sitting at home.

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May 27 2010


February 23, 2010 - What’s the Prognosis Doc?

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The following Tuesday, 2 days after injuring, I met with the Doctor. By that time I had been on the internet for probably the past 48 hours straight trying to absorb every ounce of information I could on Achilles tendon rupture trying to figure out an explanation for the injury how long I would be down and out for. I did learn that the people that are typically affected by this injury are males (check), 30-60 years old (double check), that are weekend warriors (triple check.) But what I couldn’t get a handle on was how long it would be before I get back to normal. I had read so many people’s stories, that I didn’t know what to expect. So that was my main question going into the appointment.

After a painful Thompson test confirmed it was indeed ruptured, the doctor explained the two options I had for treatment (surgical vs non-surgical) and the pros and cons of each. Knowing (from my reading) the rerupture rates and the amount of strength expected to be recovered for each approach, there was no doubt in my mind which approach I was going to elect; surgery. My question to the doctor was then, “What’s the prognosis? When can I expect to be back to normal?” And to my amazement he said, “You’ll be back to basketball in 3 months.” Say what? 3 months!!!! At the time I was just so happy at the thought of having my summer back and being able to play golf this year that I never stepped back to think that, “doesn’t 3 months seem a little too optimistic?” But it didn’t matter. I got the answer I wanted to hear. That I was going to be back to normal SOON. I was anxious to get this show on the road.

After informing the doctor of my decision to go with surgery, I was told that I could be brought into surgery the very next day. So that required us (myself and my wife, who had become my care taker) to make an appointment with my primary care physician that afternoon to get a pre-operation check up. Fortunately, he was able to get me in and I was ready to go for surgery the next day.

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May 27 2010


February 21, 2010 - The Infamous Pop

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Holidays are always a tough time to stay motivated and committed to your fitness goals. Like a lot of people I became victim to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season, eating too much and exercising too little. All of the snow fall we got this year certainly didn’t help either. With the holidays now behind me, I wanted to refocus on eating well and getting to the gym, like I normally did.

My normal routine involved going to the gym 3 times a week where I either ran and lifted weights, participated in a Tae Bo class, or played Basketball. I also played in a basketball league on Thursday nights, which I would count as one of my 3 times a week. I had been struggling getting into a routine, but had finally just started to become more consistent.

That Saturday morning, I did an hour of Tae Bo. The next morning, Sunday, it was my normal pick up game. Prior to playing, as I learned from my back injury, I made sure I stretched thoroughly before getting out on the court. Hamstrings, calves, quads, back, stretched and ready to go.

I was in the middle of my 3rd game that morning when I felt the pop and like many other’s experience, it was a very unspectacular event. I caught a pass from a teammate and tried to make a quick move to the right pushing off on my left foot. As I pushed off of my left foot, I felt what I thought was a basketball come onto the court and hit me in the back of the calf. As I fell to the floor I looked back only to see there was no ball on the court (to this day I don’t know if I fell because my achilles popped or my achilles popped because I fell). In that split second I immediately knew that something was wrong with my leg. I yelled, “my leg!” and repeatedly said, “I’m done! I’m done!” as I scooted off the court on my butt trying to get out of the way so the game could continue. Playing basketball, I have become accustomed to spraining fingers and ankles and figured this would just be something that would prematurely end my day that I’d eventually be able to walk off. I had felt a pop, but didn’t feel much pain to make me think it was serious. Sensing it was more serious than I thought, the guys I was playing with crowded around me as I laid on the sideline. I told them, “I don’t know what’s going on. It felt like I was hit in the leg with a ball.” One of the guys said, “Yeah, you ruptured your Achilles.” He then kneeled down to message my calf putting pressure from the middle of my calf progressing down to my heel, repeatedly. The pain was excruciating every time he reached the area of my Achilles… 1000 times more painful than when I actually injured it. At the time I was thinking, “what in the world is the dude doing? Does HE even know what he’s doing?” In retrospect, I think he may have trying to prevent the Achilles from retracting into the calf. Whether or not what he did helped in my recovery, no one knows. As I lay on the floor rolling in pain, with my hands on my face, from this guy rubbing on my tendon, I could hear people talking. “He ruptured his Achilles…. What? A young guy like that? Yeah he’ll need surgery?” (I play ball with the 30 and up crowd now ) Surgery? Wow this is more serious that I thought.

Because the car that I drive is manual, I had to call my wife to bring me to the emergency room. At the emergency, the doctor on duty performed the Thompson test and confirmed that it was indeed a rupture. When I heard the diagnosis, I felt like I could have cried….had my wife not been there, I probably would have. It had been a long, cold, snowy winter in Maryland and I was very much looking forward to the weather breaking and being able to go out and enjoy it. Instead, thinking it was a minimum 6 month recovery, I thought that the entire summer was lost to injury. After I struggled to hold it together, I was splinted up and sent on my way with crutches. I made an appointment to see an orthopedic the next day.

That night I racked my brain with the question, “Why?” I could not understand how this could happen. I made it a priority to stretch before I went out to play. I had just did Tae Bo the day before. I’m only 31 years old…. I know that’s starting to get up there, but that’s not that old. Right? Why did this happen to me?!

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May 27 2010


Better Late Than Never

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I know for a fact that everyone who participates in this blog can never truly understand how the simple act of writing about your experiences with this injury touches so many lives. For each person who blogs about their experience and gives supports to others through the comments, there are MANY people who receive comfort and encouragement who read the blog, that never write a single word. How do I know? Because for the past 13 weeks I have been one of them.

Since the day I injured myself, this has been my favorite, most visited site on the internet. I could not get enough about people’s experiences with this injury. Your stories let me know what I was up against, gave me hope, and also were a form a therapy. With all the ways this site has helped me, I thought how great it would be to share my story and help others the same way the site helped me, but, like with many other things in life that I should or want to do, I never got around to it…. Well that’s until now!

Although it’s a little later than I wanted, I’ll try to retrace my journey up until this point. Bear in mind, my memory is not the greatest, but I’ll do what I can to recall exactly how I felt at the time.

So a little background about myself. Obviously, my name is Bill. I am a 31 year old male that was a former highschool athlete (primarily Baseball and Basketball) that now sits at a desk for 40 hours a week. In recent years, within the last 6 or so, I picked up golf, which has quickly become one of my favorite past times in the world. I enjoy staying active, playing in Basketball on the weekends, basketball and golf intramural leagues, all while trying to make it to the gym 3 times a week to run, Tae Bo, or do light weight lifting. About 1 year and half ago, shortly after turning 30 (and ironically a few months after getting married), I strained my lower back for the first time I playing basketball. I saw a physical therapist for a few weeks to receive treatment. What I learned from the experience with the PT was how much I lacked flexibility in general and how important stretching is. From that point forward, I made it a point the stretch prior to doing ANY activity.

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