Well… Where do I start?

Let’s begin with my mindset and the goings on before the injury.

I got married on June the 9th to the most wonderful person a man could ever wish to marry; we had the most perfect of days (apart from the traditional Northern British weather)

Unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I had to go back to work on the following Tuesday, but only for a few weeks as it was a really short term due to our country’s Jubilee commitments (I am a teacher by the way); we were to break up on July 5th. During this final few weeks I had a lot to do. I had two school residential trips to go on (New York and Southampton) followed by a packing up of my drama/art room as we are due to move to the Middle East in August. We also had to move out of our apartment just outside of London.

So after all this fun and games we were due to go to Vegas and Hawaii for a much needed rest and honeymoon (I can see why people go on honeymoon straight after getting married!!).

The shipping had gone out to Qatar and our apartment had been packed up, and there was very little left to do, so I decided to train with my football team (soccer) one last time before leaving the area. I am a keen sportsman and have re-found my love for 11 a-side football over the last 12/18 months. I had got myself pretty fit and have had a full season without any form of injury.

Monday July 2nd

I wasn’t going to go to football as we had a fair bit to do before leaving for honeymoon, but my lovely wife agreed that as I had played all year it would be nice for me to play one last time (I think this is what I heard anyway). I set off to play as normal (nice and early as I like to have a good stretch and warm up) and went through my normal routine. I’d had a few nice touches of the ball and worked up a pretty good sweat when I received a pass from a friend (something that has since been joked about as “not being a hospital pass”- British football humour). I turned with the ball at my feet to make a quick break away towards the opposition’s goal, when I was clattered from behind; at least I thought I was. There was a huge popping sound and my team mates called for a foul whilst laughing. I didn’t find this particularly funny and turned to look who had kicked me so unsportingly, only to find that no-one was there. I tried to stand but felt as though my foot was not attached to my lower leg and went down again. It quickly became apparent that this was pretty serious, but my adrenaline kicked in and I needed to get home and to hospital. My first aid training/ instinct kicked in as I left my boot on and pulled my sock up for compression. I touched the Achilles area of my ankle and it was like a sponge. A friend helped me to the car and I somehow decided to drive home. Half way into my drive I was having to use the handbrake as I couldn’t use my right foot at all. I am not condoning my actions at all, but knew I had to somewhere else to be. I called my wife (hands-free of course) in the car and burst into tears realising that the honeymoon was probably going to be off. She was amazing and brilliant and understanding and purely concerned for me and my health!

After picking up my wife (I had to drive to hospital as I couldn’t get out of the car) we arrived at Accident and Emergency, High Wycombe. They supplied me with a wheel chair, and after the customary 2 hour wait we were seen by a lovely triage nurse who’s first words were, “this doesn’t bode well for Thursday, do you have holiday insurance?”

I got up onto the bed and the diagnosis was confirmed (very painful – Thompson Test). I was then given a letter and sent to Stoke Mandeville Hospital (17 miles away) and told that the Orthopaedic Trauma team were there and waiting for me. We eventually arrived home at 4am with my leg in a cast with my foot pointing towards the floor.

Tuesday 3rd July

After a very uncomfortable and short night’s sleep the phone rang (8:15am) to say, please do not eat anything, there was a gap that had become available in surgery for that afternoon. We had to go to the hospital immediately. Jen helped me dress and we headed back to Stoke Mandeville where they removed my overnight cast, did various other tests and the diagnosis was confirmed (again!!) – a full rupture with a gap of around 4cm. I met the surgeon and went into theatre that afternoon about 1:15pm.

I have a vague recollection of waking up in a lot of pain in the recovery area. When a bed became available I was whisked up to the ward where Jen was waiting with my Dad who had travelled down to see how I was. Jen gave me the news that she had spoken to the holiday insurance and they said they should pay out; I am not sure how more clear cut the situation for a claim could be?

We inspected my leg and I was in a half plaster cast from just below my knee to my toe. I was told this was to ensure there was no issues with DVT; another thing to think about!?!

The following day I was discharged and they set me up with an appointment with a private specialist (all those years of paying premiums could well be worth it) up in the Midlands where we would be moving in with my parents for the foreseeable future. Not the ideal start to married life!

Monday 16th July

My appointment with the specialist was here. Apart from the purple toes and rush of blood and pain when moving fiasco it had been a relatively okay couple of weeks (would rather have been in Vegas/ Hawaii though). My cast was removed and my wound was revealed. Having air on my leg and that feeling of freedom was amazing. The incision was about 10cm long and pretty neat and tidy. I will upload a picture if I can work out how? I noticed that it wasn’t directly over the Achilles and slightly to the left hand side. Is this normal? The specialist was pleased with how it was mending and I had the sutures removed. I was then told roughly about do’s and don’ts and options were discussed; Boot or Cast? I guess everyone who has had this injury finds their mind so consumed by all things ATR, that they want/ need/ crave so much info? Straight away we decided that the boot was the way to go and I wanted a Vacoped (something I had never heard of two weeks previously). I was told that they didn’t do that, and I was fitted with a hinged boot (no air or fancy gadgets) that is made by a company called Otto Bock.

At the time my new boot felt pretty comfortable but now, a week on with huge bags under my tired eyes I am finding it incredibly difficult to sleep in. At night it is extremely warm and I can only lie comfortably flat on my back which is the most unnatural position to sleep in.

So much writing and only two real questions…

1) How long is it, on average, that someone would be wearing a boot of some sort?

2) To Vacoped or not to Vacoped?

I would also like to nominate my wife for “The Most Understanding, Sympathetic and Wonderful Wife of the Year” award…. Does anyone know if this exists?

11 Responses to “Three Weeks Ago Today….”
  1. andrew1971 says:

    Firstly, welcome to the club an unfortunate club (this injury is a bloody aweful timesink) but you’ve found the right site for info and support.

    I am 8wks into recovery, no-op and in a cast for 5.5wks before going into the boot, my blog is here http://achillesblog.com/andrew1971/

    I can only say this of the choice of boots - in one way or another they’re all uncomfortable to sleep in. You could try sleeping with pillows under/between the legs if you can only sleep on your back, I adapted to sleeping in the boot fairly easy, but then we were not in this heatwave (due to pass by the weekend) and my foot is cooking in the boot as I write this.

    I’ve been injured too many times the week before I am meant to go on my hols or somehwere else important, so made a desicision to never play a week before that time….. too late for you, but it’s good advice for future if you find yourself as unlucky as I have been in the past :)

    You are at 3 weeks now, so I am guessing it won’t be long before the specialist gives you the green light to sleep without the boot on?

    Again, warm welcome and Happy healing :)

  2. Curlygirl says:

    Hi There!

    Welcome to the club ! I am at 6 weeks now and only wear the boot at night. I found that once I started PT things improved steadily. Also reading other peoples success gave me confidence.

    Think of all the Olympics you can watch now!

    I think it is true that the first few weeks are the hardest, so you are past that bit.

    Happy healing :)

  3. hillie says:

    Hi Curlygirl

    As with many of us here, I’m no expert on the subject of ATRs and I am wondering why you wear your boot at night and not during the day. Many of us have had the very opposite routine at 6 weeks.

    Just curious that’s all.

    Thanks

    H

  4. pauls says:

    Hi Only 3 1/2 weeks post surgery and I was in a cast for the first 10 days then on a boot set at 30 degree angle. today went back to see Dr. set at Neutral very happy with recovery so far. I have just started my Blog and will tell all as I go.

  5. old lady says:

    Welcome to the group and married life. Yes we all have given that award to our better half or family or friend especially now that we are so dependent on the help of others. Good Luck on your journey.

  6. pauls says:

    We can recover together as we are at similar level to our recovery. Help each other along this road, Sort of healthy competition to revover the quickest. in a nice way though. and tips advice we can help each other would be great!!! good luck!!!!

  7. sheena says:

    Welcome welcome.
    I love your first post. I’ll keep watching and do keep us updated.

  8. smiler says:

    Blueross,

    You story about what happened and how you felt is as if you were in my body 11 weeks ago on Sunday, I actually turned around and started hurling abuse at the man who was stood a few feet away from me, If i could have stood up at the time I think I would have got myself in plenty of trouble. All of my team mates said he didnt do it but even at the A&E that evening and the fracture clinic next morning I swore I had been kicked and it wasnt unitl the surgeon spoke to me and assured me he couldnt have done it that I realised my error. I had to go and appologies to him the week after

    At 3 weeks I imagine you are still feeling very down. I know I was guttted at the lack of use I had become and the restrictions that seemed to in my way every time I tried to do anything. But it does get better you need to look at everyday as a new day and set goals accordingly, At least then every is a successful day when you achieve your goal

    I went against the surgery on the understanding they put me in a boot on day 2. Now 10 weeks and 3 days I am walking FWB in 2 shoes and without crutches, Ok I’m still nto driving but think I may give it a go this weekend. Yes my achilles is swelling quite badly but I accept this as a sign im working it hard

    I went back to work at week 4 in the boot and crutches but lost the crutches around week 6 as I felt I could get around better without them, I have to say the NHS physio’s have been great but I have 3 main routines to improve the ROM and strength and am getting on a static bike for the first time this evening..

    Like I said earlier you need to keep you chin up and know that it does get better, dont try and rush just each day try a little more

    And good luck, stick around….

  9. Curlygirl says:

    hillie

    Oops I meant to say I wore the boot only in the day! Not at night!

    Sorry for the slip up.

    Curlygirl

  10. blueross says:

    Dear New ATR Friends,

    Thank you for all reading my first post. I think this may become a little addictive!!

    andrew1971- I don’t think I will ever be allowed to do anything near to any form of holiday or major event! Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

    curlygirl- so much Olympics to watch!! I am going to ask my surgeon chap on Friday about starting basic PT. He is away for 2/3 weeks after this appointment, so I will be getting on for 7 weeks before starting any. I am also moving country then so PT could be delayed even further?

    hillie- I have read your blog and really enjoyed it. I need to read all the others now. Something to do with my foot up tommorrow Then?

    pauls- looking forward to reading your blog. Love the “Recovery Buddy” idea. You’re on, but we warned I don’t like losing!

    old lady- thank you for your kind words.

    sheena- I’m already a fan of you…. Thanks.

    smiler- scary huh?!? It took myself a little less time to forgive my invisible attacker as he was around 6 metres away when I turned! Not feeling too down, just more frustrated than anything! I bet losing crutches and feeling less useless was amazing. Goog luck with the driving this weekend if I don’t hear from you before. Cheers….

    Thanks you to all of you. My aim is to try and absorb so much information, starting with all of your blogs.

    best wishes and happy mending!

  11. normofthenorth says:

    Acter my first ATR (right), I half-doubted my nearest volleyball teammate who swore he hadn’t touched me. Eight years later, left ATR, I looked around for the kicker, but woke up quickly for two reasons: (1) I was an “old hand” at ATRs, and (2) I’d progressed fro 6-on-6 volleyball to 4-on-4, so my nearest teammate was nowhere near!

    I’m back to competitive volleyball again and loving it, 1st one post-op, 2nd one post-non-op. So don’t give up hope!

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