July 22, 2015 - 9 weeks post-op update - Flying and Driving!

July 22, 2015

Today marks 9 weeks to the day since my ATR surgery. In my last post I wrote about my outing to the ball game in shoes (boots) over the weekend. The following day I had a great PT session, working on standing calf raises and gait normalization, then yesterday my wife and I flew from Washington DC to LA. I wore my Aircast boot and had no problem at the airport, went right through “TSA Pre” without any extra scrutiny, and had no problem boarding. We sat in first class so I had enough leg room, and I took my Aircast off and replaced it with a comfortable street shoe with a heel lift as soon as I was seated. It worked out fine, I used two shoes to walk from my seat to the lavatory. A couple of hours in to the 5+ hour flight I put my vaso-pumps on my calves and let them run ¬†for about 90 minutes, a hedge against blood clots. When we landed I put the Aircast back on.

At LAX we picked up our bags and took the shuttle to the car rental place. I am an LA native and learned to drive here, my wife is a little nervous about jumping on to the LA freeways, so I took off my Aircast, put on my tactical boots (see previous post) fired up the rental car and jumped on to the San Diego Freeway at rush hour. I had not driven in about 2.5 months, but I had absolutely no problem. No pain, no issues whatsoever. My heel just rests on the floor of the car and I plantarflex to operate the throttle and brake. Piece of cake! I am so happy to be driving again!

When we got to our destination in LA my ankle felt fine but it was swollen from the flying and driving, and I iced it down. I had not had any swelling in weeks but all those hours with the leg down on the ground took their toll. The swelling went away after icing and I didn’t even need to take a Motrin or Tylenol.

Today, celebrating my 9 week anniversary, I got up early and went to the gym. I went in two shoes - I picked up a pair of Hoka One trail running high-tops to give me support in the gym and they worked great. I rode the exercise bike for 45 minutes, then I did most of my PT exercises including one leg balancing, step ups, basic proprioception, and 2-legged calf raises. I recommend these great shoes for transition workout shoes. I put a 1cm heel lift in the heel of the right shoe.

That’s where I am at week 9. I feel like I am making great progress now and getting my old life back!


July 19 2015 Take me out to the ball game in two shoes.

July 20, 2015

I had tickets to yesterday’s baseball game, Washington Nationals vs LA Dodgers, and I just had to go. The Washington Nationals are my adopted team, and the LA Dodgers are the team that I grew up with in Los Angeles so this was a must see. Since my injury I have attended two games, both when I was PWB in the boot with crutches, and I switched out my seats for ADA “handicapped” seats and everything worked out okay. Yesterday I decided to use my regular seats, which are all the way down right on the field in the 3B corner, meaning I have a loooong set of concrete stairs to go down and up to get to the seats. To top it off, yesterday was a heat warning day in Washington DC - high heat and extreme humidity with heat index values in the 100’s. If you have never been to the Washington DC area in the dog days of summer, the place is absolutely miserable. It is built in a swamp and it just swelters, and yesterday was predicted to be the hottest day of the year so far.

So with that background, I decided that it just was not practical to wear my walking boot - it would get uncomfortable, be difficult on the stairs, and also be difficult in terms of people stepping over me to get in and out of the row. I wanted to sit in my seats, not in the ADA section. Since I am at 8.5 weeks post-op and doing well in PT I decided to give it a go in two shoes.

I bought a special pair of shoes just for this purpose. My background is military and law enforcement and I am kind of a nut for tactical gear. A company out in California called 5.11 Tactical makes great equipment and gives me a veterans discount, so I chose them in selecting a protective boot to wean in to out of my Aircast boot. After looking through their selection I decided that I wanted the following qualities in my boot:

- 8 inch height for ankle protection
- lightweight and breathable
- stiff shank to prevent excessive dorsi-flexion
- ability to accommodate a 10mm heel wedge
- comfortable enough fit around my scar
- side zip for easy on and off

I selected the ATAC Sage 8 Inch CST Boot because it had all of those qualities in addition to a composite safety toe (CST) to protect my foot if someone stepped on me. The boots are very comfortable and I took them to my OS appointment and my surgeon really liked them and thought they would be a fine boot to transition into as I moved to two shoes, providing lots of ankle protection and support.

So I am still not driving, my friend picked me up and off we drove to Nationals Park in Washington DC, just south of the US Capitol. We had a parking space right next to the park and I had no problem whatsoever walking in my new boots! I walked a little bit slowly just out of caution, and I was very careful to avoid situations like curbs which would potentially put me into excessive dorsiflexion, but I did just fine. Once inside the concourse I walked all the way to the far side to get to my favorite sandwich stand, over to my seats, down the stairs - no problems at all. Sitting in the seats I was very glad I didn’t have the Aircast boot on as people stepped over me to get to their seats.

After the game I came home and iced my ankle but I really did not have any pain or swelling - I was very pleased as I had worried about both of those issues but neither materialized.

I consider the whole outing a great success, except for the fact that my adopted hometown team lost to my boyhood hometown team :( I hope this info is useful for anyone transitioning to two shoes. I am going to stay in the Aircast boot for most day to day activity for a couple of more weeks, as my OS had ordered, but it is nice to know I have this option and I am going to use the boots as I start driving again next week.

5.11 boots!