My surgery was June 16th followed by 2 weeks in a splint and then 2 weeks in a fiberglass cast.  Way before my injury occurred we had a family vacation planned for the week of July 11th - July 18th, and I was not going to let this bump in the road keep me away from campfires, smores, and the outdoors.  I have to give a shot out to my wife during this whole process as she has been nothing but perfect in helping me, driving, cleaning, shopping, and yes packing for the camping trip.  We actually didn’t make it up to the campground until that Sunday, due to a horrible migraine my wife had, but nonetheless we made it, my wife, our two kids, myself, and a very packed Jeep.  I was still adorning my red cast and crutches, but was able to hobble around somewhat, and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and my favorite thing about camping, the campfire.  The following morning, my wife and I drove back home, only 45 minutes away, for the highly anticipated post op appointment for the removal of my cast.  The nurse came in and sawed off the cast, and I couldn’t help but think she was going to cut into my leg, as the sawing caused a vibration as she cut through the hard cast. Within minutes, the cast was off and she did not cut through my leg.  It felt so good to have that off, and I immediately looked at the scar and was still amazed at what had happened to me and what the surgeon had to do to repair my injury.

I then sat on the table, my wife in a chair, waiting for the doctor to come it.  I was able to move my foot a little, but really had no response in my calf. My calf’s are pretty muscular, and I was shocked that just one month of not being able to use that muscle, how flimsy and jiggly the calf had become. The doctor came in and immediately spoke to how good the incision looked and how good it was healing.  He then told me to lay on my stomach and performed some very light stretches and felt around the tendon.  He said my tendon was very tight, and reminded me how much he had to stretch the tendon during the surgery, putting my foot in a ballerina position so the tendon can touch before surgically connecting it.  He told me I would be back in the walking boot with a lift inside the boot for four weeks, but I did not need to sleep in in and while relaxing I could have it off as well.  The best news I received, was that I could start to weight bear a little while in the boot and even a tad while using my crutches.  He gave me an elastic band to start doing some stretches and said while sitting he told me that I can start to flex my and move my foot in hopes of loosing the tendon up.  I was overall satisfied with the visit, and was set up for an appointment in a month.  I came with a cast and left with the walking boot.

We drove back to the campsite to finish our vacation and I was looking forward to testing my Achilles out.  In the boot I was still using the crutch but then felt comfortable enough to walk without it.  It is definitely a weird feeling, as the lift has my foot really arched and the walking boot make me limp pretty intensely.  Over the course of the day though, I improved in the boot and as the vacation continued I only used my crutches while the boot was off.  I even was able to float in a raft on the lake, “crutching” to the edge of the water and crawling into the float.  It felt extremely good to have nothing on my foot while my feet dangled in the water.  As I laid out on the float, I got a little brave and began to perform some very light kick with my bad leg, but noticed that the water made it very easy for me to do so.  As the week went on, my walking in the boot improved, and in the water I became more brave, even exited the float, and using it as a rest for my leg, I was able to kick with my good leg and paddle with my arms.  It felt extremely good in the water, but after a couple hours out there it did swell up a bit, so afterwards I made sure to elevate the leg while relaxing around the fire.  Most nights around the fire I was able to even poke around in the fire with the boot on and then would take it off when I was just relaxing.  I was able to grill some great food even on a couple nights and was even able to help my son and nephew with some sparklers.  It was so nice being somewhat back on my feet, enjoying my vacation the best I could with the given situation.  I probably did more than the “doctor ordered”, but I never felt I was pushing the limits or doing more than I could handle.  From being almost bed ridden the first week after surgery to where I was during this camping trip, was a complete turn around and the progress toward a full recovery was very evident.  Next step will be a couple of visits to physical therapy, but I will continue to do as much as I can at home.

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The second week since the surgery definitely was better than the first.  For one, the pain was even less now, only really hurting if I had the leg in a weird position or sometimes when I was trying to sleep.  Second, I DIDN’T FALL!!!  I was being extra careful after the fall and just continuing to elevate it, stay off it, and be a couch potato.  I did attend my son’s friend going away party, but was able to sit in a chair, I also went to the movie store to help pick out a movie with the family, but other than that, getting out was at a minimum.  The day of my post-op appointment came, and I was really looking forward to seeing what the incision looked like and was interested in how the doctor thought it looked and how I was doing, how was I progressing.  I was a little upset when I arrived, and found out I wouldn’t be seeing the doctor today, but rather the medical assistant to remove my sutures and place me in a cast.

She sat me on the exam table, cut off the ace wrap and the splint, and there was the foot I hadn’t seen in 2 weeks.  I don’t have the best looking feet, but these looked extra bad, yellow-stained from the iodine and my skin was peeling because of being all wrapped up for all that time.  After that I immediately looked at the back of my leg, where the scar was, and even though I had seen plenty of pictures of the surgery, I was still amazed that this incision was on my leg.  She told me to lay on my stomach and she went to town, pulling out about 15 stitches.  She said it looked good and was healing great.  It felt so weird, different from after the injury, because as I moved my foot I saw some movement in my calf, but it just didn’t feel normal, which is understandable.  My calf, which normally is pretty muscular, just felt flabby and very un-muscular.  I couldn’t really flex it, but she said all of that is normal and to be expected.  She then cleaned my leg and feet pretty good, preparing me for the cast.  She wrapped the soft pre-wrap around my whole foot and leg, and then proceeded with the fiberglass casting.  I was able to choose a color, and selected red for the Red Sox!  It felt similar to the splint, but tighter and warmer.  I felt more secure in the cast and definitely like having the stitches out.  I will be in the cast for 2 weeks, before it is removed and put back into my walking boot.  I know the process is long and there are plenty of steps and milestones I still have to complete, but it felt good getting to the next one.

Next up…cast removal!

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(June 17 - June 25)

All those nerves and butterflies before the surgery were gone now, but now the frustration of the long road ahead sets in.  I will be out of work, which surprisingly I love, I will not be able to play basketball; I will not be able to do much on my camping trip in July; I can’t teach my son this summer to ride his bike without training wheels; I can’t really play with the kids like I would in the summer; I am not much of a help to my wife in regards to chores: cutting the lawn, gardening, house cleaning; and I, just in general, won’t be doing much of anything this summer, at least from an active standpoint.  I have stayed somewhat sane in this first week, and have gotten out of the house just enough to not have cabin fever.  I was able to attend my sons school function for father’s day, called donuts with dad,  as well as his Kindergarten play, which I was extremely happy (so was he), that I made both of those.

The first couple days in regards to pain, I was okay.  The numbing agent still didn’t wear off so couldn’t really determine my pain level.  It wasn’t till day three where I noticed any pain, but it was just minor.  Uncomfortable is the way I have described this stage, as I seem to have to move my leg around in different positions, as each one is comfortable for only 10 mins.  The pain was never excruciating, just annoying, but for me worthy of taking some medication, especially at night when it always seemed worse than during the day.  I was automatically a pro at the crutches, moving around pretty well, but it definitely hurts my armpits and is causing calluses to form on the palms of my hands.  I did attempt a shower after my wife placed a garbage bag, saran wrap, and medical tape over my splint and bandages, and although I was able to clean pretty good, it just seemed dangerous, and have since changed the way I clean my stank ass.  Stairs are a no go, and only out of necessity have I gone up and down, kneeling up and sitting as I go down.  My son just finished school, but up until yesterday was still there.  He is 6 years old and very independent, self-efficient, and well behaved that he will stay home with me, no problem.  My daughter, on the other hand, is only 2 and not as easy to watch as him, so she goes to daycare still, and one or two days my amazing, saint of a mother watches her.

I have actually been eating really healthy, knowing that I will be mostly a couch potato, I don’t want to get any fatter than I already am, HEY I’M NOT THAT FAT!  So, a silver lining of all this time off, I might actually lose some weight.  I have done a lot of blogging, on here as well as on my Tumblr account, caught up on some shows, watched a lot of sports, played some MLB The Show and Battlefield, and have rearranged some financial situations around while I am out of work.  Trying to stay as busy as possible has help time go by somewhat fast and makes the days less boring.  The aftermath of the surgery has not been that bad.  I will be going to the doctors for my post-op appointment on the 29th and I hope the report and status is good.  I am very interested to see what it looks like and I hope the doctor lets me take some pictures, so I can share with you all.

Before I close out, I just have to share a very close call that I had.  I was at my Mom’s with the family for dinner one night and they set me up in a chair and foot rest outside on the deck.  I was out there as my step-dad grilled some chicken on the grill.  He is legally blind, but a great griller, nonetheless, but I was out there as an extra set of eyes on the grill.  The grill was set up on the sidewalk, just at the bottom of the deck stairs, and I was stationed near the stairs, keeping an eye on the food.  Everything was going fine, until I decided to try and get a closer look.  I stood up, with out crutches, holding the post by the steps.  I then proceeded to attempt to go down the stairs, still with no crutches, holding the post as I hopped down.  As my good leg almost landed on the step, my bandaged leg, hit the top step behind me, causing me to lose my balance.  I feel, and my natural instinct was to catch my balance by putting other foot down, MY BAD ONE!!!  That did not work to well, and I proceeded to falling right of the steps and onto the grass just off the sidewalk.  I was down on the grass, laying flat on my back, loudly saying some choice words and phrases, and in some definite pain.  My mom and wife, in the kitchen, saw the whole thing and came running out to my step-dad trying to help me out.  The morale of the story is USE YOUR CRUTCHES or whatever form of medical mobility device you may have and STAY OFF OF STAIRS!  I was extremely lucky to not have seriously injured myself, breaking a bone, busting through my suture, or worse doing more damage to my very tender and healing Achilles.  I am an idiot, I know, but I did it for all of you, as an example of what not to do.  I was in some minor pain that day and the next but am fine.

Next up:  Doctor’s appointment on the 29th!

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(June 16, 2015)

My Achilles was ruptured, the pain proved it; the doctor’s physical examine proved it,and the MRI only confirmed all the evidence to be true.  I had a complete Achilles tendon rupture and the best way to fix this, and the docs recommendation, was to have surgery.  The surgery was scheduled for five days after the injury occurred.  During that long, well it felt very long, stretch I had done everything the doctor ordered; rest, elevation, wearing the walking boot, and in general, put as less weight and stress on the foot as possible.  The night before continuing into the morning of, I fasted; not eating or drinking, a single thing.  The day was here; my first ever surgery in my life. Time to go!

I was told to arrive at 11:15am for surgery at 1:15pm.  My daughter decided to get pink eye, so instead of her going to daycare and my Mom coming with my wife and I, my mother had to watch her at her house.  We dropped her off in the morning and made our way to the ambulatory center at ECMC.  We were about 20 minutes early, which actually worked out great.  I filled out the paperwork right away and was nearly immediately sent with the nurse to my pre-op/recovery room.  Shortly after getting in my beautiful, and not at all awkward hospital gown, I was hooked up to an IV, answered some questions for the nurse and anesthesiologist, and then was ready to go.  My wife was allowed to come back at that time and we watched some TV and just waited for the doctor (surgeon) to take me back.  It ended up being a couple hours before they came for me; a time filled with butterflies and about three pee breaks (thanks to the IV).

The doctor came in with the anesthesiologist and told me I was up!  The doctor ran down again what exactly was going to happen during the procedure and the anesthesiologist explained how the anesthetic works and what to expect when I woke up after the surgery.  The anesthesiologist put “something to clam my nerves”, that is what she called it, into my IV and almost instantly I felt it go through my veins and right to my face.  My face then started feeling like I just received Novocaine and I got light-headed, but still completely coherent.  I kissed my wife and they wheeled me down to the operating room.  The room was freezing and looked just like something, for those who have never been in one (like me), exactly from Grey’s Anatomy.  I was nervous as they wheeled my gurney next to the operating table and once again they explained that after the anesthetic they would turn me over on my stomach in order to perform the procedure.  For those who never had a surgery, do not Google it, like I did, because that is all I could see, the videos of procedure playing in my head.  Surprisingly, that is the last I remember about being in that room.  I don’t remember the anesthetic, I don’t remember the doctor coming back in, and I definitely don’t remember the surgery, which is obviously a good thing.

My next recollection was me back in the same room I started in.  I woke up from the anesthetic to the doctor and the nurse saying something to me about something, I just had no idea what.  I remember singing “Kumbaya” for some reason, no idea why though and just feeling very loopy, light-headed, and heavy-eyed.  My wife was back in the room shortly after that.  The surgery was almost two hours long, a little longer than expected, and the doctor also said the rupture was even worse than he thought.  He had to place my foot in a ballerina position during the procedure in order to get the tendon closer together.  He said that my tendon was really frayed and my issue almost seemed hereditary.  I received stitches, was placed in a hard splint, and wrapped in two ace bandages.  I was given a set of crutches and a prescription for pain medication and very specific instructions to be a couch potato and put absolutely no weight on the foot whatsoever.  I was cleared to go home and was wheel chaired to my jeep.  My next appointment was scheduled for the 29th, where they will take out the stitches and put me in a plaster cast.

The surgery was complete!  The road to recovery begins!

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(June 12 - June 15, 2015)

The first blog recounting my injury, was called “Kicked in the Heel”.  For those that read it or heard the story about the injury, that is exactly how I described it happening; “I was kicked in the heel”.  One thing that was cleared up during the initial orthopedic visit, was the fact that I actually was not kicked in the heel. The doctor said that I most likely wasn’t even touched when it happened.  I texted my one boy I played with the night of the injury and asked him if I was kicked or hit or anything.  Crazy as it is, except for those that have had this injury, I wasn’t kicked, touched, or punched.  I went up for a layup, jumping off my right foot, and “SNAP”, the rupture occurred and down I went.  It still just blows my mind, that such a strong part of the body can just rupture like that.  As I started looking online for more information about this type of injury, I found that both professional and novice athletes alike, described the injury just like I did; as if they were kicked or even shot in the back of the heel.

Achilles Tendon Rupture (ATR) was the diagnosis.  The surgery was now scheduled but it was still five days away.  I was placed in a walking boot, which I was able to take off when resting it.  I was told to keep my foot elevated as often as possible and to stay of my foot as much as possible.  In the boot, I was able to walk, with a huge limp, and some pain but I was able to still get around.  I even went to go see Jurassic World with my wife and son, and surprisingly felt okay.  I wasn’t prescribed any pain medication, but did take Advil throughout the day, and Tylenol PM at night.  Nighttime during this stretch seemed to always be the worst time.  I had to sleep with the boot, which was very uncomfortable, constantly changing positions.  Not working and just in general, not being able to do much, I looked for things to do.  Watching TV, playing video games, writing this blog, and I even picked up my guitar for the first time in many years.  I was given the instructions to be a couch potato and that is what I tried to do the most of, relaxing and staying off the foot.  That is pretty much how the days were leading up to the surgery.  The night before the surgery, I had to fast, not eating or drinking anything after midnight until after the surgery.  My family was and still are very helpful.  My wife has been amazing, catering to my every need; my Mom pre-cooked some meals for us, watched the kids, and my Step-father even had to cut my lawn for us.  So many family members, friends, and co-workers have reached out with their concerns and kind thoughts, giving me all the positive support and reinforcement I need as I recover from this injury.

Surgery is next!

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(June 11th, 2015)

That morning came and immediately I knew, at the very least, I was not going to be able to work today.  I informed the other members of management, that I was not going to be in today, and would be heading to the doctors, at some point, to see exactly what I was dealing with here.  Just as with most injuries, even just the bumps and bruises, the pain I was feeling was worse today than it was the night before.

My sister works at UB (University of Buffalo) Orthopedics, as a medical secretary, and luckily was able to get me an appointment with one of their great doctors, matter of fact, the best doctor there.  Having the day off from work, hobbling around at home, meant I had my daughter, as she had not yet gone to daycare.  My Mom agreed to watch the princess (she really believes that she is one) so I could go to my appointment.  I then began getting us both ready, of course with a struggle, dropped her off at my moms, and then nervously drove to my appointment.

After an uncomfortable drive to the clinic, followed by a painful limp into the building I was there, filling out the required paperwork, waiting the dreaded call into the exam room.  The nurse brought me into the room and shortly after the doctor walked in.  He asked me what happened, and just like the night before I described to him as well, that I was kicked in the heel while going up for a layup.  He then took off the ace wrap, that my nurse of a wife so nicely did for me, and told me to lay on my stomach on the exam table.  He was immediately concerned about the status of my Achilles, based solely upon my description of the how the injury happened.  He then did the Thompson’s Test, a test to determine whether there has been a rupture or tear in the Achilles tendon. It is done by simply squeezing the back of the calf muscle, and whether or not the muscles responds and moves the foot as a result of the squeeze.  That simple and painless squeeze, bared the bad news that I feared, and deep down already knew; I had ruptured my Achilles tendon.

The doctor discussed my options, explaining that there was an operative and non-operative method to repairing the tendon.  Based on my age and overall health, the doctor of course left it up to me, but strongly recommended I have the surgery.  I didn’t have to make the decision right then and there, but either way he wanted me in a walking boot and off my foot as much as possible.  He also set me up for an MRI, only to confirm what he had already determined, but also to see the severity of the tear.  I was fitted for my boot, shown how to use it, given the prescription for the MRI, and hobbling out of the clinic I went.

I drove to my Mom’s just thinking about what to do, and in all my years never hearing that word surgery, I was very nervous.  I made it back to my Mom’s, where I had some lunch and discussed with her as well as my wife on the phone my options.  Our conversations, coupled with the doctor’s highly recommended recommendation, I decided to have the surgery.  I called the clinic back, having left without making a decision before, and scheduled my first surgery ever, an Achilles Tendon rupture (ATR) repair, for the following Tuesday.  I now had five days to stay off my feet, walk only if needed, of course in the walking boot, before my surgery.  Life doesn’t stop because of the injury and many arrangements needed to be made, not only for the surgery day, but for the time that I will be off my feet during the recovery.  Time to look at the financial situation, call work to find out about disability insurance, and of course make arrangements for kids with daycare and school.  This is going to be a long road to recovery.

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June 10th 2015

For nearly thirty years, I have played some-kind, some-sort, and in someway shape or form, a sport.  Baseball to Basketball, to Swimming to Volleyball, to Track and Field to Football.  I have played all the above competitively at some point in my life, but above all, Basketball was my passion.  Through all the competition, all the rolled ankles, bumps and bruises, I have made it this far in my athletic life, with just that, bumps and bruises.

Recently, I joined an 18 and over men’s league, where although doubtful of my skills and overall basketball “shape”, I still was able to handle myself.  I may not have been the best player on the court, but I definitely proved to myself, that I still had it.  I knew that, just like anything, with more time on the court, my game, bit by bit would come back to me.  The league went eight weeks, and I felt my game improve week to week.  I was sore every night afterwards, having tendinitis in both my Achilles heels in addition to the typical 30 year old knee and ankle pain, but overall I felt good.

Two weeks after the league ended, one of the guys I had played with invited me to his buddies open gym.  It was five on five, from 11pm till almost one in the morning, pretty much, non-stop ball.  Competitive to say the least, these “boys” were pretty good, and they just kept running.  Although, I had the next oldest guy by nine years, I was playing the best ball I have played in years. Both sides of the court; passing was on; jumper was on, and I felt GREAT!  I couldn’t wait to get out there again, and thankfully that opportunity came just a week later.  Mostly the same faces, with a couple more players, but we had five on five with a couple dudes having next games.  We played maybe five games to 16, straight up, and again I felt great.  My legs were under me, my skills were on display, and I felt again, after some years away, back in my element, in a gym with a ball and a basket.

Before the last game of the night, I was sitting on the sideline, stretching out and getting some water, ironically joking with the other old guy ( 9 years younger than me) about still being able to play with these “boys.”  The game began and soon enough we were winning 12-10.  A fast break opportunity arrived after a turnover and off we went.  The ball came to me and driving down the left side of the court I went up for a layup, when all of a sudden I was “kicked in the heel”.  I never completed the layup, falling to the ground before even getting up in the air.  I was down on all fours; scouring in pain, and in that moment, I knew something wasn’t right.  I felt something I have never felt before, a “kick in the heel”, almost like I was shot from behind directly in my Achilles.  I was able to get up, with the help of some comrades, and for the remainder of the game, I gingerly hobbled the sidelines, hoping to walk it off, thinking maybe it was just a bad ankle sprain.

Talking to one of my boys, I tried to rise on the balls of my feet, trying to stretch it out, and I just simply couldn’t, describing to him that “something wasn’t right, and I couldn’t feel myself trying to stand on my toes.  I waited a couple more minutes before leaving, and somehow, painfully, none the less, drove home, cringing with every pump of the gas and brake pedals.

I came in the house limping painfully, and crawled up the stairs to the bedroom where my wife was almost asleep.  She, being the nurse she is, took my sneaker off, and elevated my foot and immediately applied ice.  She felt around my ankle area and my Achilles, where I told her I was kicked while going up for a layup. Compared to the left leg (the non-injured one), my wife described the right one on the Achilles heel, as if “something was missing.” Already feeling it, and then hearing that awful phrase, I knew something was not normal.  I proceeded by taking some Advil and somehow managed to fall asleep.  Whatever was going on, maybe could be slept away, and I’ll figure it out in the morning.

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