Getting a late start on the blog

My ATR happened almost two months ago now.  As I tell everyone, I was on the soccer field - they automatically assume I was destined to have an injury since I play soccer.  I was only pushing off to start a run and POP - I hit the deck, knowing what had just happened. Why did this happen? You got me.  I’m going to split credit with: 1: Almost no warm up or stretching before this particular outing, and 2: I’m heavier than I once was.  These two excuses may or may not relate to the reason for the tear, but that’s what I’m going with.

I was planning on going a couple hours out of town to visit family the following morning.  I knew there was a Bone and Joint Urgent Care where I was headed so I waited to see any healthcare professionals until the next morning. A physician’s assistance diagnosed me and got me a script for an MRI to be done when I got back home.  He did recommend that I slow down and take it easy at this point in my life - thanks for the sermon, buddy. I left the clinic only to notice that the PA was leaving on a motorcycle - what a hypocrit!

Then there was business office trouble.  MRI’s have to be pre-authorized and the prescribing place sent it to the wrong imaging place and things got a little crazy for a few days.  I ruptured my tendon on a Friday, so by the following Tuesday I find out that I don’t have an MRI scheduled. Finally get that scheduled for the following Monday. I got an appointment with the OS two days after that. OS confirms what everyone already knows and sx is scheduled for two days from then. So my surgery is exactly two weeks post injury.

Excited for surgery!  I’ve been laid out with ACL reconstruction a couple times, so I’m thinking surgery is just a blip and PT starts the following week.  Not even close. Have surgery under GA and awake to the nurse in recovery trying to see if I’m actually cognicent or not. I asked her, "What are you giving me?"  She says, "Demorol" and I tell her she does good work.  Next few days is all about not feeling pain, right?  Rx 40 tabs of Percocet 10 and a balancing amount of beer and the next two days went by quick and painless. By day three I was only taking the oxy 2 times a day and totally off by the end of the week.   Man is that stuff addictive, but luckily constipation - notsomuch.

Time for a 7 hour car ride.  Perfect timing for this injury with the "last" wedding of my youth to attend.  I’m 33 and I’ve been going to weddings far too much for far too long and this one was that light at the end of the tunnel! The couple was more friends of my wife, but I felt like I could do this.  Long story short - I survived. I will not go on any road trip 7 days post-op achilles repair ever again. Nashville was beautiful, however.

The week I got back from my trip I went in to have my splint and stitches removed.  "Everything looks good," was about as much as the doc was involved.  Got a shiny black cast and made an appt for four weeks.  Four loooooooooooooong weeks.

And so began the "worst of times". In all of this, I have only taken 1.5 days off of work. I have been fortunate to keep my leg up through the day while at work, but the situation is obviously not ideal.  So in the early part my days in a cast, that’s when I started getting down - especially in the evenings.  I’ve always helped my wife (5 months pregnant) with the evening routine of dinner, dishes and our two year old. Not to mention we have a huge garden going right now and everything just seemed overwhelming.  So I sat on the couch, leg up. Day after day, evening after evening.  This was the norm until about a week before my latest appt - apparently the excitement of getting my cast off was making my mood noticeably better.  Between that and a marked improvement in the ‘blood-pooling’ phenomenom (that occurred at a moment’s notice in my foot if I stood up), things started looking up.  A slight silver lining is that the World Cup started and the couch is comfortable.

Next post: Post op visit #2, 6wks

13 Responses to “Getting a late start on the blog”

  1. Sorry to hear you joined our “club”, but glad you started your blog–I think you’ll find it very useful, in a number of ways. I think it’s therapeutic just to journal your experience–and you’ll get a lot of support and information in return. I recommend you add the ATR Timeline and the ATR NYC Marathon widgets to your blog. The former gives readers some immediate context to where you are in the recovery process, and the latter is a nice visual to show how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go. Take care! -David

  2. Thanks David!
    Added the widgets. I agree with the therapeutic part - I would have done good to start this blog sooner!

  3. Ya, welcome. That blood-pooling phenomenon is so distressing, and almost universal for you non-op folks, that it would be useful for all of you to document when it eases up
    Next time (if you ever join out “2-timers” club), skip the Sx! You can also skip the cast, and a few weeks of rehab, and probably the wasted 2 pre-op weeks too!

  4. Agree with David. You’ll def get a lot from this site. As for resting up, just take it that your body is telling you to take a break and have some thinking time! I am 46 now(just) and also had comments about playing sport at ‘my age’. Don’t let any of it get to you. Enjoy couch, world cup and kid time and remember it could be worse and is not for ever. Good luck n keep us posted. Take care

  5. I remember thinking when I ruptured my tendon one year ago today, “well I have to miss my triathlons for the rest of the summer, but at least the immobility will be over in 8 weeks and I can join the team again for run training.” My goodness, I had no idea what was ahead of me. Work to get yourself strong so that when that second baby joins your family, you won’t have huge setbacks from overdoing it. It is always hard for me to remember that I would be there for my husband without a doubt if the tables were turned. That is the gift of a partnership. Go USA!!

  6. Hello everyone,
    I am totally new to blogs, I don’t even know if my comments will reach anyone…but I felt really alone today, couldn’t stop feeling sorry for myself so I decided to give it a a ‘go’. I am 48 years old, mother of two beautiful daughters (15 and almost 11), I work with young people at risk of homelessness (I am a therapeutic family counsellor). just over a month ago (while holidaying with my family in Vanuatu) I snapped my Achilles (complete rupture), I was dancing (love dancing!!) and didn’t see a step behind me at the edge of the dance floor. I thought someone shot me!!! I couldn’t get medical attention in Vanuatu (if you saw the local hospital you would understand…) plus the pharmacist told me I probably pulled a muscle and gave me Voltaren cream to use at night. The rupture was diagnosed 10 days later, back in Australia (complete, with 5 cm gap…). I had a cast for a week and now I am stuck in a moon-boot for six weeks. I was told that an operation at my age (???!!! I never felt old before…) was not the best option and that the ‘conservative’ treatment will do the trick. I hope so. So far I took out two wedges, when I place my foot on the floor during a shower (I don’t stand on it but sit on a shower chair..) I feel no strenght in my right foot at all, I had the boot for four weeks now, shouldn’t there be a change for the better already? feels like nothing is different, only it doesn’t hurt as much as in the first weeks. I am seeing the doctor in two weeks…wonder what they will do then? Does anyone know how long does it usually takes before you can drive again? Or walk normally? I am scared…don’t know what to expect, will this ever just “go away”. I loved exercising (dancing/zumba), I worry if I ever be able to do this again….please help…can somebody please write to me….

  7. I have just written a really long letter…where is it?

  8. ok…now?

  9. can someone see my words?

  10. Yes, all clear Ania.

    This is a great site for new atr victims and you will be able to learn much more about the condition, such as that, for most of us, non-surgical/early mobility really is the way to go.

    BUT, you really should expect more from your medical people - good communication between you and them will take away much of the worry and apprehension. Ask them questions, ensure you receive answers that make sense.

    That said, hopefully you will be receiving replies to your post which will inform and reassure you. I would add more but I have to rush off to work now.

    Bye for now and good healing.

  11. Ania, we can see your comments. However, you will be much better served here with your own blog, so I recommend you set one up right away. No matter the recovery route taken, surgical or non-op, it’s a slow process. That being said, you will get better and you can go back to your more active lifestyle again–whatever that is–it just takes time. The first few weeks are the worst, but things do get better. I would say the most important thing now for you is to find a good physical therapist as soon as possible to begin a recovery program. Early mobilization, slow and easy to start, is critical to a successful recovery. So sorry you joined our “club”, but you’ve found the best place to educate yourself and get advice and support. We’re all behind you to get better and wish you the best! -David

  12. Ania - The non surgical approach is gaining popularity because it can produce a result equal to surgery with low re-rupture rate if a modern protocol is followed. Re-rupture danger is highest to 12 weeks and slides off from there but doing nothing with your tendon for that length of time does not encourage good healing. As David has said, early mobilization and weight bearing is one key, Mobilization at your current stage is about getting the joint moving. Sit in a recliner if you have one and with your leg out of the boot and fully supported write the ABC’s with your foot. Give the tendon some massage (long strokes up and down) and while doing that check for any dips or gaps. Your foot should move but do not expect any strength and do not use anything to move your foot other than your own muscles. The other thing you can do is start to bear weight, as tolerated and IN THE BOOT. You can do this with crutches and put only as much weight on your foot as you can stand. As you progress you will start to feel stronger and find walking without crutches easier. My only concern is the 5cm gap and whether the ends of the tendon approximated when your foot was pointed down. Normofthenorth is our resident non op commentator and he can point you to the relevant studies and protocols. If you find it hard to set up your own page then help is at hand for that as well. I am sure Norm would not mind you hijacking his page for a comment or question. Also, you are not old at 48 and you can return to normal activities in time. Driving if it is your right foot is generally once you can walk in shoes (8 weeks is common) but you should get a doctors clearance for legal reasons. Back to normal takes a while but you should find some considerable degree of normal activity around 6 months. Walking normal usually comes well before then. Not sure where in Oz you are but clearly because of your work I would assume a major centre. If your doctor is not progessive then you can find one that is and all it requires is a referral from your GP. You do not need a referral for physio so start shopping for one now. A good physio is the key to getting back to normal as quick and safely as possible.

  13. Ania, of all the reasons to skip ATR surgery (and I think there are lots of good ones), being “old” at 48 is the dumbest! (I was much older when I tore the first one, and I’ve done both sides now. I did skip the surgery the second time, but not because of my age.)
    The fact that you got that as a reason makes me worry that your doctors may be sending you down the old slow path, which did NOT work as well as surgery, unlike the new fast non-op path. You can see 3 slightly different fast successful non-op schedules (protocols) at achillesblog.com/cecilia/protocols . Try to stay close to one of them if you can. Going slower non-op increases rerupture risk, as well as being a big nuisance.

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