This post covers my initial injury on 1st July, my second injury on August 20th through to today. I hope to keep you posted on future developments.
This was the day of my injury and the start of my ‘different’ life (at least for the next year). I ruptured my achilles tendon playing tennis with friends in my village. It was Wimbledon week and my lady friends Jo and Jan both suggested I join the weekly lady’s “Crap Tennis” session. After a knock up I felt my calf muscles were stiff so tried some stretching. Someone suggested playing a game. It crossed my mind that I should have done some warming up and I felt some apprehension, but not sure why. I found my game was not up to much - it was at least 5 years since I last played. Sliced forehands were best and sent the ball curving away into the RH corner. Topspin shots very hit and miss. Serves embarrasingly bad. Threw ball up and it went all over the place so were embarassing. Seems like I was losing control of my hands. Then in 3rd game the ball was just out of reach to my right. Set off after it and immediately felt a snap and collapsed to the ground. Not much pain but knew immediately what it was and felt a sense of despair. Got carried off the court and felt a bit faint. Probably shock. When I recovered from that I was driven home by Jo who gave me encouraging words of hope. Spent rest of evening lying on sofa with ice pack hoping for the best.
Examined my options. I phoned the surgery and asked how to get referral for private treatment. Was told I needed to go to the local hospital. Trapsed off to Trowbridge hosipital, waited for an hour then was told my GP must refer me. Heck! Got cross with surgery and made an appointment for later today. Saw Dr Mathews who confirmed a rupture, and gave me the referral I needed. I could not get an appointment today at Bath Clinic so opted for the Ridgeway at Wroughton. Saw Mr. Foy in the afternoon and had scan. Was told the injury was bad and achilles was torn and shredded where it meets the muscle. Not encouraging. Operation arranged for next day.
Had an early breakfast then no food after 7.30 am. Arrived at Ridgeway at 11 am and was shown my private room. All very comfortable. Nurses popping in and out to get me ready and do some tests. Was wheeled to the operating theatre, had a general anaesthetic and Mr Foy operated about 4 pm. Woke up in private room with leg in half conventional plaster. Overnight stay.
Had some pain in night which was helped with morphine and codeine. Later a physiotherapist gave me instructions on negotiating stairs with crutches and recommended some exercises to keep leg muscles working (from this point I religiously did these every morning even though they were very boring, but worthwhile). Made the most of my accommodation and stayed till after lunch.
I borrowed a special waterproof bag for my leg and with the aid of a plastic chair was able to take a shower. I can get up and down stairs OK but find it easier to get up the stairs on my bottom. I cannot do much to help on the house, I cannot carry anything. Elaine has to do most things.
Today my half plaster was replaced by a full fibreglass plaster. Mr Foy was not available and had left instructions for the nurse. The nurse was not sure what was meant by the ‘neutral position’ so she assumed it was with foot relaxed. I have my foot pointing down so I cannot put weight on it but I don’t suppose that is a good idea anyway. Later I discovered that ‘neutral position’ means 90 degrees.
I had been unhappy about the angle of my foot. Mr Foy was on holiday so I saw Mr Fogg who checked orientation of the foot. Mr Foy had asked for it to be put in neutral position and I wondered whether this should have been at 90 degrees. Mr Fogg said it should be ok and there was an advantage in tendon being compressed. He also said I had one chance to get this healed and must not damage it. I thought about this carefully.
I am doing these daily exercises. a) Sitting up on my bed I lift each leg 200 times b) lying on back I do 100 cycles each leg c) 50 crunches d) usual 15 half pressups to flex my back. Got up stairs on my bottom. Elaine doing all work such as mowing lawn, walking dog, cooking, shopping, driving. I decided to continuing working whenever I can so I spend time sitting in the lounge with my IBM laptop on my knees (or occasionally watching Olympics on TV!).
Today my plaster was removed. I had borrowed a leg brace from my friend Ric but Mr Foy said it was not necessary to use it as any movement would be limited by pain. (This proved to be crucial later) I felt it would provide some protection but decided to manage without.
First day of physio. Sue gave me 3 exercises. a) pulling on foot with a strap b) standing up and putting foot behind to stretch c) lifting up on toes (this seemed difficult). Started to feel really good that I could now make progress. I was walking without a crutch although slowly and gradually stretching the achilles. Sue said she could bend foot almost as much as the good one, and much better than she could with my friend Ric at this stage. (Ric had ruptured his Achilles the previous year)
Now I am walking around slowly with one crutch and feeling pleased with progress.
Disaster! After disagreement with my wife Elaine (not related to this condition) I lost my temper in our house, forgot all about my delicate condition and stormed out. I immediately had the same reaction as I had on the tennis court - a terrible sharp pain in my achilles - and immediately felt a sense of dread. I had done exactly what Mr Fogg had warned against - not to rupture it agan!. I tried to rest it, hoping against hope that it was only scar tissue or something minor. Went out in the evening with friends to celebrate Jo’s birthday and that helped take it off my mind.
Felt dreadful today and sick with worry. Saw physio Sue at end of day and she ran some tests. She thought there was damage as a) she could feel an indentation in Achilles that was not there before b) there was no reaction when she gripped my calf muscle c) I could not stand up on toes at all. So it does not bode well.
Still feeling in shock and panicked. I keep seeing images of me in a temper and feel scared that a proper repair will not now be possible. I had a dream that my leg was fine and I was walking about without any problem. Then I woke up to face the reality of the situation. I feel very cross with myself, and Elaine. I know that I did the damage myself but cannot accept that it had nothing to do with her. But she is probably right - I should control my temper.
Met daughter Susie and boyfriend Chris in the New Forest and it helped me take my mind off the situation. Susie talked about her new job which started this week and she was very enthusiastic which pleased me.
Today I decide to do something useful to improve my mood. I cleaned some kitchen cupboards which pleased Elaine. First time they had been cleaned in years.
Back to work with IBM (at home) and that helped my mental state. Foot still swollen but perhaps not quite as bad but it still fells very different to prior to last accident. Cannot lift my foot. I could easily panic again and have to force myself to think of other things. Dreading the appointment with the consultant tomorrow.
Had bad night lying awake thinking of what news today would bring. Elaine took me to Great Western Hospital Swindon as it was quicker to get a scan there than at the Ridgeway. Had scan at 0850 and radiologist confirmed my worst fears - the achilles had torn in same place as before. Had a long wait until my next appointment with Mr. Foy. Elaine buzzed into Swindon to do some retail therapy. I could do with some therapy of my own! I decided to hang around at the hospital. I read a paper, talked to a friendly nurse and slept for a while in a chair. Had a second breakfast to past the time. Saw Mr Foy at 1200 and he confirmed the need for a 2nd operation as before. He thought it incredible that the only person who had ever asked whether they could rerupture their achilles had in fact done exactly that. I decided not to mention that the use of Ric’s leg brace would have prevented this accident. I would have liked some reassurance that something can be done but left not knowing what my chances are. He said he hoped I would be operated on tomorrow.
When home I began to feel better as at least I knew what had to be done and was not just waiting for news. However it all came back when Elaine suggested it was not caused by me walking in a fit of temper. (This got me wound up again and slept in guest room!). My friend Mick phoned to ask how I was. Also spoke to Caroline and Susie who sounded more sympathetic than Elaine wich helped. Good to know that people care.
Felt slightly uneasy about going through this operation for the second time. It all feels so unncessary. Although it was a long wait in my rooom - there so many people coming to see to me - nurses, meal service, blood pressure, pain killers etc that time goes quite quickly. It is all very comfortable in a private hospital. Did some work on laptop in afternoon. Had the operation at about 4 pm. Mr Foy came to see how I was afterwards this time. He said it had gone well although he had to take some tissue from somewhere else (do not know where!) and inclined the foot more so that he could make the repair.
Found I could not eat any food as my mouth was so dry, unlike last time when I devoured 2 rounds of sandwiches. Probably due to the tube put in my throat. Spent a relaxing evening watching TV in my private room attended by nice nurses. At least there are compensations!
Slept much better than last time. I had been given some morphine at about 10 pm last night and this seems to have lasted all night.
Had good cooked breakfast and cooked lunch then Elaine came to take me home.
I did not feel that lively for the rest of the day so took it easy in the evening.
Apart from a couple of codeine I did not take any more painkillers after this point, which really surprised me.
Had one of the few sunny and warm days this summer so sat in garden and read. Jo came round with a computer magazine as a gift in the afternoon. Ric and Jan came round in evening and we played cards. Elaine who professed to know nothing about cards nearly won! It really cheers me up to have people round.
Weather turned bad again. Did not go out. Felt grim. At least I am not missing a good summer!
Tried some work on laptop but not much to do. Spent about 2 hours researching and buying 2 pairs of shoelaces online. That shows you how desperate I am! Again I did not go out. I cannot see how I am going to survive this. I can only take one day at a time. I cannot make any plans for the future. The day when I get back to where I was 2 weeks ago seems a long way in the future. I also feel much less certain that this will be successful now. I still feel angry with Elaine for making me lose my temper and cross that she cannot take any blame whatsoever. I am having to put these thoughts to one side as it only starts another argument if I bring it up.
I am trying to arrange evenings out with friends to help with my boredom.This evening I am going to the Wilts Astronomical Society meeting in the village pavilion with Tony and Simon so I have something to look forward to. Logged onto IBM laptop but not a lot to do again. I do not feel very productive which does not suit me. I am sure that when my IBM project comes to an end I shall be leaving IBM and then what? Food and fuel prices have gone up and house prices gone down and I know it is going to be more difficult. The society meeting in the evening was on the Hubble Space Telescope. Very interesting and worthwhile.
Back to the Ridgeway and had plaster changed for a fibreglass version. This time Mr Foy was there and my foot was made to set at as near to 90 degrees as possible. This will be on for another 4 weeks
I am finding I need to get out of the house each day otherwise I get frustrated. Today I had a chance to go with Elaine to look at new curtains. Even this would have been preferable to staying at home, but did not go which was a mistake. I really miss doing the things I enjoy like walking, cycling, golf. I did not enjoy Strictly Come Dancing so much on TV last week because I do not knjow when or if I will be able to go dancing again. I am finding it more and more difficult to do all my exercises as they are so boring. But they do help I think. I wake up and feel my calf muscle stretching on its own as if it is saying “I want to work!”. I am thinking of buying some elastic things to help with execising thigh muscles. I also looked at exercise bikes for auction on ebay.
Tonight I went with a group of friends to a local folk night for the first time. It was quite a surprise when we asked to sing something but fortunately Jo volunteered and her effort was well received. My effort to keep occupied paid off as we had a good time.
Plaster came off today. Hooray! The nurse got to work with her circular saw but I was more relaxed this time. When it came off I saw this thin looking leg with no muscles. I put on both shoes with wedges in to lift the heel. I explained to Mr. Foy that due to the second operation I have used up a lot of my out-patient allowance from my insurance company and would only attend another appointment with him if it was really necessary. He was happy about this, so we said goodbye and he said he hopes he will not see me again. I really hope this is true this time.
My whole ankle if feeling very stiff and tight but each day I find that it is feeling a bit easier. I am trying to walk as normal as possible with the aid of 2 crutches. I find it difficult to remember to put the opposite crutch forward to the leg that is going forward. When I do this it feels like normal walking. I am not trying to lift the heel yet, I will wait until Sue the physio tells me it is ok to do this. I am however using my green piece of dynaband to exercise my quads and this feels good. I have also been trying to buy an exercise bike on ebay but have been outbid twice. I am using my leg brace for additional support when I am doing jobs around the house, as a precaution against an accident. I do not find it very comfortable to walk in this so prefer to manage without. I wonder how my rehab would have been if I had used it like so many others have.