Walking already

Thanks for your insights everyone…

I removed this blog post because upon reflection, I felt as though blogging was not good for my recovery process. I felt that my blog post was getting some (non intentional, i know… ) negativity surrounding my quick rebound. Perhaps my headline was too sensational… I appreciated the calls for carefulness and caution not to underestimate my injury. I never underestimated my injury or my capacity for recovery. Not for one second. That came across as confidence. Well, I heal fast and yes I am very confident when it comes to matters of my own body. For I know my body more deeply than I know anything else. I take good care of it, listen to what it needs, rarely take medications, eat well and lead a life generally free from most toxic substances that the average person encounters daily. So my confidence comes form knowing my body very intimately and knowing the capacity of my own physical prowess. That might sound arrogant but it’s just true. I’m 37 and i’ve stayed active all my life. People mistake me for 23 on a daily basis. It is frustrating that people still think i’m so young at times but it is also liberating in a physical way to be youthful. My youthfulness have given me the capacity to do almost anything athletic that I have tried, like learning to snowboard at 35 years old. I digress…

I’m sorry i removed the post and choose not to share my progress but at the time, after reading some of your replies I came to the conclusion that blogging was not what i needed in my recovery. I meant no disrespect but i wanted to do what was right for me. I didn’t read the entire comments on the blog post until today.

What made me come today?

Well i came because i remember thinking that the proof is always in the pudding when i first read some of the replies to my blog. I knew that recovery was a long process, full recover takes a year but i also knew that it wouldn’t take me an entire year to be back in action. So i decided to just filter out the blogging, to stop comparing myself to others and to concentrate on recovery. I deleted the blog post and decided to come back after the beginning of the ski season. So here I am.

I took my first snowboarding trip on 11/26 - to Killington… just after thanksgiving. It was amazing to be all suited up again and in the lodge. But the pain of the incision in the snowboard boot led me to take only one run top to bottom before deciding to sit out the entire day. This was before i started PT. PT was the following week.

I took my second trip after 3/4 weeks of PT on Christmas- a 3 day trip to Sunday River and i was finally able to hit it and hit it hard each day with increasing flexibility, agility and speed until by the end of the 2nd day i was doing black diamond trails, and pulling off tricks like manuals and 180s . Each day started off at about 10 am - slowly for my usual routine - i had a little pain in the incision during the first 2/3 runs of the morning ( always decreasing in severity as the day went on and each day until nearly no discomfort at the start of the 3rd day). I found solid strength, flexibly and power in the affected leg. After a lil discomfort at the start of the day i was able to ride until 3:45 when the lifts close. I was so elated by the end of the 3rd day and I still am now. Elated to be back at what i love so much- snowboarding!!

Now, i’m not 100% healed but i’m definitely 90% and I am gaining more and more power in my affected leg by the week. Physical therapy and recovery has been fast, efficient and injury free because I was both cautious and ambitious. My initial injury was July 4th. Next week will be January 4th - a full 6 months and i’m snowboarding black diamond trails, hitting jumps, doing manuals and 180s. I love my body~

I hope to post a timeline and blog more about my experience going forward.

16 Responses to “Walking already”

  1. Wow - what can I say? Probably not much that would be of any benefit but I will try. I have read this 3 times. Yes - 3 times. Self-confidence is something you do not lack and that will be helpful to you in the long run getting over this injury. Some people ignore the experts and health professionals, do ridiculous things, brag about them and still manage to have a good outcome anyway. Others crash and burn. I hope you have a good outcome but this you will not know for some time. The risks associated with rushing things, particularly at this early stage, are high but still yours to take. I am not sure you completely understand those risks but you seem to be a risk taker so I will leave it up to you. This injury is most likely nothing like you have ever experienced before and cannot be treated like a sprain or strain. Finally ‘4 weeks and Achilles tendon rupture free’ I don’t think so. I would say you are just getting starting. Lets hope you don’t have to start all over again. Look to the end game. Good luck.

  2. I was going to reply a while back but to be honest, I was actually waiting for you to reply Stuart!

    If you have time Calyxa have a look round the site at others stories. I’ve not done any real analysis but just off gut feeling one of two methods are followed:

    Method 1) Slow but steady. In shoes between 8-12 weeks.
    Method 2) Quick as possible. In shoes around 4 weeks.

    Regardless of them 2 methods, it seems to take until around the 5-6 month mark before they are doing sporty activities and around the 9-12 month mark before they are doing it “full on”.
    Unless someone can correct me, I don’t think I’ve seen one blog yet whereby someone was doing sports at 100% within 6 months.

    On a positive note what I would say is this. If you carry on sensibly I cannot see a problem snowboarding in January as that is my goal date too (well technically I’m going for snowboarding on a indoor slope in November but part of me is beginning to realise it may not happen) and we ruptured around the same time.
    Negatively I would say if you push too hard and re-ruptured now, then January will almost be certainly out the window.

    Whichever way you choose, best of luck!

  3. Just, please, be very careful, Calyxa! Like Stuart, I re-read your post a couple of times. The speed at which you are pushing seems very risky to me but, of course, that is absolutely your decision to make. I can’t help but think that it would be ghastly to further delay your return to the sports you adore by re-injuring the AT. I think I am right that second surgeries have the chance of not being quite as successful as the first. I’m happy to find out that’s not true — there are many very well ATR-educated people here that might have the actual stats.

    Anyway, I totally agree with Stuart — I really and truly hope you do not have to start all over again. I’m a former professional ballerina with major companies in New York and London — now a master teacher and choreographer — believe me, I know my body very very well too. It was clear to me that this tremendous injury should not be underestimated in any way.

  4. I’m with Daisy and Stuart on this one. You sure don’t lack confidence and that definitely helps. I’m 36 and was very fit when i did it - and I had the dream recovery as far as i can see (comparing with my FOUR friends who did it in the 3mths after me and people on this blog), FWB in a boot at 6 weeks, and didn’t feel at any time like I was pushing too hard. I worked my butt off at physio and in the pool and was back on my bike at 5mths (indoor and road only) and did my first mt bike race back at about 7mths. At just over a year my achilles is solid…I can now jump off a deck (say a metre or a bit more) and land solidly on my injured foot - which my first physio said was the end game and would take a year. But this is a long injury, being able to weight bear is only the beginning. I still struggle with the lateral movement for squash etc., so am working on that. Seriously, the only things I will change when I do the other one (haha) are (a) start PWB at 4 weeks instead of going overnight from NWB to FWB at 6wks and (b) work much harder to maintain core and leg muscles during the NWB period. I did leg lifts etc but still lost 4kg off my legs and glutes in the first month.

    Take care and good luck.

  5. All I can say is wow… You went from surgery to 2 shoes within a month? That is extremely fast and I would not do it. But like you said, you take everyone’s advice in stride. It seems like you’re going to do what you choose to do no matter what anyone says so, I just wish you the best of luck in your recovery.


  6. Bronny, congratulations on your excellent recovery! You hard work has truly paid off. Very inspiring!

  7. I wish you all the best in a speedy recovery but remember David Beckam had the best surgeon and physio time in the world and what money can buy and he was back playing football or soccer for you guys and girls in the US of A in 9 months.

  8. Calyxa, I’m usually on the cautious side when people go much faster than (say) bit.ly/UWOProtocol , but I think I’m a smidge less cautious than most of the commenters here. The biggest difference between FWB in an ortho boot like the Bledsoe, and FWB in 2 shoes, is the protection against “blowing it”. If you walk carefully in safe places, and DON’T trip or fall or step on something, then they’re not that different.

    If you don’t get careless, and you continue to Watch Your Step, you may well continue to do great. I hope so. OTOH, “Achilles tendon rupture free” at 4 weeks post-op sounds like nutty overstatement. You’ll be rupture free when you’re back to explosive sports and such, like Bronny, and that had BETTER take a few more months.

    Bcurr, I think you may be over-generalizing from (e.g.) doug’s distractions that kept him away from basketball for a long time after he regained most of his pre-ATR ROM and strength. E.g., a Japanese study on 3 dozen patients who got an ultra-strong suture and an ultra-fast rehab, showed an average time for return to sports of something like 16 weeks, so being “rupture free” in record time can be done, under some circumstances.

    Finally, I am a huge proponent of non-op ATR care and fast rehab for almost everybody, BUT I get very nervous when people follow the non-op route after weeks have passed post-ATR without proper immobilization. Calyxa, I might well have urged you to go for surgery — as I’ve done for a few others whose treatment has been delayed.

    Don’t forget to Watch Your Step — it’s important, really! If you phone or text while walking stairs, you’ll probably get what you deserve, and you won’t like it!

  9. Just curious, if you’re back on the slopes as planned. I just finished an amazing 3 day snowboarding trip for Christmas and was able to ride all three days very solidly, even taking black diamonds and doing basic tricks like backside 180s which i just learned last season. I’m a treeline surfer and i do jumps and tricks off the mountain features rather than in the park. Recovery has been exciting, tiring and seemingly long although i’ve been ahead of the bell curve all along. It’s all been worth it to be back out there doing what i love. yes 100%. I still need to gain power in the affected leg but my core strength allows me to ride hard and fast and do tricks. I’m amazed. I worked on my core muscles before getting back the slopes, as you know a hard process… but with my Physical Therapist who is very encouraging and thorough it was a good experience. I’m headed back for a New Year’s 3 day trip this w/k and I hope you’re recovery is going well and that you’re back out there too. Cheers.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  10. Its interesting that all the original comments have come back but not the original post they referred to. I still stand by my comment but am happy you have recovered well.

  11. I still agree with my original comments now, as I said even if you were only sensible you would be snowboarding in January.

    The pity of not doing a full blog though is nobody got to see your highs and lows and how you coped on the journey.

    Best of luck with the boarding (16 days until my trip!) and I do hope you get your timeline done!

  12. Hmmm, I thank you for reposting this. I’ve been searching for someone moving on the faster side and reading about their experience.

    I, too, am on the fast track although I just found out that I am. My doctor and PT told me that I’m doing things “special” but I didn’t realize that neither had seen anyone go down this path and that my recovery is not the norm.

    I ruptured my achilles the Monday after Thanksgiving. I had surgery on Dec 9. I was in a cast for a week. At my week follow-up appointment, I asked if I could go into a boot instead of a cast for the next two weeks. My surgeon agreed, partially because I was using a knee scooter instead of crutches (an am a middle aged woman, I think). Not being in a cast, allowed me to squeeze my toes and push my foot against the boot and move my ankle slightly. My doctor said that tendons like movement to heal so by doing these slight movement will aid a quicker healing and I won’t loose as much movement as if I were in a cast..

    I wore the boot every minute of the day for those 2 weeks. At the 3 week post surgery checkup, I got rid of the boot and wore a slipper. I still got around on my scooter but was able to put my foot flat on the ground while sitting and leaning on it . At week 4. I could stand on it and at week 5 I started to walk on it. By week 6, I walked comfortably around the house and office but used my scooter everywhere else. I started PT at week 6. I have been riding the bike, and have been wearing my motorcycle boots since. I still can’t wear normal shoes yet other than these boots. I have slight swelling and my achilles scar is still sensitive when a low shoe rubs against it.

    I’m currently at week 9 and am still wearing my motorcylce boots. I got rid of my scooter last week. I can now walk with a slight limp and am reaching a bit more than 90 degrees although I still have tightness. I have no trouble walking without crutches and can easily do stairs and escalators. I even took my first walk around the backyard on the grass this past weekend. I’m practicing rolling onto the ball of my foot with mild pressure when waling with a cart.

    I’m certainly far from snowboarding but am about a 5 weeks ahead of “schedule”. I’m okay not doing anything extreme and certainly don’t want to push it too far so that I have to go through this again, but I should certainly will be walking normally well before my 12th week. So far both my doctor and PT are pleased with my recovery and don’t feel that I’m doing anything crazy. I think some of us, for whatever reason, are lucky enough to recover quicker than others.

    Stay safe.

  13. Calyxa, glad you’re doing well and having fun snowboarding aggressively. I’m just back from a great week at Whistler, also 100%. My ATR is old news now, and it was open-heart surgery a year after the ATR (Dec. 1 2010, Aortic valve replacement) that made my previous two ski trips much less than 100%. (My first post-ATR ski trip was at 17 weeks post-non-op, and I was pretty close to 100% on the slopes then, too, though I needed a thinner left ski sock to accommodate my slightly enlarged ankle.)

    Slestak, I don’t know whose schedule you’re 5 weeks ahead of. Your recovery seems roughly as fast as the one in the UWO study — bit.ly/UWOProtocol — with some aspects faster (2 shoes) and others slower (PT, FWB).

    Good luck on getting rid of the “dip-limp” at the end of your stride. Many of us took longer for that step than we expected, and one coined the phrase “frustrating plateau” to describe it. I hope you escape that, but don’t be too frustrated if you don’t.

  14. Hi, slestack, You’re welcome. i am glad i re-posted it too. Or at least I’m glad I reposted something if not the org. post.

    Awesome that you’re healing so fast as well. Its nice to know that I’m not the only one. I think that you’re right some people will always be at the other end of bell curve when it comes to recovery time. I guess it’s important to keep in mind that healing time will differ esp. when there are so many factors to consider (smoker, other health issues, age, level of activity, partial or total rupture etc).

    I think your progress sounds very much like my own. My surgeon was one of the best in my area and he assured me at the beginning that I’d be snowboarding by late December although not at 100% physical condition. He was right, my hip was affected, my knee, too from not walking for those 4 weeks that I was in the splint after surgery. That is why i liked the Bledsole boot b/c it allowed me to start weight bearing and walking earlier so that the muscles could come back gradually although walking in that darn boot totally threw my gate off and i hate to regain a normal walking gate.

    Happy news! Just today i went to my LAST physical therapy appointment. YAY! Seven months later I’ve graduated from PT. Of course, they put me through a battery of tests (agility, flexibility and strength tests, sort of calisthenic drills i suppose u could say ). I passed. i’ve been feeling for weeks now like I’m done with PT but these last 3 weeks have been pretty uneventful, no pain, no discomfort, not even tingling like i used to get back in December and January. Besides all i’ve been doing at PT is getting ultrasound on the incision then going to hit the nautilus machines in the weight room so basically i’m just working out. Part of my fast recovery has been snowboarding. I’ve gone every w/e since Thanksgiving, worked through the pain and discomfort of wearing the boot (the incision hurts long after the tendon itself stops hurting b/c of the pressure the boot puts on the slightly larger tendon area). Snowboarding allowed me to get back my core strength and gave me a challenge, a way to work out if you will 2 more days of the week when not at PT. So i’m thankful for that and for being in great shape when this unfortunate achilies tear happened. May your recovery be as swift if not more and as uneventful/stressful as mine has been. I couldn’t be more pleased with my healing process and the repair job itself. I’ve take some pics i’ll post a bit later on of the incision now and then.

  15. I actually came on to here LOOKING for a post such as this. I, too, seem to be on the “fast” (yet cautious) track and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only one. I ruptured on Feb 2nd, surgery on the 10th, cast off last week, and already my PT wants to move into some basic exercises with both sneakers tomorrow since they were pretty amazed by the strength I still have in my ATR leg after the past few phsyio sessions. At this point, I still have a pretty obvious limp but am FWB and can stand pretty upright in the shower without any pain at all. I’m exctied, but once again, very cautions because I never, ever, ever want to go through this again.

  16. Hi Walkel,
    It’s nice to hear that you’re healing well and happy with your progress. Sounds like you’re 6 weeks post op and weight bearing. Congrats!

    When i was still in my splint and i couldn’t walk all i had was the TV and internet. i spend hours reading online about ruptures, surgery and PT therapies. I gathered from my reading that ortho surgeons differ in opinions regarding achillies rehab. Some opt for a splint post op (allows for some slight movement), others for a cast ( full immobilization). Some have patients leave the splint on for 2 weeks and go to the removable boot like i did. others have the ankle immobilized in a cast for 4 weeks then go to the removable boot when they want the patient to start bearing weight. Some orthos call for early weight bearing at week 3 or4 and and others keep patients on crutches and non-weight bearing until 6 weeks post op. So while it seem helpful at first to compare yourself to others, there is a lot of variation out there. We cant hear from everyone who has a rupture, they don’t all blog.

    ..So, i know you you feel when you say you were “LOOKING for a post like this.” when i was surfing the web about ruptures, I didn’t have a hard time finding information about aggressive rehab therapies - so i knew fast recovery times were possible. I mean i see professional athletes do it all the time. But i didn’t find that many bloggers with fast recovery time and blogs about what helps one heal fast and get back in action. I found more blogs about what to expect during and after surgery, how to get used to the healing process (mobility, showering, pain management, itching), how to cope with the boredom, travel tips etc… That worried me at first. But i did find some videos of marathon runner who had recovered very quickly using the early weight bearing techniques her ortho recommended. This woman was running again 8 weeks post op. I was enthused. That really encouraged me despite the fact that i had no proof she was truly 8 weeks post op. I just knew instinctively it was possible and lucky for me it was. This, and my ortho surgeon’s assurance that i’d be back snowboarding by December 2011. He assured me that at my age, athletic shape and with my med background (no illness, no prescripts etc) in a year my only symptom from the injury would be the scar from surgery. So if you’re healthy, youthful and in shape i see no reason why you shouldn’t be trying some simple exercises 6/7 weeks post op. Follow your PT or Surgeon’s suggestion especially if you’re strong enough. TY for the reply and cheers!

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