Life After Double ATR

It has been 2 years and 3 months after surgery for my bilateral achilles tendon rupture. I’m still not 100% and likely I never will be. I suffered great foot pain for the better part of a year after kicking off the boots. To alleviate the pain, I wear shoes or sandals all the time except in bed. But all in all, it is slowly getting better. I wonder if I will ever get the strength back in my calves. I can at least now, if I’m careful, stand on tiptoes without my calves buckling into cramps. I think now I’m about 95% and reflecting on that 6 weeks in a wheelchair followed by 3 weeks in boots has all become a faded memory.

To all of you having gone through or are going through ATR recovery, hang in there and don’t rush your recovery. I found solace in reading and commenting on the blogs on this site and found it very helpful as well. Wishing you all a successful recovery.

Oi! My Aching Feet!

Week 7&8 Post Op

These last two weeks have been most monumental for me. I got to ditch the wheelchair at my 6 week post-op check and didn’t even use the crutches. Walking in two aircasts is like walking in ski boots. The novelty of that however wore off fairly quickly though. My feet scream at me within just a few minutes of walking. It’s not my tendon that hurts, it’s the bottom of my heals. I suppose it is because I haven’t used them for six weeks and also the fact that all my weight is on them too since I can’t put any weight on the balls of my feet. The day after my checkup Kevin took me to Palm Springs to escape the snow and ice. I had to use the chair for the journey through the airport however since I couldn’t stand or walk for long. We spent a week in the land of warmth and sunshine and I practiced walking in the pool and a couple of motion exercises since technically I wasn’t to start Physio for two weeks yet. I tried to go shopping and was sadly disappointed that my aching feet actually took all the fun out of it! By the end of the week, I began walking (well I guess it was more like a shuffle) in the house without the boots. I was hoping that my feet wouldn’t hurt as much but it doesn’t matter what I’m wearing they just hurt. Sadly the week ended and we had to come home where I am more or less held hostage indoors. I haven’t dared venture outside too much this past week however we went to a Xmas party and I wore two shoes! According to my Dr. I was to drop the boots the day before but to be cautious when venturing outside. This week I can start Physio and I can’t wait. My friend the Physio is going to drop by and let me know what exercises I can start doing. I’ll do anything that is going to help the pain. The weather was nice outside today and I walked to the school to pick up the kids. It sure felt good to get outside.

6 Weeks - Good-Bye Wheelchair!

I just visited my surgeon today. I am 6 Weeks less a day post-op. He told me to lose my wheels and start walking FWB in my Aircasts! It was far more than I expected and I’m thrilled. I don’t even have to use crutches, however, for the time being I will use my cane for balance until I get the hang of walking in 2 boots. He told me to take it easy and not to go from 0 to 100 immediately. I’m not at all sure I could anyway. I’ve done some walking around the house and my plantars are killing me. I start Physio in 2 weeks. Until then I am to work on ROM. The news really could’t have come at a better time. This last week was a killer. My patience took a beating leading up to this Dr appt. In fact, I’ve been doing some FWB a lot in the last 4 days. While Kevin was at Cub camp with our son on the weekend, I “walked” upstairs and had a bath! I tell you, it was heavenly. It was so great, that I have had one everyday since! Now, I can do it without guilt! I am not scheduled to see the surgeon until January. As I look back, this experience over the last 6 weeks hasn’t been so bad. I am so thankful for my supportive husband and friends who have kept me from utter boredom and have given me something to look forward to everyday. I am grateful to all of you for sharing your stories, challenges and successes. Just knowing that I am not alone in this has made all the difference. Our house can now be put back together and we are one small step closer to this experience to becoming all but just a memory!

Week 3, 4 & 5 Post-Op

Other than one event these last weeks I have not had a whole lot to report so have lumped these last 3 weeks together and have finally caught up!

Week 3 - After seeing the surgeon, I was thrilled! I had the chance to get out of the house and I wanted more. I had Kevin take me to watch the kids swim and then that night we went to a friends house for dinner. During the week I was so tempted to go upstairs and check on the state of my kids rooms and grab a new selection of clothes from my closet. No one else was home so I thought why not. I parked my chair at the bottom of the stairs and scooched up on my bum. Once upstairs, I crawled and ‘crabbed walked’ around gathering my clothes and putting away the kids laundry and tidied up some toys. I made it back downstairs easily. Kevin came home and noticed the changes and gave me some grief. I guess he what right though. It’s not that I went upstairs, it’s the fact that I went up without anyone home. A couple of days later, I scooched up for a shower. Oh did that feel good! However, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I had to sit on the floor and I could barely reach the valve. Then it was slippery to boot. I think I can wait awhile before the next one. The next day I started to feel pain in my left calf. I didn’t think much of it until that night when I had trouble sleeping. My calf throbbed. Every time I moved, it hurt more. When I woke in the morning and had my legs down they really throbbed and were uncomfortable. Two days later I started to feel the same pain in my right calf. I started to worry about blood clots even though I was still on blood thinners but I only had 2 injections left. I called my family Dr and was able to get in the next day. I spent the better part of the day with my made legs elevated. My Dr wasn’t sure what was wrong but she extended my blood thinners for another 3 weeks and scheduled an ultrasound for the next day to check for blood clots. She also said I could take off the tapes which I did. The incisions looked good other than a couple of tapes stuck to a scab and pulled it off. It’s a little tender but I think it will heal. After the ultrasound the next day I finally heard. Good news. No bloodclots. Whew.

Week 4 - After another 2 days of keeping elevated the pain diminished. What the heck was that? During all this discomfort, I felt brave enough to take the boots off at night. For me, I always feel like I need to stretch my calf muscle especially at night. I have awoken several times to twinges in my achilles because I am stretching in my sleep. One night I had a dream that I ruptured my left one again just by stretching. I awoke to a weird feeling in my feet. I had no tightness or pain! I thought for sure I snapped them! This week I was able to take out another lift. One left and I feel no tension. When I am out of the boot, they still feel a little sloppy. Does this mean I’m healing long? or do I have too much time on my hands?

Week 5 - One more day and I’ve completed Week 5. Getting around nowadays is much easier. I have to admit that I cheat. I know, but really, I more or less stand to transfer to other furniture or I stand up to reach a shelf in the cupboard. I know this is more like 100% of my weight but I do it carefully and stay on my heels and try not to activate the achilles. I don’t do it much in the day, but it makes my quality of life so much better. I can actually do more for myself. I can definitely tell when I’ve used the achillies as I feel a bit of an ache and a burning sensation. I can take out a lift today. The last one! Also, I can put 50% of my weight. So the guilt of putting 100% is now only 50%! I really feel so much stronger this week that I am tempted to try crutches. Unfortunately, they are out in the van and we have about a foot of snow on the ground. I think given the previous incident, Kevin sensed this and left them out there! The countdown to see my surgeon is on. 1 more week and I pray I’ll be granted crutches or at the very least a walker!

One Week - Two Week Post OP

Early in the week, I got the call from the Surgeon’s office to set up my appointment for Thursday, Oct 21st. That first week went by amazingly fast! I kicked the drugs by day 4. I have to give myself an injection of blood thinners - yikes! But it is getting much easier although my technique has a bit to be desired. It’s a good thing the bruises heal fairly quickly or I would be running out of room on my tummy. I chose this location since it is convenient (I had tried my thigh and missed the fatty area and stuck myself in the muscle - just a bit more painful!). Word spread quickly of my injury and “confinement” and we were overwhelmed with the response of friends, family, and neighbors. I have a group of 8 gals that I meet with and they arranged dinner for us for two weeks straight. So everyday I would have a dinner delivery, coffee delivery and a visit if not once but twice a day for the first week! It was really amazing and I as well as my husband are eternally grateful for that. Kevin felt confident to leave me to my own devices during the day after getting the kids up, and out the door to school. I also have a babysitter that we kept on for one day per week when my daughter started Grade 1. She also has a part time job elsewhere and was able to switch her shifts in order to be able to pick my kids up from school and take them to any after school events. I have developed a great routine at home as well. Even though longing to try and get up the stairs to have a shower I resigned myself to hanging my head over the sink to wash my hair and giving myself a good ole’ sponge bath.

Thursday arrived and I was finally going to have my first foray into the outdoor world since coming home from the hospital. I was soooo excited! The first order of business was to try to get into the minivan. It is definitely higher than my brother’s car. Since the passenger door to the minivan didn’t open very wide, we tried to get me into the back seat. We used the transfer board to make the bridge but is was pretty steep. I got about 2/3 of the way up and then the board slipped and I came crashing down into the seat but not without smashing my left foot onto the ground. The pain reverberated right up my achillies. Man did it smart! We then tried the front seat again and was able to make it and we were on our way. At the hospital, they cut off my plaster half-slab casts. I was not expecting the gruesome scene that lay before me. They had stapled my incisions. I counted about 11 in each leg. The Doctor looked at them and said they looked great. Yeah right. I told him about the leg smashing incident and he checked it but couldn’t see much movement as my legs were rather swollen he didn’t seem to think I did any damage as he thought I would really have had to wrench my foot up to do injury. They decided it was still too early to take the staples out so they fitted me with a pair of Aircasts with 3 lifts each and sent me on my way with an appointment date in another week.

Two Week - Post OP Check

Once again, the next week went very quickly. I had at least one visitor every day bringing me my much craved coffee or someone bringing us dinner. I didn’t do anything stupid on my own either. I good friend and PT dropped by when he heard and gave me a great layman’s description of what the surgeon did and why it was so important not to activate the tendon. He also assured my that I could actually stand in my boot (carefully that is) and briefly and he encouraged me to try it a couple of times a day. This he said would help to keep my foot muscles from cramping and stiffening. Before I knew it, Thursday was here and off we went to the clinic again to get my staples out. I was pretty apprehensive about this procedure and for good reason too. It kinda hurt! Once all the staples were removed the nurse put tapes on the incisions and they felt better. I was to keep these on for 10 days. They also suggested to sleep without the boots and let the incisions breath. One thing I was concerned about was actually how on earth did I rupture both? My research online suggested that my taking an antibiotics of the flouroquinoline family increased your chances for tendon rupture (namely the achillies). Now I did have an ongoing sinus infection late last fall and into January 2010 and took two antibiotics. After pulling my prescription records from the pharmacy it showed that I did not take one of these. I asked the surgeon why he thought I did both. He told me he thought it was just plain bad luck. He said the tendons were healthy, they had minimal shredding and they went together very well. So I guess I can get over the why and just get on with the what now. He told me that in one week I could start putting 25% weight on my legs. I asked him who he might suggest I do that. He replied with that he had absolutely no idea. He basically said I had to be ultra cautious and then some. I could also take out one wedge at the next one week mark and can take another on with each consecutive week until I see him next. Also, after two weeks of 25% weight, I could up it to 50%. So armed with all my new found knowledge (or lack of) I was released until Nov 25th for my next appointment.

Here is a pic of my incisions after the staples were removed;



Home Sweet Home

You would think with my incarceration at home I would have tons of time to get caught up with my story. Sorry that I am still behind. I’ll see what I can do…

Finally! I get to go home. As we only own a minivan and an SUV we had my brother bring his car to pick me up from the hospital. It was a fairly easy transition to get from the chair into the car using the transfer board. I was still whacked out on the percoset and just barely made it home with everything still inside where it should be. Since my husband had the ramps built he navigated me up and inside the house. Kevin promptly wheeled me into his office where he set up a bed. I think he expected me to get in and stay there for the next 6 weeks! Now I’ve just been in bed for the last 3 days and there is no way I’m getting in there! (at least not right away). The look on Kevin’s face was asking “what the heck am I going to do with you then?”. He toured me around the house and showed me the furniture and carpets he moved to make room for my new wheels. After that I had to admit that I was still dizzy and nauseous from the drugs and had to go lie down.

The first full day home was probably the most stressful of all. Kevin is now looking after three and I was probably the most needy of all. The kids were constantly fighting that day. I spent most of my time in my new bedroom listening to the screaming, whining, and crying and not able to do anything about it. When I had to use the facilities, I had to get Kevin to assist me by transferring onto the comode outside the bathroom and then he had to push me over the toilet. This was probably his (and mine) breaking point. He said I was 40 years too early for this to be happening and I rightly agreed. He had just come from upstairs and I am sure he had been holding his head in his hands ready to breakdown. Something had to change and I was resolved to be able to get onto that damn toilet myself. So we removed the leg supports from the wheelchair and carefully maneuvered it and around through the narrow doorway and up to the toilet at an angle. We removed the side piece to the chair and used the transfer board to slide on. It worked! The triumph on my face and the relief on Kevin’s was unparalleled. Who said it couldn’t be done?! Kevin then immediately said he was off to the bookstore. The kids and I managed fine. They are 8 and 6 and terrific little helpers. If there is one thing that may be gained from this is that those kids will definitely become more self-reliant. Kyle answered the phone while Kendra answered the door and they both were willing to fetch anything I asked of them. It was nice to be home.


October 15, 2010

The next morning the nurse told me that I was on-call again and that meant that they would perform all scheduled surgeries before they got to me but the good news was that on Fridays they dedicate an OR just for orthopaedic backlog. As it happened, they wheeled me in at 10:30am for my surgery. I opted for the spinal block and requested to be sedated enough to have a nap through it all. I woke up about 15 minutes before they were done. The procedure went well and took about an hour. The only concern was that my blood pressure was quite high and had been since I got to the hospital. After recovery, they wheeled me back to my room. My husband convinced the nurses to call the PT and they sent someone up to see us at about 2:30pm. She explained to Kevin (my husband) I would need a wheelchair, a comode and a transfer board. She also said that he would have to hurry and get the stuff because most of the homecare places close at 5:00pm on Fridays for the weekend! The spinal took forever to wear off but that was okay since at the first notion of pain they pumped with painkillers. They kept me overnight since I had to pass the physiotherapy before they would let me go home and was scheduled for the next morning. That night was a killer! It seemed like the percoset wasn’t working. I felt like my legs were on fire. The nurse gave me something for inflammation which was a huge help. In the morning they topped up my percoset, served me breakfast then I promptly vomited. I felt dizzy and nauseas. She gave me some Gravol for the nausea and then I slept for 2 hours and woke up just before the PT appt. I was so excited to be going home! Kevin secured the equipment and its a good thing he is in the homebuilding industry. He had his employees build some ramps for me to get into the house! Now all I had to do was pass the PT. At the PT appt, she wrapped a belt around my middle and stuck a walker in front of me. I said that I didn’t think I was supposed to be using that since I am completely NWB. She went back to check my chart and was at a loss of what to do with me. As it turns out, she suggested to get a wheelchair where the arms removed. Kevin said that would have been nice to know the day before when he went out to get the stuff. The biggest problem was figuring out how was I going to get onto the toilet. We have a two storey home and I was going to be relegated to the main floor and was going to have to use the two piece bath. It’s not that big of a space and my husband suggested that he could disconnect the plumbing from the sink and remove the vanity to allow for the wheelchair to come up beside the toilet. The PT thought that a great idea, however, I was not going to let that happen. There had to be another way. Since the PT thought that there was no way I could transfer from the wheelchair, she suggested a comode on wheels that I could get on in the hall outside the bathroom and then be pushed over the toilet. Now that meant my husband also got the wrong comode! Back to my room I went and my husband was off to find a homecare place that would be open. 2hrs later he was back with the goods to prove to the PT he was prepeared. What gets me, is that they were more worried about how I was going to get on the toilet than how I was going to get into my house or car! I didn’t care, I just wanted out of there I’d figure it all out on my own.

Squatter’ Rights

Hello everyone, thanks for your encouragement so far. I left off with being scheduled to visit the OS for 9:00am on October 14th. We arrived at the hospital and happened to meet the OS in the hallway. She guessed who I was and I told her I had a copy of the ultrasound. She said she wanted to do her own. When I got into the clinic and was settled on the bed she took one look at my ankles and said she didn’t need an ultrasound, it was obvious they were both gone. She said it sucked to be me but she was going to try to get me in right away. Now if you know about the Canadian Health Care System, it’s free, the Dr’s are good, but as my Dad says, “you can die waiting”. She was able to get me a bed for on-call surgery and told me that now I had ’squatters rights’ and chances are they would operate sooner rather than later because I was taking up space. Then I waited, and waited, and waited… I had plenty to do. I had my books, my IPad, my phone, and magazines. What really drove me nuts was that I couldn’t get an internet connection nor cell service. My room was in a cellular blackhole. There were plenty of private wireless networks but no public ones. I really don’t know why our hospitals don’t charge a daily fee for wireless connectivity like many hotels. I am sure both my husband an myself would have gladly paid for it. During our long wait they kept telling me that prior to being released from the hospital I would have to go to the see the PT to discuss my needs at home. My husband asked them if we could meet the PT right away. They said that no it would have to wait until after the surgery because they didn’t know what the surgeon would do. Well, we knew I’d NWB and in a wheelchair so why didn’t they? Well, back to the waiting, I was disappointed that I didn’t get in for surgery that day and had to stay the night. Since I completely ruptured them I didn’t have any pain and slept pretty good.

Double Whammy!

It all started for me on October 12, 2010.  After taking an 8 year hiatus of playing soccer, I decided it would be a good idea to get back into it.  Other than breathing harder than what I remember it was like I had never quit!  It really did feel good.  With 30 seconds left in the first half the unexpected happened.  I was controlling the ball in our own zone and wham!  My opponent completely missed the ball and connected with my leg.  I’ve had all sort of ankle sprains in the past but this feeling was not familiar.  As I was trying to get my balance and footing then wham again!  I took three steps and dropped.  Both of my calf muscles were in spasm and the pain was unbelievable.  They carted me off and I iced them until the end of the game.  I tried to stand and promptly fell flat on my face!   I had thought it was just muscle cramps and was the reason I could not put any pressure on my toes.  I had a teammate drive me home where I dragged myself up the stairs, had a shower and went to bed.  In the morning, the pain was not as great and my husband assisted me to stand and discovered that I still could not put pressure on my toes.  I tried to get into my Dr. who happened to be booked but they would call me back if the Dr. could fit me in.  I couldn’t wait and called a PT and got in promptly.  On the way there my husband picked up a cane for me to help with my balance.  The PT conducted the Thomson Test and concluded they both were ruptured and suggested to see my Dr. right away.  I was able to see the Dr. later that day and was fortunate to have an ultrasound done down the hall right after where the radiologist was in disbelief that I had done both.  A 3cm gap in the right and a 0.7cm gap in the left (he thought there might be a couple of threads that hadn’t snapped in the left).  My Dr. called the hospital and spoke with the OS on call and scheduled me in for 9:00am the next morning.

Sorry for the story. I’m a bit new to blogging. I’ll try to make the future ones shorter.

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