Almost 17 weeks…back in a boot.

Hello fellow rupturees!

I am just now starting a blog, my rupture was almost 17 weeks ago. During the first few weeks (those soul destroying, NWB, totally frustrating first few weeks!), I visited this site many times. It proved to be such a great resource for information and more importantly, for my morale. I just didn’t have the wherewithal to post. I am almost 17 weeks post-injury, and thought I would share my story now, and hope it is of use to those who are going through the same thing. I guess I’ll give you the details, in segments, as the treatment happened, then bring you up to the current date.

Warning: I’m not really a ‘just the facts’ kind of  person, so this might be a bit long…

Day of Injury to Week 3.

I completely ruptured my left tendon whilst skipping in an acting class in London on July 20th 2011. I thought someone had kicked me in the heel. I heard the bang. I fell to the floor. As I lay there, surrounded by my classmates, I thought: "It’s fine, I sprained my ankle, it’s fine, but WHAT was that noise?". I stood up, and my foot was kind of flapping about, but, again, really just thought it was sprained.

I rested and iced it in the lobby, then after a couple of hours, after the school officials insisted, I walked to the hospital, using crutches from the props department. I had no idea how to use crutches, so I ‘walked’, shuffling and dragging to A and E.  It took me an hour to go four blocks.

The nurse gave me the Thompson test. I failed. Then it was on to a doctor, then to an Orthopedic specialist, who told me I needed to have surgery. Bad news. I may mention now, that I had quit my job of 13 years in the US to follow my dreams and traveled to London to take the Shakespeare Summer course at RADA. This happened on the second day. So, seeing as I was out of the program, and having family in Wiltshire, I requested that I transfer to their local hospital in Swindon for treatment. I ended up having a solid cast put on in the equinus position, left the hospital, and I arrived at Swindon A and E that night. They removed the cast, performed a physical exam, followed by an ultrasound. Because my tendon actually overlapped when I pressed my foot downwards, they chose a conservative, non-surgical treatment.

I was fitted in a Vacoped boot at 30˚, non weight bearing for 3 weeks. This was the hardest time. I was told I couldn’t fly, so was going to have to remain in the UK for the duration. Crutches were very hard to get used to, had to go up and down the stairs on my behind. Couldn’t shower. Going to the bathroom was it’s own special challenge, but I figured out a way of balancing and turning ‘just so’ in order to navigate various cramped English restrooms. My upper body got super strong, and my right leg seemed like a rugby players’! I’m sure you can relate. Putting all the pressure on my right leg made me terrified of rupturing that one, too. Sleeping in the boot had it’s obvious disadvantages, and I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep. Getting used to the boot was a process. I eventually figured out how to adjust the vacuum and straps to ‘comfortable’ positions. I felt very uneasy whenever I took the boot off to wash my foot or change the liner, I could see the bruising and swelling, and the gap where my tendon used to be. I was always happy to be safely back in the boot. This was also the time when I realized the severity of an ATR, and the long road ahead. But as I got used to the boot, (and asking for help!), I decided to just take one day at a time,  and I felt better. I think that following the NWB to the letter is essential at this stage, and luckily I was able to do just that. I also kept a written diary, so that I could see my progress and celebrate the tiny victories, such as figuring out how to go down a step to get into the garden, and washing my hair in the sink etc.

Weeks 3-6, First adjustment.

On August 10th, 23 days after the rupture, I had my first check up. I was very nervous. Not knowing what to expect, only that they were going to adjust the boot’s angle.I imagined the tendon tearing as I put my foot back in the adjusted boot…. They took off the boot, adjusted it to 15˚, then put it back on. It was a strange sensation, and I was apprehensive to put any weight on it. I was told I could bear ’some weight, as tolerated’. That was frustrating, as you can’t be sure if you are overdoing it. I recommend writing a list of questions for the technician, as I found the appointments happened so fast, and then you were back home wondering what you can and cannot do. I just let my body dictate how much I was able to do, and when. I began by gingerly putting weight on my toes, and rolling forward. If I felt a sting or a twinge in the tendon, I would stop. After a couple of days, I was able to gently walk a few feet with crutches and both feet. A bit of swelling and tingling in my toes would occur if I did too much, so I knew to take it a bit easier. This continued for the first 2 weeks of this stage. I was able to walk short distances, but nothing major. Still elevated my leg as often as possible. During the 6th week, I was walking on crutches in the rain, and one of my crutches slipped, I was forced to put my foot down hard, it was painful, but thankfully more scary than harmful- no damage. Be careful out there!

Weeks 6-8 Final Adjustment.

August 31st. My boot was adjusted to 0˚. This was the most difficult adjustment, as it feels like a huge difference. My foot was now at a right-angle, and I really felt the pull. Initially, I still needed crutches as I was nervous about putting full weight on my foot. I was pretty sore for the first 2 days, then after about 3 days, I began walking without crutches. What a great feeling! I got better and better at walking and my morale was high! I still got tired pretty quickly, but was elated to be mobile! I knew that it was only a matter of weeks before the boot came off, and I could fly back home!

Weeks 8-10 Boot off, Flight home, PT begins .-Coming Soon. Thanks for reading!

3 Responses to “Almost 17 weeks…back in a boot.”

  1. Thanks for the story… but you can’t leave us hanging there- why are you back in a boot??

  2. I’m with Ryan — WAY too impatient for these historical serials!! Please get to the “punch line” (the present) soon!

  3. My apologies! I just updated to the present!

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