Two Weeks In, I Got the Boot

So it’s been 2 weeks of me sitting around with my leg up as much as I possibly can. Luckily I can work from home so I have spent most of my day actually working at a table with my leg up on a chair so it is horizontal. This seems to be the comfiest position.

June 20th 2012
This is the day of my first clinic appointment at Bath RUH hospital. My friend gave me a lift there and I hobbled to the waiting room on my crutches. Eventually my nurse came to get me and took me to a treatment bay. I climbed up onto the bed and she then proceeded to cut off my bandaged up left leg. This was quite exciting as it is the first time I would get to see the scar where I had my surgery. The bandages came off. Then there was a large plaster. Luckily the surgeons had shaved the back of my leg so the plaster didn’t tear any leg hairs off! I then saw for the first time the paper sticthes that ran all the way up my leg across the scar which is about 8 inches long from the bottom of my heel to my just under my calf. The nurse then proceeded to pull off each stitch one by one which felt like a small pin prick as she did it. Then the full scar was revealed. I was a little bit shocked by the scar at first as it worked its way up my leg and there was still some dried blood around it. The nurse then left me for 5 minutes and it was me and my scar and my leg exposed to the fresh air. It felt so nice on my left leg having air on it again after 2 weeks of being bandaged up.

The consultant arrived and had a look and thought that it was healing well. He also confirmed that the surgery had gone very well. He explained that my rupture was a good clean rupture that was straight forward to repair. Sometimes he sees ruptures that look like a grenade has gone off inside the leg and there’s debris everywhere! He confirmed that the next stage would be to fit me with a boot. I asked him some questions about recovery, physio and driving which he duly answered, completed some forms and then he was gone.

The nurse dressed my scar with a large plaster and I went back to the waiting room to wait for my next appointment with the plaster room where they keep the boots. I eventually got called into a room full of chairs covered in plastic and I could imagine people sitting in these chairs having their plaster casts applied. The nurse then fitted me with a black boot with velcro straps across the front.

The boot is relatively easy to take off and is very well padded and comfy. It is slightly heavier than the bandages I had previously and so when I first started to walk on my crutches I could feel the weight a bit more. The good thing about the boot is that I can put a little bit of weight on it and so I can rest my foot on the floor whilst standing with crutches. I am still very nervous about putting any weight on to it though. The boot angle with my heel does move a little and I find that a little unnerving when I put a little weight on it and the boot angle changes. I just need to get used to how far that angle is. I can really feel my Achilles strecthing and aching when I do this and am really careful to point my toes back down as soon as I can to relieve the ache. I’m making sure I do move it though as I am keen to start exercising it again soon.

Another great thing about the boot is that I can take it off and have a bath. I did that this morning and it was so nice. I could actually clean around the scar area and my leg and made me feel a bit more human again. I still have to wear the boot in bed though.

My next appointment is in 2 weeks time and the angle of the boot will be changed again to stretch my Achilles further. And I will then be able to start putting a little more weight on it.

The Beginning

Hi everyone,

So I’ve now joined your wonderful world of Achilles Blog with my own version of a full Achilles tendon rupture. I came across your blogs when searching Google for information on what I could expect over the next year or so and it was so good to read your personal accounts, how you are dealing with it all, the advice you are being given and the feedback from other people. I found it inspiring and though that I just have to do my own blog so I can share it with you all and hopefully help future casualties to deal with it all. OK so here’s where I am right now.

Firstly a bit about me. My name is Chris and I live near the beautiful city of Bath in the West of England in the UK. I am a keen sportsman and photographer but my main income is from working in IT developing SAP BusinessObjects for a small/medium (<50) sized software company based about 30 miles from my home. I help coach the local under-8’s football (soccer) team which I find very rewarding. The main coach regulalrly plays indoor 5-a-side football and invited me along to play which I eagerly accepted. My first 2 weeks of playing football again was great if not very tiring as I had not played competitively for a number of years. However my third game has proven to be my last for a long time.

June 6th 2012

The game was 45 minutes into the hour and I was on a roll. I had scored 4 goals and was keen to get another. I found myself outside my own penalty area waiting for my keeper to roll the ball out to me. There was no one around me. I was standing still. I went to push off with my elft foot to start a run and then “POP!” I heard a very loud pop and felt like someone had kicked me very hard in the back of my heel. I fell to the floor with a pain in the back of my leg. I wasn’t sure what had happened at first but when I tried to stand back up again I knew that something serious had just happened. One player thoguht that my foot had got stuck to the floor on a sticky patch. Another player suggested I should go in goals for 10 mins to recover. I said no. I limped off the pitch and went into the changing room, took off my trainer and sock and put my foot under cold running water in the sink for 10 minutes whilst I gathered my thoughts. I kmew it was bad as my foot was starting to swell up but I could still manage to walk around on it. I did this for 5 minutes or so to see if it would get any better. It didn’t. By now the game had just finisghed so I went into the sports hall, picked up my car keys and wallet and said my goodbyes to the other players. I limped out to the car park, got into my car gingerly and procedded to drive home, just a few miles. I know I shouldn’t have driven but I thought that as I could just about do it I will. I drive a manual car so I had to use my injured left foot to push the clutch down which I found painful. I managed to do it using my heel and kept the car in third gear most of the way home.

When I got home I limped into the lounge where my wife was sitting and put my leg up on the sofa an said that I think I’ve got a bad injury. I explained what had happened and she looked online to see what it might be. Her first comments back were “I hope it’s not this” and she passed me the iPad with the details of a full Achilles tedon rupture. I read the details and said I thought it probably was as it described what had happened to me with the loud pop and kick in the heel. It descibed it as the “Weekend Warrior” syndrome where males in their late 30’s - 40’s go out and particitpate in sports activities and become victim to this type of injury. I was suprised how common this article made it out to be and how foolish I felt about being on the receiving end of it. As I had the iPad in my hand the very next thing I did was update my Facebook status to say what I had just done and what advice people had for me. Immediately I had replies flooding in saying “Go to A&E now!” (A&E is ER in the UK). I was suprised by the swift response and texts that I was getting from people who had similar experiences and the advice they were giving me. So we jumped in the car and went straight to A&E at our local hospital who comfirmed the rupture and then referred us to the main hospital Bath RUH to see the consultant. After a bit of a wait the consultant examined me and confirmed the full rupture of the Achilles and gave me two options. To have surgery to repair it or to let it heal itself. The surgery option would mean that the repair would be stronger and I could participate in sports again but because it was surgery there would be a chance of infection. To let it heal itself would mean that the repair would not be as strong and the chance of having it rupture again was higher than having the surgery. It would also mean I would not be able to particiapte in sport again the way I do now. Luckily I live in a country that has a free health service called the NHS (National Helath Service) and so the surgery option for me would be free. I agreed to the surgery and they admitted me that night. By now it was 2:00am. They put my leg in plaster, left me for 20 miues for it to set and dry and then wheeled me up onto my ward which was full of old men with other limb breakages.

June 7th 2012

Tne next morning we were woken up by the nurses at 6:00am for our medication. I was scheduled in for surgery this day (the day after the incident) and so I was nill by mouth. This was OK but the smell of fresh toast was making my mouth water. I was also gasping for a strong cup of tea which is my main drink of choice. I have about 5 cups a day. Anyway I was still in my football kit as I didn’t have a change of clothes with me. The consultant came and saw me and explained the surgical procedure to me and how they were going to use very trong sutures to reattach the Achilles between the heel and the calf and then softer sutures on top of those. A few more hours passed by and then the anaesthetist came and asked some questions about medication, allergies etc and told me what he was going to do. I got into my surgical gown and waited. Finally the operating theatre nurse came and told me she’d come to take me to theatre. The time was now around 2:00pm or so. I was whelled down to the operating theatre and the anaesthetist started chatting to me and started pumping drugs into my veins. I felt great! All floaty-like. I asked for some more and he said he couldn’t as it would kill me!

I woke up about 3 hours later in the recovery room and I had new strapping and protective covering on my left lower leg. I was not in a full cast. It was like wearing a big shin pad which ran from my toes to my knee. The front was solid but the back of my leg was just bandaged. I couldn’t move my left foot up or down as it was restricted by this. I had been asleep for a good hour after my operation and they had been waiting for me to come around. I was then wheeled back to my ward to recover. At least now I could eat and drink. I was so thirsty.

I called my wife and told her I was OK and sent a few text messages and updated Facebook to let people know I was OK. She turned up about an hour later with a bag of clothes and magazines and we talked about it all. I had some food and a pretty good sleep that night. The next day I saw the physiotherapist who gave me instructions on how to use the crutches properly How to get up, how to sit down, how to go up a flight of stairs and how to come down a flight of stairs. I received my medication from the hospital pharmacy, some pee bottles for overnight and a support to go around the toilet to help me get up and down and was discharged.

Luckily as I work in IT I can work from home very easily so I have been back to work from pretty much the next day but not putting in the full hours yet.