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My 2 weeks post op . . .

June 22nd, 2015 by cjcinto

Surgery was scheduled for 5/15.  Got in the day right after my initial appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  No time to think  about it, go in and get it done,  It was kind of nice.

In preparation I was given a nerve block which was fantastic.  Everything from the knee down to the toes was numb.  I haven’t seen too many people discuss it, so if you’re slated for surgery I highly suggest it.  I co-worker who had the same procedure said they even gave him another block prior to leaving the surgery center and didn’t have the slightest amount of pain for almost two days after.  I was jealous I didn’t get two of them.

Everything went quick, from what I was told anyway.  Nurses said afterwards that the surgery was quick and went very well.  It was at least fast enough that by the time my wife and mother cam back from getting something quick to eat down the street I was already in recovery.

Summing up my two weeks post surgery. . . well, other than going stir crazy from not leaving the house and being confined to the couch with my leg elevated, not completely awful.  The first thing I guess I can address is the pain, which had me a little worried considering some of the horror stories I had read about the aftermath of pain that continued to plague them even one year after.  I was set with plenty of pain medication t help, but one piece of advice I can offer is keep on schedule with them, at least for the first night.  I made the mistake of not waking up every four hours to keep up on things.  Come 4 a.m. the nerve block wore off, and things got a little uncomfortable.

Another pain related issue, which I was glad to find out wasn’t just me, were muscle spams.  Only three of them, but that was enough.  Not sure what it was.  Maybe the nerves waking up or the muscles wanting to fire, but on three occasions my left leg spasmed.  The muscles contracted as of the quickly extend my leg and pull my toes up towards my head.  These were the three most painful times of my entire experience thus far.  The worst part was they always happened while I was sleeping, waking me up in pure agony.

I also did experience discomfort in my hamstring and gluteal area.  Not really pain, per say, but this churning tension in my muscles.  I would probably attribute it to possible shortening of of the muscle groups after the surgery and immobilization.  At any rate, it didn’t happen too long.  Thankfully, I had a portable shiatsu massager I use on my neck and back that I was able to tuck under my leg and get relief.

Other than that, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot to it.  If you’re looking for advice for your two weeks and can tell you a few things.  If you have a chance, and the time, prep your house for your two weeks.  Your sleeping area and any items you may want can be made ahead of time,  clean up the house, check and make sure your bathing situation is considered and all your toiletries are there.   Surround yourself with people who can help out, even if its just to stop by to care for pets or microwave a meal.  A chair for our tub or shower is recommended.  Drink plenty of water.  For the first week I was downing a gallon a day.  It’ll help flush your system and get you up often enough to pee to your not 100% sedentary.  I even recommend wiggling/clenching your toes and moving your foot around.  Just remember, “NO means NO.”  No weight bearing.  Never.  Stay put and give yourself time to heal.  Use the two weeks as your oyster.  Read books.  Play video games.  Me?  I watched a lot of Netflix.  I watched a lot of bad movies, which was sometimes more torturous than my recovery!

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“I got bad news for ya kid. . . “

June 19th, 2015 by cjcinto

So lets get up to speed on how I got here.

In short, I am a 37 year old full time firefighter/paramedic.  I like to think of myself as a fit individual.  I have ran the Chicago Marathon for 6 years in a row and participate in CrossFit two to three times a week.

Unfortunately, the ATR monster does not care how fit you are or how much you exercise.  He just lies in wait.  Patiently waiting for you to make the one wrong step or an awkward hop.  Mine came in the form of running a Tough Mudder.  One of those 10 mile sloppy mud runs littered with insane obstacles.  A dozen or so close to middle age ex college athletes trying to capture glory one more time on a rainy and cold May morning.

Up until it happened I felt great.  I had been actually training for the marathon this year and was halfway through my program.  We were almost to the finish line when it happened, three lousy obstacles to complete.  And not a mile before that I did it!  Cursed myself.  Talking with a group member I was running with and saying “I feel really good right now, I don’t think Ill be sore or anything tomorrow!”

Things change quickly.

We came up to a giant vert ramp.  One of those monstrosities you see bikers and skaters drop into to do aerial tricks.  Object was to run up the ramp and jump up to catch the hand of a waiting participant to help pull you up.  I saw many fail on there first attempt and puffed my chest that I was going to getup on the first try.  Here I go.  Full speed.  Jump.  “POP!”

Hanging there by a grasped hand, I knew what had just happened.  What struck me odd was how there was no pain.  I slowly climbed down the other side and assessed the damage.  I could still bear full weight.  I could walk fairly well, aside from having no strength pushing off my toe.  I walked in the last quarter mile and crossed the finish line.  ”Maybe not too bad after all“, I thought.  Went to the medical tent, even the doctor there though there was no way it was an achilles injury based on my mobility and lack of pain.

Things did not improve during the night.  I was even supposed to be on duty the next day at the firehouse.  Not happening.  Took a sick day and eventually carted myself to the immediate care down the street.  With the swelling present, even they wouldn’t diagnose it with confidence.  Orders were to wait three days to let swelling subside and follow up with an orthopedic doctor.

Day three comes.  I had a nauseous feeling like I wanted to puke.  I knew in my gut something wasn’t right.  I was in his office all of ten minutes before I got the bombshell.  ”Well I got bad news for ya, you ruptured your tendon” After that it was a blur.  I felt like I had just been hit by a truck.  I starred at the linoleum thinking “How did the happen?  Why me? What am I going to do now?  No more marathon this year!”

We talked about options.  Surgery was the only one that really stood out.  Just a cast and therapy alone would leave no where close to where I was.  For my career and for as active as I was, surgery was the way to go.  I wouldn’t be happy with the results if I treated it conservatively, the doc said.  And like that, my repair surgery was scheduled. On the bright side, he got me in the very next day.  None of the stressful waiting.  In. Done.  Moving on.

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Better late than never . . .

June 19th, 2015 by cjcinto

I’ve been meaning to join the blog experience for a while now, experienced a complete ATR on 5/10/15 and I’m just now getting started.  So I guess we’ve got a lot of catching up to do!  As I progress and get up to speed on my recovery, I just wanted to throw out a message for anyone who has just experienced an achilles injury.  That message is “hope.”

While I still have quite a journey left in my recovery, I still have confidence that not all is lost.  After my injury, so much of what I read concerning ATR surgery and rehab were absolute horror stories.  One month out from surgery and I’ve had good days and bad days, been relaxed and impatient, and have made gains and had setbacks.  Ive run the gauntlet of emotions, from feeling angry and depressed, to feeling positive and motivated about getting healthy again.

Maybe you have just injured your achilles, maybe you’re well into recovery or its a thing in your past.  The point is, you’re not alone.  Everyone here, on some plane or another, can relate to you and offer sage advice.  Remember that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one single step . . .

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  • ATR Timeline

    • Name: cjcinto
      Location: Oswego
      Injured during: Running
      Which Leg: L
      Status: FWB

      411 wks  4 days Post-ATR
      410 wks  6 days
         Since start of treatment
  • Back to Duty

    • cjcinto has completed the grueling 26.2 ATR miles to full recovery!
      Goal: 152 days from the surgery date.
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