Slow and methododical

Hi All,

I am starting my blog 4 weeks after my surgery.  I’d like to share my experience with a slow, methodical recovery since I have read so much about newer and faster recovery protocols.  While I would love a fast recovery, it is just not in the cards for me and I am sure others are in the same situation.  Hopefully, I can meet others on a timeline like mine so that we can encourage each other!

Here is a summary of my experience to date.

ABOUT ME: I am a 42 year old guy.  I am in ok shape, but not running marathons!  A week before my injury, I ran a 5K in 26 minutes.

INJURY: Playing soccer  in the "over and 40" league.  My story is the same as others - nobody touched me, heard the pop, everything went numb, lots of pain, etc.  I’ve had a good array of injuries and this is by far the most painful I have experienced.

DIAGNOSIS : An urgent care clinic misdiagnosed me as having a mild sprain the next day.  I visited an ortho. specialist 6 days later who diagnosed a complete rupture and scheduled me for surgery.  My surgery was 13 days after the injury.

PRE-SURGERY: I have two Pre-Op suggestions.  First,  ask your doctor about Hibiclens as a pre-surgery wash.  My doctor instructed me to use this the night before and morning of surgery to disinfect the skin and reduce the chances of infection (http://www.hibiclens.com/retail ).  Second, learn how to use crutches before your surgery if you have never used them before.  In the US, this is typically an outpatient procedure and my surgeon’s communication skills were mediocre, at best, and he did not explain clearly how I would feel.  I was thankful that I already knew how to use crutches from prior injuries because the outpatient surgery center discharged me within a hour of waking up and I was still very groggy.  Getting into your house under these conditions is not the time to learn crutches.

SURGERY: The surgery went as expected.  However, see the caution above about the fast discharge.

FIRST TWO WEEKS: Like others, I was essentially on bed rest the first two weeks with a splint on my leg.  I generally felt lousy.  I had electricity-like, pins and needles feelings along the incision and just could never get comfortable. I used the pain killers so I could get restorative, healing sleep.

FIRST APPOINTMENT: In my first follow up appointment, the doctor removed the staples and sutures and cleaned the incision area.  I found this all very uncomfortable as I did not want anyone touching me!  I thank God that the incision was healing well.

RECOVERY PROTOCOL: I am the opposite of others that have one of these fast recovery protocols.  I caused a nice chuckle when I asked about a walking boot in my first follow up appointment.  They said my rupture was too severe for anything like that.

  • 6 weeks: non-weight bearing cast
  • 6 weeks: slowly start to bear weight in a walking cast

My attitude is to be a compliant patient and simply do what the doctor told me to do.  My goal is to return to the same level of fitness and to be healthy and strong enough to play soccer again.  But,  I am finished with actually playing basketball/soccer types of sprinting sports.  I’ll stick to more boring exercise routines.  I don’t need anything like this again. So, I’ll deal with a few extra weeks of hobbling around to get there.  I know I will experience some additional atrophy.  But, muscles can eventually be strengthened.

NOW:

  • I am using the I-Walk instead of crutches.  While this is not as easy as the company marketing materials make it appear, it works much better for me than old school crutches.  I considered a roller.  But, I live in Washington, DC and need to navigate lots of stairs.
  • My pain is much more tolerable than a month ago.  Towards the end of the day, my fiberglass cast just starts to make everything hurt.  In the evenings, the area along the incision gets irritated with the "electrical" feelings.  I am down to taking a Tylenol or two before bed so that I can get to sleep.
  • It is hard to judge how well I am healing since I am not putting my foot down.  However, my toes are one indication.  In the beginning, moving my toes or having my toes touched felt terrible.  I could literally feel the achilles tendon move and it hurt terribly. Now, I can wiggle my toes around without pain.
  • Every other part of my body is sore.  My good legs hurts.  My arms hurt.  Everything.  It’s a pain.
  • I am sleeping in heaps.  Between my body needing the sleep to heal and being worn out from getting around, I go to bed at the same time as my 9 and 6 year olds.

4 Responses to “Slow and methododical”

  1. You have a good attituide to your recovery already and the mind game can be hard for many to work through. Long term you should be able to get back to anything you want to do regarding sport regardless of your slower protocol (this from the studies I have read comparing the two after surgery). There is no guarrantee the other will not go even if you stop the more dymamic sports but long term the healed tendon will generally be stronger and it is rare to rupture it again. Many people focus on what they were doing when the they had the injury and see that as the cause. This injury has probably been a long time in the making and there may have been some subtle signs along the way to indicate some degeneration of the tendon. I did my right tendon and I am right dominant so maybe it has had a bit more work than the other. Like you I do not want to go through this again with the other foot but from reading here I am better prepared if that was to occur and I would skip the surgery and manage myself on one of the faster protocols. I am sure your tendon is healing nicely and in a couple of weeks you will begin the process. The first 3 months of this is really the short game and you are right that muscle will come back but that will happen when the tendon starts working again. I doubt early weight bearing contributes much to muscle mass anyway. That is more about encouraging the good collagen to form. Hope it goes well for you and look forward to your contributions.

  2. What Stuart said!
    But don’t be shy about shelving the iWalk when it’s time to start PWB. That’s an important stage of the healing and it needs crutches.
    The decision about returning to high-risk sports is super personal. I returned to my beloved volleyball and don’t regret it a bit even though I DID tear the other AT 8 years later! For sure more people say No Never at 4 weeks than at 8-12 months, so don’t burn your soccer equipment just yet! ;-)

  3. I felt a lot like you did at your recovery stage. It gets better - truly. I loved my iwalk (I found crutches very tiring) and used it around the house but never ventured outside with it (too embarrassed). I stayed in my house and only left to grocery shop (used those courtesy electric scooters stores have) or to drop off or pick up my kids from their various activities. It was a very rough summer. Good luck with your recovery - I’m sure your mindset will change quite a bit once you see how much better things will be for you.

  4. Thank you all for the encouragement. Perhaps I’ll be more up for high risk sports when I am recovered!

    I have been relatively adventurous on the iWalk. I go to work three times per week and get lots of questions and unwanted attention!

    While I am a bit nervous about PWB, I know I must put the iWalk aside, grab the crutches, and start to put my foot down. I am gearing myself up mentally for that.

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