My story till now

I’m a little late coming to this forum. Short story, I’m 5 weeks Post-Op, PWB in a boot.

Long story, I’m a 25y/o prop forward and completely tore my Achilles during a scrum playing rugby 6 weeks ago. It came completely out of the blue, as I hadn’t felt any discomfort at all during the game. Like everyone else I felt like I had been hit by something on the back of my ankle, not wanting to collapse the scrum and cause further injuries to other players I shouted “May-day!” to the ref who broke the scrum up safely and I was taken off. At the time I thought I had broken my ankle, however our team physio did the Thompson test and told me that I had most likely ruptured my Achilles.

I checked myself in to hospital a couple of days after the initial incident; they confirmed what the physio told me on the side of the pitch. After an ultrasound they told me that there was a 2cm gap between the 2 torn pieces and that surgery was pretty much my only option. 4 days after I checked myself in to hospital I had the surgery and 2 days after that was sent home in a plaster cast NWB.

The first couple of weeks was fairly routine, kept my leg raised as much as possible and didn’t move around too much. My first visit back to the hospital I met my surgeon who I saw for all of 5 mins. Asked if everything was OK and if I had fallen over at any point after my discharge. After playing 20 questions, I had my cast removed and the stitches taken out. At this point I thought I was going to be put in a boot, but no luck, they took the two halves of the cast they just took off and bandaged it back on to my foot. Thinking this was surely unsafe I was told that it was only for a couple of day while they scheduled me an appointment with the rehabilitation center.

My first appointment at the rehab center went well, they took off the cast and said I’d be put in a boot; they also stretched the tendon from 40 to 20 degrees, which was a tad painful.

Had my 2nd appointment with my surgeon last week (week 4). This was a bit of a low point for me, after all the swelling had subsided I realized that my calf had shrunk so much and was nearly 30% smaller than my other. I knew that this was going to happen, I just didn’t realize that it would be fast. I spoke to my doctor about this and he reassured me that this was normal for people who are active and play high impact sports. We also spoke about my recovery timeline and my own personal targets. I told him about wanting to be ready for the start of next season in September 2010, this is where I got my second dip in confidence of the day, he told me that realistically I shouldn’t be looking to play again for at least a year. At the end of the appointment he gave me the all clear to start PWB, which gave me a bit of a pick me up, it just made getting around that much easier. (I didn’t mention before, I live in Hong Kong, and is not the easiest place to get around on crutches).

As for now, I know I’ve got a target to get back on the rugby pitch in a year, but I’m keeping focused on my short term goals and taking it one step at a time.

2 Comments so far

  1. Kevin on December 17th, 2009

    Hi Dave.

    This:’they took the two halves of the cast they just took off and bandaged it back on to my foot’ I find quite amazing!

    I’m nine weeks in and hopefully coming to the end of the boot phase. But I would say that, although it’s good to have a long-term goal taking it one step (no pun intended) is the way to go.

    I did mine playing squash and people have asked me when I’ll be back to that. My answer: never. Because for me, priorities are walking without crutch and boot, driving, then walking properly with no limp. The sport can wait for a while. I won’t play squash again, but I’m hopeful of doing other, less intense, sport in a few months.

  2. dave02 on December 18th, 2009

    Hi Kevin,

    I was a little surprised about them bandaging 2 halves of the cast they cut off back on to my leg. Their reasoning was I they had arranged an appointment with the rehab center (physio) a few days after, so they didn’t want to put on a fresh cast.

    Those two days were probably the most careful I have ever been, doing everything slowly and making sure my foot never touched the ground (was NWB at the time)

    As for the rugby…well I’d like to get back on the pitch one day, but we’ll see. I might just use the time to finish off my IRB level 2 coaching course.

    All the best with your recovery!

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