Weeks ago I met a fellow ATR sufferer in the airport in Vegas — he was 10 weeks post-op and I was 4 — and I was amazed at how smooth his gait in his air cast was. He had virtually no limp at all, while I was still staggering around like a drunk chimpanzee. “Don’t worry,” he said. “You’ll get there.” He was right! Now that I’m about ready to ditch this boot I find I have mixed feelings about letting it go; I can really move fast and far when I’m wearing it, and have spent the last couple of weeks working, teaching and traveling and haven’t felt held back much at all. When I do take it off around the house and in my office, I slow down to a snail’s pace, carefully scanning the ground ahead for landmines (like LEGO blocks left thoughtfully on the living room floor by my five-year-old.)
So I’m viewing the coming weeks with some trepidation. I’ve become so reliant on my boot that my aunt joked I’ll still be slipping into it for outings on uneven terrain 17 years from now. I hope not, but I do feel far less anxiety while wearing it. Two weeks ago I took part in a media trip to wine country, and found I could even navigate vineyards in it. It’s great on flat ground, even better going downhill, but hard to climb in. Because the front plate prevents ankle movement, it’s almost easier to turn sideways while going uphill. During one particularly hilly vineyard tour I ended up riding sidesaddle on an ATV (the most excitement I’ve had in weeks!) but otherwise I found I could keep up with the group just fine. Then last week I was teaching a summer journalism course to teenagers at a local university. I was on my feet more than when I’m sitting at my desk in the newsroom, so I mostly wore the boot, but I tried to switch it up because I was finding the ache on the bottom of my foot by the end of the day to be agonizing. Happy to be back at my desk this week (wearing sandals)!
So, onward. On Thursday I have my first PT appointment with the official OK to move to shoes. I expect lots of hard work ahead to strengthen my calf, ankle and tendon, and I’m looking forward to it. I hope it will give me more confidence to ditch the boot for good.
* Edit for a new question: For those of you with an injured RIGHT achilles, now in two shoes: how long until you felt comfortable driving with your injured leg? I’m too scared to try. What if I have to brake hard?
As an aside, I tried to comment on Lawrence9’s blog, but didn’t get approved. I wanted to say that I don’t think there’s much similarity between treatment of this injury and the prescription of antibiotics (a comparison made by another commenter). That protocol is universal (finish the prescription even if you feel better), while ATR treatment varies widely, as do the results. Blindly following doctor’s orders - without doing any research, follow-up or getting a second opinion if you are suspicious that your treatment isn’t the best for you — can actually be detrimental to your recovery. You are your own best advocate; be cautious, of course, but DO take an active interest and don’t be afraid to question your doctor. I have found the progress tracker helpful as one factor (*along with* my doctor and PT’s advice of course!) in helping me decide when to take next steps in my recovery
(http://achillesblog.com/atrpt.php). I’ve erred a bit on the cautious side, but it’s nice to know when others have been PWB, FWB, into two-shoes etc.