6-month anniversary!

November 4th, 2011

It’s hard to believe I got this far. I remember sitting on that hospital bed on May 4, trying to hold back tears as the surgeon told me it would be about 3 months to walking without a cast, 6 months to functioning comfortably, and a year to full recovery. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been here; life is busy once again, but I thought I would post an update. I’ll be forever grateful for the support and information I found here.

If I can offer one tip: don’t rush it. *There is no way to speed up the healing of a tendon*, and it is not worth the agony if you re-rupture. I remember thinking I HAD to get moving again, I was frustrated at the pace, and annoyed with my doctor for not letting me out of my cast when I knew there were others here who had moved to two-shoes sooner. It didn’t mean they healed faster. The risk of re-rupture starts to drop at 12 weeks post-op, and he was keeping me as safe as possible until that time. I know how those weeks and months seem to be stretching interminably ahead of you, but it’s really not a lifetime. I feel silly now for being so whiny about it. Get back to your life as you’re able to: arrange for rides, do your work from home, go on outings, take your scheduled vacations … get on with things, and soon enough you’ll find they are getting back to normal.

I will add one caveat to the “don’t rush” tip: Studies have shown early PROTECTED weight-bearing is good for the tendon and even more so, for your quality of life. Do try to get into a walking cast, and do aim to be PWB from about two weeks post-op or as soon as possible. Read the studies, talk to your doctor; you will be much, much happier once you can ditch those crutches.

Do try and keep your hips level. Even with my attempts to keep things at the same height, I had plenty of low back pain because I was way out of alignment in the boot. Thanks to a chiropractor, my massage therapist and plenty of stretching exercises I am almost back to normal.

So here’s where I’m at now. For the most part, I have very little pain. First thing in the morning and when it’s cold, the tendon still feels tight. Otherwise, I am walking fine, and recently added jogging back into my repertoire. This weekend, if the weather holds, I’m going hiking.

I’m still going to PT once a month: she checks my gait — it took a while to get rid of the limp — adds more exercises (this time it was skipping), and does massage for the scar tissue (ouch!), ultrasound and mobility exercises.

I don’t have issues with swelling anymore, but the tendon is still about twice as thick as my good one. My PT says the scar tissue will continue to form, pull away and reform until 10-12 months post-op (which, btw, is what hurts when I do have burning or twinges of pain). These next six months are still important in getting it back down as close to normal as I can. That’s why I’m also regularly seeing a massage therapist (double ouch!), and continuing faithfully with my PT exercises.

As I thought it would, yoga has been amazing – exactly what I needed. I started with Restorative as soon as I was allowed out of the cast. Restorative yoga takes place lying down on the mat, in fully supported poses. It helped ease the alignment problems I was having in my spine, and just to feel calm and healthy again. Now back in my hot class for 2 months, I’m finding the chair poses (squats) and balancing poses to be working wonders for the tendon and calf, and my physiotherapist agrees that since going back to yoga my progress has been excellent. Next I will return to “flow” or vinyasa yoga. I have left it longer because of the poses that stress the Achilles (like downward facing dog for any yogis out there), but now that I’m at the six-month mark, I feel ready to push a little further.

Finally, SHOES. Today I’m wearing boots with heels. (Yay!) Granted, they are only a couple of inches high, and thicker than the designer heels I’m aiming to get back into by 12 months post-op … but I’m getting there. My physiotherapist has green-lighted this occasional wearing of heels because she knows I’m not ready to give them up for life, so it’s time to start getting used to them again. She doesn’t want me to overdo it though; the tendon could still heal short. So I have to mix it up. I did plenty of research, by the way, and it’s true: Crocs are by far the most comfortable shoes while you’re in recovery. Thankfully, they have many styles other than the original clogs, for men and women. I now have a pair of slip-on flats, a pair of sneakers and a great pair of boots — I could not have seen myself saying this a year ago, but I love them. Nothing else comes close. You can order them online if you don’t have a Crocs store that carries all the styles where you live.

OK, that’s it for me. Hang in there, newbies, it will go by much quicker than you think.

Happy healing everyone, and thank you for being here.

7 Responses to “6-month anniversary!”

  1. housemusic on November 5, 2011 2:46 pm

    Thank you for bringing a little ray of sunshine into my life. I used to be a highly driven, energetic, hard working person with a passion for fitness. As a single woman, I have nobody to help me and this injury is destroying my life. I am 7 weeks post op, and getting impatient because my employer . Your post put things in perspective, I am terrified of rerupture and will follow your advice to avoid rushing it.

  2. shootingthebreeze on November 5, 2011 3:47 pm

    Employers can be a bit like that!!
    I was off for a couple of weeks but went back to work as soon as possible.
    I even bought an automatic car especially so that I could get to and from work and due to it being my right Achilles my auto options were limited so I couldn’t buy just any car!!
    Just over a week ago I was forced to take a day off through illness, for a bug that still lingers over a week later. Upon my return I felt that a return to work interview was a bit of a pisstake especially as I was still clearly showing signs of the illness, but especially as no such interview was required following my ATR …. Yep, employers, funny f*****s sometimes !!!

    Anyway, this is a long slow injury for full repair as seen above but also in many other people posts / experiences too.

    I’m mobile without the boot / crutches etc now and it feels great. The comment regarding crocs makes sense …. I’m using walking boot style footwear though I did spend a day in trainers too. The worst thing is if my socks are a even a little bit tight as this seems to encourage swelling. At present I need to elevate a fair bit and its been suggested that regular heat / ice would be good for healing.

    I’m doing my stretching …. Little and often. I’m busting to get out and do more but I’m managing to remain patient ….. Off to the swimming pool with the family tomorrow, hopefully that’ll be good fun and also good for the Achilles :)

    Safe heeling ;)

  3. sons4four on November 5, 2011 9:11 pm

    Thanks for your updat i am just about five weeks out and six months seems forever I have a great employer and have been working in the office with my leg up and everyone bring me work to do for the last two weeks, I will try to go back in the feild on Mon to see patients I am down to one crutch with no pain, just scared to go FWB, i am also lucky to have a great husband who has helped a great deal.

  4. deana on November 5, 2011 10:12 pm

    I think it’s hard for anyone to understand the magnitude of this injury unless they’ve been through it themselves. I know my friends and family are tired of hearing me talk about it (and have been for months). Which is why I valued Achillesblog.com so much, especially in the first few months. I even shared photos of my healing scar here, and was met with interest rather than disgust! When the person showing no empathy or understanding is your employer though, it’s worst of all. I was lucky — my boss let me work half days for the first few weeks, then some days at home, and has given me all the time I need for PT. He’s been great, and I’ve tried to pay him back by working extra hard ever since. Housemusic and Shooting the Breeze, I’m sorry your experience has not been similar. I think employers who do otherwise are making a mistake: patience and understanding builds loyalty, a very valuable commodity when you’re trying to get things done!

    Sons4four, if you’re five weeks post-op, and you’re feeling no pain PWB, I say go for it! Try FWB. Start with just a step or two and build up slowly. The sooner you’re walking around, the sooner you will start to feel like yourself again. It’s a wonderful milestone to reach.

  5. shootingthebreeze on November 6, 2011 4:04 am

    Spot on Deana, supportive employers are a very important element in the full recovery, and long term your good health is more important to them than they may recognise with short term view of the injury.
    The lack of awareness while they make judgement calls that affect your life is shocking!! Doesn’t take a lot of research to discover the severity of the injury and it’s potential impact. It’s not a slap it in a cast for 6 weeks inconvenience and crack on type of injury.
    We’re in it for the long haul :(
    Good luck :)

  6. Adelphia on November 26, 2011 8:51 am

    Slam dunkin like Shauqlile O’Neal, if he wrote informative articles.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  7. Kayln Franklin on March 29, 2012 9:05 am

    I may know that the injured would feel after a certain incident that made them that way, but I have no idea how deep and how intense those feelings would be. But they should know that they’re not looked down upon. And instead, they should focus their energy on recovering, so they can stand once again. They should be kept inspired and happy, that way the healing process will hasten.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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