This has to be the toughest part of the journey. It’s a crash course on patience and mental stability.
Getting home from surgery, it starts to set in how difficult it is to do things around the house. Having family around is so helpful because things like preparing a meal or getting something to drink is so challenging while you’re on crutches. I was in so much pain that I had to lie on the couch in a certain position just so I could be somewhat comfortable. Pain meds only helped so much and wore off after an hour or two even after doubling the dosage. When having the use the bathroom, I’d stand and get my crutches only to find my leg pulsating and throbbing with unbearable pain. I’d stick through it but eventually I resorted to using the urinal cup that the doctor gave me.
Days were just filled with watching movies and documentaries, reading, playing video games with my kids, and staring at the ceiling. The NBA playoffs are also going on which is both entertaining and depressing to watch, yet I still watch because I love watching the NBA. The only silver lining I could take from the situation is the fact I had been able to catch up on reading, movies, documentaries, and anything else I could consume to feed my mind. Before the injury I was always doing active things so it has been nice to see and read good things. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for movies and documentaries now.
With that said, it’s still tough going from an active lifestyle of running outside with my kids, playing basketball, and working out to a couch potato lifestyle. I’d find myself rotating around different moods of happiness/goofiness (my normal self), focus (on whatever thing I’m reading/consuming), depression, and anger. The thing that’s tough about the situation is that I know what to do, yet there’s only so much I am in control of. I know that I will have to do physical therapy at some point, but that’s not the current task or challenge. Right now the thing to do is to wait. That’s it. Doc says that I need to wait 5-6 weeks to heal from surgery and doing nothing but waiting has been driving me crazy!
I kept thinking of things that I couldn’t do. I can’t play basketball. I can’t walk. I can’t run around with my kids. I can’t blah blah blah. It especially got me down because summer had just started. Eventually I needed to change my thought process and focus on things that I could do.
I still have my hands and my upper body so I found it therapeutic to workout. There would be afternoons where I’d just be so pissed at my situation so eventually I asked my wife to move my weights and bench in the living room. Once those were in place I started to lift whenever I’d be down on myself. I feel like I’ve been able to push myself even harder because of this. When feeling weak on the last 2-3 reps, I would just think about my achilles and all of a sudden I’d have enough strength to push up 4-5 more reps.
Towards the end of the 2 weeks of post op, I feel like it has been an eternity, but I’ve learned how to be more positive about the situation. The active things that I love to do will be there waiting for me, but I cannot focus on them right now. I’ve found other things to focus on like reading the other cool blogs here, working out, and watching movies so I’ll be okay for now.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this experience so far, it’s that this whole journey will be a grand test of patience.
Having ruptured my achilles on a Monday night, the earliest appointment for repair surgery that I could get was on Wednesday. I spent the Tuesday just watching movies and documentaries all day (thank God for Netflix) with my leg wrapped up in a splint. The pain was at a 10 on the pain scale and it was frustrating that all I could was wait until surgery. I did have Percocet that I found to be effective in the first hour or two, but it would wear off and I’d be in pain again.
It was a nerve wrecking time because surgery was imminent and I had never gone under the knife before. I was anxious for it to happen already while also really nervous and scared.
Finally Wednesday came and it was time to repair the achilles. Aside from all of the hospital administrative things, I just remember them wheeling me in the operating room and putting something in my IV that instantly put me to sleep.
Once I woke up, I heard the doctor telling me that it was over and that everything went well. He started telling me other things but I was so drowsy from whatever surgery meds they put in me and couldn’t comprehend much. I just remember being in so much pain. 10 on the pain scale had a whole new meaning.
As I started to regain more consciousness I kept feeling my leg throbbing. It was as if it had its own heart beat and was pulsating dramatically. Eventually I was discharged and my family picked me up. It was now time for the post surgery recovery.
So rupturing my achilles has probably been one of the most depressing things that has happened to me. I was on a good rhythm of playing basketball 2 times a week as well as lifting weights 3 times a week. I just turned 29 so I was beginning to get more health conscious by eating more vegetables, drinking only water, and taking vitamins. Since 27 I’d already been maintaining my body by stretching and foam rolling regularly, but wanted to progress and feel even healthier. My whole life I’ve always been on the skinnier side and finally I was making progress on bulking up and adding muscle weight. After 2-3 months of a solid rhythm of high intensity workouts and a high protein diet, I was able to gain 5-6 pounds of muscle which was spectacular for me.
For the last 10 years of my life I’ve also been playing competitive league basketball. As a skinnier shorter player, I’ve usually been forced to play point guard or shooting guard, even though I’ve always enjoyed playing small forward as I liked playing inside, using post moves and footwork. Actually it was 2 years ago that I trained with a physical trainer and we did a lot of speed and agility workouts which really boosted my foot speed. After that training I really started to use my speed and explosiveness a lot more on the basketball court so I really didn’t mind playing the guard positions. And with the extra muscle weight I was feeling at the top of my game.
It was during a league basketball game on the night of May 11th, 2015 that it happened. The game felt just like any other game, although I did feel a little fatigued as we only had 5 players and no subs on the bench. But just like any other situation, I pushed through it as I really wanted to win the game. It was during the last 6 minutes of the game, when we were up by 8 points and I made an offensive move towards the basket. I drove in and threw up a shot. I knew that I was going to miss, so I followed the shot and tried to grab the offensive rebound. On that attempt to grab the ball, it felt like a sledgehammer had struck the back of my left leg. I wasn’t able to get that high off the ground and landed right back on my feet. As I landed, I crouched down to the floor and noticed that my left foot was numb and that I couldn’t get up. I sat on the floor as the game continued, until I finally had to call a timeout.
I was carried off the court and my team had to continue the game with only 4 players. I watched them lose while also was lying hopelessly on the ground trying to get any sort of response from my injured foot. Because I could not do the gas pedal motion, I knew right then and there that it was an achilles injury.
I kept thinking to myself, “How could this happen?” I was in really good shape. I always stretch and foam roll before playing basketball. I was well warmed up. I was well hydrated. Was it because I’m aging? Was it because of my continued style of exploding to the basket? Was it because I had gained 5-6 lbs and my achilles was working a lot harder? Was it because I didn’t work out my calves enough? Maybe it was all of the above or a combination of a few.
As I embark on this journey towards a full recovery, I look forward to becoming part of this active community.
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