Week 2 check up and misc stuff

Had my first follow up visit 2 weeks after surgery and things looked fine. Swelling is down, no sign of infection, exchanged splint for boot and saw my pathetically thin calf for the first time. 2 more weeks of NWB then start PT and gradual PWB. I think this is in line with most moderately aggressive schedules these days. I’m content with this.

I’ve tried to keep in shape despite my current limitation until PT begins, here’s my work out. It starts with crunches, good leg hooked below the coffee table and bad leg laying on top. Then it’s knee push-ups with my feet straight up in the air. Then it’s back onto the couch with my foot on the tower of pillows where I do curls with hand weights. I do this rotation 4 times, it takes about 25 minutes without leaving the den and my Achilles tendon is no worse for wear. I’m a little winded and sweaty but nothing like the running and biking I’m used to. If anyone has recommendations to mix into this workout I’m open to suggestions.

I take a shower every day. It wasn’t that hard to modify the bath to make this easy but I may have had a little luck that some don’t. I can hang my injured left foot out of the tub while facing the shower. I borrowed a shower stool from Goodwill – you don’t have to live under the bridge to accept their generosity. In shopping for a shower head option the best I found was at Home Depot, a shower/hand wand combo for about $80 plus tax. It has the wand mounted on a pole about 3 feet below the shower head that I can reached while seated. It was just slightly harder to install than swapping shower heads. These are the only 2 changes I had to make, it’s working well.

One other coping mechanism I thought worth mentioning, my insurance won’t cover a knee walker so I bought one on Ebay. I plan to sell it on Craigslist or Ebay, or maybe Achillesblog, when I’m done with it. Just trying to stay sane and safe.


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Day 1 after debridement surgery 11/28/2012

On January 17th 2011 in Phoenix I qualified for the Boston marathon with a time of 3:28. I was pumped up and couldn’t wait to start my preparation for the next marathon. About 2 weeks later during a 7 mile recovery run (in hindsight, too long and too soon after Phoenix) I felt a pain in the back of my leg and naturally treated it like the many ankle sprains I had dealt with through the years, what a mistake. This started the roller coaster that is Achilles tendonitis and later tendonosis. So here it is 21 months later, I need debridement.  In this time I have had a lot of conflicting advice on how to treat this. I have experienced firsthand the diametrically opposed approaches of orthopedist and chiropractors.  I’ve had injections, Active Release Technique (ART), the “conservative approach” but all of this was too little and too late. If I knew then what I know now I think this could have been avoided. Anyway it is time to forget the regret, and there is a lot of it, and move on.

I wasn’t quite confident in any of the doctors I had seen so far but thought it was time to consider surgery. I hadn’t run in over a year and had given up hope. I could ride a bike just fine since it can be done without dorsiflexing but I was still severely limited in my activity. I had recently started a new job that involved a lot more walking than I had been doing and discovered, to my horror, that I was not even up to this. I wound up on crutches for a while from the strain. Then my wife remembered that a doctor she had visited a few years back was on a knee walker at the time recovering from  Achilles tendon rupture surgery. I immediately arranged an appointment to get her advice and recommendation. She knows the medical community far better than I do and recommended with complete certainty what surgeon I should go see. She had a good basic rule for choosing a doctor for sports injuries- find out who the local college sends their football players to. I’m in northwest Arkansas, the doc doing my surgery takes care of these issues for the razorbacks too - this is the guy for the job. On 11/27/2012 I went in for debridement surgery.

The doc said the surgery went well. Going in there was a possibility that he would implant a prosthetic sleeve, he did not. He never intended to harvest the big toe tendon either as is often done in a repair like this. The doc told my wife that there was a lot more stitching to do than expected but that he was quite satisfied with the results. He thinks there is a strong possibility of a full recovery, whatever that means. To me that means running Boston, I doubt that’s what he meant.

If you are reading this blog then no doubt you have been to many other blogs also. I have read about others going from a similar low point as me to eventually running in ultra marathons – http://achillesblog.com/eastcoastrunner/ - or achieving new PR’s in various distances - http://dshumate.blogspot.com/ - so there is reason to be this optimistic. These two, among others, are my inspiration. Theirs and several other blogs have been immensely helpful in my decisions so far and in understanding what to expect going forward. I would be remiss in not also mentioning coach Dean Hebert’s running blog. I hope my experience will be useful to someone after me, that’s why I am writing this. Right now I need to keep the foot off the floor, elevated above my heart, and be very careful moving around. One slip can be devastating. The doctor I mentioned above did slip and fall and went through this twice – scary. Well that’s all that is fit to print at this point. I will post again in about two weeks after my first follow up visit.

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