Merry Xmas and a happy new achilles!

Greetings from sunny Sydney Australia!

I snapped the achilles tendon in my left leg playing sport (cricket) 2 weeks ago (Saturday 15 Dec).  I was fortunate to have surgery on the following Tuesday (benefits of private health insurance!) and am aiming to have my cast removed later this week.  I definitely fall into the high risk category for this type of injury - 47, reasonably fit but trying to play sport with kids half my age (or a lot younger!) and putting strain on my leg when going for a run.  The injury vindicated my wife’s view that I’m too old for sport!

This type of injury is not much fun at this time of year - we are having a fantastic summer, nice and hot and sunny, so being very limited in what I can do is driving all of us crazy.  Instead of enjoying the pool or beach my teenage kids are having to look after their old man!  Worst of all we were planning an overseas holiday in January, but that has now been shelved.  Oh well, shit happens…..

Being a fairly active person and not one who can sit still for long, the inability to do much is extremely frustrating.  Fortunately I have not been in much pain since the surgery, so I’m hoping that is a good sign.  The surgeon was happy with the operation (met him for the first time in pre-op just prior to surgery!) and will have my first post - op visit with him on 8 January.  As he only gets back to work on 7 January after his Xmas holidays, he advised me to see my GP to get the cast removed, and have a boot/heel inserts fitted prior to this date.  While I have utmost confidence in my GP, I was somewhat surprised he suggested this and I don’t know if I should just wait until I see him next week.  If anyone has any suggestions it would be appreciated.

Happy New Year to all, hope 2013 is injury free for everyone!

7 Responses to “Merry Xmas and a happy new achilles!”

  1. Hi, this is a comment.
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  2. Hi downunderandy I can understand your concern. Given you have private cover that should also cover you for a boot, if you can get the vacoped, do! I say should cover you, im on workcover so didnt check. They cost $599 aussie, so not cheap, but if i had needed too i would have paid the money myself fornthe relief it gave me. I initially had one that had wedges inside which killed my foot. The surgeon tried the correct one but it really hurt and I couldn’t stand the pain, so opted for a different vacocast with 4 wedges to raise the heel. The individual wedges dug into my feet and kept me awake at night, getting to the point I had little welts on my foot, yes I wore socks but that didn’t help….girlie feet perhaps :)

    I swapped over to the vacoped which is designed for an Achilles injury. It is angled down and the adjustments are made every two weeks to slowly (and comfortably) bring your foot to neutral. It is also hinged so when it’s time to walk it’s a bit easier. The Sydney distributor is in Wollongong, and they ship overnight. Your surgeon is likely to have an account with them….well mine did.

    If you don’t have a Physio the guys at Sports Labs have been amazing helping me.

    The first few days in a boot is a bit scarey, I’d want my surgeon making the transition with me and not my GP, but I am a chicken!

    Best of luck in your healing!


  3. It’s a sad and ironic fact that those of us who are immobilized with ATRs are disproportionately people who “stay sane” by being much more active than average! Think of it as a test of your inner calm!

    Me, I’d let my GP fit me with a boot, but (a) I think I’ve got a great GP and (b) I’m pretty good at telling if something fits well, or not. Boots are better than casts in a bunch of ways, so getting into one is a plus.

    Many people here really love the Vaco, and it seems like a fine boot, but I think any boot that fits well is a good boot, and any hinged boot that fits well is an excellent boot. (I personally wouldn’t set a hinged boot free to hinge until about 7 weeks post-whatever, though some do start earlier.)

  4. The boot fit is vital for your comfort, sanity and correct support. I was borderline with my Vaco Achilles boot between medium and large, was given the large, and subsequently changed to the medium after a week or so. Major improvement. The boot had a thick, steep wedge sole for 2 weeks then a ‘normal’ sole was attached instead.

    The boot was at 30º plantar flexion (PF) until end of week 4 when a range of movement (ROM) was set between 30º and 15º PF, utilising the easily adjustable (done by the physio the first 2 times) hinge mechanism. 2 weeks later it was 30º to neutral, and 2 weeks after that it was 30º PF to 10º dorsiflexion. a few days after that (week 9) it was into 2 shoes with low gel heel pads. Therefore, the boot was free to hinge after 4 weeks but to a controlled degree, progressing from quite limited up to a stage where I had downwards and upwards movement.

    My consultant made the decision to try the non-op treatment first (it was a full rupture) and this proved to be the correct call, and I have certainly not regretted it. Physiotherapy asap (from around 2-3 weeks) is vital though, and I upped the level of this significantly with a sports physiotherapist at 4 months. I still get occasional slight swelling after very long walks in the hills or too long at a desk but have been pleased with my treatment (UK NHS) and progress. 10 months now but I still have the boot on the shelf - just in case.

  5. Welcome to Achillesblog and Happy New Year. In the beginning of your recovery focus on rest and healing that reconstructed ATR. I agree with Norm (about the irony of our injury), but remember with each day we are closer to a full recovery. And the first few weeks of NWB can be a time we impove our impatience and upper body strength! Happy healing.

  6. Thanks to all for the feedback, as a generally impatient individual I am definitely learning some new skills that hopefully will benefit me once I recover! Have used my ‘downtime’ to do some reading (and not just looking at this site!) and watch the first season of Boardwalk on DVD.

    As I have a desk job, I am able to work remotely and will attempt to do some work tomorrow. If I can’t keep the body active, will try to exercise the mind!

  7. Good luck with your rehab mate. As a member of the re-rupture club all I can say is that you’ll soon get to that ‘invincible’ stage where you think you can start doing things like climbing stairs and walking without observing surroundings. All I would say is just be very careful with your recovery, never take your mind off your achilles and before you know it, you’ll be back playing Cricket (dreaming about taking those ashes back !?). All the best mate. Jon

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