One of the reasons I was interested in this website was to hear about the “typical timelines” that people experience for surgery, post-op, PT, etc … it’s a long road so what should I expect? I noticed many people had their surgeries within a week, many within a few days after the injury. I was like, what the friggin’ happened to me? It took me 2 (long) weeks! Hmmm all I can surmise is that it’s alphabetical … see my last name begins near the end of the alphabet so I figure there must some sort of alphabetical process for scheduling achilles surgeries … yeah that must be it.
So I ruptured my achilles around 5pm on Wednesday, June 25th (’08) … a nice start to the summer. My wife was great helping me get home from the tennis court & getting the ice packs along with several pillows to elevate my leg. I knew I needed xrays & more than likely an MRI so we went to the ER (she drove despite my insistance that I’m actually a better driver when I’m in pain & in need of urgent care!).
Not much luck at the ER, no xrays & no MRI … those needed to be done at Kaiser (which was closed) so I came home with my ankle braced & wrapped. No big deal, I knew it wasn’t going to get any worse overnight plus after a few glasses of wine I’d be sleeping in the dog’s bed. I went to Kaiser the next day & got my xrays but they needed to schedule an appointment with my primary care doctor for further evaluation … so I waited another day.
The doc didn’t think it looked good so he wanted me to see the orthopedic specialist which is not part of Kaiser. Fortunately I got in to see him on Monday, June 1st (5 days after the injury) … he couldn’t tell anything from my xrays but did confirm that I had ruptured the tendon (the ‘ole squeezing on the calf muscle & the foot don’t move trick).
FYI, this is a large & very prominent Ortho group in Atlanta so I felt very comfortable visiting them (& still do). Nonetheless I checked the bio’s of all of their MD’s beforehand. This particular doctor was a specialist in hand/wrist injuries so when he confirmed my achilles was ruptured & told me that he would handle my surgery I had some reservations. Hand/wrist … ankle/achilles, kinda similar. I realize the ankle is connected to the shin bone which is connected to the thigh, the hip, spine, upper torso, eventually leading to the hand/wrist but seriously, did I really want a hand/wrist expert performing surgery on my achilles? I think not … unless he slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Actually he was great & very professional … when I explained to him that I was hoping to resume a very high level of competitive tennis (wishful thinking) he immediately suggested having his colleague (a very skilled ankle/foot surgeon) perform the surgery. Now we’re talking, bro. Seriously though … managed care works both ways … health care professionals will manage your care but YOU have to be active in managing your care, as well. I knew what I wanted going in & wasn’t going to settle.
On we go … so all we needed next was an MRI but that had to be done at Kaiser. He writes up the referral & 2 days later I get my MRI (1 week after the injury). July 4th weekend so nothing is happening on Friday & I figured what the hell … honey let’s go to the pool. I didn’t have a cast yet & by now the swelling looked liked a case of elephantitis. Off with the bandages & dive right in … well not quite, I gingerly hopped down the pool stairs while holding the edge … but boy that water felt good once I was in (& what I’d give to be able to soak my leg right now!!!).
So the holiday weekend wasn’t a complete waste. Monday morning I got to see the foot/ankle specialist who surprisingly told me he didn’t need the MRI … he could tell from the xrays that the ligament was completely ruptured. Grrrrrrr … I waited 2 weeks for this? It wasn’t all bad, he got me in for surgery the next day … it took 2 weeks but I got the surgeon I wanted plus I was able to perfect the one-legged, doggy paddle in the pool.
I don’t remember much about the surgery … took a few deep breaths with this funny mask thing on my face & then I woke up with this 10 pound cast on my leg … I hate magic tricks. I also hate when they ask if you’re allergic to this or that … I’m allergic to needles. The intravenous in the hand was the worst part of the day … well until later that night.
FYI … I highly recommend the nerve block in the leg before surgery; I couldn’t feel my toes until 12 hours after surgery. I just wish they had told me to take the Percocet BEFORE the nerve block wore off. It’s now 3am … 12 hours after surgery & I wake up to feel my toes … hey I can feel a slight tingle, great. 15 minutes later I can feel the pain … not so great. Grab the damn Percocet!!! 10 minutes later the pain goes from a 9.0 to a 9.7 & I’m in agony! The things we learn … Percocet will kick-in about an hour after you take it … plan accordingly! lol
The good news is I only needed the Percocet for the first 2 or 3 days & then the pain was minimal. Interesting that I read the stuff is addictive & kids get off on it these days … I don’t get it. Maybe it was the pain but Percocet just made me sleepy. I never got any sort of “high” or weird feeling from it. Now wine … ok, wait … that’s another blog. Btw, no wine (or any alcohol) with Percocet … that combo can kill you. So I’m in a holding pattern until I get the first cast off in 9 days but who’s counting … I am!!! More good news … the Percocet is now out of my system which means the wine cellar is open for business once again.
Don’t look if you cringe easily but here are 2 pictures of the bruising & swelling 1 week after the injury … you can also see the indentation where the tendon is missing.