duke’s AchillesBlog

Just another AchillesBlog.com weblog

    • duke has completed the grueling 26.2 ATR miles to full recovery!
      Goal: 365 days from the surgery date.
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    • Name: duke
      Location: Pennsylvania
      Injured during: basketball
      Which Leg: R
      Status: 2-Shoes

      538 wks  4 days Post-ATR
      538 wks
         Since start of treatment

first week after surgery

Posted by duke on September 25, 2011

I spent the first day after my surgery with my leg up with the ice wrap running continuously.  I used several doses of pain medications to keep the surgical site quiet.   I was keenly aware of my incision and had some soreness in my tendon whenever I was upright for more than 10 seconds or so.  My wife took care of me, getting me what I needed and helping to make sure I was getting around safely.  A neighbor brought us extra ice (as our icemaker wasn’t doing well keeping up with the sudden heavy demand).   It started to sink in about just how different things are going to be over the next several months.

As all of you know, that first week is one full of adjustments.  The fact that you can’t just hop up to get what you need when the mood strikes you.  The pain/discomfort when the leg is down.  Getting accustomed to maneuvering with crutches.  A lot of sports radio, DVR, books from the library and hulu as I passed the time.

A great deal of the time feeling good, optimistic about recovery and thinking philosophically about my situation relative to others.  At others, feeling trapped by my splint, struggling to find a position of comfort and wondering if I ever fully recover.  I spent a lot of time scanning through blogs on this site, reading stories of people who made it through just what I am going through.  This gave me a lot of comfort knowing that others were sharing a similar experience.

I don’t know the attribution, but I do believe that with these kinds of situations— shared pain is half the pain, and shared glory is double the victory.

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surgical consult

Posted by duke on September 23, 2011

I had a formal consult with the foot and ankle specialist the day after my injury.  The resident came in first, examined me and sent me off for an x-ray to see if I had calcification in my tendon (none seen, a good thing).  He reviewed a bit about operative versus non-operative management.  He talked to me about something called a “wheel a-bout” (a rolling knee walker) that I could use while I was recovering.  “The older ladies who break their ankles love zooming around on these things.“  Quite comforting.

I met with the orthopedic surgeon.  We discussed operative versus non-operative options in detail including the risks of re-rupture and the operative risks (including infection and clots).  He went over more recent data supporting a non-operative approach.  He told me he might need to do a release to free up extra tendon from my calf and could possibly need to do a tendon transfer from my big toe as well.  After weighing the issues,  I opted for surgery and was scheduled for the following Monday.

He gave me a copy of his rehab protocol (which is fairly similar to this one:  http://www.mcworthopaedics.com/pdf/mark-richards-achilles-tendon-protocol.pdf).  I asked when he thought I could drive again (4 to 6 weeks) and whether he thought I might be able to return to work the week after the surgery (he thought it was possible if I could keep my foot up).  He reassured me with some anecdotes about some of the patients he had successfully treated in my age range.  I had a new splint put on and I was out the door.

That left me with a weekend to surf the web, prop my foot up and continue to debate with myself about whether the surgical approach was the best one for me.

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“Dad you’re too old to be playing basketball”

Posted by duke on September 22, 2011

I am 35 years old, fairly active, with (what was) Achilles tendonosis on the right.  The issue was chronic dating back to marathon training a few years ago.  I had actually seen an orthopedic surgeon about the pain in my Achilles 1 ½ years ago and he offered me a surgery for pain management.  The key question I asked at the time was whether or not it would alter my risk for rupture, he said no.  I opted against surgery and gradually increased my exercise.

Pain free for over a year and back to playing basketball, running, and lifting weights with careful warm-up each time.  That changed while playing pick-up basketball on a Thursday.  The injury came during the second game of the evening.  I made a quick cut to get open and you all know the story from there.

I felt/heard a pop and felt a searing pain in my Achilles as I crumpled to the floor.  One of the guys I was playing with said my words were “this one isn’t good.”  I limped off the court with no power at all.  Fortunately one of the players happened to be an orthopedic surgeon.  He confirmed what I suspected, Achilles tendon rupture.

With my right leg involved I didn’t feel safe to drive and thankfully a couple of the guys playing drove me home.  Having tendonosis I had prepared myself that rupture might happen at some point. The reality was difficult to face.  The lengthy rehab and the questions about whether or not I would return to my prior activities.  I told (and am telling myself) that it is better to happen now rather than 20 years from now and that my fitness level is as good as it has been in four or five years.

My wife and I explained the injury to my daughter and 6 year old son.  His response, “Dad, you’re too old to be playing basketball.”

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