The other side

OK - here I am 15 months after my left AT rupture, great rehab fully funcitional on left leg as of 5 months post surgery though stiffness still occurred a few months after that. Very active at everything, running, swimming, tennis, elliptical, weights, pilates (which includes lots of tendon strenght and stretching). So on October 10th 2010 I decide to go play soccer for the first time since I ruptured left. And 20 minutes into the game, I rupture my RIGHT AT. Could not believe it. I fell to the ground and screamed, not in pain but in anticipation of what was ahead. I knew right away what happened. Having been here before, I skipped the whole ER thing and just waited until Monday to see the same Ortho (Before he could speak I said ‘You said this would not happen’….”You tore the OTHER one?” Dr asked? “Well, lightning does strike twice sometimes but it is really rare.” Well, hey thanks. Surgery 24 hours later, in at 7:30 on Tuesday home by noon. Essentially same drill (except nurse suggested I should put some weight on it. I told her to go check the post-op instructions again - OH!). Again, little to no pain and being good about keeping it propped up. The reall kicker this time,of course, is I can’t drive. So while I was extremely active last time I will be more dependent on getting rides for several weeks.

I haven’t yet searched the site for bi-lateral ruptures, but I am thinking I am in a small, albeit unlucky, club of few. Plan to start up pilates again this week and then do swimming after first post-op stitches removed on 25th.

Would love to hear from any other bi-lateral ruptures out there! Still cannot believe it.

For Posterity I am keeping this record of Left AT in 2009 as I need to update for new one:

Achilles Injury Date: 06/13/2009
Surgery Date/(Cast Date for non-operative treatment): 06/16/2009
Partial Weight Bearing Start Date: 07/11/2009
Full Weight Bearing Start Date: 07/24/2009
2 Shoes Start Date:
(while also Full Weight Bearing and not using crutches.)
Physical Therapy Start Date: 07/14/2009
Injury Activity: SOCCER
City: Washington DC
Which Leg: Left
Birth date: 05/25/1966
Gender: Female

8 Responses to “The other side”

  1. hey there,

    sorry to hear about your 2nd ATR but rest assured you are definitely not alone. i did my first one when i was 25 playing soccer, and the 2nd one 11 weeks ago at the age of 31 also playing soccer. i also knew exactly what had happened. didn’t scream but swore to myself instead. i think i’m probably the youngest person on here to have done both. i know that larrylove and normofthenorth are also in the double ATR club. it sucks but the way i see it, it was probably going to happen at some point so might as well get it over with ASAP. the younger you are when it happens the faster and better it probably heals. you know what to expect this time so use that to your advantage. keep your chin up! you’ll be back to soccer before you know it

  2. Yup, what Kaston said. Sorry you’ve joined our elite little club, Pamela.

    The good news — in addition to your impressive “fully functional at 5 months” experience from the first time! — is that you should be pretty safe from ATRs on BOTH sides after you recover from this one. As one of the other “contralateral guys” here said a while ago, “Unless I grow a third leg. . .” :-)

    I don’t know where your Doc got his impression, but this bi-lateral thing is actually not all that rare, especially for people like us who return to the explosive sport that claimed our first AT. There’s a link to a study quantifying the risk in the “ATR Rehab Protocols, Publications, Studies” section (linked from the Main Page). The link is entitled “Contralateral (your other) Tendon Rupture study”.

    They only followed ATR patients for an average of around 4 years — long enough to catch your contralateral ATR but not mine or Kaston’s. They found that the risk of “doing” the other side within that period was roughly 200x as high as the background “normal-person” risk of an ATR.

    That’s still a relatively low absolute risk (~6%), but obviously way higher than normal. And that calculation includes lots of people who quit their high-risk sports after their first ATR, too, so it’s presumably much higher for us who didn’t. And the risk doesn’t end at 4 years, so it’s really much higher again.

    (I just thought of another thing, maybe only of interest to math-puzzle junkies: Since virtually nobody re-ruptures the same AT after it’s healed up, the people with the contralateral ATRs were only putting HALF as many ATs at risk as the “normal” people! So the risk PER LEG was 400x as high in the first 4 years!)

    Soon after my second ATR, I struck up a conversation with another patient in the Clinic waiting room. He used to work in a Sports-Med Clinic. He said they got so many contralateral “return clients” that when a first-time ATR patient got discharged from rehab, they’d say “Goodbye — and see you soon!” (That seems like going TOO far, at least to me!)

    Good healing — again!

  3. Thanks for the support and info guys. Especially the stats - I was looking for something like that but didn’t know to call it contralateral rather than bi. Very interesting stuff. As for the 3rd leg, I did say in the operation room as I was going under (because not only did I have same surgeon, but also same anesthesiologists!) “I am glad I am not an octopus!” The last thing I remember before going under is hearing them laugh.
    Thanks again and will keep you posted. I did have a very active and quick recovery and hope to do at least as well this time!

  4. Sorry to hear that you joined that special club. I think your experience - contra rupture first time back at original rupture activity - is why it can be incredibly tough to get the courage up for that first time back. Hope you heal quickly!

  5. Sorry to hear about the other tendon. I am looking at you for comparative (if you could call it that) support. I ruptured both achillies on October 12th while playing soccer. I lasted just short of 30 minutes and they both went within seconds of each other. I am just 4 weeks post-op and just trying to figure out where I should be and how much weight is too much. Keep updating and good luck with your recovery!

  6. Oh Cheryl! I am SO SO SO Sorry to hear that. I cannot even imagine both. I am really curious how you did both -it just seems like you would have gone down with one and not had any issue with the other. Both times when I did it I had intense pressure on the rupturing leg and none on my other. Did you jump and land at the same time, or lean hard on one after the first went? I bet your Dr. had never seen such a case before.

    Honestly, I don’t think you can use me (or maybe anybody) for too much of a comparison. When I am walking without crutches (a week before Doc approval) I really am putting loads of weight on my good leg because I still can’t really flex the right one and shouldn’t be bearing full weight. So I don’t know how you can compensate if you have had surgery and recovering on both. I think in your case you should be conservative and listen to the doctor in terms of when to bear weight and start Physical Therapy. I would also expect that your PT would take longer than it would with just one because, again, I remember pushing off the good leg and bearing more weight to ‘aid’ the recovering leg (for example, when you do heel raises onto your toes you just cannot do it with the bad foot alone to begin with so you do maybe 75% with good foot while bad foot ‘comes along for the ride’). I would actually call around to some Physical Therapists and talk to them to see if they have dealt with a double case at once and, if not, then drill them on how they think you could proceed.

    So, to be clear, my doctor thinks I shouldn’t be bearing weight at all but I am. I am doing so because I have done this before (and feel like I can judge what I am ready for). He also thinks I should be in a boot, which I am usually when out of the house (but this actually seems to strain my tendon more when bearing weight because it is not flat-footed like when I am wearing a shoe with lifts).

    I will look for your blog and follow along, but I really don’t want to mislead you as I am being aggressive. I did actually step badly off a curb yesterday and that was a bit painful and scary. It did make me rethink and be more conservative when out of the house.

    GOOD LUCK!!!

  7. Hi Duke, I wish I could say that I ruptured them while doing a superstar move, but that wasn’t the case. I was just trapping the ball in our end and I did actually get kicked in my left Achilles and boom just snapped. Now I had no idea of what just happened. I was trying to get my balance and then the other one snapped. You are right that my surgeon had never seen it before. In fact anyone I have spoken to hasn’t either. I know I can’t use you as a direct comparison but because I can use you as a benchmark or a goal if you will. I know I take longer than you to recover but I have done some ‘cheating’ as well albeit being cautious for example FWB (because there just is no other way) on my heels while transferring from chair to bed. So in my own way I am being somewhat aggressive as well. I’m looking forward to your future posts. If you are interested mine is canadagoose.

  8. I think your experience - contra rupture first time back at original rupture activity - is why it can be incredibly tough to get the courage up for that first time back.

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