5 Year Anniversary

I have no clue what made me find this site again, but I cam across it today.  That made me go back and look at my calendar and realize that I am 2 days short of 5 years since the AT rupture.  So where are we?  While the range of motion on the “bad” leg is still not 100% the same as on the “good” one, it does not impact me AT ALL.  I can run.  I can play any sport I want to play.  I can ice skate.  I have hiked up Mt. Washington.  So, for those of you in the trenches, you will be fine.

The AT is still “thicker” than the non-ruptured one and I can still feel the area through the skin that was torn (still some jagged edges on the tendon I guess).  The scar is still REALLY ugly but I blame my surgeon for that (and I don’t really care).

About 2 years ago I had a scare when, playing softball (again), something popped on my OTHER leg getting out of the batter’s box.  At first I thought Oh no, here we go again.  Then I was in denial - if I don’t get it checked, it can’t be ruptured.  Then I convinced myself that it was too high up to be the AT - must be a partial calf tear.  Thankfully, that’s what it was.  I was out of commission for 6 weeks or so, but it was not an AT rupture…

My advice to those of you dealing with this now?  WORK YOUR A$$ OF AT PT.  Get as much PT done as you possibly can and go as many times a week as you can.  The more you can get done in those first couple of months after the cast comes off, the better.  Also, even after PT, keep up weight training on your legs.  Leg presses and leg curls can really make a difference in keeping the legs strong and able to resume and maintain normal activity.

Anyone who has anything specific - please do reach out, but best of luck to all of you.


It does get better

It has now been over 3 years since my achilles rupture and surgery. I haven’t been on this site in well over a year - mostly because I DONT EVEN THINK ABOUT MY ACHILLES ANY MORE!! Yes, to those just starting out or rehabbing, you will get there. I lead a full active life - I run (though I have been quite delinquent lately), I play softball, I walk perfectly normally and, other than a really ugly 6 inch long incision scar and the occasional strained feeling in my calf, all is perfectly normal. I even partially tore the calf muscle last summer playing softball (same way I tore the AT) and, although there was momentary panic, I quickly determines it was higher up, not the AT, and got back to normal activity within a couple of weeks.

So, hang in there, keep rehabbing, and you will get there!!



For all of you who are starting your rehab or thinking that you can’t possibly recover from this devistating injury, let me update you on my progress.

Some background - I am a 41 yr old somewhat overweight typical weekend warrior who ruptured my AT playing softball in May 2008 (some 22 months ago or so). I had never run more than 4 miles before the rupture, and, although I always enjoyed running, the tendonosis that preceded my rupture for 4 years wouldn’t allow that.

Now fastforward to a few months back - I continued running after completing physical therapy - all on a treadmill, and had this hairbrain idea to run a half-marathon. I entered the lottery for the NYC half-marathon, and was filled with both excitement and fear when I got in to the race. So March 21 was circled on my calendar.

Training went ok - got up to about 9 miles - but all on the treadmill. Even 18 months post-ATR, given all the rain and snow we had in the northeast this winter, I was afraid to run outside - one slip and who knows. Then work got busy and training took a back seat. Then, a week before the race, for the first time in my life I got back spasms and could barely walk. So, there I was on the night before the race, not knowing if I would be able to race and not having run for almost 2 weeks.

Woke up early Sunday morning to a perfect 50 degree day and decided to give it a shot. I donned my achillesblog t-shirt and headed into Manhattan. 16,000 runners lined up in Central Park and I was insanely nervous. The gun went off and off I went. I was running outdoors for the first time in over 5 years - and it was a 13.1 mile race. The first 6 miles were actually pretty ok (other than going out too fast in mile 1 and the 2 nasty hills in Central Park). Mile 7 was all about getting out of the park and seeing my wife and 2 of my kids who were waiting for me on 7th avenue as I exited the park. If I knew how to upload pics, I would upload the picture of me running towards them. Running through Times Square and seeing myself on the Jumbotron as I ran through was a hoot - and I got to mile 9 in decent shape. The last 4.1 miles were hell. I walked a lot of it - every time my calf twinged, I was afraid I would get a cramp or worse yet tear something. As I got to the last mile, I looked at my watch and realized that I was within striking distance of 2 1/2 hours - the outside range of what I was shooting for (I wanted 2:10, but would settle for 2:30). I willed my body to run the last kilometer, crossed the finish line, stopped my stopwatch, and saw 2:30:01. If I missed by one second, I was going to strangle someone. Thankfully, my official time was actually 2:29:58 - I made it! I cried tears of joy as I crossed the line and said a silent thank you to my physical therapist. The next few days were tough - joints hurt, muscles ached, but the AT felt great all the way through.

So I guess the message is that this injury, as horrible and debilitating as it is, can be a good thing. Anyone who wants to join me running my next half marathon, just let me know - hey, we can run in our AchillesBlog t shirts and raise some money for charity - any takers??

Happy healing everyone!


Training for a Half-Marathon??

Been several months since I posted - I am now about 18 months post surgery.  I have been running (exclusively on a treadmill for now) with increasing intensity over the last few months.  I am now running about 4.5 miles at about a 9:40 pace 3x/week.  By the way, I have NEVER run this far before IN MY LIFE.  Even before my tendonosis began 5 yeas ago, I would run 2-3 miles, at most.  I am LOVING running like I have never loved exercise before!

I got this crazy thought that I would run a half-marathon.  So, today, I entered the lottery for the NYC half marathon in March.  This will mean upping the distance about 1 mile/week.

The achilles actually feels great - stiff before I stretch it and still very thick, but no pain or discomfort.  The biggest challenge is my calves.  They do tighten up from time to time and I need to ice them and stretch them a lot.  The other benefit is that I seem to have dropped about 10 pounds in the last few weeks - still want to lose 20 more…

I was going to run a 5K this Friday for my first outdoor running, but it is supposed to rain/snow and I DON’T want to risk slipping and injuring myself.

Bottom line, for all of you in the thick or rehab (or waiting to start), keep on plugging away - you WILL get there!

I am hoping my next post is the time I finished my 13.1 miles in March - am I out of mymind????


Hike up Mt. Mansfield

Another milestone - we are vacationing in Smugglers Notch, VT this week.  My son, daughter and I signed up for a guided hike up Mt. Mansfield, highest summit in VT at 4,300 feet and change.  I have summitted five 4,000 ft peaks in my life.  The last one was Whiteface in NY, after which I started feeling the first twinges in my AT (5 yrs ago).  So this was especially meaningful to me.

We woke up in the AM to a cloudy overcast day.  My daughter promptly rolled over and went back to bed.  My son and I decided to brave the elements and go for it.  It was scheduled to be a 6 hr hike.  The ascent was much more of a cardio issue than AT issue for me, but man did it stretch that AT, calves and hammies.  The ascent included hiking up some pretty steep ski trails at Stowe.  Nasty.

We got to the shelter that was at 3,800 ft. at the tree line and the guides decided that because of the steady rain that had been falling and the 25 mph winds, we better give up on our summit plans.  Instead, they led us onto the Cliff Trail, which had the roughest terrain I have EVER experienced (and I have hiked a fair amount).  The rain made it even more treacherous.  I was so careful with each and every foothold.  I certianly had my slips and falls and have the bruises to prove it, but at the end of the day, I made it!  6 hours; over 2,200 vertical feet of climb; and the absolute most challenging hike I have ever experienced.  I was slower and more deliberate than I have ever been, but that is a good thing.

For the first time, I feel healed.  If I can do this, I can do anything- and so can all of you!

P.S. - one of the guides had an MCL replacement last year and when I told her I had an ATR all she said was, wow, I’m glad I didn’t have THAT!


Preparing for my first 5K????

SInce I haven’t posted much recently, a brief overview.  ATR was almost 15 months ago.  Rehab was fine (well, it was long, arduoud and painful, but its always easier through the rear view mirror) until I hurt my knee about 4 months ago.  Recently was able to get back to the gym.  Now, I am a 40 year old 200+ pound (not saying how much the “+” represents) who does not look like a runner.  I have run in the past, but for the 5 years before my ATR, I had tendonosis and couldn’t really run.  Over the last year, I have been using the treadmill both for cardio and to rehab the AT.

Back in PT 9 months ago, my PT recommended alternating 1 minute runs with 1 minute brisk walks, and then slowly extending to 2 and 1, etc.  Recently, I have been comfortably doing 3 minute runs (at 6 mph) alternating with 1 minute walks (at 4 mph), covering roughly 2 miles at a pop.  In general, it feels ok, other than my calves (yes both the ATR calf and the “good” one) tightening up to a degree.  Last night a strange thing happened.  After my first “walk,” I just kept running.  3 minutes became 5.  5 minutes became 8.  I looked down at the timer on the treadmill and thought to myself, I can just go all the way to 20 minutes.  And I did!  15 minutes of consecutive running for the first time in probably 6-7 years!  Had the gym not been full, I would have raised my arms and let out a victory scream.  I settled for a smile and a subtle fist pump.

So I got to thinking - how cool would it be for me to run a race (wearing my Achillesblog t shirt OF COURSE).  I hit the internet and found a 5K run in Paramus, NJ (5 minutes away) on October 19th.  2 months to get up to 3.2 miles comfortably - should be eminently doable and a great goal.  Of course, that will mean leaving the friendly confines of the treadmill and venturing back out onto the mean streets where potholes and (GASP) hills abound.  The best part of it was when my 12 year old son asked me what I was looking at it, and when I told him, asked if he could run with me!  How great would that be!!!

So wish me luck - the soreness is not really bad at all this morning, so I guess there is hope.

I hope those of you a few months behind me can read this and take comfort in knowing that even an old, out of shape, weekend warrior can overcome this ATR thing - hang in there - you WILL get there!


Crossing Home Plate!

This may sound a bit goofy, but yesterday was quite a milestone (14 months post ATR).  I have been playing softball all season and the tendon has felt great.  Our league permits each team to take 2 “courtesy” runners each game and, because my teammates are petrified that I will hurt myself again, I have been one of them all season.  As a result, the furthest I have gotten oon the basepaths this season is 3rd base (the one triple I hit).  Fast forward to yesterday…

Bottom of the 6th and we are up comfortable 9-3.  2 outs, bases loaded and I come up.  I line a single to right driving in 2 more.  The captain signals to me to come out for a runner but I waive him off - I figure that I am feeling good, we are up big and the game is almost over - I might as well run.  Next batter lines a gapper to left center.  I take off, round second (momentary panic as I recall popping the AT going 2d to 3rd last year), and see the 3d base coach waving me on.  I round third, and as I come towards home plate, a big smile broke out on my face.  At that point I realized that this was the first time I crossed home plate in over a year!  Somehow, it finally felt like I had made it.

I know this is a bit sappy and all, but that moment meant the world to me (never mind that my wife told me she wasn’t sure I was going to make it).  I have come home again - and it has been a LONG journey.

Yes, the AT is still tight and the calf is still not quite back to 100%, but I have officially rounded the bases.

For all of you a few steps behind me, you will cross home plate.  Its a long journey but man does it feel good to get there!!

Keep the faith!


One year ago today…

Wow - I cannot even fathom that it was one year ago today that I felt that horrifying pop and started a journey that would define me for the next several months.  So, where are we today?

I got myself into pretty decent shape through physical therapy and elliptical/treadmill work.  Then I fell out of all those good habits.

I rejoined my softball team this spring and felt great (for the first 2 games).  Then I did something to my knee (the ATR leg) and have played the last 3 games with a knee support.  The knee is getting better, but SLOWLY.  Bottom line, the ATR is not getting in the way of my play AT ALL, other than the fact that I stretch for 30 minutes before each game and play it a little more cautiously on the basepaths.

My scar is still really ugly - 6″ long and still all red and purple.  Not having any externa, sutures (surgeon used only steristrips) made it a wide, uneven, ugly scar.  I guess leg modeling is out for me.

The AT is still tight, particularly int he morning.  My range of motion is still not 100% of my “good” leg, but pretty darned close.  The strength in my calf and quad is probably 90% plus of the “good leg.” 

All in all, I am satisfied with the recovery. 

This site was INVALUABLE to me.  It was a source of information, a source of empathy, a source of some good friends, at least one of which I expect to be a friend for life, and a great outlet during some pretty dark times.

For all of you out there behind me in the process, happy to be there for you - answer any questions, help you realize that it WILL get better, etc. 

Thank you SO much achillesblog.com and Happy Anniversary to me!


Back on the Basepaths

It has been a long while since I have posted, but today was a monumental day for me - opening day of softball season and I PLAYED!  Not only did I play, but the ATR leg felt better than it has felt for years (recall I had tendonosis in the AT for 3 years before the tear)!  Other than taking a shoulder to the ribs (I think they are just bruised - maybe one cracked), it went great.  I spent about 30 minutes stretching before the game and was shocked at how great it felt. 
Last week, on vacation, I did 3 hikes of various levels of difficulty (including one pretty tough one that had ladders and some tough climbs.  The leg held up great there too.

So, to sum it up, 11 months after the ATR, although the AT is still stiff and tight, I finally feel fully recovered.  For all of you behind me, IT WILL HAPPEN!

Thanks to everyone on this site who made this so much easier to deal with. 

Now if I can only get these ribs healed…


Closing in on 8 months

Wow - I cannot believe its been so long.  Here is the update:

I wish I could say I don’t ever notice the AT, but its not true.  Every morning those first steps are still a bit stiff.  Other than that, though, I must confess that I rarely even think about the AT.  That is a good thing.

I have been VERY lax about getting to the gym.  It is nothing more than laziness and lack of time on my part.  That is a bad thing.

Despite my promises that I would “retire” from softball, I have in fact told my team that I will be back this season.  My intention is to spend 30 minutes stretching the calf before each game and to take it EASY - take pinch runners and stick to playing 1st base.  That is, I think, a good thing.

My 6″ scar remains pretty darned ugly.  I am convinced that my surgeons were just being lazy and decided not to bother with external sutures (and just threw steristrips on the wound).  That, coupled with the wound closure issues I had, left me with a raised and VERY wide scar.  Oh well, I guess my future as a leg model is shot.  That is, a VERY good thing (my legs weren’t that great to begin with) :-)

We are headed away on vacation next week (a family-owned ranch up in the Catskills).  I am tempted to ski, but I think I will be cautious and wait.  I would feel pretty foolish if I hurt myself skiing…  Next year.

Next week is a big birthday for me (one of those birthdays that ends in “0″).  For now, it really isn’t bothering me at all - I am sure that will change.

Bottom line, for all of you out there just starting up in this marathon, keep your spirits up and keep working.  You truly get out of it what you put into it.