6 month update (plus a week)

Well, I missed my 6 month anniversary a week and a half ago but figured I would post now.  Here is the update.

The only time I really “feel” the injury is when I wake up in the morning - those first few steps are still pretty tight.  That being said, when I focus on it, the achilles still feels a bit tight all day, but I just don’t focus on it very much.

I am walking limp free and can walk long distances and stad for long periods of time unaffected.

My insurance company shut down my PT (it was a good run while it lasted) a few weeks ago.  At the time, the PT had said I was a couple of weeks away from being discharged anyway and that everything we were doing there I could do in the gym.

I have been HORRIBLE about getting to the gym - I finally went last night after a couple of weeks of procrastination and noted, surprisingly, that I was still able to do walk/run intervals on teh treadmill for 10 minutes (60 seconds walk briskly, 60 seconds run) without any real trouble and 20 minutes on the elliptical was a breeze.  The leg presses and curls were fine - couldn’t up the weight but could easily do what I had been doing.

The best news is that the tendonosis I was experiencing for 3 years pre-ATR has not returned to this point!  I am cautiously optomistic on this front - but far from “out of the woods.”

My goal is to be ready for softball season in April and I feel pretty confident about getting there.  I will be taking it easy, certainly at the beginning of the season - pinch runners, not legging out those ground balls as aggressively, etc.  I also will be stretching for a full 30 minutes before each game.  Beyond that, I am inclined to stick with the treadmill as aopposed to returning to outdoor running - just easier on the joints.

My scar is still ugly and not fading particularly fast.  The area where I had the incision issues is still thick and a bit bumpy.  Still some improvement, albeit slow.

I still wear my New Balance walkers to work - they are just too comfortable to give up.  I have no problem going back to the normal wing tips when I need to go to a meeting.

All in all, I feel really good about where I am and where I am going (if I can get back into the gym habit on a regular basis).  I have learned so much about my body through this process and just feel more ready to return to “weekend warriorhood” in a way that will hopefully minimize potential for injury.  This injury is one hell of a ride and something that I will always look back to with a mixture of sadness and nostalgia, but also gives me a ton of hope that even at my advanced age (still not 40 for another month!), I can recover from serious injury.

THANK YOU to all of you I have met along the way who have encouraged and befriended me.  This site has truly made this recvoery easier and better.  Dennis, I wish I could submit your costs to my insurance plan because your role in my recovery is at least equal to some of the doctors I saw.

I will try to check in from time to time, but as you veterans know, at this stage in the marathon, you tend to just focus on the road ahead and the finish line…

Ed

Just Call Me the Running Man

The day has finally arrived.  I shuffled into PT at the ungodly hour of 6:55 AM.  Half asleep, I climbed on the eliptical and did my 10 minutes.  By minute 8, I was getting into it and I actually increased the resistence to 2 for the last 2 minutes (shhhh, don’t tell the PT people…).  Did my leg presses, leg curls, heel lifts, box jumps, dot jumping drills and step ups.  Blew off the squats and cross walker - HATE those.  Then the Athletic Trainer who works with my PT said the magic words - “Lets get you up on that treadmill and see what you can do.”  After a minute of brisk walking at 3.5, we went up to 5 and, oh my, yes, I remember this feeling vaguely, yes, I was RUNNING!  Had to really focus on striding heel to toe and keeping the strides even between good and bad leg.  Went 4 intervals of one minute brisk walk/30 seconds running.  The good news is that fitness-wise, it felt great.  The moderately bad news is that my calf did tighten up a tad during one of the intervals, but not too bad at all.  Then Brian (the AT) rewarded me with ultrasound on the calf and a nice 15 minute massage focused almost exclusively on the calf.

The BEST news?  No hint of the tendonosis that plagued me for 3 years before my ATR - hmmmm, could we be past that?  Don’t want to get too optomistic yet…

Didn’t even have to ice it - just need to keep stretching it today.  Gonna head to the gym tomorrow and do some more running.  Brian told me to warm up on the bike or eliptical for 10 minutes, stretch the calf and only then get ont he treadmill and do my intervals.  Should be fun!

For all of you who are behind me in this process, you WILL get there.  Keep working.  Keep blogging. 

Ed

21 Weeks - Slow and Steady Finishes the Race

Just figured I would pop in for a quick update.  PT continues to go well - I have not been a good boy and am only getting there 1-2x/week instead of 3x/week like I am supposed to.  As a result, I get winded and sore.  It has just been difficult to reconcile a ridiculously busy work schedule with 90 minutes of PT 3x/week.  Things are getting more sane at work so I am hoping to get one good hard push for the rest of PT.

In terms of PT, I am now jumping from a standing position onto a “box” 18″ high (which is miraculous given I don’t think I could get that far off the ground before the ATR…), doing rapid step-ups and “dot drill” jumping, lots of heel lifts, still lef presses (1 and 2 leg) and curls, of course the elliptical, etc.  Working up to running on that treadmill.  Probably 2 weeks away from taking that first run (which will be 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking, etc.).  The morning limp lasts a shorter amount of time and is less severe.  Although the tightness is constantly there, I don’t “feel” the tendon most of the day.  I have been able to do some projects around the house involving ladders and the like with no ill effects.

In the “when it rains it pours” category, I actually got an ingrown toe nail on the ATR foot.  Thankfully, it was not too severe and that procedure is a BREEZE after going through the ATR repair!

All in all, I am finally starting to feel like I am close to putting this in the rear view mirror.  I am actually looking forward to getting to the batting cages and, am I really saying this, playing softball again in the Spring.  I will be taking it easy, trust me.  I have NEVER been able to play any sport other that all-out (I blame my type A personality) so we will see if I can make that adjustment.

The memories of focusing on the day by day recovery from the early post-surgery days are fading fast.  To all of you who are behind us in this marathon, you WILL get there.  Keep working - all the early PT work has paid off for me big-time.

Ed

Misty May ATR??

Thought I caught something on Dancing with the Stars that gold medalist Misty May ruptured her AT training for the Dancing show.  Gonna be tough getting back to beach voleyball after an ATR…  Can anyone confirm? 

Dennis, we gotta get her info on this site - get her to sponsor t-shirts!

On the homefront, wish me luck - I start jumping and MAYBE running tomorrow morning in PT!  Can’t wait!!!

Ed

Met a Fellow ATR Victim at PT - And His NAME is Achilles!

Yesterday afternoon I was being ultrasounded and noticed another patient with that telltale scar downt he back of his ankle (MUCH smaller than my monster scar, of course).  So I asked the PT, “another ATR?”  He sidles up to me and whispers, “funny thing is that his NAME is Achilles - its quite poetic that he got this injury.”

So this morning in the locker room I met Achilles.  He ruptured his AT in July playing soccer.  I gave him the old “I am 6 weeks ahead of you and its gonna be ok” speech.  Then we go in to the treatment/exercise room.  While I was doing my leg curls I look over at Achilles on the leg press machine and he doing 110 lb ONE LEG leg presses!!??  What the $%^&!!!  I am at a whopping 35 lbs with one leg and he is at 110 six weeks behind me!!??  I was pissed.  Then I realized - he is younger than I am and in much better shape.   Still…

PT gave me some good news - they are almost ready to have me start with low-impact jumping, which leads to running, which leads to DISCHARGE!  The AT is getting looser (and loosening up more quickly and easily in the morning) with each passing week.  I actually broke into a run over the weekend by accident - then I realized, um, I shouldn’t be doing this - but it felt fine, so I am psyched.  The calf is still smaller than the good one and the AT is still stiff and I still get some swelling, but we are definitely making progress.

To all of you behind me, YOU WILL GET THERE (and if you are already there, I don’t want to hear about it :-)) 

I am starting to think maybe I will play softball again next season…

Ed

(Almost) 4 month update…

Hey gang - haven’t been writing much because, well, while this injury remains front of mind, nothing “dramatic” has been happening.  Here is the update:

PT continues to go well - I am supposed to go 3x/week but, given work schedules, it has been more like 2x/week.  I go at 7 AM a block from my office so I can still get into the office by 8:30 AM.  The program consists of:  10 minutes on the eliptical (no resistance yet); 5 minutes backwards on the treadmill on an incline; calf/tendon stretches on an incline board; leg presses, including releasing with only one leg; leg curls; step-ups; heel raises; blanacing on a wobble board and one-legged balancing on a foam thingie; ball squats (HATE those); cross-band walking; ultrasound; massage and manipulation; and finally, ice and electric stimulation.  Each session takes almost 90 minutes and, while I am sore after each session, it feels great.  The range of motion is definitely good and the swelling is down.  The tendon is still very tight, but loosens up much more quickly and easily when I stretch it.

I have started back at the gym where I use the elliptical and treadmill on PT “off” days and some upper body work.  Sadly, my arms, chest and shoulders have suffered from being away from the gym for so long, but so be it.  The goal is to be able to do the vast majority of my PT exercises in the gyma nd only go to PT 1x/week or less - I am probably a month or two away from that.

While I still wear my New Balance walkers and white athletic ankle socks to work, I have real shoes and socks in the office for meetings, and can wear them.  I walked 1/2 mile to a meeting today in real shoes, and still have them on now!   They are feeling pretty good, actually.

The biggest remaining issue I have are these annoying blisters I am getting on the sides and bottom of my ATR foot.  Not sure if its wearing a shoe made of man-made material causing my foot not to “breathe” or the swelling - it definitely gets worse when I am more active.  The blisters pop and leave sores that are uncomfortable.  They also itch like crazy.  Maybe its something dermatological - who knows.  Anyone else have this??

The calf muscle is getting better, but still not back to where it needs to be.  I can do steps pretty well - if I am barefoot, I sometimes have to limp down steps.  Walking with a slight limp which I can eliminate if I concentrate.

Still undecided if I am going back to softball.  Right now, my focus is to get to where I can do a cardio exercise for 20-30 minutes running.  Treadmill would be best, but I’ll take the eliptical.

Scar is ugly as ever and still bumpy at the bottom where I had the incision issues.  Staying closed though.

Loving the friends I have made on this site (that’s you kkdub)!!  Great people who help keep me driving towards what we need to do to recover.

4 months down, a lifetime to go. 

Ed

Survived Europe

Happy September all - what a miserable summer - GOOD RIDDANCE I say, bring on autumn!

I survived Paris and London last week frankly better than I expected.  The plane was ok - helped to be in business class and have more room and a footrest.  I basically kept the shoe and sock off all flight and let the swelling happen.  It did come back down pretty quickly after we landed, so all in all, flight was fine.  The only “mishap” I had was tripping over the threshhold of a door into a cafe in Paris - why in the world do they have a metal bar running along the ground??!!  I tweaked the bad ankle a little, but no stress on the tendon.  That made it a little tougher to walk, but I managed ok.  I did a TON of walking in both Paris and London and, other than being sore and a bit swollen at night, I was really fine.  I managed to do a fair amount of stretching exercises, but not too much strengthening.  I was nervous getting back to PT yesterday, but remarkably, the PT told me that the foot was stretched out so much more than the last time he saw me - I guess all that walking paid off!  Of course, I am sore as all get-up from the weights, etc. 

Right now, my biggest issue is that when my foot swells, I get blisters all over the sides of my feet that pop and get very uncomfortable.  Anyone else having this problem?

Incision is staying closed - still raised and bumpy in that one spot, but I think I am over that hump…

DId my first heel raises yesterday!  Up on both feet and slowly down on just the bad one - more like trying to stop a freefall, but it felt good to try at least.  The calf is slowly coming back - emphasis on slowly…

I am finally at the point where there are times I forget about my injury - not too many times, but some.  A light at the end of the tunnel?

I am off to see the Williams sisters at the US Open tonight - taking the subway for the first time since the ATR and will be walking a lot - I am actually looking forward to it!!

Welcome to all our new fellow sufferers - it does get better - it just takes time and hard work…

Ed

The Beach/Off to Europe

Spent 4 days on the Jersey shore last week.  Day 1, my kids are up at the crack of dawn ready to head down to the beach!  The BEACH?  Sand?  Barefoot?  Can I do this??  After sunscreening the heck out of my scar (that is important for AT LEAST A FULL YEAR folks!!), I slowly ventured out onto the sand - it was tough going as my heel was sinking in to the sand resulting in the tendon doing more stretching to walk.  But wow did it stretch me out!  I stillhad one small scab over the spot I had been oozing and figured it was not a good idea to go into the ocean.  Then I threw caution to the wind and just waded in.  Sure enough, the ocean softened up the scab and it fell off later that night!!  I am now officially scabless, though there are still some rough spots on the scar that need to settle down.

Long story short, 4 days on the beach and boardwalk walking multiple miles a day hurt like hell, but I am more stretched out than ever.  I can actually walk in the morning now without limping too much.

One funny story - there was a “skybike” ride at the Amusement Park on the Boardwalk.  So, I grab my 7 yr old and we head on.  Turns out you have to pedal so that your car moves along this track that is about 30 feet above the ground.  My 7 yr old can’t reach the pedals so its up to me.  There were times I didnt think I would make it.  The tendon was tight and the pedaling was rough.  All I kept thinking was, no different than PT - just work through it.  I came off the ride drenched in sweat and hurting.  I can laugh at ti in retrospect, but it was HARD!!!  Other than that and getting jostled around on the roller coasters, I survived just fine.  Good to see that an ATR doesn’t impact skeeball skills - had my best score ever - a 380.

So here I sit in the airport waiting to take off for Paris - then London.  I am confident that I will be able to walk when I need to - though I will be sore at night.  I am hoping I dont swell up too much on the flight. 

I am nervous about going 2+ weeks without PT, but I have a home exercise program (that I have been less than diligent with so far) and truthfully, I have been very active so I hope I wont have lost too much ground.

Wish me luck!

Ed

Played 18 Holes Today!

OK, so it was just miniature golf with the wife and kids, but IT COUNTS!  Shot a 47 - not my usual but all my putts were pulling right because of the tight tendon.  OK OK, the only issue I had was having trouble bending down to pick my ball up out of the cup!

12 weeks post surgery tomorrow.  Wow!  Closing in on the 3 month mark.  25% of the way through the marathon. 

Question for all of you - as I have been walking more, the lower part of the tendon (near where it anchors to the heel) has been hurting.  It dawned on me today that this is the spot I had tendonosis for 3 years prior to the ATR.  I am starting to suspect that it is nothing more or less than the tendonosis acting up again, but I can’t be sure.  My surgeon warned me that the ATR repair would not fix the tendonosis and that the pain migth return.  Anyone else with tendonosis/tendonitis prior to the ATR experience anything like this??

Incision is still frustrating me.  That one spot is not healed - although it has stayed essentially closed for a few days now so there is hope.  PT tends to soften it and since I am taking 2 weeks off of PT after tomorrow (vacation then a business trip to Europe), I am hoping that my incision woes will be over.

PT is great - in addition to the weights, the stretching is definitely helping.  I am going to miss it while I am away.

OK, time to ice it down…

Ed

Incision Woes Again??

Had a particularly aggressive PT session yesterday (she hurt me - dug into that knot around my tendon and it HURT!).  Not sure there is a cause and effect at play, but this morning I noticed a small dark bluish line under the healing skin in the area of my incision that had been giving me problems.  Mind you, the incision has gotten MUCH better and has been improving daily.  When I looked more closely, I started to think it might be a stitch working its way up to skin level to get “spat out” by my body - could my surgeon’s suspicions have been right?  On even a gently touch, a tiny bit of red tinged stuff came out - I mean a tiny bit.  I am sure it will be fine, but I am wondering if that is in fact a stitch - I guess only time will tell.  When I go back to PT today, I need to tell them to STEER CLEAR of that troubled spot.

Back to my PT session for the moment - I spent over 1 1/2 hours there - leg lifts with 2 lb weights, leg presses, leg curls, ball squats, of ocurse the bike and treadmill.  It was a lot.  For the first time I started feeling a bit fatigued by the PT process.  Sigh.  I hope I can stick with it. 

I had meetings all day yesterday (after PT) and I decided to go for the dress shoes and socks.  Midway through the day I took a look at the leg and my sock had created a huge ridge in my calf - I guess it was acting as a compression sock and the area above my sock took on all the swelling - it was pretty funny.  Wonder if that had anything to do with the incision issue - hmmmm.

I was very sore all day yesterday - I had to do a fair amount of walking and had a full day (left my house for PT at 6 AM and didn’t get home until after 9:30 PM). 

I guess I am experiencing the first of those plateaus everyone talks about.  Man that sucks!

Ed