23 1/2 weeks. Going strong…

Just a quick update. At 23 1/2 weeks, the AT is feeling good. The calf, however, is still weak. Gotta keep doing my exercises! I got lazy, and it’s showing. Gonna start doing them again, right after I post this msg.

The training for the Century Ride is going well. I did 25 miles yesterday, and 42 miles today. The AT and calf feel pretty good. But, the quads and knees are feeling kinda tight. Gotta keep building up strength and endurance.

Happy healing, and have a great day!

Century Ride? *What* did I just commit to???

Well, 5 months have come and gone since my surgery. All is going pretty well. I’ve been getting lazy with the exercising, though, other than the bicycle riding - I’m commuting to/from work twice a week (27 mile round trip), and riding w/ my wife 2-3 times a week (10 mile round trip). So, my calf is getting stronger, but still way weaker than my right calf.

I’m surprised, tho - at 5 months, I can walk without a limp (most of the time - unless I forget, and fall into my bad habit). I can ride my bike fairly well (ave. speeds of 16-17mph for my 13.5 mile commute). I can jog a little bit - just to go fetch a volleyball, or to get under the garage door before it closes on me! I’m doing most normal things - mowing the lawn, etc. I’m going to be hiking in Hawaii in a couple weeks! We’ll see how that goes!

But, am I stupid?! I just committed to a Century Bike Ride w/ a buddy this Sept. or Oct.!!! I’ve always wanted to do one, but have always had an excuse not to. I’m not getting any younger, so I figure I should get the first one out of the way. And, I’m using this as good incentive to get my leg stronger! So, I’m committed (or, should be!)!!! Time to get back to doing my daily exercises, and get a training plan in gear!

17 weeks post surgery - commuting again!

Today is 17 weeks after my ATR surgery. All is going pretty well, for me. I’ve been reading some of the other posts, marveling at how well some of you are doing, and wondering if I should be happy or sad about my own recovery. I seem to be ahead of some people in the recovery process, and some of you seem to be progressing much, much faster than I am, and are doing things at 9 weeks that I’m not even doing now. I’ve decided to not let that get to me, though – I’m happy for you if you’re healing fast! I really am! Every person is different. Every recovery is different. Some of you are younger than me. Some/many are more fit than me. Some are trying much harder at their exercises than me. That’s great! Each person has their own recovery process, and we’ll all get back to “normal” in our own time!

 So, in my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been on my bike a few times. Last Thursday, I bike commuted to work and back – 13.5 miles each way. Yep, I made it! A little slow – about 7 minutes slower door-to-door than my average time (56 minutes vs 49 minutes average – and, yes, I DO stop at lights and stop signs!) – but I wasn’t planning to push for any land speed records! I found that it was uncomfortable to stand on the climbs (just kinda weak), but I could gear down and spin uphill. It felt soooo good to commute again! Of course, during the day my leg and ankle tightened up and I had limping issues. But, I expect that, until I get that calf and ankle stronger. But, I made it to work and home, no problems.

 Sunday evening comes. The 16-yr.-old says she needs the car on Monday and Tuesday cuz she has Marching Band Section Leader tryouts during the day both days (she made Alto Sax Section Leader, BTW! – hooray!). Yikes! That meant I needed to bike commute two days in a row – 54 miles in two days! I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. But, Monday came, and I hopped on and made it to work. The ride home on Monday was a bit painful…….but not in the ankle……….in the rump!!! Apparently, I need to toughen up the butt muscles/skin again, in order to ride hours in the saddle!!! Lol I dreaded Tuesday’s ride, as I didn’t think my tender butt could handle another 2 hours of that punishment! I did ok, though, and even shaved 2 minutes off my commute (54 minutes, door-to-door)! One strange thing happened on the way home yesterday, though: I noticed that if I pushed too hard uphill, my Achilles felt the pull, but on the side of the ankle; but, it didn’t really feel like a normal pull, and it wasn’t painful – it felt cold, like someone put an ice cube to my ankle. Was very strange, and it would go away as soon as I backed off a bit. So, I paid attention to that, and backed off if I felt anything strange at my ankle. I actually felt pretty good at work, yesterday, and at home last night. Doing ok right now, too. I might even ride again on Thursday or Friday, just because! 

Anyway, where was I going with all of this??? Oh yeah – recovery. Although I may or may not be ahead of some of you by bike commuting at 17 weeks, I still can’t do a single-leg heel raise with my bad foot (frustrating). I still walk with a slight limp, unless I concentrate on my walk. I’ve been negligent with my at-home exercises (too busy/lazy), so that may be the reason I have less strength in my calf than I probably should. I read of some of you running again at this point in your recovery. I can jog clumsily for a short distance, but wouldn’t think of running. I don’t let that get me down, though. I just keep going.

 For those of you who are either early in the process, or are having a hard time coping with this injury, mentally/emotionally: Don’t worry so much. You have to remember that this is a temporary, relatively minor injury in the grand scheme of things. You won’t be “crippled” forever. Your leg hasn’t fallen off. You don’t have a terminal disease. There are so many worse things you could have. But, you don’t. You have an injury. You got hurt. You may or may not have had surgery to repair your injury. You heal. You rehab. You WILL be better! They say a year recovery. But, in reality, most people are feeling pretty good at around 4-6 months or so. The rest is to get back to physical peak. Keep your heads up. Keep doing what the doctors and Therapists tell you to do. Don’t do anything stupid. DO YOUR EXERCISES!!! DON’T LET IT GET YOU DOWN! YOU WILL GET BETTER!!! 

Have a great day, and Happy Healing, everybody!!

(Oh, and an early Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there!)

Woah! 16 weeks!

How time flies! It seems like it’s been like a week or two since I’ve posted last, and somehow it’s almost 16 weeks post-surgery, already! Time flies when you’re having fun, right?!!!

Oh, man! Where do I begin? Let’s see - since my last post, my PT is now finished! It wasn’t nearly as bad as people would have you believe, but it did get more and more difficult each week. That’s ok - I guess they were pushing me, cuz they knew I could handle it. There was another guy I saw every now and then doing Achilles PT also. He was probably 10-15 years my younger, and had been in for 1 month longer. I feel good cuz I caught him in my treatment, and now I’m done, and he’s still going! Well, he had a more physically demanding job than I do, but still - it feels good to be done! My ROM is pretty much normal, and my strength was 5/5 in all directions.

Yes, I’m walking in 2 shoes. No boot anymore. I’m still limping, as the Achilles is still tight, but I’m learning to concentrate on my gate, so I don’t limp. Getting better, but it’s like breaking a bad habit - sometimes you don’t think about it, and then you realize you’re limping again for no apparent reason! I’m mowing the lawn now, and doing other yardwork. Getting along mostly like a “normal” person. Not that anyone has ever called me “normal”, before! Sad thing is that I no longer have the use of the Temporary Handicap sign, so I have to park 6 blocks away from the office, rather than right next to the door! Oh well, more PT for me!

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been back on my bicycle (mountain bike w/ platform pedals). I think it was week 13: The doc told me I should start by riding 1 mile, and then adding 1 mile every third ride or so, but to let pain be my guide, and quit if I’m feeling it. So, the first ride I took an easy 2 mile ride (~8mph ave.). No pain. The second ride, the next day, I did a 4 mile ride (~8mph again). No pain! The next weekend, my wife and I did an 11 mile ride (~10mph ave.) on Saturday and a 10.5 mile ride (~10mph ave.) on Sunday. No pain!!! Yeah, I let pain be my guide, rather than doing the “1 mile + 1 mile every 3 rides” thing! Tomorrow, I’m going to try to get on my road bike (w/ clipless pedals) and make it to the mall and back, but push a bit harder. It will be about 9 miles of road riding, and there’s a considerable hill, down and up that I’ll have to tackle. I need to see if I can do that hill, cuz on Thursday I need to bike commute to work and back (kids need the car), and that’s 13.5 miles each way (and that hill is on my route)! Wish me luck!

As for my recovery, I was supposed to have my last PT session this Thursday, but since I won’t have a car, I’m going to cancel it. I’m still trying to do my at-home exercises…….sometimes. I need to force myself to keep doing them consistently! Especially the ankle/calf stretches and the heel raises. I’m still tight in the ankle and calf, and still have some pain (or, tightness) pushing off when walking. I still can’t do a one-foot heel raise on my bad foot, either. That frustrates me, so I really GOTTA do those strengthening exercises! On a good note: I was able to hit a volleyball around the yard with my wife and daughter on Saturday! It felt good to do it, but I was leary of lunging for any ball that was out of my reach (that’s how I tore it in the first place!), so I would just let it drop! Weenie! And, another good note: I was able to “jog” from my mailbox to my garage when I went to get the mail and it was raining!

I still do have swelling every day, also. I ice it every now and then, but mostly it goes back to “normal” while I sleep. We had one crappy, rainy day, and my ankle was swollen and hurt more than usual that whole day (I couldn’t not limp). I wonder if I’m going to “feel the weather” in my ankle for the rest of my life.

I had 2 big goals for my Ortho and PT: 1. to get my back on my bicycle this summer; and, 2. to get me into walking shape so I could do the hikes when we went on our vacation in Hawaii, later this summer. My Ortho said, “Don’t worry. We’ll get you there.” I’m confident he was right!

Good luck with your recovery, everyone! And, DO YOUR EXERCISES!!!

Two shoes! Two shoes!!! ……..kinda.

Had my 3rd PT session today. I’ve been a good boy, doing my at-home ROM exercises as directed, and even a little more. Today, my PT said she talked to the Ortho, and they decided I could start weaning myself out of the boot! Hooray!! That came a week or two sooner than I expected, really! I’m so psyched! I did my PT and proudly walked out of the office holding my boot in my hand!

Of course, they had to remind me about the "weaning" part - not just quitting the boot completely! But, it’s still cause for me to celebrate, today!

Hope you all have a great week of recovery!

PT - Session 2

I had my second session of PT, last night. I was worried, cuz my PT told me that she was going to have me in a shoe, and riding the bike and walking the treadmill! I haven’t been flexing my foot like that - too nervous as to how far I could move it before hurting something. But, she said I’d be fine, so I trusted her.

First thing - ditch the boot and put on the running shoe. It actually fit! I got on the bike and rode for 4 minutes. No pain whatsoever! Next, the treadmill. She didn’t have me walk normally, though. I planted my good leg on the side platform where it wouldn’t move, and just gently “walked” my bad foot on the treadmill part - heel to toe, heel to toe, to get the movement and stretching going. She said I could add as much weight as I felt good with. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, for sure!

Next, I did some “lunges” (stepped forward) on the half rubber ball. No pain there, with considerable weight. I didn’t have to do the toe and heel raises, as I’m doing those at home at nights.

 Then, I got on the table, took my shoe and sock off and she gave my ankle the work-over - pushing and pulling it to increase my ROM. There’s some pain with that, as she’s stretching my tendons and muscles more than they’d like at this point - to be expected. After that came the Ultrasound. I’m still questioning if that thing is doing anything, really. Basically, she put a bunch of goop on my ankle and moved it around with a little hand-held tool that has a cord attached to it and to a machine. I don’t feel anything, other than her moving the stuff around. At least that feels good, though! Like a mini massage! But, then came a deep tissue massage of my ankle. Oh, man, does that feel good! I wished she would have continued that for a half hour!!! I’m hoping that’s helping break up the internal scarring - I don’t want my ankle to look like this forever. But, whatever - I was in heaven for that brief time! She had me move my ankle around after that, and my ROM felt really good to me, and there was no pain. The last thing was the electro-stimulation, which also feels good - it tingles and numbs the foot and ankle.

I walked out of PT (in the boot, of course!) feeling really, really good. Later in the evening, I could feel a bit of hurt, but it was a good hurt. I know I’m on my way to recovery! The bike was easy, and the treadmill was no big deal. I was nervous for nothing!

Have a great day, everyone!

First PT Session

Yesterday, I had my first PT session - 7 1/2 weeks post-op. I’ve been a good boy and have been doing my ROM exercises like the doc instructed. I guess it paid off, cuz my PT said I had really good dorsiflexion and side-to-side motion, but my plantar flexion could improve. Strength is about a 4, on a scale of 1-5, so that’s good, too! The PT went well, and I set up the next 4 weeks - 2x per week for 4 weeks. Tomorrow is my second session. She wants me to bring my left shoe, cuz she’s gonna have me ride the stationary bike and walk on the treadmill! Yikes! That’s scary! I’m gonna have to flex my foot w/ weight on it! I’m a little nervous about that, but she was confident I would be able to do it with little issues!

Wish me luck!

7 week checkup

Well, I had my 7 week checkup by the Ortho, yesterday. I thought I was going to get my first PT session, but it was just a checkup to see if I was ready for PT. The doc wrenched my foot around in various positions. He pushed my toes toward my shin, and had me push back down. He jammed his thumb into my Achilles Tendon and rubbed up and down on both sides, presumably looking for scar tissue and to see if I was mending properly. I thought he was gonna snap my AT - he was not babying it at all! As he was doing all that, I have to admit I was nervous that he was really gonna hurt me. But, to my surprise, though there was some discomfort (probably mostly mental), it didn’t really hurt! In the end, he told me everything was looking really, really good! Then, he took me over to the PT room, and they had me fill out the paperwork and schedule my first PT session for Monday, the 9th.

To be honest, I’m kinda excited to start the PT - I guess it will make me feel one step closer to full recovery. I doubt I’ll be saying that in a couple weeks, tho - he wants me to go to PT 3x a week!

Hope everyone has a great weekend, and a Happy Easter!

Overdid it

I think I overdid it this weekend. Not quite 7 weeks post surgery - 2 1/2 weeks out of the cast. My wife and girls were out shopping, and I decided that I needed to mow the lawn - it wasn’t gonna mow itself. I figured I’d be very careful, and take extra time to make sure my footing was sound with each step. I put on the boot, and wrapped a plastic bag around it to protect the boot from the wet grass.

Everything seemed to be going well, at first. I was stepping gingerly and slowly, taking my time and getting the lawn mowed. It was a very slow process, but I was succeeding! But, about half way through, I realized my heel was hurting a bit. But, I was committed - I had to finish. The heel kept hurting, and I had to take a break, but eventually I finished (2 1/2 hours later). Success!!!

Unfortunately, after taking Excedrine and icing my ankle and heel most of the evening, the pain did not really go away. Every step I took produced shooting pain in my heel (bottom of the foot, not the ankle or Achilles area). Last night, I had some muscle spasms, and I abruptly awoke to that familiar POP feeling in my ankle! I don’t know if it was real, or just a bad dream! I’m still able to move my foot up and down and do my ROM exercises. But, this morning, the pain in my heel was still there, and I couldn’t really walk without pain. So, I decided to work from home today, and tend to my foot - Excedrine, ice, elevation - might have to resort to taking the Percocet again.

Not every day is a good day. Some are self-induced bad days. I should know better.

Here’s hoping your day is a good day!

Big/little victories!

It’s day 4 after removal of my cast. I’ve been doing my ROM exercises 3x/day like I’m supposed to, and icing and elevating my leg at nights.

Today was a big day, with a little victory! As I was at work, I noticed that I was able to step a little harder with my left leg while walking (still using 2 crutches), with the shooting pins-and-needles pain every 10th or 15th step or so. Much better than the past 3 days! That made me happy. But, that’s not the big thing. Just for fun, I decided to get up out of my chair without pushing off with both hands, or holding onto the desktop or the crutches. And, I was able to do it! No pain! So, I sat down again. I stood up again without using my hands - no pain! Awesome!

Sometimes, the little things make all the difference in your day!

Here’s hoping some happy little victories come your way!