Reflections on the past 16 weeks

February 13, 2017 - The rupture was 16 weeks ago today and the day that put a huge hiccup in my life. I remember it like it was yesterday, but still can’t believe how far things have come. I haven’t been to this site for a while - I’ve been catching up on all the stuff around the house that I could not do until the past month. This post may be a bit of a ramble but i just wanted to put some things down that may help the hopelessness and desperation that newly ruptured folks may be experiencing.

I finished my last PT session this morning. Honestly, I think I could have been done earlier, but I went along with the program. I can walk without a limp now and am completely functional (just 4 months post rupture). The ankle is still sometimes stiff, sometimes it aches, but for the most part, I can do what I want. Stairs have not been an issue for the past month - that was a pain in that just over a month ago I went to an outdoor concert where I had to do the stairs sideways and could not walk over the hill to the second stage to see some of the bands. It is amazing how fast progress comes. For you newbies, there is hope!!

My physical therapist had me jogging on a treadmill about 3 weeks ago, but when I went in for my final Dr. recheck, he said no way did he want me jogging yet. I see some others are already jogging - I guess my Dr. is conservative. I’ll start up with the jogging again in a month. I still have the fear of re-rupture ever present in my mind - I wonder when that is going to be a distant memory.

I will say that over the past month I am not dog tired like I was for the first couple of months and my ankle isn’t swelling like it used to. Life is getting back to normal. I’ve been working my legs out some more in the gym the past month and the strength is getting better, but not working them for 3 months really gets you behind.

For those of you that recently ruptured your tendon…. HANG IN THERE!! It will get better. The first month of nonweightbearing SUCKS. The dependence on others, the exhaustion, the feeling of being cramped / claustrophobic in the cast, crawling out of the shower to a chair, getting out of bed in the morning to go to the restroom, driving, will all get better. The second month in the boot SUCKS (but not as bad as the first month). At least you can be more mobile, but I was still really tired and sore in it. Once you get to wearing 2 shoes - that’s when things will start getting better RAPIDLY. The whole process seemed to drag on for the first two months, but after that - things will improve quickly.

There will be good days and there will be bad days, but week to week you will see improvement. Do what your Dr. and physical therapist say, do your exercises, don’t do anything stupid (I did a few dumb things but nothing happened thank goodness), and you will get better. I realize I am not 100%, but I am so functional right now it doesn’t bother me. The days of my helplessness and desperation are done and those feelings are a distant memory. I NEVER want to go through this injury again nor do I wish it upon my worst enemy. The light at the end of the tunnel is big and bright now - and I look forward to running on the beach in a month (with smaller legs than I’m used to - but who cares!). HANG IN THERE - YOU WILL GET BETTER! Peace out!! Chris

2 Shoes….

Well, the days of the Vacoped are now behind me. 9 weeks after surgery, “walking” in two shoes feels really nice, but everything is very tight. I put the walking in quotations as I think what I’m doing is not pretty walking, but it gets me from point A to point B. Also, my foot has forgotten what it is supposed to do. I have to consciously think about moving and placing it…. heel down, roll, lift heel off of floor, “push” off w/ ball of foot, then move it forward… I’m scared with the “pushing” off the floor. The fear of re-rupture is ever present in my mind. Physical therapy starts in 4 more days so I’ll get more guidance then.

Does everyone else have major swelling by the end of the day at this point? When I first get up in the morning, the ankle is mostly normal sized, but by the end of the day it’s really swollen w/ pitting edema. An ice pack and elevation helps a lot at night. After the PT appointment Friday morning, we are going to a weekend concert event in Maryland. 2 stages to go between and a lot of walking….. We’ll see how the ankle fares with that.

4 weeks since surgery - THE BOOT

Well, got the cast cut off this morning - I can see my ankle now, it is much less swollen than it was 2 weeks ago. There is still a lot of bruising present on the bottom of my foot and along the sides of my heel. At least the incision has healed well. Everything feels really stiff but I can move my ankle around a little and wiggle my toes easily.

I have both a Vacoped and an Aircast. This morning I went into the Vacoped with the angle set at a fixed 30 degrees. My Dr wants me to keep it at the fixed 30 degree angle for the next three weeks, then we will start dropping that angle down every few days. I will say that the Vacoped feels pretty comfortable although it feels like I am walking on a softball and I get prickly pins and needle feelings in my foot. So far he instructed me to partial weight-bear at about 50% and I am using 2 crutches. That is a bit of a backslide since I’ve been using the iwalk for the past month. I went to work and found I couldn’t physically do as much as I could in the iwalk because I can’t use my hands. UGHHHH!!! As much as I hated the iwalk, it does have its benefits (you are free to use your hands).

My instructions are now to walk on my booted foot over the next few days and to start weaning myself off of these damn crutches. The way I am walking now how is that going to happen?? When I got home today from work I could barely get up the five steps into the house. This is so frustrating - I thought that getting into the boot was going to mean more freedom, but it feels like I am going backwards. Sorry, I know this is the process and things will get better, just need to vent. How long has it taken y’all to ditch these torture devices (crutches)?

I am going to start wearing the Aircast at night and to bed (that will be my “clean” boot since it has to sleep with me). I’ll update later on how that feels compared to the Vacoped. Thanks for listening and hope everyone else is doing well. This injury is such a mental thing….

I can’t believe this injury happened to me

Hello everyone!  I have never done a blog before and I don’t really know what I’m doing so please bear with me.

My name is Chris and I am a 49 y/o physically fit guy who likes to lift weights and do cardio in the gym.  I am a very active person, veterinarian, husband, outdoor enthusiast…  I don’t have time for this Achilles rupture.

The rupture occurred on Monday, February 13.  My wife signed us up for a “couples Valentine’s” exercise class at our gym.  I’m not a “class” taking kind of person, but I went along with it.  We were doing a lot of boot camp style exercises (and was actually having some fun).  My wife was in a pushup plank position.  I had my hands on the upper part of her back and was jumping side to side over her body very quickly.  When my feet hit the floor I exploded back up and over her to the other side hopping quickly.  We heard the pop and I kind of just fell down.  It felt like someone landed on the back of my ankle, but when I looked back, there was no one there.  I am happy that I was in the category where there was zero pain.  I sat on the floor for a minute, thinking something here is just not right.  I stood up with both feet flat on the floor, and it felt like my right foot was pointing straight down through the floor.  It was at 90 degrees, but felt like my toes were  pointing down.  That was a weird feeling.  I felt the achilles and it felt like mush compared to the left side.  CRAP!!!  I knew what this was.  We went to the ER that night, diagnosed w/ Achilles tear - but they didn’t know if it was partial or complete.  An appointment with the orthopedic physician the next day confirmed my worst nightmare - full tear.  I was given the options of surgery or conservative therapy.  I’m active and wanted a better long term outcome, so I opted for surgery.  That was scheduled for the 16th.

I went to work the next two days, dragging my foot around slowly, but still glad that I didn’t have pain.  There was a little swelling, but nothing excessive.  My orthopod gave me an aircast to wear, but it feels really clunky and uncomfortable.

Surgery went well on the Thursday the 16th, and now I have a splint cast wrapped almost up to my knee.  This is where the pain in the butt stuff starts.  I was given regular aluminum crutches / torture devices.  Learning to use them is a literal pain.  My lats and underarm area were getting so sore just from trying to walk around.  I borrowed a walker from my mother in law which helps around the house, but it is still exhausting.  My leg with the cast feels like it weighs a hundred pounds so holding that up off of the ground is very tiring.  The orthopod recommended a knee scooter, so we were researching them when I came across the iwalk 2.0.  I’m physically fit and need my hands free to be able to work, so I ordered it.  The iwalk arrived on Saturday and was easily put together.  I strapped it on and started walking around the house.  Not too bad, stumbled up a little but never fell down.  I rested with my feet up during the weekend.  That is one of the hardest parts for me - I have a hard time sitting still, there is so much to do around our house and property.

I went back to work on Tuesday - the boss put me on a half day schedule at first to see how I would function.  Overall, the iwalk is a great device, but that thing REALLY wears me out towards the end of the day.  My hip flexors, hips and especially my right knee were killing me.  Putting extra padding with a hand towel helped some, but I still needed to ice the knee at the end of the day.  The iwalk does get some really funny looks from my clients when I enter the exam room.  From the front it looks like you don’t have a lower leg.  One man I saw was giving me a look with disgust like I had some incurable disease.  It was all I could do to not kick him in the butt with my peg leg.  Some people are just jerks.

The next weekend, I bought a gel knee pad from Lowe’s to stick up in the front of the iwalk to pad my knee better.  Works great - It actually raised my knee a bit higher and opened the angle from my femur and tibia- hopefully that will help with the blood flow.  I still find myself exhausted at the end of the day.  It gets to the point that I will trip some when trying to pull the iwalk leg forward.  I haven’t fallen yet, but it may happen.

I will be going in for my 2 week recheck tomorrow to change the cast and get the sutures out.  I’ll let you know how that visit goes.

I never realized what a life changing event this is.  Being non weight bearing on a leg changes everything.  Just walking down the hall and going to the bathroom is like trying to get Congress to do something.  Making breakfast, showering…  all of the little things we take for granted are now drawn out chores.  My wife has been a blessing in helping me.  One thing that I’m worried about is that I am scared of  rupturing my left achilles from hopping around on that leg compensating for the right one that I can’t put any pressure on.

Overall, I think the iwalk is a great device so that I can work and do things with my hands, but from my personal experience you may need to be fairly fit to be able to use it well.  I am fit and that thing just plain wears me out.  (maybe I’m not as fit as I think).  Crutches can go to Hell, I can’t wait to throw those things out.  The walker helps but only for a short distance.  We did buy a DryPro waterproof half leg cast cover for showering.  Got it on Amazon and that thing is awesome.  It is a thick rubber boot that you can slide over the cast (we put a trash bag on first to let it slide easier).  After it is up to my knee, there is a bulb you use to suck the air out of it creating negative pressure that seals it to your leg.  My cast has not gotten a drop of water on it.

I do have a question - I believe I am going to be in a cast for another 2 weeks, but after that will be the boot.  It seems like most people really like the Vacoped as opposed to the regular aircast.  I am looking for the most comfortable option available - I don’t care what it costs.  I will run this by my orthopod tomorrow - but my question for those of you reading this - is the Vacoped really worth it, or will the aircast do just as well (I already have the aircast and my insurance company has already “paid” for it.)  The Vacoped will be 100% out of pocket expense for me.  I want to be able to work comfortably, feed and water the chickens, get around our property, go to the gym for upper body workouts…  I realize I will still be limited, but can you get around more easily and comfortably in the Vacoped vs aircast.  Thank you all for bearing with this long post and I really look forward to hearing any advice.