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.


5 Responses to “I can’t believe this injury happened to me”

  1. I was also willing to spend out of my own money to get a vacoped but I found the Ottobock Airwalker the NHS gave me absolutely fine in the end. The cast is the worst bit, life is much better when you start weight-bearing in the boot :)

  2. I had the vacoped boot from 1 week post full rupture. Having spoke to the physio at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth this was something that they had ‘campaigned’ for 4 years and i was only the 3rd person to have been issued one in the fracture clinic. I was non-op so i can only speak from that perspective and i am coming to the end of week 11 post ATR. I have been out of the boot for 2 weeks exactly and i would have been out longer if i hadn’t messed altering the boot at week 4. I am not 100% sure what the difference between the aircast and vacoped is but i think it is the articulation and range of movement that is available with the vacoped…. if i am right with aircast boot you remove wedges and then your foot is fixed at that angle, whereas with the vacoped you change the angle of your ankle but your ankle is not fixed in the new position but can hinge between the equine position and the position closer to dorsiflexion. Does that make sense …. and please correct me if that is what the aircast does too. I believe the idea is not only allowing early weight bearing but also early mobility without the risk of over stretching. Basically in built physio. I found i was really mobile with the boot and fully weight bearing at 4 weeks, i couldn’t work because i am a rep and so i can’t drive but i would have been happy to go to work if i’d have been left ATR and had an automatic. I would have a bath twice a week and change the liner, i also discover that once i wore a long sock underneath it was even more comfortable. The only niggles i would say came in the first week, firstly i developed a sore on the top of my foot straight away but a compeed helped with that. this sore was quite annoying and gave me quite a lot of tingling pain as there is a nerve positioned right in that spot which tingles to your big toe. the physio i saw at 2 weeks suggested reducing the amount of padding under the foot which was filling in my arch and pushing it up into the front sheild. also i tightened the straps too much a night which caused lots of pain and annoyance to my husband who would be woken up by the undoing of the velcro straps which are literally the loudest things in the world. You can remove the sole for sleeping at night which makes it much lighter and more hygienic. I also referred to a blog i found on here which dates back to 2012, if you google alton achilles you should find it. that was very useful to me and also he referred to the same sore on the top of his foot. I would also say that of the 3 people who they had seen at derriford hospital that had been issued with the vacoped boot , two of them had this sore on the top of the foot… they thought maybe something to do with high arches but also early weight bearing in the first 2 weeks…. so they may be changing their advice to keep off your feet for the first two weeks. Nothing like being a guinea pig. All in all i think its an excellent boot, i feel very privileged to have been issued it, i have minimal discomfort on the transitions (i.e. changing angles) and the ability to weight bear so early has i believed kept the atrophy to a minimum (although still a lot) and has made the transition to two shoes very easy. I have returned from a lengthy shopping session today and my fully fit friend’s feet hurt earlier than mine…. having said that i am in a fair amount of pain now…. I would hasten to add i am coming from a non-op angle and also my main priority is to be able to drive again, play with my toddler not to return to impact sport. I am most definitely keeping my boot just incase i find myself in this position again and i happen not to be in derriford and be issued with that boot. I am not sure how much they are but i think i have seen £250 quoted somewhere, included is 2 soles, two liners and spare key and i personally knowing what i know now would spend out of my own pocket. Nobody asks for this injury and by its very nature it is a real surprise of an injury, i was just having a boogie at my works xmas party. If you have any other questions happy to answer them if i can. Good luck with your recovery and patience is your friend.

  3. Thank you both for the great advice! I had my first cast removed this morning. Sutures didn’t look good to me, (but I am a veterinarian and my incisions look WAAAYYY better than this one.) Oh well, it’s over my achilles so I don’t really care about scarring there.

    Everything about the visit went well. The Thompson test was great, then I got a new bright orange cast placed. 2 more weeks in that. I discussed the Vacoped with my orthopod and he seemed to like it. I called the company for sizing and ordered it. I cannot wait to get this cast off finally, get rid of the iwalk and use my leg some. Patience grasshopper…. This is a great forum and I really want to thank everyone who has read my entry and commented.

  4. What is the difference between the Vacoped boot and the Breg boot? I have the Breg which is very heavy and has the wedges to keep the foot at an ankle. I have a soft casting inside of it…..seeing a lot of you talk about the Vapo and wondering if I should ask for it.

  5. I don’t know the breg boot but I imagine the difference is the in built range of movement in the vacoped rather than moving from fixed position to fixed. So it’s not just about stretching the tendon but also mobilising it.

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