How Do I Ditch These Crutches?

And knee scooter?

I’ve been cleared for full-weight bearing by my doctor. She recommended ditching the crutches and knee scooter as soon as I felt comfortable. She said I could use a cane or single crutch as a transition device but to go to FWB as soon as possible.

Any tips or techniques for the transition from partial weight-bearing to full weight-bearing?

The only half-decent advice I’ve found is this YouTube video.

I’m also starting physiotherapy on Monday.

It’s Alive!

I transitioned into partial weight bearing after the third week, as per doctor’s orders. Crutches, bad foot, good foot, around the apartment in tiny laps, mindful that many studies show patients are completed unable to gauge the amount of weight they exert on their injured leg. At first I would slide the good foot up to the bad foot, ensuring that the crutches/bad foot didn’t bear the full weight at any point. Slowly I’ve worked toward a more normal walking motion, still aiming to put only 10-25% of my weight on the bad foot itself. I’ll never know if I’m successful in that target.

The miracle of partial weight bearing is that it made my foot feel like a living thing again. For the first three weeks, it felt like there was a dead swamp rat attached to the end of my leg. ┬áNow it’s alive! And much less swamp-ratty! The foot muscles would twitch and flex and generally it felt much more like a good foot trapped in a boot. That’s the danger of course: believing that it is healed. It’s nowhere near being a good foot. But at least it’s no longer a dead foot.

Two days ago, I took out another wedge from inside the boot. I didn’t have the same stretching feeling that I had when I took out the first wedge. But it’s much easier to fit my leg under a desk now. Still two wedges in the boot. When I sit down my right knee is about three inches taller than my left knee. I took a day off from partial weight bearing when I took out the wedge to allow my ankle to adjust. Now I’m back to tiny laps, crutches, bad foot, good foot. A bit further every day.

So why are you here?

The doctor asked that.

“Because this is the appointment you gave me. You said come back in two weeks.”

“Huh. I don’t need to see you until the 6 week mark. But let’s take a look.”

In any case, I just wanted a professional to look at it and tell me that something was healing… even if it was a complete guess on their part.

“Looks fine. Try some partial weight bearing. Come back at 6 weeks. We’ll test it then.”

The doctor removed one of the wedges which keeps my foot in the equinus position (toe pointed down), lessening the severity of the angle.

The doctor also handed me an achilles recovery timeline.

“It’s from a non-op study in Ontario. That one didn’t make me a believer though.”

“So which one did?”

“None of them. I think it’s good to be skeptical of new trends.”

“Well, when I re-rupture, you’ll be right.”

The doctor laughed hard. “I do know of plenty of non-op patients, further along than you, with good outcomes.”

“Phewf,” I said. “Maybe you’re not right after all.”

***

Later the same day.

The aircast has been much more comfortable. I can feel a stretch in my achilles area. It’s similar to the feeling of a muscle being stretched. As the wedge is out, the back of the ankle is being lengthened. My ankle is slowly being moved back toward a natural position. Before this, I was constantly adjusting the aircast because of pain on the top or sides of my foot, or the big toe. Now it fits much better.

Pop Goes the World

I’m pretty sure everyone on the basketball court heard the pop. They all stopped playing. “Are you alright?” someone asked.

I was on the floor, but in no pain. I assumed I’d just stepped on something that had annoyingly found its way onto the court. I looked back to see what it was. But there wasn’t anything. Immediately, I thought “So this is how Derrick Rose must have felt. Huh.” I stood up, still no pain, but my right foot no longer felt like it belonged to my leg. “I’m going have to come out,” I said and hobbled off the court.

At the YMCA desk, an employee with paramedic training had me point my foot and flex it, which I could still do, a bit. He thought nothing was wrong. But about 10 minutes later my whole foot and ankle was swollen up big time, and I was in some pain, although still not too much. I hobbled two blocks back home and put it on ice. The next morning I went to the clinic and the doctor sent me to emergency. They did not do any scans, but declared it a really obvious achilles tendon rupture. They put me in a splint, which consisted of a strip of plaster cast on the top of my foot, ankle, and shin wrapped in gauze. It was very effective. I could not move my foot at all. I was to come back in two days to see the orthopaedic surgeon.

They cut off the cast when I came back and said ‘yep, that’s an ATR’. Again no scans necessary. The doctor said she could see the two ends of the tendon and they weren’t far apart. She said I could have surgery if I wanted to but, more and more, they were treating these without operating. That was confusing to me. She told me about various studies but gave no recommendation. Then they put me in an aircast, a boot with straps and air pockets, but no breathability, and said I had two days to decide about the surgery.

I did more research. I didn’t want not to have surgery because of fear of the knife. But then again I didn’t want to have unnecessary surgery just to prove that I wasn’t afraid of the knife. Maybe surgery reduced the rate of re-rupture, but maybe not. It definitely carried a significant risk of infection and complications. I changed my mind back and forth many times. But I only called back to book my next appointment, with the same doctor, to check in two weeks later.

Then I bought a used knee scooter because crutches are the worst.