It all started one evening Oct. 2011 out with friends. Laughing, kicking back, throwing down some drinks. It ended up changing my life forever.
Was just out with the boys one cool evening in Las Vegas. Someone started throwing a football. Next thing you know were all playing football, teams were formed and the fun began. I lined up, someone snapped the ball, and it wasn’t the only thing that snapped. Bam!!! Achilles tendon down and out. I knew what it was as soon as it occurred. Drinking impaired my ability to recognize the pain or real severity of the issue till the next morning.
The pain was intense but different. I checked myself into the local genius doctor that accepted my insurance. Doctor said it was a “ruptured” tendon and that I had 2 options. Surgery or no surgery. Surgery seemed like the logical thing to do after hearing the success stories and recovery time.
THE SURGERY AND AFTERMATH
2 weeks later I was in the operating room. Surgery was terrible. Came out of the surgery and my Doc told me, “it was messy in there.” What is that supposed to mean I thought. My sister had a Halloween party previously planned for that Saturday. My Halloween outfit was my face on pain pills. Vomiting at the smell of food and alcohol, all while my sister was throwing a party at our new house. The next couple of weeks out of work was the most depressed I’ve felt in my entire life. I’ve played competetive sports nearly my whole life, football, baseball, and basketball. At 26 years old this was a real wake up call. I knew an Achilles injury was bad but not this bad. Work was kind enough to grant me time off within my 90 day probationary period.
The next few weeks were interesting crutching into work, and having to ask for help from people at work to get things for me: food, paper from the printer, water. I felt like a helpless child. I slowly began to feel the tendon once again. It felt taught and extremely weak. Once I got the staples out it was boot time. I hated the boot. But the good thing was at this point I felt the tendon getting stronger each day and was eventually getting more and more confident putting weight on it. What a challenge normal things became. Showering, stairs, driving, even just explaining to basic strangers every single day the extent of my injury. Had a couple of close calls with stairs, and baby steps. Fell down a 6 stair drop but luckily I didn’t re-rupture. The vulgarities I screamed that day.
After the boot came my 13 visits to therapy granted by my insurance. Let me just say one thing about therapy or at least the therapy I took. THERAPY IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT. I was hoping I would have 1 on 1 time with a PT specialist. It’s more like an orchestrated assembly line of people. You walk in, assistants help with your heat up, stretch, then you go and do all your exercises by yourself. At the end of the visit the Physical Therapist will come and maybe massage your tendon with some cream and shoot the breeze with you for awhile. I wish I could’ve went longer because the therapy was absolutely beneficial, just not what I expected. It’s not like in the movies or all those cool documentaries you see on TV. Did everything from basic stretching, the bands, calf machine raises, walking backwards on a treadmill slowly, balance work. Balance and the calf raises were the best. I felt I benefited more from them.
Weeks after therapy were slow, but it just felt good to have the boot off for good and able to wear shoes again. 6 months post op, I’m feeling confident. Doctors inform me I shouldn’t do any full speed running or jumping for a full year from operation. I get a lot of knee and heel pain on my right side (non injured leg). I feel it’s because I’m subconsciously using my right side more because of the injury.
9 mo post op. Been working out at the gym, free weights with my buddy. Trying to get strength back into my legs and calf muscles. My biggest issue with recovery is not being able to do a standing single leg calf raise. When I can do that I know I will be fully recovered. I feel the good pain of the single leg calf raise exercise more in my outer foot than my calf. My massage therapist tells me that there is a muscle there and that one must get strong as well. I do everything from leg press machine calf raise/ straight leg, bent leg calf machine etc. Nothing seems to be helping too much. This is beginning to get very frustrating. Any tips?
Other than the calf raise issue, every day is a battle. I feel a tad bit more confident and stronger every day. I did some very slight jogging on the treadmill the other day, but I mostly just fast pace walk uphill.
I know the story is kind of all over the place, but this is how I remember it in my current state of 9 mo post op. It’s been an uphill climb, no doubt to get back to 100%. It’s made me a better person in a way. It’s opened my eyes to the fragility of the human body, what good there can be in people willing to help a complete stranger like myself in public. There is hope for humankind.
Most important thing is a positive mind. It creates a better healing environment. Keep friends and family around. Thanks for reading. Looking forward to any and all future conversations.