Long overdue update, second surgery

I haven’t posted in a while.  I guess I’m nearly 17 months post op now.  How time flies eh? (Kidding. I know it doesn’t at all)  Had some complications that you may read about in my previous posts, nothing major with the achilles but another diagnosis.  I still have some strength deficits and asymmetry in my muscle definition which is very slow to return, but I am happy to say that I really don’t even notice my achilles anymore.  My rehab was greatly affected by debilitating pain originating from my lumbar spine.  I am still not clear on how the injury occurred but it was likely something I did at the gym with poor mechanics, my own fault.  I had stated that I couldn’t afford to have surgery if it was indicated for my back pain but guess what…

I ended up having a lumbar microdiscectomy in September of 2012 after dealing with excrutiating radicular pain that was affecting me on many many levels.  Couldn’t focus on my achilles rehab, couldn’t sit for longer than a minute without terrible pain, was making me extremely depressed, the list goes on.  So I opted for surgery.

With my background (again you can read previous posts if you’d like) I was the last person in the world who wanted to have spine surgery, believe me.  My overall impression however is that I am happy with the result.  I still struggle with occasional nagging pain but have returned to a largely normal routine.  I have recently passed my national boards for physical therapy and will soon be in practice.

2012 was a terrible year for me personally.  One of the saving graces however in the early stages of my ATR rehab was this blog.  I want to thank all of you for reading and also for creating your own blogs.  Having a strong support system is crucial because we all know how this injury plays with your head for us active folks.  I don’t imagine that I’ll create any new posts from here but will keep everything active just in case :)  I am happy to provide support/advice for anyone in need so don’t be afraid to contact me.

Best of luck to you all in your recovery,

-GK

Strides (10.5 weeks post op)

Built up to about 6 miles walking today.   2 on the treadmill in the a.m. and finally got enough guts to try the trail for 4 miles this afternoon.  Removed part of the heel lift last week so I’m now down to only 1/4″.

Only had 2 formal therapy sessions to this point.  Essentially it was one for the achilles and one for my back.  No imaging done on the back, can’t afford it and I wouldn’t have surgery anyway so there’s no point in that, but it does look to be a disc injury based on clinical findings.  Feels best when I walk but hinders the rest of my workout regimen so I guess I’ll just keep walking, and walking, and walking.  Good for the achilles and the back so might as well.

Between the two diagnoses, I think I spend about 4-5 hours per day doing my various exercises.  Clinicals start in two weeks and it looks like I’ll have full clearance from the doc just in time.  Just gotta keep up the hard work.

Hope you’re all doing well,

-GK

Quick update. Two shoes.

Started in two shoes a couple days ago, watching every step I take and moving very slow.  Gait is normalizing a bit more every day.  I am currently using a 3/8″ lift 0n the affected side.  Walked 1 mile the first day, 1.5 the second, shooting for two today.  Severe sciatica persists on the uninvolved side.  Going in tomorrow afternoon for PT to focus on the sciatica/SI pain as the achilles is coming along nicely in the early stages.  I have had no choice but to accelerate my rehab and start building activity tolerance because of academic pressures (whooooooooole other story for another blog) but I need to get the LBP resolved ASAP.  Hope you’re all doing well.  Keep on fighting!

-GK

First (and last?) PT Session

I had my first PT appointment yesterday at my former employer’s facility.  I still have a lot of great friends there and there is not another clinic I would choose to go to as a patient. The therapist I am working with is very kind and offered to work with me in any way possible because I’m only allowed about 3 visits of therapy with my awesome insurance.  If there’s anybody that appreciates the value of physical therapy and would be willing to pay out of pocket, it’s me.  Problem is, I’m a graduate student and I have empty pockets.  Anyway, the powers that be would not allow the arrangement we made.  I’m going to attempt to apply for financial assistance but somehow I doubt that will work.  If it doesn’t, I get 3 visits of PT to recover from this (one already in the books).  I’m confident I can do most of the rehab on my own but it would have been nice to have the professional guidance of an experienced PT and the equipment they have in the clinic.  My frustration continues with this miserable situation and I still struggle to find the positives.  My sciatica has become quite severe but I have recently started exercises to alleviate that as well.  Hope they work at least a little so I can focus on the Achilles.  If you’re reading this, and you don’t hate your therapist, please thank them during your next session.  There’s a reason that I chose to enter the field and it’s because the vast majority of these people genuinely care about their patients.  Sometimes they’ll even work for free…

Walking + Sciatica

Been walking in the boot the past 3 days.  Wound is looking better every day and everything is coming along nicely now.  Feels great to be able to walk again.  However, I’ve developed pretty severe sciatica on my “good” side that has been gradually getting worse over the past 6 weeks or so.  The pain/numbness has now made it all the way down to my foot when it is at its worst.  If it isn’t one thing then it’s another I guess.  I have very limited access to formal therapy because of my student insurance but I will have my first visit on 5/14.  Probably will only be able to do 3 maybe 4 visits max.  I’m still on track to start my clinical rotation if I can gradually build up my standing tolerance and get the sciatica resolved which I’m confident of.  Anybody else have sciatic nerve pain on your good side?

Cheers,

-GK

WBAT… Kind of

My body is fighting the subcutaneous sutures apparently and has pushed one or two of them out in the last couple days.  Needless to say, the wound is not closed yet and is still draining a little.  Doc says I can walk in the boot as tolerated but she wants to see me next week to take a look at the wound again.  If she isn’t happy with it at that time she’s going to suture it closed and I’m back to NWB for 2 weeks.  That said, I’ve decided to err on the side of caution and take it easy until then because if the wound isn’t closed I’ll be pretty devastated.  On the plus side, my sweet new Adidas Adizero Rush shoes were delivered today.  Something to look forward to I suppose.  Hope you’re all doing well.

-GK

Wound Complications

Well everything was just going too smoothly I guess.  Yesterday I noticed that the lowest part of my incision was red and puffy (full of pus it looked like).  It started draining last night and into this morning.  Doc was able to see me today and she put me on antibiotics just to be safe.  She mentioned that sometimes the sutures they use to close the paratenon (under the skin) make the body respond like this.  I go back again for my scheduled 6 week post op in 6 days so hopefully it is closed up and not infected at that time.  ROM is on hold until then.  It’s a bit sore but nothing major.  Stay positive self!

In NWB Limbo…

Does anybody else feel like there is this period between post-op appointments where a million people ask you “How’s the leg doing”? And all you can really say is, “Welp, it’s in there”!  It’s difficult to assess and be optimistic about progress until you can get that leg on the ground.  I’m back at the doc in about 10 days and will likely go PWB but until then I just feel kind of stuck.  My range of motion is coming along, I have minimal swelling, the incision looks good, and I’ve tried to keep up with some hip strengthening every day but overall I am bored and exhausted.  I’ve been to the gym once a week since surgery and I’m completely drained after 40 minutes.  Before this injury I was training 4-5 days per week for 90 minutes and I was feeling like I was in the best shape I’d been in since high school, then the pop.  Sometimes the path in front of us is unpredictable and unfortunate.  I hope that I and that all of us are stronger for it in the end.

That’s all for now.

-GK

They tell me that everything happens for a reason.

Not really sure where to start.  I’ve never blogged about anything before but I was reading through some of the others on the site and I thought this would be a decent outlet for my stress, grief, whatever you want to call it.  So thanks to Dennis and all of you for helping me :) Here we go…

My name is Greg.  I’m a 27 year old student (studying physical therapy oddly enough).  I was playing soccer the night of 3/11/12 when I ruptured my left achilles tendon.  I’ve been playing the game my entire life and for me there’s really no such thing as playing in a league that is “just for fun”.  A lot of people are competitive by nature and I’m one of those people I guess.  I’m getting off topic though.  I was playing goalkeeper just as I did every week for the previous 15 weeks, you know, so I wouldn’t get hurt running around in the field.  I took a step back to explode off my goal line and chase the ball when that feeling that we all very familiar with now made my world almost literally come to a halt.

Because of my background in sports medicine and anatomy and being familiar with one or two others who have had this injury, I unfortunately knew the severity of it immediately.  When I say that my world stopped, I have to try my best to describe what happened.  I heard it go.  I felt it go, and I knew exactly what I had done.  I kid you not, as I am falling to the ground I actually had time to think to myself  ”Don’t bother looking behind you because there’s nobody there”.  But what did I do?  I looked behind me, fell to the ground and started cursing a blue streak (my bad).

When people say this injury doesn’t hurt, I wonder just what sort of pain threshold they have because trust me, I was hurting.  Looking back on it though, I think I lot of it was the stress of the situation.  I knew the severity of the injury and it was almost like I wanted it to hurt.  That’s a poor choice of words but I’m not sure how else to describe it.  It’s not as if there is a ‘good’ time for this to happen to anybody, but there couldn’t really be a worse time as far as my academics are concerned.  A million thoughts ran through my head even before I was helped off the field and I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  I think I might have slept 45 minutes that night before going to class the next morning.  Everything seems to be working out ok thus far with school but if you ask the people closest to me, I don’t think I’ve handled the whole situation very well.

I had outpatient surgery on 3/22/12.  I opted for the tibial nerve block after consultation with my surgeon and the anesthesiologist.  Turns out that was a good call but when the block wore off at about 2:00 am, I was not a happy camper.  Probably the worst pain I have ever experienced.  I was back to school but with a lot of discomfort 4 days after surgery.  I had my first follow up at two weeks post and had the plaster splint removed and stitches taken out.  Into the boot I went, NWB for another four weeks.  I’m currently getting out of the boot and doing pain free AROM about 4-5 times a day.  As I write this I think I’m probably about 15 degrees short of neutral DF but the wound looks good and I don’t have any pain to speak of.  My next follow up is on 5/2/12.

I’ve left a lot out here.  It just feels kind of good to vent a little.  I really hate being a burden on others and my wife has been an absolute saint (almost ;) throughout the last month taking care of me.  I am scheduled to start my first clinical rotation in June if all goes well and the doctor clears me.  My fingers are crossed.  Hopefully some good comes from this.  I’m still waiting though.  Best of luck to all of you in your recovery and thanks for taking the time to read.  Speak to you soon.