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.


#1 ultrarunning316 on 04.16.12 at 2:17 am

Painful yes, I agree, for me it was more painful in early recovery when I was dealing with the first real swelling…It also hurt like the dickens when I worked on it especially that last day…I am a Caddie at Pebble Beach and we have a food and beverage cart that drives around the golf course that you see @ 3-4 xs per round depending how busy we are. I asked my friend that drives it to store my ice pack in the ice chest and would start with it then give it to him on his 1st pass and retrieve it on the last pass so I could ice a bit…The drive home was horrible like someone was waving a torch under my tendon and jabbing it with a hot iron at the same time…It was ridiculous, I didn’t sleep much and didn’t have any pain killers ’til about a week into my treatment…Crazy! But thank God once I got the pain killers we got on top of it and I only needed to refill once.

As for the positive, I have a suggestion, you will be able to not only clinically be able to understand what the people you’ll be treating are going through but sympathetically as well…Your getting a first rate look at what a patient wants and needs from a health care provider! Sorry that you’re going through this, I wish I didn’t have to either, wouldn’t choose this for myself, but I have gained a few things and still am…Am I out running like I long to yet? No. But it will be there and time does pass, just a matter of staying dedicated and focused on a goal. Cheers! Heal well, also you should make a lot of progress by June, I’d think your timing may be right for your rotation. One thing I’m grateful for is that I was injured during a traditionally slow time for us, so I’d missed some work but not as much as I’d of in summer or fall. Divine timing!

#2 ericbabula on 04.16.12 at 6:27 am

Greg - yeah, things do happen for a reason, even though we don’t always like those things. In your case, as a PT, you will be dealing with this injury quite a bit in your life, mostly from folks like me (40-something males)! Because you’ve gone through this, you’ll be able to empathize with your patients, and know when they’re just being big babies. You’ll know exactly how much they should be able to handle at different stages, and be able to customize their treatment if you see things aren’t going as expected. That’s a positive!

OTOH, sorry you have to go through this. It’s no fun having to stop your physical activities like we do. But, remember, it’s just a temporary setback, and you will get better soon enough!

Good luck!

#3 gkraemer14 on 04.16.12 at 7:41 pm

Thanks for the support, Eric. I’m a natural born pessimist so it’s sometimes hard for me to look at the bright side of things. I appreciate you taking the time to read and give me your input.

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#4 gkraemer14 on 04.16.12 at 7:46 pm

Empathy is one of the things I can take from this I suppose. That’s one of the reasons I became a PT in the first place though. I didn’t need another major injury to add to my list :) Glad there’s somebody else who knows where I’m coming from with the pain. One of my instructors has told me that the best ATR patient she ever treated (once he was cleared to walk) just walked and walked and walked, many miles a day. In your case it sounds like that is just a part of your day so hopefully you’ll do great as well. Thanks for reading and commenting. Best of luck to you

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#5 normofthenorth on 04.17.12 at 2:06 am

GK, I’m constantly shocked at how different the various pain experiences are with ATR. I had ‘em on both sides now (8 yrs apart), and neither one hurt more than being kicked in the heel. Even the surgery I had on the first one wasn’t super-painful, though I did pop some pills (and moan and groan and stay in bed a lot) for the first few days.
When I started PT at the local university’s Sports-med clinic, I met the only other ATR patient there, a 20-ish undergrad young woman who’d torn hers ~2 weeks before I had, and also gotten surgery. I kept track of her whenever I could, because she was just ahead of me. (I was 56 when I tore mine.)
Unlike mine, hers was extremely painful when she tore it, and pretty painful during recovery, too. On the first day when I could walk barefoot without a limp, my dumb PT talked me into doing as many 1-leg heel raises as I could do(!), and I reinjured myself and started a 1-MONTH setback in my rehab. That reinjury was by far the most painful part of the whole thing, with a sharp pain right where the tendon attaches to the “calcaneous” heel bone, that only gradually faded over the following month (which I spent back in my boot!).
I do have a reasonably high pain threshold, but I mostly didn’t need it for my ATRs, as luck would have it. But lots of others have reported excruciating pain from the injury, and again from surgery, for the surgical crowd. (I skipped the op the second time, which made it even less painful.)
For my second ATR, I also had three injections of PRP, which is another thing that gives some people unbelievably severe pain, but me Not So Much.
I don’t think the pain is correlated with anything, it’s just the luck of the draw AFAICS.
Good luck!

#6 gkraemer14 on 04.17.12 at 8:37 am

PTs are naturally a bit sadistic Norm. Sorry yours made you work so hard ;) I think I’m just a bit of a wimp when it comes to pain, also couldn’t handle the emotional stress that it caused me initially. Just have to keep telling myself to take it one day at a time. Hope you’re doing well at this stage in your recovery. Thanks for your comment.

#7 dlmack on 04.17.12 at 4:04 pm

Hey Greg. I’m a few days behind in welcoming you to the “club”. I had my surgery less than a week after you so we can keep tabs on each other as we go through the process. My doc put me into a plaster cast at my follow-up Appt so I’m hoping to get the boot when I go back next week so I can begin some ROM exercises.

I’m completely with you about your “competitive” comment…when I first got hurt, I was more disappointed that I could not play in the VB playoffs with my team the following week. But, maybe I was just trying to put my energy into something other than thinking about the long road ahead!

Anyway, I look forward to seeing you on here and sharing our stories.

#8 walkel on 04.17.12 at 4:49 pm

Best of luck to you. This is truly the place to be when looking for advice, information, words of encouragement, etc. All I can say is what was told to me earlier on, and that was it does, in fact, get better as time goes by. I will, however, add that how fast your recovery is is totally up to you and your body. Listen to it, and it may surprise you. Happy Healing!

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