What doesn’t kill you makes you faster!

Almost exactly 6 months post-surgery, I PR’d my 10K, taking 2 minutes off my best time pre-ATR! What doesn’t kill you can make you even stronger!

Back in the game

Just a quick update…things are going great! My PT is very challenging and I seem to be progressing quickly. This week we worked on jumping and balance.

I ran 7 miles yesterday without pain. My Nike 7.0 running shoes are awesome! They do not hurt my achilles area at all. My calf was a little sore the today, but other than that I feel great!

17 weeks

ahhh what a difference a few weeks can make! Started physical therapy 2 weeks ago. My therapist observed my gait running on the treadmill yesterday and said there was no sign of a limp! I do have to actively concentrate in order to maintain my gait. Today I ran 2.5 miles at a 10 minute per mile pace. It felt so good. I feel like I am getting my life back! My PT said I am ahead of the curve. My pointing and flexing range of motion is identical on both legs. Side to side movement is a bit less on my repaired side. I am enjoying the PT challenges and building up my strength again!

For those still sitting on the sidelines…have faith, you will get back in the game!!

9 weeks post-op

It has been 9 weeks since surgery. I feel like I am making a bit of progress everyday.  I have been using a stationary bike for 10-15 minutes  and doing some gentle calf strengthening exercises most days. Lately I’m working on balancing on my injured foot while raising the "good" leg to the front, the side and the back. all those stabilizing muscles/tendons need strengthening! Tomorrow is definitely a rest day! I am so anxious to get back to "normal", but I’m finally feeling like I can make it through this! My boyfriend and I signed up to run the AirForce half marathon in September. If I can’t run the whole thing he said he’d walk with me and hold my hand. :) That brought tears to my eyes, especially considering that I have been injured for half of our relationship. He may be a keeper!

I’ve attached a picture of my calves, not sure if it will come through. This is the first time I have seen them side by side in a photo. I can definitely see a difference between the two but not as drastic as I thought it would be. The ankles do look like they don’t belong to the same person though!

2nd post op visit (6 wks)

I have to admit that I haven’t been the most compliant patient. At 4wks, I began to slowly start weight bearing on my foot.  I quickly progressed to being comfortable in shoes since my boot was very heavy and uncomfortable. As I approached my 6 wk visit I debated about whether to go to the next appointment in the shoes I had progressed into or to put the boot back on and use crutches. I decided to wear the shoes. The Physician Assistant was a little disappointed that I hadn’t been wearing the boot.  The doc said that I had good muscle tone and my foot is at 90 degrees. He examined the achilles and did the Thompson test. He seemed happy with how I am healing. He asked me to wear the boot for 6 more weeks. He didn’t really have a “scientific” reason why the boot was so necessary. He said it was helpful to support and protect the tendon while it continues to heal. I told him that, honestly, I would not wear it. He gave me a very supportive, small, lace-up, lightweight ankle brace that has two straps that wrap under my foot and attach at the sides of the ankle. It also has a wide strap that goes around the achilles area. Combined with a heel wedge and my running shoes, this brace feels awesome! I feel great and am getting around well! I have a limp and can’t finish the push-off part the stride, but it is getting a little better each day.  I feel like I’m at a point that I can live with for a while. I can definitely continue with the ankle brace and heel wedge for 6 more weeks until my next appointment.

4.5 weeks post op

Well, at the 4 wk timepoint I couldn’t take the immobility anymore. I researched other doc’s recovery protocols that support early weight bearing and decided to go for it. I started partial weight bearing and then progressed to full weight bearing in wedged shoes (approximately 2in heel elevation). I have used pain and swelling as a guide. If it hurts I stop and if it swells, I ice and elevate. I’m feeling a bit guilty for not following my doctor’s orders of complete NWB for 6 wks. However, being able to walk without crutches is such a relief!! Every morning before I get out of bed, I stretch my hamstring and massage my calf and achilles to warm up before slipping into my shoes. I’m not in any pain in the shoes. When I stand flat footed on the floor, the achilles feels tight, so I have been only walking with the shoes on. I have a bit of a limp when I walk since my achilles feels tight at the end of my stride.

Has anyone else used this approach of going to wedged shoes at 4 weeks? (well, I guess only the women would have wedged shoes to wear.)

1st Post-Op visit

the big reveal….what is under the splint??? Turns out to be much better than I imagined. It felt like staples but I actually have dissolving stitches. My surgeon did an excellent job minimizing the incision and cleanly stitching it up. I now have a boot with two heel lifts. NWB for 4 more weeks. Then PT and and a plan to be FWB at 3 months, working up to my old activities at 6 months. I am pretty satisfied with this protocol. I am so grateful to be out of the splint/cast. Ahhhh. I am amazed at the muscle atrophy in both my calf and my quads in only 3 weeks. I will have a lot of work to do to get back to my old self.

Nervous about my good achilles!

I’m 2 weeks post-injury (8 days post-op) and for some reason my good calf/achilles is sore and tingly! Has anyone else experienced this? My “good” leg is doing a lot of work between getting around on crutches and just balancing when I have to stand on one foot. Maybe this is why? This makes me nervous!

My story….

Ten days ago, I was playing volleyball, sprinting to set to my left hitter (my specialty is speed! I can get to the 2nd ball even if the pass is bad) when I felt like I had been hit in the back of the leg. I immediately felt like I was stepping on a block and my ankle/foot felt strange. Pain shot up my calf. A crowd gathered around and I knew something was seriously wrong. I had never been injured before. My teammates carried me off the court, iced my ankle and gave me motrin. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was in pain and scared. We were in the 3rd game of the match when it happened. My teammates forfeited the game and waited with me to make sure I was alright. A few minutes later my boyfriend arrived and took me to the local urgent care clinic. The on-call physician ordered an x-ray and did a physical exam. He diagnosed the ATR and put on a temporary cast. I didn’t sleep much that night. I kept trying to figure out why? By morning I decided that the 4in heels I had been wearing to work everyday for the last year must have shortened my achilles! My internet research confirms that wearing high heels all day and then switching to athletic shoes can cause serious strain on the achilles. I had been doing this for a year!

The biggest hassle of this injury is the drastic change from independence to dependence. The crutches seriously limited my ability to do anything, so I rented a hands-free crutch. This gadget is great! I can carry things, walk up stairs and get around fairly easily with the crutch strapped on to my leg! I haven’t worn it in public yet. I made one painful trip to the grocery store on crutches before I broke down and decided to use the motorized scooter. Mostly, my mom has done all my grocery shopping and has helped with cooking, laundry and taking care of my kids. I am so lucky!

I had surgery 6 days after the incident. The surgeon confirmed it was a complete tear. I was at the hospital for a total of 6 hours for the prep, surgery and recovery. The pain is much worse post-surgery! I’m doing okay but depressed that this injury will cause me to lose my fitness level. I worked out 5 days a week and played volleyball 2x per week. I do pushups and situps everyday. I get a pretty good shoulder/arm workout with the crutches when I am not using the ‘hands-free’ crutch.

I have made arrangements to work from home this week so I can keep my foot elevated. My employer has been very flexible and accomodating! One positive point is that my friends and family have shown me so much support. It brings tears to my eyes to know I am so lucky. I have received flowers, plants, cards, e-mails, had meals delivered and phone calls wishing me a fast recovery. This has been so touching.