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.


  1. efrain66 Said:

    on November 14, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Good luck and be careful. Healing is important and takes time. Don’t worry about getting down at some point, it happens. Remembering family, friends and people who have gone through it are here for you. Some of us twice in a 2 week period. Good luck in the process.

  2. normofthenorth Said:

    on November 14, 2011 at 12:59 am

    gottarunkzo, I’m one of those erratic passers who gives you a chance to show off your specialty!! (I even prefer to hit from the left or “power” side, too!) Stick with the program, and avoid slips and falls and setbacks, and you should be back on the court shagging bad passes before the year is up.

    After my first ATR (I’ve done both sides now, both in competitive court volleyball) I was back on the court at about 10 months, at full speed with no noticeable deficits anywhere. 8 yrs later I tore the other AT. This time it took me almost 2 years to get back to competitive volleyball, but that was only because I took almost a year off to fit in some heart surgery(!).

    BTW, I don’t think my teammates defaulted the game EITHER time I R’d my AT! :-)

    Also BTW, if wearing high heels and being active were really a huge risk factor, I’d think we’d have a lot more female ATR patients than we do. Last I heard, it’s still heavily skewed toward the (presumably flat-heel-wearing) guys. Most of us try to assign blame to something we did, or didn’t do. There’s clearly a congenital tendency toward ATR (for which we’re blameless), and it “helps” to participate in explosive, high-impact, “high-risk” activities like volleyball (for which we’re worthy of praise, not blame!). Beyond those, I think most suggested correlations are either untested hypotheses or just self-blaming (and searching for explanations — Why me??) by stunned patients. If it makes you feel any better to think you’ve just been hit by a random bolt of lightning, please be my guest!

  3. normofthenorth Said:

    on November 14, 2011 at 1:00 am

    I assume we all know that “before the year is up” means a year after your surgery, and not 2011.

  4. gottarunkzo Said:

    on November 14, 2011 at 10:26 am

    @normofthenorth- It is so encouraging to hear that you were able to return to competitive sports after 10 months! Sorry that you had to go through this twice!! I have read several testamonies of people who don’t even think about their achilles a year after surgery. That’s what I am hoping for!

    As for the heels, I believe it! I have run 4 marathons and played sports all my life without any achilles issues. In the last year, wearing heels is the only change I’ve made.( I’m 5′3″ so as an alternative to hunting for short dress pants I opted for the heels!! This height issue also explains why I am a setter!) It makes me feel better to have an explanable, controllable cause, so I am going with it! :)

    How are you doing now? Do you think about your achilles much when you are playing? Do you feel as strong as before your injuries?

  5. nivergvup Said:

    on November 14, 2011 at 11:33 am

    What is it with volleyball! We will have to start a support group within a support group for all the people who hurt there achilles playing vball! Good luck on the recovery! I am only about 4 weeks ahead of you on the recovery scale, so we both have a long way to go! Update us soon on your recovery!

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