Calf tightness, 15 months out

Hi everybody.  I chose the  non surgical route 15 months ago.  All has gone very well with the exception that I still have weakness in the calf of the torn Achilees leg.  Particularly pronounced when swimming.  It cramps up after a half mile or so, more often than not.  I’m doing the stretching and exercises presecribed by my PT, but seem a bit stuck.  Any advice?

10 months; tennis anyone; english channel?

After 10 months of recovery, I ventured onto the tennis court (scene of my ATR) for the first time yesterday with one of my daughters.  Even though we were just hitting ( wound up playing a few games), it was a bit nerve racking.  No observable difficulty but I took it very cautiously.   After an hour we called it quits and I thought to myself, “have i aged this much in 10 months or i am just that much out of shape for tennis?’  As most of us know, one form of exercise (swimming in my case) is no substitute for another (tennis) and there will be a lot of reconditioning required to get back in form.  But it was a good start and a bit of a milestone (getting “back on the horse after you fall off”)!

I read a few comments about swimming and reiterate my previous statements that swimming has been one of the real unexpected benefits from the ATR experience.  My swimming began at about week 9 and could have been 3 or 4 weeks earlier, I believe.  I am now swimming a mile and a half 4 or 5 times a week and, other than the joint problems I rediscovered on the tennis court, feel as healthy as I have for a long time.  The english channel might be a stretch but I do believe I will try to attempt some long open water swims this year.

I wholeheartedly recommend pool exercises and swimming as early as possible for all of you in the therapy process.

Happy holidays to all the ATR community around the world.

I’ve been to the mountain top!

Greetings to all.  Nearing the 10 month mark now, we ventured up to the wonderfully named “Blood Mountain” in N. Georgia this past weekend for a hiking weekend we’ve done now for over 20 years.  This is a strenuous 2 mile climb to the highest point on the AT in Georgia and a spectacular vista.   I’m delighted to reported no difficulties whatsoever with my formerly injured AT.  Never thought about it once we got moving, in spite of several places where there are rather steep rock steps and ledges to push up and over.  It was a perfect day and an early moment of Thanksgiving!My heel lifts are gradually improving.  Generally I feel great.   With the addition of swimming to my work out regimen (initiated while in AT rehab) I’m in better shape than I’ve been for a long time.   Have decided to postpone tennis until the start of 011, so will report back at that time. 

Best wishes to all.

7.5 months

Hi everybody.  Been off for a month or so.  I guess its a function of the degree of normality - the less I notice the AT, the less I am inclined to keep up with the site and the new arrivals who need advice as much as I did in February.  Its a real tribute to Norm and folks like him who stay with it and, as a result, have accumulated so much wisdom.

I am pretty much recovered and able to do most everything in my preAT life.  My one legged lifts are still anemic - maybe a couple inches on a good day - but other than that it responds well to everything I’ve tried, with two exceptions.  Swimming has become my principle cardio activity and frequently, after 1500 yards or so, my “bad” leg calf will get a potent charlie horse while swimming.  Never the good leg.  Not sure what that means.  Also, at times when I’ve been on my feet for a long time - walking, gardening, tennis, e.g. - I experience some soreness/pain on the outside of my leg, from below the knee to the ankle.  Again, just the bad leg and again,not sure what it means.  Will check it out with the PT if it continues.  If anyone’s had a similar reaction, please share.

I have not yet tried to go at tennis full bore, so the juries out on whether the AT will be hold up in that instance.  As I’ve said before, I’m almost more concerned about the other one popping than the “naturally repaired” AT. 

Best wishes to all,

24 weeks - smooth sailing?

Last night we had dinner with some friends and a lively discussion arose about my stubborn insistence on returning to tennis, instead of golf.  My ATR tear occurred on the first day (!) of my “return” to competitive tennis after a 10 year sojourn into golf.  Not that both cannot be done,  but my approach is too intense to attempt both a high level.  Thought I would go back to tennis one more time while my age permitted.  So much for that. 

To my wife and others, tennis seems completely foolhardy.  And last night, after a few glasses of chianti, I began to agree.  Can I really adjust to a slower game?  Isn’t there a realistically large possibility of either a rerupture or new rupture of the other AT or both?  I had signed up to play this Thursday in a low key event, but now I’m not sure.

Nothing much has changed.  I’m pretty much back to normal, although swimming has become my main exercise so the AT doesn’t get much rigorous testing.   Folks who haven’t seen me for a while are quite impressed with how “normal” my gait looks.  There is still slight swelling if I’ve been on it all day and the calf is still a bit smaller, but both are minor and inconsequential in every day terms.  I can do several modest one legged heel raises now so making a little yardage there. 

I continue to have many conversations with people about my experience and the implications for health care which are many.   The insights I’ve gained through this site have been one of the great benefits of this ordeal. 

Best wishes to all.

22 weeks

Its been an uneventful last month.  No visits to the doc or PT.  I cancelled both, not feeling the need.  Yesterday I ran into the doc at lunch and had a lengthy conversation.  He has done zero AT’s since and its obviously not a big concern to him, but he did seem to have learned something about an alternative approach (non surgical in a case like mine).  He assured me that he would have presented the non surgical option to me when we met at the emergency room, had I not initiated the conversation, so maybe I’ve been too hard on him in that regard in previous posts.   Although he did  not examine my leg, he could tell from looking at me walk that I was pretty much ok and said a further visit would not be necessary unless I felt the need.

Also ran into the PT at the pool this morning.  He had the same reaction as the doc from observation - that no further therapy was necessary unless I felt the need. 

So I’m pretty much on my own.  The next big step will be more extensive use of the leg in tennis, golf (walking 18 holes) and hiking, which we plan to do in sept. when it gets below 95 in georgia!

I continue to be hooked on swimming as my primary cardio.  It is the only vigorous activity I’ve done in the last 20 years wherein I can push to the limit, feel totally invigorated, sleep with the deep rest of having had a complete burnout, and do it all again the next day with no physical downside.   I picked up a pair of the short flippers which appear to help strengthen the AT and calf as well. 

Hope everyone is doing well.

20 weeks

This week was somewhat of an ironic milestone.  For the first time I had difficulty remembering to do my exercises, except when in the pool.  I went on a business trip and forgot completely about my regimen for an entire day.  So, in that sense, I’m almost back to normal.  As to actual AT function, I am still well shy of a full one leg heel raise and I do have some swelling and very slight pain after being on it for a long while (like playing golf) or driving for more than an hour.  Have not tried tennis yet but hope to begin easing back in starting this week.   I could jog now if I wanted to but have pretty much become addicted to swimming as my primary cardio.   Don’t think I could go fast enough running to get my heart rate up any way.   I should be back on the elipticals now but can’t seem to find the time or interest to take a day off swimming.

It’s great to see others taking a serious look at the non surgical route.  As every week goes by, and more stories are reported on both sides, the evidence seems to increasingly favor nature versus the knife.

Ready for double dutch?

At 17 weeks.  missed my PT last week and have not had time to reschedule so I went outside this morning to try out the jump rope.  My PT said that was sort of like a “final exam” for him - once I can jump rope, there’s not much more they can do for me.  It felt pretty good.  Been a long time so I had to get the rythm back but was able to do 20 or so with no pain and effort.  Felt a little soreness after 4 or 5 sets so I quit. Not exactly an A+ but I’d say I’m about done with PT.   Will do a final with the PT and doc together in a couple weeks. 

Still have a bit of swelling and not close to a one leg heel raise but all else seems to be in good shape.  Another couple weeks and I’ll give golf and tennis a go.

BTW, at the pool yesterday I was talking to a couple triathletes about the two different kinds of flippers being used for swim training - the traditional long flippers and a shorter model with only a few inches of web.  They (and the swim coach) said the short flippers are excellent ways to rehab an achillees - building strength without overstressing.  Apparently the traditional flippers are so dynamic they  could be risky in an AT rehab.   So I’ve ordered a pair and will let you know how it goes.

Calf muscle pull

Forgot to mention in previous post that the painful calf muscle pull dissipated in a few days, although I had step back my exercise intensity a bit.   Also got a charley horse in the calf muscle swimming of all things, severe enough I had to stop.  Reminded me of similar episodes running years ago.  But it was completely unnoticeable in a few hours, as I remembered them to be.  Asked the PT about these episodes today.  Nothing suprising from his perspective, as the redeveloping muscle finds its way into activities that press it.  He recommended the traditional runners calf stretches, now that the AT seems strong enough to bear it. 

On another note, last night I bumped into one of my buddies who is big into cycling.  When he heard I was swimming a mile a day, he encouraged me to try cycling as a next step toward triathlons.  With my previous leg and back issues, I think running is not likely but agreed it would be great to cycle.  He said its pretty easy to pick a teammate and do triathlons that way, and quite common around here.  So I’m thinking about it. 

Don’t have current road bike.  Any of you enthusiasts in love with a bike that won’t require a second mortgage?

16 weeks

I missed a PT appointment on Tuesday due to an out of town trip, got back last night, went to the pool this morning and my PT was there working with another another patient.  Perfect - a short review at no charge!  He observed my one leg lifts on the top step of the pool (about a foot of water), mock rope jumping on the same step, and said I’m pretty much there.  Stay with the same exercises I’m using and see him for a final in a week or so. 

Reading recent posts, I’m struck by the emphasis on the doc in the rehab process.  To me, the PT was much more important.  Once the three of us agreed on the road map (the UWO protocol from Norm), the PT designed the actual rehab regimen, monitored progress, measured strenght, size and ROM; and convinced the doc to move towards the early end of eachstage for progression (i.e. 7 weeks instead of 8).  For those of us who chose the non surgical route, at least, I’d say the PT is the MVP in the rehab, not the doc.  So, following Gerry’s lead, I urge folks to make sure you find someone who will get excited about the road map, take charge of designing the activities and monitor progress and course correct. 

Happy Fathers Day to those dads among us.