Unbelievable transformation…..

October 8th, 2008

So this was me 2 1/2 weeks ago - my work profile picture:










This is me now:

 For those of you who might not be up to speed on your Discovery Channel “Lazy Animals of South America” episodes, yes this is a brown throated three toe sloth, (AKA  heatheris stuckinbedicus)  I know it looks like I’m smiling, but that’s really just the percocet, vicodin and ambien cocktail talking….

And if it’s not bad enough that I’ve morphed into a sloth after just 2 weeks in bed, I’m pretty sure that by the end of recovery I’m going to look more like this:  (notice the one foot stuck in equinas position)

So lazy animal transformations aside, I’ve been doing everything in my power to not completely lose my sh%t, but this week has been excruciatingly hard….(I don’t know who is crying more lately, me or my husband….)

As my family and co-workers will attest, I am your classic type A control freak personality and I am soooo not good at ever having to ask for help, let alone not be able to take care of my kids and my family.  I know that I am so blessed to have an amazing family: wonderful husband, caring mom, guardian angel mother-in-law, sweet aupair (Kate you are an angel) who have all been taking amazing care of me without making me feel guilty, but when my baby gives me this look because I can’t play with her or chase her around the house…..I feel like I’m dying a little inside

I know that this won’t last forever, but I totally feel like my kids are growing up without me :(  I know that this is irrational, but after spending 2 1/2 weeks in bed, I think I’m starting to lose it a little…..I want to be up and doing more, but after reading about how many people seem to have falls in the first couple of weeks, I’m a little freaked out…and unfortunately, when I fall I break something (I’ve had 13 fractures in the last 5 years - bad bones from chemo and glucocorticoids…) - My poor husband should be knighted for sainthood….

Any words of wisdom for keeping your sh%t together and not completely lose it during the Nike commercials? (cocky bastards and their two good running feet…)


Laughter: not quite the best medicine for ATR

October 3rd, 2008


Originally uploaded by coyle.heather

So I know they say that “laughter is the best medicine” but honestly, I’m going to have to put laughter somewhere between Benadryl and Percocet.

I called the orthopedist yesterday because at 4AM the pain was absolutely unbearable and I realized that I couldn’t feel or move my toes at all. Not much of my toes are exposed in the splint, but what I could see/touch felt really cold, swollen and purple. The ortho said to unwrap the ace-bandage because it might be too tight with the swelling (even though I’ve kept it elevated with a ton of ice since surgery on Monday morning.) Once we unwrapped it the feeling came back in my toes, but I still have the pain. According to my ortho, it sounds like the “lightning-esque” pain that I’ve been experiencing could be from some temporary sural nerve trauma. Has anyone else experienced this, and if so, how long did it last?

PS Does percocet give anyone else that “I see dead people” kind of a feeling? If not, does anyone have M. Night Shyamalan’s contact information because I’m pretty sure my life could be his next script - and I live in the Philly area - how convenient for filming!


For the love of all things holy- day 2 post-surgery

October 1st, 2008

I am again questioning whether or not my orthopedic surgeon has engaged in experimental techniques with my repair.  I know that in the days of yore it was common practice to employ the use of leeches to drain off blood and excess swelling and I’m wondering if my surgeon is using fire ants and/or lightning. I’m Day 2 (almost Day 3) post-surgery and I’m fairly certain that there is a small army of fire ants in my splint and a bucket full of lightning.  And this isn’t the happy variety of fire ants that you may be familiar with - I’m pretty sure that this is a new mutant breed of angry, unloved and maybe menopausal fire ants who are none too happy to be trapped in a splint with my unwashed foot….  I’m actually not even mad - I’m more impressed as to how someone could capture, train and mobilize an entire army of fire ants and transport it into my cast within the confines of a sterile operating room.  

Anywho, has anyone else had this much pain at this point post-op?  I delivered a 12 lb baby with no epidural and I’ve had compound fractures that didn’t hurt this much.  I’m taking 2 percocet every 4 hours with Toradol every 6 hours for breakthrough pain.  My husband has also constructed an elevated Olympic-sized ice rink in our bed to keep my bum foot nice and chilly (but it’s only helping a little and he won’t let me drive the zamboni….) 

Ooh, 1 AM, time for more happy pills… I’ll be back

AT fixed intranasally?

October 1st, 2008

So has anyone else had their achilles tendon repaired via their nose?  I’m wondering if my surgeon is piloting a new technique because I can’t figure out why else I came out of surgery on Monday with two black eyes and a fat lip.  Did I flirt with the doctor?   (she’s not my type but you never know with the anesthesia….) or did I get cheeky with the OR nurse when she was scribbling on my ankle (maybe it was just confirmation of the right ankle and not her grocery list…)  Did anyone else have this experience?  I know that they did the surgery in the prone position, but I can’t imagine that just lying intubated on my face would do this kind of damage….


Post ATR surgery black eyes and fat lip

October 1st, 2008

Post-surgery face

Originally uploaded by coyle.heather

Apparently, now achilles tendon repair comes with a complimentary fat lip and black eyes!  At least they dropped me on my face and not on my boo-boo foot….

According to the operative report, fat lip was from being intubated and in the prone position and black eyes were from “need for additional patient restraint” during transition from “excitatory sedation phase”….hmm, they do say that redheads are harder to anesthetize….

Pre-surgery heel

September 29th, 2008

Pre-surgery heel

Originally uploaded by coyle.heather

Guess which one has no achilles tendon?!

(Hint: it’s the one that’s fat and yellow….)

Fun day with the orthopedist

September 27th, 2008

I was so bummed that I had to wait to call an orthopedist on Monday because I just wanted to have the surgery now and get it over with.  We’re lucky that my husband’s cousin is an orthpedic resident in Philly because he was able to make some phone calls (THANK YOU JOHN!!) and get me in with a fantastic foot & ankle specialist at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday morning.   

We got there for a 9AM appointment and the triage nurse saw the splint on my leg and immediately brought me back to the casting room (they assumed that I was already post-op).  The casting room was an experience.  It was a big open room and there were 4 older guys in there who had just had their casts cut off and were waiting to see the ortho.  Since the practice is foot and ankle, I think a lot of what they do is diabetic amputations (based on what we saw in the cast room)  I thought my husband was going to pass out at first because several of the guys were missing all/most of their toes and big chunks of their foot - at least it made me feel a lot better about my injury.  It was pretty entertaining though - these guys were all bantering back and forth with each other and teasing the doctors.  The one guy asked me about what happened to me and then told me to be careful because he’d come in with an earache and woke up with half his foot gone - at least he made everyone laugh…I think my husband wants to write a sit-com based on it….uck

Anyway, since my husband’s cousin called ahead I got to see a resident and a fellow before I saw the doctor - they were all really nice to me and really interested in the antibiotics that I was taking.  Apparently it’s a really hot topic of discussion in the orthopedic community.  When each of them examined me all three of them did the Thompson test and confirmed that I had a complete rupture of the right AT.  They didn’t feel the need to do an MRI or any additional test.  My appt was on Tuesday and they scheduled me for surgery on Monday.  I pushed to have it earlier, but the ortho pushed back and explained that she didn’t want to do it until more of the swelling had gone down.  I’d already done my homework and I knew that the most common complication of surgery was infection at the incision site due to the fact that it is a relatively avascular area.   She said that when the heel/ankle is swollen like that it’s like cutting into a sausage casing (eeeww) and it puts more tension on the skin when the try to pull it back and increases the risk of infection (the fact that I’m diabetic doesn’t help either.)  

She said that they would do surgery as out-patient and gave me the option of general anesthesia or a spinal block.  She said that the downside of a spinal is that you have a longer wait in the recovery room since you’re legs are numb and they can’t release you until you can walk/crutch safely.  (I opted for general since I had a spinal once that didn’t work so well and I felt more than I should have…)  She said that they would put me in a post-op splint that I would be in for 2 weeks and then they would put me in a non-weight bearing hard cast for 6 weeks and then they’d move me to a boot that I’d progressively be able to walk on over the next 4-8 weeks - sweet jesus!  They said that after 1 year I should be good as new (provided my husband doesn’t bury me out back first :)

So they gave me a boot and the orthotist adjusted it so that my toes are pointing to the floor and told me to keep my leg elevated until Monday.  Can’t wait!!

Did someone just shoot me in the foot?!

September 27th, 2008

Well this is going to be fun……I’m a little freaked now that I have a better appreciation of what to expect on this long journey of “Happy Heelin” to getting back to full functionality, but I’m so grateful to have this site with such a wonderful wealth of information and support.  It really helps going into surgery and knowing what I can do to help to make recovery a little easier on me and my family…..

I ruptured the achilles tendon in my right foot last Saturday.  I was an hour into my first session with a personal trainer at LA Fitness - I’d warmed up for 15 minutes on an elliptical machine, did some free weight upper body work, and then started step-ups on the work out bench.  I was on my 15th rep when I heard the pop and felt like someone shot me in the back of the leg.  Both of the trainers stopped and looked behind me when it happened - they both heard the pop and thought that something in the floor snapped.  I felt all of the blood drain from my face and felt really lightheaded when I realized that it was my heel.  I tried to stand on it and fell over - when I put my hand on my heel it was already burning hot and the burning radiated all the way up my calf.  I just sat there, dumbfounded.  I told the trainer that I thought that I just ruptured my achilles, and he said that it shouldn’t happen doing step-ups, especially since I do yoga…but he took one look at the back of my heel and proceeded to pick me up and carry me to the front of the gym (not too mortifying on a crowded Saturday morning - and I’m 5′9 and he was a lot shorter than I am…) The ambulance and police showed up shortly thereafter (kill me now) and my husband showed up just as they were loading me into the ambulance.  It was an uneventful ride to the hospital (except for me feeling like an idiot) and being a little freaked out that I couldn’t move my foot or my toes at all.  When we got to the ER, both of the nurses that I saw were pretty well convinced that I’d completely torn my AT and then the ER physician confirmed it by having me lie on my stomach and he squeezed my calf and nothing happened (otherwise known as a positive Thompson test.)  He also brought my husband over and showed him the difference between my two heels - on my right heel you could clearly see the deficit where the tendon was no longer attached (looked like a valley.)  I was really surprised at how my my calf burned and how much it hurt every time he grasped my calf to demonstrate the lack of response (to show all of the residents) It throbbed all the way up to just below my knee.  He said that it wasn’t worth doing an X-ray at this point since it was completely shot, and they couldn’t do surgery since I’d already eaten that morning so they put on a big plaster splint with ace-bandages, gave me a prescription for Percocet and referred me to the orthopedist for Monday morning.  One thing that was interesting though was something that the ER doc told me about the antibiotic that I had been on.  I was diagnosed with Lyme disease 2 years ago and wound up on IV antibiotics (including Levaquin) for several months.  The ER doc told me that Levaquin (and that class of antibiotics) recently got a black box warning for contributing to tendon weakness.  Which made a lot more sense because I could not figure out how I could have completely ruptured my AT doing step-ups….and I have been having heel pain (which I thought was from the fabulous new pair of 4″ heels that I’d gotten) So we went home and I spent the next two days in bed with my leg elevated on three pillows (it is so important to get it above your heart - it makes such a difference) and my husband kept me with fresh ice.  The ice and elevation definitely helped (the percocet did it’s job too, but I didn’t take it that often because I hate how it makes me loopy.)  

Now we had to wait to see the orthopedist…aaagghh  - I suck at waiting

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    • heather has completed the grueling 26.2 ATR miles to full recovery!
      Goal: 365 days from the surgery date.
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