September 28th, 2013

Last post

Life goes on and when I could walk again, the significance of my Achilles’ tendon break gradually faded away… It is now 23 weeks since the “snap” and I’d say I’m pretty much good as new, aside from a bit of stiffness in the morning (which might be more psychological than anything because if I try, it’s fine) and a somewhat thick tendon that I tried to reduce by massage, when I remember.

My recovery procedure since losing the crutches and the walker boot was just one physio visit, twelve weeks with 2cm and 1cm heel raises - and some “rest days” in high heels! - and pretty normal light exercises of walking, cycling and swimming. I’ve avoided Dorsiflexion completely so far but now starting a bit of squats with knees over toes, perhaps. I feel like I could jog, if I wanted to but don’t want to over exert myself as I’ve discovered I’m expecting a baby!
To complete my Achilles blog story, I can reveal that my hubby and I are to resume our “ruptured” Honeymoon and finally make it to Hawaii. Thanks for reading my story!

-Hoppymodo, hopping no more

July 6th, 2013

Week 9-10: Well-heeled

Progress! Have been sashaying around in heels, dusting off my ankle boots , that is, SHOES rather than orthopaedic aids! It is quite comfortable in approx 6cm heels, and when not at work I wear sneakers with 2cm heel raises inside  (firm foam wedges from the orthopaedic shop, for an exorbitant $30…). After 2weeks in hi heels I intend to spend 2 weeks in 2cm heels.

The doc said “no need to see me again!” and advised to spend 6weeks with 2cm heel raise, another 6 weeks with 1cm. I was expected to be able to run on a flat treadmill in 4 weeks. He gave a physiotherapist referral, “no dorsiflexion at all”.

However, I was not impressed with the value of the physio. Perhaps the interwebs and Achillesblog make me confident in finding the right exercises myself, and I am a “motivated” person by nature.

Anyway for $100 and half an hour, I received instructions to exercise my tendon with a Theraband, and do calf raises, knee bends and one leg balancing, and tendon massage (and return weekly?!). To my blog readers, I give you this valuable information for free! Or swap you for your recovery stories?!

June 19th, 2013

Week 8: Knee-high black boots are all the rage

Four weeks have passed since I stood on my own two feet, and in two days at my next ortho-doctor appointment hopefully I’ll remove this great galumphing black moonboot once and for all! I’ve heard lots of stories of broken feet, legs and tendons whenever people see me in my moonboot. It’s a great conversation starter…

Small wins, as my confidence grows:

  • Walking!
  • Walking while carrying items in both hands!
  • Removing the boot when at home - But walking very carefully, to prevent overstretching the tendon. I say I have the gait of a teddy bear. My husband says “a pirate with a peg leg”.
  • Taking the little stool out and standing in the shower
  • Removing the boot in bed - I only started doing this last week for fear of twitching my toes at night, which didn’t happen and it is so nice to wake up without a backache.
  • New skill: putting pants on without sitting down!

Although I was given no tendon exercises except for flexing it in the limits of the boot, I exercise every day on my new “stationery bike” (I acquired a “fluid trainer”) and may end up more fit than when I started…

May 24th, 2013

Week 4: Chucking in the Crutches!

The story so far:

  • Had Tendon Surgery, 2weeks after ATR
  • Two weeks “holiday” at home, very little movement, very much elevation, crutches and Moonboot at 30degrees dorsi.
  • Two weeks crutches and boot allowing -15 degrees dorsi (upward) to 45 degrees plantar (downward). Still NWB.

Today the Dr increased my boot range to 0 degrees plantar and said those magic words, “You can walk!” … With boot on, for four more weeks. It feels like a real milestone! Freedom! Independence! Stairs!

I asked about the operation. Dr said “The tendon break looks like two horse tails, lots of strands… Want to see pictures of the surgery?” Ok! (It wasn’t me, but the same procedure)

(Continue reading if you dare) So I saw videos of the incision, about 1-2cm crossways. Then they insert a T-shaped tool under the skin, around one end of the tendon. A long needle is used to draw a thread in a line through the skin, tool and tendon and out the other side of the skin. This is repeated with other threads, several times. Then the tool is pulled out, drawing the threads with it while the thread ends disappear through the skin (that explains the scabby dots I reported in an earlier blog message). The same happens on the other side of the tendon, and the thread ends are pulled and tied together. How interesting, but I was glad I was knocked out. There were photos of the long incision method too, much more gruesome!

If you read this far, I’ve got some questions for you…

Now I can exercise on a stationary bike only - started looking for a “bike trainer” to use my bike. Any recommendations?

I noticed others have Physio at this stage, what does that involve?

May 18th, 2013

3 Weeks: More Booty Tales

First week back at work in the office. Makes life seem “normal” again, with the bonus of nice people making way for me, giving me lifts and carrying stuff, as well as sympathetic/pitying looks. The down side of course is not being able to use my right foot for standing or walking or driving or running or cycling or swimming or stair climbing or even pressing the sustain pedal for my electric piano… (There’s no denying the dim, self-pitying sadness of losing use of your foot even if it is temporary!)

Let me move on to some more Boot stories…

Though Dr said to leave the boot on, I simply had to clean it. Every day I carefully extricate my leg, clean it, wave it around for an hour or so, hoping some gentle ankle exercise will enhance the rehab process (perhaps?). The surgery wound is closed and I replaced the band-aid regularly. Last night I thought “enough fussing!” and had a standing shower, no boot! Ahhh….CLEAN! Needed plenty of exfoliation too!

This MC Walker boot seems to be collecting water in the foam especially in the bucket-like heel. It must be foot sweat, “ew!” even though I’ve been wearing a clean sock every day!? I took to it with a hair dryer!

Hopping, leaning, sitting and lying down with my right leg up has started to cause back pain in the lower left, spreading to my shoulders. I have found relief using a hard rubber knobbled physio device that you lie on, or lean on in a chair, which applies pressure to the muscles either side of your spine. For a cheap alternative, you can use a tennis ball.

Last story for today: I continue to wear the boot to sleep, and a few days ago woke up with a pain in the top of my booted foot. Lying there trying to doze off again, the pain varied from Intense to Excruciating, distinctly between the third and fourth metatarsals. Finally I sat up, undid the foot straps and rubbed the pain spot, which relieved it a little, and managed to sleep again. Next day, internet searches agreed with my thought that it was a pinched nerve. It is named “Morton’s Neuroma” and occurs when your shoes are too tight. So loosen your bootstraps if this happens to you! I haven’t experienced it since then.

May 11th, 2013

2 Weeks: There was movement at the ankle!

When I attended my follow up appointment with the surgeon yesterday, a physio took off my boot and the bandage for the first time since the operation 12 days ago. There was revealed… A surprisingly small, rather soggy scar over the AT (aha, it isn’t an ATR anymore!) with just two stitches! (And a poor thin leg with dry skin. And a whiff of unwashedness!)

The Dr breezed in and out with just enough time to instruct the physio to set the boot and to produce a doctor’s certificate to officially relieve me of my years’ worth of sick leave from work. The receptionist then relieved me of $480 for the operation, with $753 having been paid by my private health insurance. See you in two weeks, Dr.

I was instructed to be another two weeks NWB, but Moonboot is now set to permit movement to 45 degrees plantar (toes pointed) and 15 degrees dorsiflexion (toes up). I am to flex between these limits “as much as possible, drive everyone nuts!” as the Velcro squeaks and the hinge creaks.

I felt a mild sense of achievement when I first tried it. There’s some resistance from the boot and some tension on my skin from the adhesive bandage (or the scar?)

With my foot out in the air briefly I noticed six scabby dots on the side of my shin and a larger one on my calf, I guess these were from the nerve block during the operation? Just curious, if anyone knows?

What was everyone else doing, 2 weeks post-treatment?

May 9th, 2013

1.5 Weeks: Housebound in Boot

I decided to stay home for the 2 weeks recommended by the surgeon. With the three weeks holiday and one week spent at home beforehand, this has turned out to be my longest break from full time work, ever (albeit with email enabling some work-from-home!). It was great to have my parents visit for a few days to help out and provide more than enough “Get Well Soon” wishes. Thanks Mum’n'Dad!

I feel very lucky that I’ve hardly felt any pain or aches, apart from the first 24 hours at home. If I stopped elevating my foot for more than a few minutes, it would start feeling prickly and pressured. This, coupled with my mental image of my poor foot filling up with blood ready to explode, would send me scrambling to the couch (using crutches of course) to elevate again. However, yesterday marked 9 days after surgery and I physically felt like I did before surgery - Hoppymodo was hopping around again, sans crutches! But not too much, “just in case”!

“Moon boot” experiences:

  • It’s got a bit of weight… I’ll have a massive thigh to compensate for the scrawny calf
  • It is snug and warm, but easy to un-velcro so I can air out and wipe down the sweaty limb inside. There is a bandage on the ankle region. Haven’t dared to actually take off the boot, will leave that to the Dr.
  • Showering turned out to be a breeze in our bathtub-shower - I just sit on a small stool in the bath and hang my booted leg out, sealing out water with the shower curtain.
  • My elevating “structure” of one rectangular pillow, one U-shaped pillow and a bolster has become a permanent feature on the bed.
  • I recommend not swinging the rigid heel of your moonboot into your other ankle.

Check up with the Dr tomorrow, I look forward to Rehabilitation. I’ll be sure to peruse the other AchillesBlogs for comparative recovery programs - reading all your stories really makes me feel better  :oD

May 2nd, 2013

Days 2-3 after Surgery: Caught in a beartrap

Hello blog readers, from my computer desk as I recover at home (leg elevated on desk, of course).

I was all active and busy (mostly filing receipts!) till lunchtime yesterday then a wave of listlessness hit and I sat on the couch all afternoon, and had an early night. Slept very well. Today I feel “woolly-headed” (possibly anaesthetic still wearing off. My digestive system is backed up too!) but more lively. I can do all the leg-raising exercises to prevent my thighs from dissolving into jelly, like I presume my right calf is doing inside the boot…

The repaired leg feels pretty good actually, just an occasional pin-prickly sensation where I imagine it was sewn up. Haven’t been game to open up the boot. On the first day at home I had 2 Panamax every 4 hours, except at 8pm and 6am when it felt like I was “caught in a beartrap”!! I turned to Tramadol (which worked!). But it’s been more than 24 hours without drugs! I’m HEALING!

For the record: I was dispensed three levels of painkillers
1. Panamax: 50mg Paracetemol (take 2 every 4 hours)
2. Tramadol: 5mg Tramadol Hydrochloride (take 2 if previous wasn’t effective. Document says this analgesic is non-addictive, Google says otherwise)
3. Endone: 5mg Oxycodone Hydrocholoride (take if previous wasn’t effective. Comes with lots of side effects! I didn’t feel that I had to take any - except for the one given to me when I woke up from surgery)

And boxes of 20 Fragmin anticoagulant needles. All up, pharmaceuticals cost me just $31 from the Hospital.

The boot is an “MC Walker” with 5 velcro straps and a hinge, set at 30 degrees Plantar Flexion (toes pointed down). It’s a great weight for thigh exercises. I rest it on a towel so it doesn’t rip up the couch and pillows.

April 30th, 2013

30 April 2013: Discharge

I woke at 2:30am. YEEEOOOWWCHH!! Leg anaesthetic wore off. I buzzed the nurse… Panadol didn’t offer any relief but Tramadol did. Phew! I also found that there is a lot of mysterious beeping in Hospital.

My husband and mum arrived just before breakfast, which I happily consumed (except for the curious yellow, green and pink Egg Benedict). A physio gave me exercises (basically, squeeze thighs, buttocks and hips and take deep breaths) and crutch lessons, and a pharmacist gave me three levels of relief tablets and a box of anticoagulant needles for the next 19 days.

The surgeon stopped by to say it went well and will see me in two weeks, during which my leg must remain booted and Elevated. By lunchtime I was home. A week to recover at home, then I will attempt to return to work - luckily for my tendon, I have a desk job!

Leg was just a little painful this morning, took 2 Panamax tablets at breakfast and lunch, seems ok now.

April 30th, 2013

29 April 2013: Admission

The big day! Up early to check in by 6:30am to St Andrews Hospital. The staff are very friendly and welcoming.

Through a series of four waiting rooms, I said “See you later!” to my attendant loved ones and was surgery-prepared by washing my foot and dressing in a gown like the front half of a shirt.

A nurse tucked me into bed and wheeled me to Theatre just before 9am. Dr ML said Hi and described how he’d make an incision about 5cm long and PULL the tendon together. The anaesthetist said Hi and installed a Cannula in my arm, a brain monitor on my forehead (that really did “feel like Velcro”). The magic juice entered my body…

… and I woke up, groggy, some two hours later! As I drifted in and out of sleep I noticed my pulse monitor and other recovery beds, felt pain in my right leg (I told the nurse six out of ten but it went up to eight) and was given a tablet (Endone).

I was wheeled to a Ward and the blanket came off to show my recovering leg, securely packaged in my big black Velcro boot. It was elevated and felt fine (thanks to Endone!). I received caring visitors… before dropping off to sleep all day!

Here I would like to thank all who have commented on my humble little blog. It is exciting and encouraging to get new messages full of well wishes and advice! Thank you and Good Luck in your ATR recoveries too!

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