It’s been 4 years and 5 months since my ATR surgery. In many ways this injury was a life changing event. I often look back to life before and after that day!
So, before the ATR I used to be extremely athletic and I loved my Winter ski trips. Nothing spectacular, no slalom or moguls racing…I was just a mediocre skier with a passion for nature, snow and the great outdoors. Up to now I have not dared to ski. However I go to the gym often, I can still do moderates hikes and I can snow shoe, but my heart is set on a ski trip this Winter and I’m itching to take the plunge!
Unfortunately my operated leg remained smaller and weaker no matter how hard I worked and my balance is not very good. I know many of you deal with the same issues and hope that someone could share their thoughts and experiences on a return to the slopes. Am I dreaming too big for my own good? should I throw in the towel?
One important point: I was 55 years old at time of rupture, I am now 59 and I don’t want to break a bone!
For the past 3 months I’ve been absent from the blog. It seems more ladies have joined the club as of late. Certainly not a good thing, but since we are on the same journey, we might as well share our ATR experiences from the female perspective. There are a few things that are uniquely female…for instance wearing high heeled shoes. I really miss wearing my heels, and at 5′4″, I need all the help I can get with my heigth
For now, I’m sticking with the doctor recommended 2 inch heel until my leg gains more strength.
As a woman, one thing that really bothers me is the muscle atropy on my operated leg, which is 1.5cm smaller than my other leg.
And last, but not least, that reddish scar and the bumps that resulted from my tendon graft. I really hope none of you needed a tendon augmentation. Goodbye skirts and shorts, hello long pants…
I know we have much bigger problems to worry about than our appearance, but eventually we go back to a more normal life. And when we do, we all want to be as attractive as possible!
Dear ATR friends,
I have not posted my usual monthly updates in a while because I had nothing to report. Basically, I stopped seeing progress so I decided to wait until I had something more meaningful to share with my fellow ATR comrades. In my case, progress came to a halt at about six months post-op. I have seen little improvement in the past two months.
To give a brief synopsis for the newbies, I ruptured my left Achilles on Sep. 3rd and had surgery on Sept 16 (2011). The injury proved to be devastating and it threw my life upside down. As caveat, I may add I’ve never had serious illnesses or injuries, and my experience with pain up to the injury was limited to dentist visits.
Without a doubt, the ATR was and still is, the most difficult challenge I’ve ever had to face. I’m doing better these days, though I often wonder if I will ever regain the health and fitness status I enjoyed prior to the injury and right now it looks like it won’t happen.
My operated tendon is healing well. I no longer have pain or discomfort, and all that remains is some numbness on the outer foot due to nerve damage. However, the muscle atrophy and persistent weakness are bothersome, and not just because having one leg much smaller than the other is unattractive!
I have been working out with weights and purposely load with heavier weights on the left leg to attempt to bring it up to par with the stronger leg. As far as function, I am doing fairly well with the leg press, lunges and squats (machine, not free weight). But the atrophy seems a constant.
In addition, I still have tendinopathy in my other tendon. This has improved somewhat, and I think it may be due to my discipline doing the eccentric contractions. However, the fear of rupturing and going through the same all over again with my other tendon prevents me from enjoying activities I used to love such as hiking, running, jumping rope, doing stairs, dancing and hard core weight training.
As I have had to adjust my activity level and type of activity, I’ve had to learn how to enjoy other things (older people kind of stuff). I went on a much needed vacation to Canyon Ranch Spa and Resort in Miami Beach, where I had the chance to try all types of fitness classes. I tried spinning and liked it. Even though I will have to work on building my cardiovascular endurance, I can already tell this is going to be the exercise for me. It seems safe for both tendons! At no point I felt discomfort, even when standing on the bike, and best of all, my therapist said “Go for it”…
And that’s where I’m at these days. I wish everyone a speedy recovery, and look forward to reading your experiences.
I am 25 weeks post surgical repair on my left ATR and still healing.
My right ATR has been very sore, specially after any activity, even a short walk.
I went for an ultrasound and the surgeon said there is a hole in the tendon and it is very likely to rupture.
Worst of all, he said there is nothing that can be done to prevent or postpone the rupture. He is telling me to wait until it ruptures and then get surgery again.
The thought of going through this again is devastating.
I cannot eat or sleep, and all I think is how I am going to go through this again.
Hello ATR club,
I’ve been posting monthly updates on my recovery. Here are the positive points at five months (on Feb. 17) post ATR surgery:
- Less pain on the tendon when walking YEAY!
- Minimal swelling, minimal nerve pain
- I can go up and down stairs normally (big for me, as I live in a 3-level home)
- I have started a PT supervised workout program at my gym which includes lower body exercises with light weights and high repetitoins. I am doing 4 seats each of leg press, lunges, leg extensions, deadlifts and hamstrings curls. This has helped me a lot, specially with the emotional aspect of the recovery.
- I have “graduated” to 30 minutes on the stationary bike or the elyptical trainer and can do even a bit longer without pain.
- I can do 10 single heel raises in the pool, water level to waist.
- I’ve found a deep appreciation for the simple pleasure of walking barefoot.
And for the not so good:
- I cannot complete a single unassisted heel raise
- I still limp, specially after walking longer than 15 or 20 minutes.
- My calf, and entire leg, is atrophied.
- I still cannot do calf raises with weights
- I cannot wear high heels which is important to me.
- I am still doing two weekly therapy sessions while working full time in a demanding, high pressure job.
- I still think about this injury every day, and I still look for something good to come out of this, but I can’t find that…
Another month has passed and here I am updating my blog. First, I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories. Even though I do not post very often, this blog has been my daily companion since September 16, 2011.
This past month has brought little change. Considering my diligence with physical therapy, I expected definite progress. Unfortunately it seems my healing process has reached a plateau and I am stuck at the same low functional level as I was on December 17th.
When compared to my update one month ago, the only improvement I can report is the ability to walk downstairs… if the steps are relatively shallow. However, I still limp, even when walking slowly, I have pain with each single step and little pushoff strength so I walk as little as possible.
I also have substantial pain in the “good” tendon. The surgeon attributed this to the extended time using crutches which aggravated my pre-existing Achilles tendinopathy (been having issues for almost one year).
For the moment he cannot offer a solution. He suggested I do a little therapy, and once the surgically repaired achilles is strong, he will do a PRP treatment. On this note, the PRP treatment is not 100% guaranteed, and insurance does not cover, but at this point I will try anything that can give me a chance to live an active life.
At the personal level, and after much reflection, I have come to accept the losses and limitations I suffered with this injury. My life changed so dramatically and so quickly that I’ve had trouble adjusting. However, I am slowly adjusting. A book called “Injury, learning to live again” has been helpful. Though it is geared for car accident victims, it has some practical advise.
Good luck to everyone with their healing!
Today marks my 3-month ATR surgery anniversary so I decided to make a list of the good, the bad, and the ugly to refer to in three months from now.
Overall, the past two weeks have been positive. I started PT one month ago, and have seen steady, albeit slow, progress. To those of you who have been recently injured, do not be discouraged by my healing timeline. Everyone is different, and I am both, a slow healer, and an overly cautious patient.
Now, for the good:
- went to 2 shoes on Nov. 30
- pain from nerve damage is nearly gone
- incision line and surrounding skin appear healthy
- I’m regaining range of motion, calf strength and some flexibility
- I can carry out basic chores such as grocery shopping, laundry, minor house cleaning, without difficulty.
- I can walk upstairs normally.
- I can stand on the injured leg for 30 seconds.
- I can do single leg raises in the swimming pool.
For the not so good:
- I have little push off strength which causes me to limp.
- I still have some numbness on the outer side of my foot.
- Repaired tendon hurts if I walk longer than 15 minutes.
- Swelling/soreness at the end of the day.
- Unable to go downstairs normally, only one step at a time.
And the ugly can be summed in one word: fear.
Fear of rerupturing, fear of healing long, fear I’m pushing the tendon to much, or not enough.
And above all, fear of rupturing the good tendon. After such a long period PWB, my good tendon got overworked. It was already hurting me for quite some time before the ATR, and now it hurts even more. I am terrified of going through this again. And I keep wondering, do we ever truly heal, physically and psychologically, from such a life changing injury?
Today I want to thank all of you, my fellow ATR sufferers.
Because of you I am a bit more optimistic and far better informed. In my darkest days, this blog was my refuge, my companion, and my hope. Many of you gave me advice and support, and for that, I am grateful.
Things are looking better for me, today I took my first steps in two feet, barefoot on a soft carpet. My foot feels strange, my ankle weak, my balance uncertain.
But I have a vision, I can see myself, in a day not too far away, walking normally.
This too shall pass, stay hopeful!
I just started physical therapy, and the massage to break up adhesions is unbearable. My therapist works on my tendon and calf at the end of each session, and it is dreadful. He said I have to bear through it because the massage is essential to break up scarring and releasing skin that is “glued” to the tendon. Anyone with the same issue?
Today was my first day of physical therapy. My surgeon prescribed two sessions per week for ten weeks.
I will use the facility affiliated with my surgeon as I felt very comfortable with the therapist assigned to my case. He took several measurements and massaged my incision to break up unusually thick scar tissue that resulted from early wound complications. It hurt quite a bit, but felt good afterwards.
I spent 10 minutes on the bike without flexing my ankle and did some passive and active stretching.
The approach seems conservative but my therapist seems to know what he’s doing. He is currently treating five other Achilles. I am a bit behind my fellow sufferers, but in no rush…
It was a beautiful warm day in Southern Cali, so I decided to visit the pool, first day since my injury. It was truly liberating, and I plan to do it twice a week, even when the days get cooler. Now, I just have to manage getting out of the pool safely, it was a bit scary to come out and hold the rail with wet hands.