Oct 15 2008

jacksprat

Running can improve AT healing

Filed under Blog History

Hi all,

I came across this post that may be of interest; it was a lab study that investigated exercise on lab rats and found that running can improve the strength of the AT: -

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1724906

I am officially cleared to start gentle jogging, although I cannot do a single leg toe raise but its improving.

2 weeks ago my PT cleared me to start toe raises, both feet and put as much weight as I can on the ATR leg. My ATR leg gets quite sore with this but I do see significant improvements. What I wasnt expecting was that my good AT has started mild aching since doing the toe raises. This fits in with what my surgeon said - a good AT doesnt rupture on its own, its a sign of injury, lack of exercise or degeneration (e.g. age). In which case I deduced that my good AT was likely to be weekened also.

I was keen to find out if my diet had contributed, I switched to high protein and low carbs after my injury. Lost 10lbs in weight but I wonder if the fat and carbs are needed to build the AT?

I also think my only hope is a gradual exercise plan that builds up my AT strength. A guy was told that it takes a lot longer to increase the AT strength compared to muscle strength; this can cause injury since the muscle can develop faster and so generate loads that the AT cant take. I will speak about this at my next PT session and possibly visit a local pro-sports clinic to get a food-exercise plan to restore my AT strength. I would love to know how pro-footballers (soccer) can be back playing after 6 months.

Im in 2 shoes and no wedges and I cant believe its over 3 months since my leg exploded. To anyone just starting this journey hang in there, it will gather pace and you will be up and about before you know it.

5 responses so far

Sep 13 2008

jacksprat

Pay less, get more…

Filed under Blog History

Hi all,
the following is an update I made to my “Health Care” page. If there is any mention to examples/tables please take a peek at this page.

I looked into this update yesterday and was really surprised by it. Please have a look and see what you think; I hope I havent made any mistakes. Data sources are included at bottom.

HEALTH CARE
Update-1 13 Sept. 2008

USA Private healthcare is significantly more expensive than nationalised healthcare based on percentage of GDP, by about 5% in these examples.

That means if the USA switched to a nationalised system it would save about 5% of its GDP every year and at the same time give everyone access to full healthcare. What would this mean for the USA as a whole?

FINANCIAL ASPECTS
The financial aspects are clear; from the data here for year 2007 the USA GDP was $13,815,008,000,000 (nearly $14trillion!). Healthcare costs were 15.2% of GDP or £2,099,881,216,000 (over $2trillion!) for 2007. If this cost was reduced by 5% of GDP to nationalised healthcare levels it would save $690,750,400,000 (nearly $700billion!) in 2007 and similar amounts every year!

Approximately half of that saving would be made by the government directly, giving it an additional $350billion every year to play with. Could cut taxes, build more hospitals, further research & technology, etc. These benefits would be huge. Increasing research could lead to fantastic breakthroughs in medicine, science and technology that would put the USA into warp-drive and send it streaking forward.

The other half of the $700billion saved would belong to US citizens (who pay insurance companies and make direct payments); you guys would have another $350billion per year to spend folks! How does that sound?

To give this figure some perspective, the GLOBAL loss due to the subprime debacle is put at $435billion as of July 2008. Whereas the amount saved by the USA in a single year using nationalised healthcare would be $700billion; enough to save the whole world from the subprime recession.

Another way to look at it is to consider the USA national debt, currently in the region of $9.7trillion. At a saving of $700billion per year (0.7trillion) that is equivalent to over 7% of the current national debt saved per year.

PEOPLE ASPECTS
Hand-in-hand with the huge financial benefits hinted at above, adopting a nationalised health care system would provide every citizen with full health care cover, when they need it and as often as they need it. No extra costs.

I dont ignore for one second that within nationalised healthcare there are some acute cases were treatment is not delivered or delayed. No healthcare system can provide every best treatment to every individual immediately.

But a national system is effectively a private system but with the profit aspect removed. Its objective is to help people, not make a profit. It also would allow everyone access to a high level of healthcare.

This would be of immediate benefit to nearly 50million Americans without health insurance. Thats 1 out every 6 people!

But even those with health insurance would feel a huge benefit; no longer having to worry about selling their house to pay for medical treatment, working 3 jobs, or choosing partial treatment becase it is the cheapest. When sick all there would be to think about is getting better and not about the bills that may drop in the mail.

The people would be kept physically and mentally healthier. There is a good chance that in addition to making US citizens healthier and happier this would also make them more productive, since rested, happy and healthy workers often do more and faster.

SUMMARY
I was curious about different healthcare systems in various countries. Seeing the number of comments on this website related to costs in the USA made me look at the USA first. I was surprised when I saw the figures. Even if not exact their implication is clear.

The USA healthcare system has a profound impact on the health of the people of the USA but also on the strength of the USA as a country competing in the world.

The effect of the current US healthcare system compared to using a nationalised one is to divert every year an incredible amount of cash that could be spent elsewhere, or saved for a rainy day. Something like $700billion could be saved every year, while increasing the health service to include all citizens with no bills when treated.

Not only does the current private system fail to deliver full healthcare to all U.S. citizens but it is costing 50% more than some of the best national systems.

In short, the current US healthcare system is actually weakening the USA as a nation, but providing a few individuals or businesses with huge profits. Good for them but not for the country as a whole, I would say.

If the USA was a sprinter its healthcare system would be running shoes made of gold and diamonds; the US jeweller makes a mint but the sprinter may as well be wearing shoes made of lead.

A well implemented nationalised health care system would provide full healthcare for all, be 33% cheaper and free the USA to leap ahead.

References
1)
Subprime Mortgages
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subprime_mortgage_crisis

2)
USA national debt
http://zfacts.com/p/461.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt

3)
External Debt
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/External_debt

3 responses so far

Aug 20 2008

jacksprat

A good AT doesnt rupture?

Filed under Blog History

Hi all,

I saw a member of my surgeons team this week; he was very happy with the progress of my AT (phew!). He also told me that a normal, healthy AT does not rupture by itself, unless cut, kicked, etc.

I was wondering if anyone has other information on this? If he is right that means my AT was defective for some reason (lack of exercise, age). I hadnt done anything for all 2007 and was making a gentle entry into sports again when my leg blew. I’m past my best at 42 but surely i should be able to play sports at this age if Im in the right condition? Or maybe my AT’s have gone past their “sell-by” date and will just be weaker no matter what I do?

He also said the outstanding typical case for an ATR was a middle aged man, with a desk job, who played squash (or sport) once per week. I asked “and what about someone like me?” to which his deadpan-face stared me in the eye, for some reason :-)

This statement really gets my attention because it means that probably both my AT’s are defective and at risk during dynamic sports. I dont want an ATR in my good leg in my comeback game. One blow-out is enough.

I feel my total lack of exercise in 2007 rotted my body; I saw and felt my body age. At the time I put it down to lack of sleep but I now believe my body rotted away in that period. This gives me hope…

My hope is that the AT condition, like muscle, can be toned by sustained gradual exercise. My problem, I hope, is that my body went limp and in trying to get back into shape I did “too much, too soon”. If I had taken a more gradual increase in sport I would have strengthened the AT to the point where it would not have blown.

Does anyone have a view on this?

I am still hoping that I can build strength in my AT’s through gradual increasing exercise, to the point where it will be safe to play dynamic sports again.

What also gives me belief in this is that in my experience of intense sports when younger, players who got a serious injury (and hence didnt exercise for a long period) were likely to pick up more when they came back.

I wondered what all your views where on this concept?

8 responses so far

Aug 16 2008

jacksprat

Taste of Freedom

Filed under Blog History

I made the most of my new found freedom and watched my local football team Bristol City play today. To be out under my own steam, amongst lots of people enjoying themselves outdoors was a great feeling.

I owe a big thank you to Wendy at Bristol City Football Club for taking the time earlier this week to find me a seat for the game that was going to be the most convenient for someone wearing a boot and using a crutch. She even opened up the ground and took me through to view the available seats. The seat she found was great and made today possible. My normal seat is in the middle of a row, I would have had to slither past everybody to get there, not easy in a boot and on a crutch, especially as to squeeze past people in their seat you need to be either a snake or a size zero supermodel. Wendy you are a star!

Weeks of NWB is frustrating and depressing, as you all know. But to everyone still in the NWB phase “hang in there”, it is worth the wait. Dont beat yourself up and dont feel alone when frustration and blues wash over you like a relentless tide; its expected, its normal but just remember it will end sooner than you think right now.

I even think my ATR experience is even making me a better person! Certainly I get less irritated when driving; doesnt matter how crazy people are, or how hot tempered they are, I just feel so glad to be out driving myself there is no way Im going to even raise my eyebrows; its all insignificant compared to me being out on my own steam again. The ship has finally left port!

My recovery has taken a boost recently, better than was expected. After being in a cast for 4 weeks I got the boot, but my ankle was locked with a tiny amount of movement. I was told I was at least 2-3 weeks behind were I should be, because the cast should only have been on for 2 weeks and then the boot fitted and PT started soon after.

My first PT didnt excite me. My foot moved small amounts and the exercises seemed the minimum to be asked. I felt it was going to be slow progress. But then the sun began to shine.

Only one week after getting the boot and having my first PT, I had major movement back in the ankle but even more encouraging to me I could easily walk in the boot without crutches. The leg felt really solid. I also got permission to drive long distance in the boot. To play safe I will use one crutch until week 8. Those little exercises everyday paid off.

The scar has healed well but will leave a very dark scar; Im dark skinned and dark skin scars badly more easily. In the boot the leg feels bullet proof but outside of it is a different story. The limiting factor in flexing my foot is stiffness in my ankle, not the AT. But I do feel the AT if I push a little and the ankle/foot are still swollen. Got to keep on with the toe wriggling and cold packs. Its clear my leg is vulnerable and Im very careful with it out of the boot. That said I can actually walk comfortably with no crutches and no boot and that has amazed me. I only do it indoors, e.g. kitchen or bathroom, but that has sent my happiness soaring, week 6 post Op. I keep the leg straight to avoid any accidental over flexing at the ankle and overstressing the ATR repair, so I have a definite Frankenstein limp :-)

So the last week has been a real surprise and a sudden turning point. To anyone feeling low, try and remember that your turning point is right around the corner, waiting for you. Keep plowing along and you will get there.

One last note, I found a great convenient way to flatten my “Buddha Belly”. While doing my foot exercises at night, I was sat on my bed, pillows behind me resting my back against the headboard. I found the exercises more comfortable with my leg slightly raised an inch or two. Then I raised my good leg to compare the ROM. With both legs slightly raised I needed to reach behind my shoulders and grab the headboard. I raised both legs a bit, did the exercise, then lowered both legs. Wow! I really got to feel it in my lower stomach. Great - stomach exercises in bed! The ideal for any couch potatoe or “bed bug” :-) I do it immediately before sleeping and immediately after waking, in a few minutes.

Also, my diet is paying off, I have definitely lost pounds from my waist which is where you need to lose it (recent news was that, at least for men, the waistline ratio to height is the significant indicator for healthy weight, not the BMI (too simple, doest not take account of muscle for example).

3 responses so far

Aug 06 2008

jacksprat

The Boot is in da house!

Filed under Blog History

I finally got the boot yesterday :-) 4 wks post op. Its great to be able to see my leg/foot after all this time. Being able to wash the leg feels great, a treat. Best of all is I was told I could sleep without the boot, which I did last night; a bit nervous at first but it felt G-O-O-D, like my leg had been set free. PS. Ive had trouble getting to sleep since my ATR, dont know why. I had insominia last year but started to get rid of it by changing some habits (e.g. no computer just before bed!).

Had my first Physio today. He checked my ROM (up-down, out-in) and was very happy although the pull-up looked tiny to me (stiff ankle and the AT starts to feel like Im ripping it if I go a fraction too far; he said only go as far as is comfortable). He gave me some simple exercises to do and stressed not to feel like Im forcing the foot to do anything; the goal is to losen the ankle gradually and build up the ROM. He also said I can go 50% PWB which I am happy about, seems like a big step but I feel totally comfortable doing it. It also gave some tips on walking with the crutches and is encouraging to put my good foot infront of the bad one, instead of just in line with it.

The leg feels solid but I find it awkward walking in the boot; it is raised higher than my right foot and is a bit on the large side about an inch and a half beyond my toes. I could go monoskiing if I could get to a lake :-) I look like RoboCop!

Im happy and feel like buying some champagne, but being drunk on crutches isnt a good idea :-) Maybe a nice chilled beer for now.

My next Physio appointment is 3 weeks away (should be 2 but he is on holiday) and I have to call the cast/boot people to make appointmemts for them to adjust the foot angle every now and again. I really feel like Im getting somewhere now.

 I am H-a -P-p-Y.

There is a slight downside; I was annoyed to find out that at the 1st post Op check (2 weeks ago) the cast technician took it upon himself to put me back in a 2nd cast instead of the boot at 20deg, as the surgeon had told him and as per the hospital procedure hanging on the wall (states clearly that at 2 wks post op. patients go in the boot at 20deg). He also lied to me because I thought I overheard the surgeon tell him to put me in the boot, before he left. The technician then also left and came back and started putting a new cast on. “But wait” I said, “did not the surgeon tell you to put me in the boot?”. “No” said the technician “thats after another 2 weeks in the cast”. I figured he wouldnt lie to me and that I must only of heard part of what was said. Nearly a week later the Physio dept. contacted me to start the next day. I told them I was still in a cast, but they thought I was in the boot. They gave me an appointment for one week later but on my query said it was normal to be in the boot at this time. A day or so later I got a copy of the surgeon’s report from the frist check and clear as day he states I am now in the boot at 20deg. I go a few days later to get my cast off and see another technician who looks the business from my hospital days and I trust her. She is suprised to see me in another cast and I tell her the story. She points to a plastic wallet by the wall; it is the hospital process for treatment and clearly states the boot after 2 weeks post Op. She is going to tear a strip off the guy who put me in the cast and I am writing a letter of complaint to my surgeon to pass on. Because I have been in a cast for 4 weeks not 2 my foot is really stiff and I had to have extra-wedges in the heel.

So Im glad to be where I am, but I should have been here weeks ago. The moral of this story is always go to the horses mouth and make sure the surgeon explains directly to you what is to happen. Now, where’s that beer! Cheer’s to my fellow ATR compadre’s :-) Life is Good! Remember, every tick of the clock is a step forward!

3 responses so far

Aug 02 2008

jacksprat

Beat the boredom?

Filed under Blog History

Folks,

you have no doubt (at least at some point in your ATR journey) been so bored that you have taken to reading the phone book, or telephoning the speaking clock to hear a voice, or similar desperate stuff that you thought you would never do.

I am a bookworm and could read my life away if Im not careful. There are many good books out there but also even more poor ones. Finding a book you cant put down isnt as easy as it sounds. But with a good book I can disappear for days and resurface needing a good shave. Been like that since I was a kid; I would find a book and crawl into it and enter another world. With this in mind I will start a new page to cover books of a general type that I would recommend as a good read. Likewise for DVD’s.

I find TV irritating. It is like a hot dog - 10% meat and 90% crap, but it tastes great and you could eat a load of it. Just like a Hot dog, TV should not be ingested too often (thats how I feel). I used to have it on all the time, just as background noise; it was habit and I thought nothing of it. But then I discovered radio. I think radio is far superior to TV. Radio has its junk but it seems in less concentration. Each station is clearly themed and its easy therefore to find something that fits your mood. And through radio I discovered classical music. I couldnt name a single piece of classical music but I like lots of it. I hated it as a kid and thought anyone who liked it was faking it, just trying to look clever. But I tell you, find a good classical station, flick it on and it will relax you far more than TV. I dont like all classical but a lot of it is easy listening, ideal background to sooth and calm. I would rather have a radio than a TV anyday.

I started leaving the TV off and the classical radio on. The difference in my stress level was humongous. I found just having the TV off allowed me to relax a huge amount more. Then I kept the classical radio on and I was just taken to a new level of calm, peace and tranquility. I really didnt see it coming but I realised TV made me hyper and radio sedated me. I listen to Classic FM (UK) mostly, plus “thejazz”, “Smooth FM”, radio4 (current affairs, news, drama) and occasionally more lively “pop” type stations. Ditch TV and try radio, I bet it works.

Apart from reading, music/radio or DVD/TV, which are easily done whilst in solitary confinement, there is a need for some sort of interaction with living things. Cats or dogs are a great help; you can talk to them, therapeutically stroke them, pat them, play with them and get an immediate response.

Having a garden is also a valuable outlet. You can retreat to your little oasis of colour and scent, listen to the breeze gently ruffling through the trees, or the birds that visit and scurry around or sing effortlessly to their hearts content. Even in bad weather its possible to nudge open a window and hear the patter of raindrops on the outstretched leaves grasping for water.

Having a partner must also be a blessing; regular chats, empathy and fun. Any movie is twice as good if you dont watch it alone.

But I guess a lot of people have none of these things. Interaction with people, or with pets or with nature is what breaks the isolation of our daily solitary confinement. Interaction, to break the relentless observation (of music, TV or books), makes a big difference to the day. Thats where sites like this are invaluable, a place to communicate and interact with others.

As well as providing a ton of really useful information, this site has a fun side to it and even better has access to people who understand just how you are feeling and will support and encourage you through your ATR journey.

But all this made me think of how much I miss some simple things, like games. Games are a fun way to interact with others. Everyone likes some sort of game; Monopoly, cards, dominoes, darts, backgammon, etc.

There is one game for me that stands above all others; an elegant game that can be as fun or as serious as you make it. If you are thinking “Twister” at this point in time, or ”Poker” then I hope you are not too disappointed in my answer (as much as I like those games too). For me I think Chess is a wonderful game. I know its associated with egg-heads who live in a cave so they can isolate themselves from humanity and study endless permutations of moves. But its a game for everyone and its philosophy has many applications. Its also fun.

Apart from the intrigue of trying to figure out what your opponent is up to and the satisfaction of outfoxing your adversary there is also a much more simple reason I like chess. Chess sets can be a wonderful piece of furniture. Even if you never move a piece, a nice chess set will eminate its own presence in a room. Especially some of the more artistic sets, with ornate and spectacular characters.

Another useful side-affect is that if someone steps into my abode and see’s an elegant chess set with pieces randomly scattered (careful with the King!) to impersonate a mega-mind tussling battle with a Moriarty type nemisis, they will be impressed and think me of sophisticated manner. Sadly, it wouldnt last long though!

By the way, I found a great place to buy some fantastic chess sets. I promise you, even if you hate the game I bet you would still want to have some of these sets decorating your homestead. Lots of choice, but my favourites can be found on the page in the link below. I dont have the space to leave out a nice chess furniture but if anyone should grab one of these please tell me what they are like in the flesh!

http://www.chessmove.co.uk/catalogues/browse_categories.asp?CatalogueID=178&CategoryID=4022

The jist of me tale is, does anyone know of sites that allow you to play games online in real time? I dont mean the online gambling scene; the last thing I want to advocate is for everyone to become gamble-aholics and end up losing their house to some Casino or bingo hall. But friendly, preferably free, sites with simple games aimed at fun and nothing else. Could a few games be added to this site to allow members to have a social game of Gin Rummy or something? Just wondering.

Perhaps it would reverse my new addiction to online window shopping. Ive found everything Im going to need for the next year, and then some. Ive moved on from searching for necessaties like a new scarf for winter, socks or a few new shirts for work and become seduced by the darkside of the online convenience force and started looking for anything that will give me an excuse to go online. Luckily, there is still hope; I havent bought the special eco-toilet paper that lets you use both sides. My ATR is turning me into an internet junkie. Or perhaps I was one before and didnt know it?

4 responses so far

Jul 29 2008

jacksprat

I have a question…

Filed under Blog History

Folks,

I had my frist post Op. last week and was told things had gone well; the surgeon requested I go to the boot but the cast person put me in a 2nd cast for 2 more weeks, to be safe. I should get the boot on Tue 5th Aug and physio starts the next day.

I just read a copy of the surgeons report from that first check and it states that the Simmons test is negative. I read on the internet that the Simmons test is the pinching of the calf to see if the foot twitches (also called the Thompson test).

I assume the result of negative means no twitching of the foot, which is bad isnt it?

Does anyone know if this is a bad sign for recovery?

4 responses so far

Jul 24 2008

jacksprat

The Wrong Shoes

Filed under Blog History

WEEK-04: My Good Leg Goes Bad

On Thursday after my 1st post Op. check on Monday, 2 wks post Op. and 3 weeks post ATR, my good leg takes a dive.

The strain of constantly having to balance on one leg while washing, preparing food, etc. has caught up with me. My good leg and foot are hurting to the extent I cannot walk on the good leg and can just about stand up.

The good foot hurts along the sole on a thin line; the ankle and lower leg hurt when I walk on the leg and lesser pain when I stand. I think this due to the tensing up they do when Im balancing on the leg to do things; hopefully a couple of days rest will put it right. But now Im totally immobile, chained to my bed, luckily my link to the outside world, my laptop, is close by.

I also think my footwear is a factor; I always wear my slipper indoors and although it has a raised sole like a shoe it doesnt offer much support. From now on I will wear a training shoe indoors.

I am bored, bored, bored.

I have also decided I wont be playing soccer again; I will be at least 43 when Im fully recovered and I never want an ATR again! I may take up coaching a youth team or just have a kick-about with friends at the park. BUt no more twisting and turning for me. I will stick with the gym, jogging, cycling and skipping (when done properly is very low impact, your foot is only an inch off the ground). Or thats how I feel today anyway.

Im hitting the books. I read with interest Kelly Holmes AT episode and recovery. Kelly won 800m & 1500m Olympic golds in 2004 aged 34, but she had many injuries including a torn AT in about July 1997. It wasnt a full blown rupture and was treated in a cast with no surgery. But by end of the year there was no running. The scar later thickened and required surgery to remove some of it. By May the following year she was still not able to run properly (foot locked) and went to see a physio in Limerick, Ireland. After 6 weeks he had her running and she competed in the Commonwealth Games in September (she won a 1500m silver medal), just over 1 year after the AT tear. Part of the physio included massaging her calf with his elbows, which was very painful but paid off in the end.

On a completely different note, I am also fascinated by history and ordered 2 books on the Blitz of my home city Liverpool during WWII. Liverpool was a major port for Atlantic ships and was the most bombed city after London, when Hitler tried to shutdown the ports keeping Britain alive. The worst bombing was in the first week of May 1941, each night 1st - 7th May. The devastation is vast, something like 1,700 killed, 1,100 injured and aout 90,000 people made homeless. My Mother joined the army at 17 as a gun aimer on anti-aircraft guns. How people took such routine devastation for so long is unbelievable and it puts my woes into perspective.

I also have done a little research about my mothers youngest brother who was killed when his merchant boat was torpedoed in 1940. His ship “The Kyleglen” was sunk on December 14th 1940 by U-100 commanded by Joachim Schepke who, although killed when U-100 was sunk on 17th March 1941 (by the first surface ramming using radar guidance), he was the 11th highest U-Boat commander of the war.

When you have a computer and time on your hands its fascinating what you can find out.

On a more uplifting note I am expecting 3 short books including “Treat Yourself To Life” which basically cover concepts for imrpoving your mental awareness and attitude to living.

The NFL isnt renowned for philosophy but I heard something profund one day on a rare TV broadcast in UK. The commentator talking about a player said “In life, its 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it”. How true that is.

5 responses so far

Jul 21 2008

jacksprat

First Post Op

Filed under Blog History

Had my first post Op today, 21st July 08, 2 weeks post Op; plaster off and stitches removed. All looked OK. The Consultant wanted to put me in the boot but the guy doing the plastering has replastered my leg; when I asked why he said to protect the scar and I am to come back in 2 weeks for a boot assessment with them. I will see the consultant again in 6 weeks.

Although the boot can be taken off for showering apparently I would still have to sleep with the boot on, which is more bulky and uncomfortable than the plaster (fibreglass actually; very neat and light).

Does anyone sleep with the boot off so soon after first Op? Just curious.

So dissappointed not to get the boot (its seems an ATR recovery milestone) but the surgery & healing seems to have gone well. I actually fell onto my bad leg 2 days after surgery (my first night home) when I slipped on a sink splash in the bathroom. Glad to see thats not done any apparent damage.

I will have an appointment about every 2 weeks  to get the foot adjusted back toward 90deg. Only slight muscle wastage on calf, I was expecting a lot more.

Whats the opinion? Is the boot better than plaster?

5 responses so far

Jul 17 2008

jacksprat

First Treatment

Filed under Blog History

I blew my Achilles on 2nd July 2008 at around 6pm, playing football (soccer). By the way, I live in Bristol, UK. This blog will detail how my ATR was treated initially.

If there is more than one way to skin a cat it seems there is a thousand ways to treat an ATR, all based around the same two principles of either wrap the leg in a cast, leave in the oven for about 8 weeks and let it knit itself back together; the other way is to have the Achilles stitched back together in an operation. I guess we all heal differently and I also guess surgeons are like musicians in that when asked to play a tune they will all give a slightly different rendition.

I managed to drive myself home at about 6.30pm, very gingerly and luckily with not far to go. The injury was to my left leg (operating the clutch), so I could brake safely with my right leg. It’s the only time in my life I wished I had an automatic car.

The first thing I did was phone the national health help line. Gave them the gen and the guy confirmed what I dreaded - its probably an ATR, go directly to Hospital and forget about soccer for the next 6 months at least. I called a cab and took a 5 minute ride to the BRI in Bristol centre and reported to the Accident & Emergency unit. Luckily it was not that busy just a few people and one young “VIP” with police officers on either side.

After only about 15minutes I was looked at by a male nurse. He did an examination including the pinch test on the calf; a pinch on my good leg made the attached foot jump, on the bad leg the foot did nothing. It looks like a complete tear I was told. I got to see an orthopaedic doctor at about mid-night; the ATR diagnosis was confirmed and he made an appointment for me to see a Consultant at the hospital 5 days later on Monday.

At this point I was informed about the possible treatments (cast or surgery). Surgery was more robust repair and cast for middle aged dudes (or dudettes) who may not be that active. I was warned of the risks of surgery (infection, not waking up from the anaesthetic type stuff, etc.) but I knew I wanted the best fix possible because I may be past my best but I ain’t ready to became a walking corpse just yet. I also was aware that one treatment (cast) was a heck of a lot simpler and cheaper than the other. Despite the slight feeling of guilt I said I would favour surgery.  My leg was put in a cast, I was given crutches and I went home in a taxi.

Being on crutches is a pain in the rear and being NWB (Non-Weight Bearing) makes it a royal pain in the rear. You all probably know what Im talking about but one of the things I want to get my friends to do is try brushing their teeth while standing on one leg; I bet they don’t finish before they drop the other leg. Swinging through your crutches everywhere you now feel like a jungle chimp swinging through tree’s to get around. Except a chimp is made for it and people aren’t (unless you’re a gymnast, or trapeze act).

So you’re arms that normally only have to carry a couple of shopping bags from the grocery store once per week now have to handle carrying 195lbs of dude (in my case) approximately every other second while in motion. Want to open the window? Swing, swing, swing then jiggle out of your portable “tree’s”, open window, climb back into your “tree’s”, swing, swing, swing back to your seat. That one act has led you to supporting 195lbs 6-7 times in 2 minutes. Its tiring effectively swinging every where. On the plus side, you will have arms like Popeye in no time and can begin a new career as a professional arm wrestler; this may not be what some ladies desire but at least no one will pick on you at the beach.

Its also impossible to do simple everyday things. Want a drink? Fine, hop to the fridge (refrigerator) swinging through you’re “tree’s”. Then stand on one leg, open fridge, get drink pour in glass, put drink back. Hopefully youre quite happy drinking your glass of juice where you stand because you have virtually no way to carry your drink anywhere while swinging on crutches.

I went to work by taxi on the Friday, eager to escape the monotony and isolation of being stuck at home. Got lots of sympathy and help from people in my office. But I couldnt elevate my foot and the toes looked like bananas. I didnt stay long despite my high hopes of doing a full day, saw my boss (who was great in that he didnt try and coerce in me into working too soon) and then I headed home.

I tell you this reaction at work is worth a million. Although I am self employed and dont get paid when Im not working (whatever the reason, sickness or holiday) it was reassuring to know my colleagues and boss recognised my condition. If you have been lucky enough to have lived all your life in such civilised environments its a million miles from some offices I have worked in. Notably a time on a multi-national project on the EU continent when the day before flying to a meeting of my system I was vomiting at work and had trouble standing upright becasue of extreme dizziness. I reported to my immediate manager my condition and that the meeting would need to be postponed. His response was not “get well soon” but “Im not having this!”. “No” I thought, “you are not having this, I am, you idiot, but I really would like you to have it”. Being self employed on contract at the time, with the unspoken threat of having your contract terminated I went to the meeting. Back to the ATR story …

The Consultant was non-too happy with the cast (I dont think my foot was pointing down enough) I told him I wanted surgery (by now I had looked it up on the web; oh yes surgery is statistically by far the better fix but with some extra risks). He took the cast off (good to ditch the weight of the plaster) and sent me home to await his call in next day or so for the surgery. I got the call the next morning.

Had surgery on Tues 8th July 2008.

Coming to after the Op. my eyes where still closed but my hearing was picking up OK. I heard someone close to me say “They think they fractured his left hand in theatre and will take an X-ray”. Then I felt someone slide something under my left hand and everyone was told to stand clear, before it was removed again. When I fully recovered I was in a different part of the hospital away from the Operating Theatre. I heard a staff member whisper over at the side “They dropped him in theatre and thought they fractured his hand”! My left hand was a little swollen on the back but I felt no pain, including from my ATR. In case anyone has visions of 195lb guy plopping on the floor of theatre I should add that for the surgery they had to transfer me to another bed onto my stomach; this bed came while I was knocked out so they would have had to lift me from one bed to another. According to Health & Safety regulations they should have used a fork-lift truck for the load lifted, but they probably managed with a “1-2-3 Lift!”. My guess is they dropped me onto one bed during a transfer; if I’d have made it all they way to the floor I would definitely have more than a swollen left hand. I need to ask about this at my first check on Monday 21st July.
I spent a couple of nights in hospital and was discharged on the Thursday 10th July. Getting a taxi home, I had to keep my left leg off the floor, which wasn’t easy. Luckily it was only a 10minute ride, or would have been if the cab driver hadn’t got a call on his mobile. Having not invested in a hands-free kit the driver pulled over to the side. I figured he would say “call you back” and drive on. Instead he went into detail about the status of his property purchase in Spain. I gave hints about my leg and he kept nodding but he also kept talking. “I need to go home 5 minutes away; call him back before my leg hits the floor and my crutch somehow acquires the exact contours of your amazingly dense head” (OK, I only thought the last part). He nodded again and just as he wrapped-up his Spanish property saga and I thought we would now get under way he chips in “Oh and how are my shares?”. At this point I wanted to be bitten by a radioactive insect and turn into the Incredible Hulk and thus investigate how far his head could travel from his shoulders before he went limp. “I need to go now, call that guy back”. Amazing! Funny when I look back at it, but I wanted to kill him at the time.

So here I am, 2 weeks from ATR and 1.5 weeks from Surgery. I hope they do a thorough check on Monday and can tell me how the Surgery went. Then I will ask about the pain in my left hand (wink, wink!) ;-)

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