Mama said there’d be days like this

Am finally FWB in a boot, no crutches. Had a very active day yesterday climbing stairs, lots of walking inside and out. By 6PM had significant swelling and pain at repaired tendon with tendonitus on my “good” leg. Spent the evening following RICE and it’s much better today. Expect this to be a pattern for a while, need to add a finger of bourbon to the treatment.

No pain no gain. Since I’m still in a boot there is not much of a chance of injury so will just keep clumping along. Using a .5″ lift in my other shoe to compensate for the height difference with the boot. Am taking care to walk normally without cheating so my gait is slow but don’t want to be limping 6 months from now.

I’m on a slow recovery path (9 weeks since surgery) but that’s OK since I can walk now, go to the gym and mostly be a biped again.

@ryanb Am following some of your advice regarding supplements, especially jello. Do about 5 packs a week, do you actually cook yours or drink it as a liquid?  Some people drink it straight but I’m not that good. Luckily I actually like the stuff although not a big fan of sugar-free but for now that’s what I use. I add 4 oz of fruit juice per pack to give it body and kill the taste of the artificial sweetener. You mentioned it has helped your hair, here’s hoping it will facilitate growth :)

1 comment December 2nd, 2011

A subtle recovery milestone

Well it’s 2.5 weeks post surgery.  Only reason I’m even mentioning it is I noticed a subtle but positive milestone in recovery.  I’m still in a hard cast and will be for another 5 to 6 weeks.  But my leg feels different … in a good way.  Sort of “whole” for the first time since the injury.  Might be some wishful thinking but I’ll take it!

3 comments October 14th, 2011

Advice about wheel chair

Am thinking about getting a wheelchair for a month to scuttle about the house.  Bringing a coffee from the kitchen to another room is a challenge on crutches!  The issue is not about avoiding crutches, I’m pretty good on them and do not lack the upper body strength to maneuver easily.  Rather just thought it would be more efficient to get about, I work from home so setting up a temporary office in the living room seems like a good idea.

I’m giving myself a week to get some strength back and then I’d like to  spend a few hours a day being productive.

5 comments September 29th, 2011

24 hours after surgery

Day one of recovery.  I’m  lounging in the den easy chair ruminating (through a drug induced pain med torpor) about how this injury will change things.  First a report on the surgery; the good news is the surgeon was able to repair and reattach the AT.  The bad news is the tear was at the tendon-calf muscle connection and the tendon was in his words, shredded in a manner he had never seen before.  And he has a lot of experience with this surgery, in addition to having suffered the same injury.

I’ve no illusions that my rehab will be long, everyone that has this type of injury is.  And, rehab and conditioning will be a life-long commitment, like it or not that is the reality of ATR’s.  Will I ever play tennis again, who knows?  And if so at what level or pace?  Running, back country hiking?  We’ll see.  I’m fiercely committed to restoring my body to the best functionality possible, at the very least to be able to navigate briskly throughout the day without giving thought to my leg.

Leg injuries are no stranger to me.  As a young sprite (8 yrs) I was on crutches for 9 months, I’ve had cartilage torn and repaired in both knees and the usual bangs and bruises of an active kid growing up in the 60’s (I’m 56).  What makes this injury different is the timing.  I’ve logged more years till now than I’ll log in the future.  Now there is a reality kick in the pants!  I’ve never appreciated time as much as I should have, and this event is certainly a life changing wakeup call.  Never really understood till now how one’s life can change in an instant.

See the doc next week for the first of what will be many medical/rehab appointments.  Had a dream last night of re-injuring my leg but I suppose that is not an uncommon fear.  Can’t let it overwhelm me but need to be realistic about what I can and can’t do and the pace of recovery.

September 28th, 2011

New member to ATR club

I’m a new member to the ATR club, tore mine September 18.  My story is pretty similar to most; while playing tennis I felt and heard the discouraging snap on the back of my lower leg (right) and immediately had a pretty good idea what happened.  The injury has not been particularly painful outside of the initial discomfort and shock and I was pretty good about following the RICE protocol for the first 48 hours.

Less than 2 days after the event I was diagnosed by an orthopedic surgeon that sure enough I tore the achilles tendon, no surprise there.  She recommended not to have surgery because of my age (56) and stating recent studies indicate there is not a meaningful difference in length or quality of recovery between surgically repaired achilles tendons and those that are immobilized and allowed to heal on their own.  All this information in less than 15 minutes!

I was given an immobilizing boot and told to expect to wear it for 10 - 12 weeks and to return in 4 weeks for a followup.  My concern leaving the practice was the treatment seemed to be different than what is discussed on achillesblog site.

Specifically I was allowed to weight bear, my ankle is in a 90 degree position and, the decision between surgery versus noninvasive treatment is more complex than the physician led me to believe.  Net, my sense was the doc saw me as a middle aged guy who’s not going to be very active so did not give the diagnosis or treatment options much thought.

Since my initial diagnosis I’ve seen two sports medicine orthopedic specialists, one in non-invasive treatment, the other a surgeon that does ATR reconstructions regularly.  Also I had an MRI to accurately gauge the severity of the injury.  Turns out the tear is 100%; there is a wide gap (4 - 5 cm) between the two ends and more to the point it is quite high up, near where the tendon meets the calf muscle which is not the typical location the achilles tendon usually ruptures.  Leave it to me to be a statistical outlier.

For my treatment I’ve chosen surgery (and of course lots of rehab) because even the non-invasive specialist said that was my best option.  So fellow ATR club members, the deed will be done on September 27 in a Philadelphia hospital.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this experience to date is be your own medical treatment advocate.  Oh and be married to an amazing wife who knows the medical system and got me appointments with the right people on short notice.

Like all of you, I’m not looking forward to the next 4 - 6 weeks when I expect to be in a cast and later a boot.  Not to mention since it’s my right leg I cannot drive until I’m out of any immobilizing apparatus!  And I’m fully sanguine that daily rehab will be part of my routine for a very long time.  But given the choice to be active through my doddering old age or not than … ya do what ya gotta do.

Will update this blog when I’m a few days past the procedure.

6 comments September 24th, 2011

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