Progress Plateau Progress …

It’s been 17 weeks since my achilles tendon was repaired (Complete tear of tendon and significant calf muscle involvement).

I’m walk’in with no or barely noticeable limp (when I try to walk too fast) and can comfortably do normal daily activities. Driving can be a little painful (and cause a lot of swelling) if it’s for too long, it is in effect a strenuous rehab to keep the foot on the accelerator.

Net, I”m learning that recovery is non a linear path. Damn frustrating at times.  Here is a brief history of my recovery.

Had conservative recovery protocol after surgery, non-weight bearing for 9 weeks in hard cast and boot then transitioned from PWB to FWB in boot over 3 weeks. Finally began 2 shoes (with .25″ heel lift) in mid December, starting at an hour a day indoors.  Took about 3 weeks before I was able to be in 2 shoes full time (well 99%) including outdoors.

Now the boot is a memory although not tempting fate by tossing it!

Started structured PT after 12 weeks although did as much walking as pain would allow as soon as doc gave me the OK to PWB.

See physical therapist 2x per week for 1.5 hours per session plus 20 minutes of stretching every day and the gym 2-3x per week.  Do a lot of walking everyday and take care to do it the right way, driving off the ball of my repaired foot with every step.  I pay for that at night with swelling, my evening ice pack and bourbon have become a sacred ritual :)

Followed a modified rynab diet and supplement regime for the first 14 weeks, surprisingly still like jello although not 4 packs per week!

So why the blog post title Progress Plateau Progress…?  Because that is exactly what I’m experiencing now. Not complaining, was told this would happen, sort of like the retail 80/20 rule.  In 4 months I’ve come a long way, but that last bit (like running and jumping) will take another 4 - 8 months.

So to all you recovering ATR’s remember everyone’s recovery is different. But be forewarned that it’s a long slog, just like we were told it would be.

3 comments January 19th, 2012

14 Weeks, and the rest of my life to go

3 months since the start of recovery seems to be an important milestone for many of us. We’re mobile again (yeah!) with the use of both our hands (no more crutches) but walking remains an effort (boo!).

We can wear 2 shoes but finding the right ones is problematical since our injured leg changes shape throughout the day (swelling!). We can walk but to do so without a limp means walking more slowly than we’d like.

Some of us can even walk at a normal stride without a limp. But must concentrate to do so since the repaired leg does not have the fluidity of movement that the other one does. And there is a price to pay for walking for any length of time (RICE).

Nevertheless we’re happy to be doing all those things again after weeks of accommodation and inactivity but a brutal realization begins to take hold. No matter how positive we may be about recovery or assiduous about physical therapy, we’ll be recovering and rehabbing all of our lives.

I’m confident I’ll play tennis again, hike with a pack and do all those things I did pre ATR but there will always be a greater physical cost than before my injury.

I’m at the phase of recovery where I see progress everyday, especially after a strenuous PT session.  It continues to amaze me that every morning I can focus a little less on my repaired tendon.

I’m aware though that the rate of recovery will plateau and progress will happen more slowly. Then I’ll just have to keep reminding myself that it’s a marathon not a sprint.

2 comments January 2nd, 2012

Another great thing about sleep

I’ve discovered another great thing about sleep.  Every morning I’m walking better than the day before.  Is that cool or what!  Yeah I’m stating the obvious but it was not to me when I started walking in my boot 3 days ago.

I got the OK to start PWB  on Thanksgiving day and progress to FWB at a pace I’m comfortable with.  It’s been 8 weeks since surgery so my leg has been inactive for quite a while. After a few days I’m able to walk slowly without a crutch although do use it when outside.  I suppose waiting 8+ weeks before starting weight bearing does have some benefits.  Ankle flexibility is surprisingly good, it’s at zero degrees pretty easily.

I have no idea if this is appropriate progress or not but to me it’s wonderful having the use of my arms again.

During my NWB period I slept in the boot, which I hated.  Who’s comfortable sleeping with a high tech moon boot on a bunch of pillows?  I certainly was not.  Waking up in the morning was my own personal Ground Hog Day and like Bill Murray, I dreaded the the alarm knowing that today would be the same as yesterday, boot still attached.

Now waking up is great, no boot and walking better every day.  Of course the pace of recovery will soon become maddeningly slow but today I’m relishing the progression to becoming a fully functioning biped again.

Only things I’m not happy about are the popping sounds emanating from my cranky ankle and chronic knee soreness. But having not used the ankle or knee for 2 months that’s to be expected. Just have to remind myself that there is a lot of scar tissue to be broken up.  I’ve been through that before when rehabbing my knee 20 years ago. Ah the memories …

2 comments November 25th, 2011

8 Weeks Post Surgery Update

Have not been here for a while, the support and advice found in so many posts contributes to recovery, thank you everyone!

The good news is I’m healing well, my surgeon is more conservative than many at 8 weeks, so I’m just starting PWB but I should be transitioning to FWB within a week or two, Yippe!  The bad news is I lunged for that shot on the tennis court back in September which caused this mess but there is nothing for that now.  Lost the point too, damn.

My doc does not want me to start PT until I’m FWB and not using crutches at all, probably around 12 - 14 weeks.  Is that typical of many recovery timelines?  I’m comfortable with how things are going albeit with the usual frustrating moments so not going to change anything, just curious.

5 comments November 21st, 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

ATR Timeline

Recent Posts