Question for the ladies about girly shoes

Posted on October 11th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

It has now been 23 weeks since my ATR (22 since surgery).

I have been two shoes for 17 weeks, and was released from PT two months ago.

I am lucky enough to work in an environment that allows me to wear my tennis shoes all day.  Although my foot does get stiff, and my tendon needs a bit of stretching in the morning, I think I am doing really well and have no visible limp.

I wore heels tonight for the first time since ‘the incident’.  They were about 1 1/2 inches, had a very thick base, and I only had them on for a couple of hours (total walking time was about 15 minutes).  Walking in them made me feel like I had no muscle in my calf and I really had to concentrate on not limping.  (I won’t even mention the back of the shoe rubbing on my scar - that just can’t be helped.)

Now, my foot and ankle are swollen to the point that I can barely rotate my foot, and I am having cramps in my calf.

I am so tired of wearing tennis shoes everywhere, and want to dress like a girl again.

How long did it take for you other ladies to be able to wear heels comfortably?

Thanks - Joan

I’m Free!!

Posted on August 30th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

Yesterday, exactly 14 weeks after surgery for a full ATR, I was released from Physical therapy.

My PT has determined that I have met all of my goals and there is nothing that we can work on together, that I can’t do by myself at home.

My range of motion is only off 1 or 2 degrees from my good foot, I can balance one legged for an extended amount of time on the squishy pad, and am walking 3 miles a couple of times a week (going to bump it up to 4 this weekend).

I still swell up, get stiff and achy and my one legged heel lifts are not very good (but my tip toe walking is going well).  But, these are things that are just going to take time and work at home.

In a couple of weeks, I will see my surgeon for the final evaluation.  I’m sure he will release me from care also.

I hope I never see the inside of that clinic again.


A beautiful day for a walk

Posted on July 28th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

Tomorrow marks the 10 week anniversary of my ATR  ( 9 1/2 weeks since surgery).

Three days ago, I ditched the compression socks and the ankle wrap and have been going completely support free.

I had a busy day at work yesterday, and walked about 4 times as much as I usually do.

Sometime during the afternoon, I realized that my ankle felt looser than it has.  There was no pulling in the calf and tendon, and no stiffness in the ankle bones and no pain when I walked.  I almost felt normal and was actually pushing off with my toes when I walked.

I think some of the scar tissue finally broke free and this is allowing me to move better.

When I woke up this morning, my ankle was still moving easily.  I didn’t need to stretch it out before I got out of bed.

It was so beautiful outside,  that I decided to go for a walk.



These are a couple of pictures from my MILE walk.

Yes, I walked a MILE in my tennis shoes!!!  No crutches, no ankle wrap, no support.  Just two shoes and two socks.

It took me 28 minutes of walking (with a 15 minute rest in between).

Now I am icing my foot.  I isn’t too swollen and there is just a little pulling in the tendon when I do my foot pumps.

What a great day!!


Throw that boot in the river

Posted on July 16th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

I had an appointment with my surgeon today (7 weeks, 5 days post op) and he told me to "Throw that boot in the river" and go full time in two shoes.

He did clarify that I should watch out for uneven ground, not do any jumping jacks, and that I can use the boot again if it gets to be too much (ewww - it’s going to be all squishy because of the river water).

He also told me to have my PT push me as hard as I could handle.  My PT said that he is ready to start the strengthening phase of my treatment.

The different approaches to treatment really are amazing.  I constantly read about people using heel lifts.  No one has ever mentioned anything like that to me.  I guess I bypassed that stage and went straight to ‘walk’.

I have been walking around my house barefooted with no problems for a week or so now, and I keep a shoe in my office at work and walk around there also.  My leg feels weak, and I have to concentrate on using my foot correctly and to look straight ahead instead of at the floor.

I guess it really won’t be that big of stretch to start going everywhere in two shoes.  But, it still seems kind of frightening.


apprehensive about tomorrow’s PT

Posted on July 10th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

I am feeling apprehensive about going to my PT appointment tomorrow, but not for the reasons that you might guess.

It is not because there might be pain involved, and it is not because I have been lax on doing my at-home exercises.

It is because I got tired of my crutches, put them away and have been walking without permission.  I feel like a teenager who has to confess that I wrecked the car.

It has been 7 weeks since surgery.  I spent the first 4 weeks in hard casts and  the past 3 weeks in a boot (kind of) NWB.  I have had 4 PT sessions so far.

My PT is kind of at a loss.  My doctor’s orders only stated "Achilles tendon repair".  The doctor is leaving it completely up to the PT to make all of the decisions.    The two PTs that I have worked with me both stated that they don’t see this injury very often.  The mainstay of this practice seems to be knee replacements.

The last time that I saw this particular PT was two weeks ago and he said that I shouldn’t put any weight on it at all until 6 weeks post op and to not be too anxious to walk.

I always make sure that I have my boot on when I leave the house, but I don’t use crutches.  Around the house, I go without the boot and just take small up-and-down steps.  I don’t push off with my toes - it is kind of a Frankenstein duck walk.  I don’t feel any pressure or pulling on my tendon and the pins and needles sensation on the bottom of my foot is long gone.

I have been reading other blogs, and don’t think that 7 weeks seems too early to walk in a boot.  Does it??

Part of me wants just to crutch in and let them think that I am following protocol, but I know I’ll just walk in with my boot and see what happens.

trip to the (in)convenience store

Posted on June 28th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

Yesterday, the temps here were in the upper 90s (108 degree heat index).  Since I had to run some errands which included getting gas, I took my youngest with me and decided that a stop inside the convenience store for Slushies was in order.

When we reached the back corner of the store where all of the soda fountains were located, I noticed that a woman had just started mopping around the machines.

Since I am still NWB and on crutches, I asked her to hold off mopping until we finished getting our drinks so that I wouldn’t slip on the wet tiles.

It wasn’t until we finished filling up, and turned to get our straws that I noticed that she hadn’t stopped mopping at all, but instead proceeded to mop the entire area behind me and placed a "Caution Wet Floor" sign at the end of the aisle.  She essentially mopped me into a corner!!

My son and I stood there dumbfounded for a few minutes waiting for it to dry, but since it was a humid day it wasn’t drying at all.

I decided to grab some napkins from the stand and toss them on the floor.  As I started pushing them around the floor with my crutch trying to dry a path, the most amazing thing happened.

Customers started grabbing napkins, kneeling down and began drying the floor.

What a humbling experience.  I felt like such an idiot,  having caused complete strangers to take time out to dry a dirty convenience floor for me.  But, everyone was so nice, telling me that they didn’t want me to slip and hurt myself even more.

I am eternally grateful that I live in an area where people care enough to worry about someone that they don’t even know.

It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.


One small step - 1st PT

Posted on June 26th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

Yesterday was my first PT session and I am feeling much more optimistic than I was when I got my cast off last week.

When the cast came off (4 weeks after surgery)  I felt down because my foot would barely move.  I could wiggle my toes and that was about it.

All throughout last week, I gave myself foot rubs (to get rid of that pins and needles sensation) and worked on moving my foot up, down and circles.

When my PT measured my ROM he found that my plantar flexion was 50 (good foot was 62) and my dorsiflexion was +2 (good foot is +12).  He mentioned that I might want to do the same stretches on my good leg to loosen up my dorsiflexion,  because that calf is tight and that tendon is sore from all the extra work it is doing.  No problem, anything to avoid this happening in my right leg also.

It was a laid back session where he mostly showed my stretches and exercises to do at home.

My favorite is the one where I stand at my kitchen counter in my bare feet and sway back and forth like I am dancing at my high school prom.  Just standing on two legs is great (although my foot feels like it isn’t even part of my body anymore).

The most challenging one is when I sit with all sorts of objects scattered around me (marbles, hot wheels cars, Legos, etc.) and pick them up with my toes and put them in a bowl.  That one is tough.

One thing that I didn’t expect is that he is having me wear a shoe on my bad foot while I’m at work.  I can’t try to walk, but when I am in my office, I put the shoe on. (I had to take the laces out of a tennis shoe to get my foot to fit.)  If I need to leave my office, the boot goes back on.   This is so that I can keep my foot moving and re-train my foot what I feels like to be in a shoe again.

Best of all, he let me take a step - ONE STEP!!  I was scared to death, but happy that he let me try.  You can’t get anywhere without taking a first step.

We won’t work on walking until at least 6 weeks after surgery because things are still healing.  That’s fine.  It is only a week away.

I go back again on Thursday and have two appointments every week for the next four weeks.

I can’t wait to see how I progress from here.


Cast is gone - boot is on

Posted on June 18th, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

Today marks the four week, 1 day anniversary of my ATR.  Wednesday will be four weeks since my surgery.

This morning, I got my cast off and was put into a boot.

My observations are this:

1.)  My foot and ankle are much more swollen and bruised than I though that they would be.  Doctor said that they would be like this for another six months.  I had not expected that.

2.)  The boot is much larger, heavier and hotter than the cast.  I almost miss it.

3.)  I did not know that strips of skin would come off with the steri-strips that were covering my incision.  (These were put on three weeks ago when they took out my staples and put on the second cast).

4.)  My incision is not completely closed.  I just assumed that four weeks would be time for the skin to knit, but I guess when it is enclosed in a moist, airless environment, it just doesn’t heal.

5.)  Tomorrow’s shower will include apricot pit exfoliating scrub to get rid of all of the dead skin on my leg and foot (ewww).  Although I am not going near my incision.

Physical therapy starts next Monday (two to three times a week).  My PT is only five blocks from my house.  That is within walking distance - that is IF I could walk, of course.

Doctor did not say whether or not I should keep my foot in the boot at all times (although he did say that I need to sleep with it on).  But, my foot feels extremely weak and vulnerable.  And twitchy - very, very twitchy - so I don’t think I will be without the boot very often.

However, right now, I am sitting on the couch with my leg naked on a pillow.  The heat index here is 106 degrees and even though I am sucking up the air conditioning, the thought of putting my leg in that hot, heavy boot right now makes my foot sweat.  Besides, how is my incision ever going to heal if it isn’t exposed to the air?


Good to see you leg (if only for a minute)

Posted on June 3rd, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

My first post-op visit to my surgeon was supposed to be scheduled 10-12 days after surgery.  But, as my luck would have it, that put it smack dab in the middle of his vacation so they got me in at the 8 day mark,  Thursday, May 31st at 8:00 am (the first appointment of the day).

Anticipating that he would sign my work release forms that would allow me to return to work the following day, I timed my morning routine to see how much extra time it would take me to get ready.  Only about 15 minutes were all that I needed, but, I was completely worn out before I even left the house.

This told me that my morning showers were going to have to switch into evening showers.  Everyone at work will just have to  get used to me wearing a ponytail every day.

As I boosted myself up on the examination table, the nurse chirped "All ready to get that cast off?"

"Really??"  I was stunned.  I just assumed that it would be a ‘wiggle your toes - any pain?- looks good’ type of appointment.

After sawing off my lime green cast, it was time to get my stitches out.  (Yeah!!!).  Well, I thought that they would be stitches, but they turned out to be 19 staples instead.

I must say that the incision running up the back of my leg is quite impressive.  As are the black bruises that are on either side of my heel.  My foot still appears to be about twice it’s normal size and my ankle has no definition at all.  But, the wound is healing and there is no sign of infection.


I was able to wiggle my toes for the doctor and move my foot up and down.  I did notice (but didn’t think to mention it) that the bottom of my foot and sides of my heel were completely numb.

Doctor seemed apologetic when he said that he didn’t feel comfortable putting me in a boot after only 8 days.  Actually, I wasn’t too keen on the idea either.  Although I dislike a hard cast, it feels safer and I do not was to hinder my recovery in any way.

I agonizing over the decision for the new cast color, and finally choose ‘highlighter yellow’ (although ‘construction sign orange’ almost won).  I barely got a chance to reacquaint myself with my leg (and scratch it) when in was enclosed in a hard shell at a 90 degree angle to my leg.

My next appointment is on June 18th, and I will get rid of this cast and into a boot.

Part of me was excited to get back to work the next day, but I was not looking forward to dragging myself out of bed.  I have noticed that it takes awhile for my entire body to get moving once I have been at rest.  At this time, my foot still swells whenever I move it down from an elevated position.

All day Thursday, my foot was cold and tingly.  I was worried that the cast was too tight, because it was  just plain uncomfortable.  I was not liking this new cast (maybe I should have picked orange after all).

That night, I was woken up repeatedly because of calf cramps.  I had no was of stretching my leg and foot, so I just had to endure.

I slept very little that night because of the cramps, so when the alarm went off at it’s usual 3:45 am time, I had a hard time getting up.

Yes, I get up every morning at 3:45.  My work schedule is 5:00 to 10:00 am.  I have done this for almost 15 years and it is my normal, but Friday morning was hard.  I felt like an 80 year old wracked with arthritis.

Once my body warmed up, and I made it to work, everything went fine.  But, I noticed that every time I stood, my calf  would cramp up.  Bananas, Gatorade and cauliflower all made it home with me to help prevent this.

It is now Saturday evening, and my leg is still cramping when I stand.   I’m not too worried about a blood clot,  because  I have been on the blood thinner Fragmin every day since surgery.

My cast is no longer tight on my leg, so I have a bit of wiggle room.  My arms are not fatigued from the crutches anymore.  I have developed wonderful balance while standing on my right leg and lifting my cast-laden left one.

All things considering, things are pretty darn good.



On a Magic Carpet Ride

Posted on June 1st, 2012 in Uncategorized by joan

We live in a 1970s, split foyer house.  We all know the type - the tuck-under garage leads into the basement.  A flight of stairs leads to a landing and a front door, and another flight of stairs takes you up to the main living areas.

During the three days pre-surgery, I was forced to sit on my behind and scoot backwards up the stairs (while lifting myself up with my arms).  Similarly, I would sit and scoot down the stairs when I needed to go down.

When I got home, just a few hours after surgery, I knew there was no way my noodle arms would pull my body (complete with a new cast) up that mountain.  So, I crawled on my hands and knees up the stairs while Husband followed behind carrying my crutches.  How pathetic I must have looked to my teenaged sons as I reached the top, and then laid down on the living room floor.

We had picked up my pain meds on the way home and I promptly took my first two Nucynta and crawled into bed, vowing not to leave the upper level of my house for at least a week.

I can honestly say that  the first three days went by in a complete drug fog.  "Don’t miss a dose - keep one step ahead of the pain", was repeated to me by friends and relatives.

At first it was nice.  It was like existing in a warm, fuzzy cocoon.  I had no interest in food, TV or conversation.  I would set the alarm on my phone for every four hours, take a pill and fall back to sleep.  I was relatively pain free, except if I went beyond my four hour time limit.   If I did, a gnawing ache would start in my foot and calf.

The day after my surgery (Thursday, May 24th) was the last day of school for my boys.

When my children were born, my husband and I made decisions with our careers so that one of us would always be at home with the kids.  The plan was that I would go back to work full time when our youngest went into first grade.  But, plans change.

Our youngest is a special needs child, who has endured years of surgeries and  physical therapy.  He needs someone to guide him through life’s obstacles.

The upside of not working full-time is that I have always been able to volunteer for, and attend every school and extracurricular activity that either of my boys have been involved in.

As an eighth grader, Son14 would be leaving the Middle School.

Plans had been in the works for months for the eighth grade class graduation ceremony and picnic.  I was to attend with him because he had chosen to go swimming for his activity.  The park was a block away from the pool, and I needed to be there to both transport him and supervise him.

I would then get to see him cross the stage and get his diploma with his classmates.

My ATR prevented my from attending that day, but luckily there are two parents in this family.

Husband is usually at work for these milestones.  Although I regret missing this special day, Husband was there and got to experience it with him.

Some time during  Thursday night, a weird thing started happening.  At first it was just a little twitch of my fingers.  Then I would get the "Falling off a cliff" feeling when I was going back to sleep.  Eventually, my entire arm (or worse yet, my bad leg) would flail out uncontrollably.

On Friday, when my entire body started jerking, I roused myself enough to do some internet research.  Myoclonic jerks (which could lead into seizures) were happening to me as a reaction to the pain medications.

The pills were promptly put in the back of the linen closet to be taken to the Police Department during their next  ‘unused prescription drug drop-off’.

It took three days for the twitching to completely stop.  When I came out of my fog (Sunday), I sent my husband and kids to a movie and I took my first real shower since my surgery.

It was a three step process.  1.) shave un-casted leg in bathroom sink  2.) get on my hands an knees and hang head over the side of the tub while washing my hair with the handheld sprayer.  3.) Go to tiny stall shower in spare bedroom and prop myself up while actually getting clean.

It was a two hour process, but I finally felt awake and alert (and clean) again.

The next days were full of milestones:

Monday, May 28 - cleaned the bathrooms (the floors were cleaned by me sitting on my tush.  I scooted around the floor with a bottle of spray cleaner and a roll of paper towels).  I also made it to the lower level to do laundry.  Although I was still sitting and crawling up and down the stairs).

Tuesday, May 29 - Put in contacts, did my hair,  and put on make-up.  Son17 had a eye appointment and I got to leave the house!!! (He bundled me into the back of his car while he drove - I wasn’t up to that yet.)  This was followed by FroYo at Orange Leaf.

Wednesday, May30 - I have mastered the stairs!!  I can remain upright and use my crutches to get both up and down.  The boys and I then went to my workplace and went shopping.  I drove my car, but had to use a mart-cart to get through the store.

These days were full of learning experiences for my kids also.  I am amazed that there has been no complaining.  Son14 unloads the dishwasher, cleans the kitchen and has vacuumed.  Son17 takes care of everything else while Husband is at work.

Thursday, May 31 - Thursday is special and gets it’s own entry.  It is my first post-op visit to the doctor and things are going to change for the better.

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