Week 2-5

Written on July 27, 2010 – 10:27 am | by firstdayofsummer

The week before the 4th of July weekend was spent seeing more doctors in the hope of finding somebody who was willing to work with me on the non-surgical, early weight bearing treatment. My last appointment on that friday was in an orthopedic center which came highly recommended by my yoga instructor. The surgeon I had an appointment with graduated from medical school in 1953 according to their website which made me rather nervoeus but I thought he might be willing to try something new at the end of his career :)

He was very nice yet also recommended surgery or 8 weeks in cast. When he saw how disappointed I was he called in another surgeon for a second opinion. As it turned out, this surgeon is the head of orthopedics at the local hospital and would be the surgeon operating on me, should I decide to do so (pfff, I was glad to hear that the lovely elderly doctor is not performing surgery anymore). So the second doctor performs another Thompson test, tells me suddenly it’s only a partial rupture (all the other doctors before told me it was a full rupture) and laughs when I beg him to take me on as his guinea pig for the non-surgical treatment. Yet, he then tells me what everybody else before did: “Immobilization in a cast, non weight-bearing, for at least 8 weeks”

They tell me to thing about it and I made another appointment with the head of orthopedics for the wednesday following (16 days past ATR). Though I still did not find a doctor to support the treatment of my choice I now at least had found a surgeon I would trust in doing the surgery.

On my way home I decided to try and contact some of the people that wrote articles about ‘my treatment’. It being the friday afternoon before the 4th of July weekend I did not have much hope but was willing to try anything at this point. First I contacted Dr. Jolie Bookspan (’surgery for achilles tendon may not improve recovery’) and to my delightful surprise she responded within 15 minutes and gave me the name of 2 doctors in Virginia. I contacted one of them and received the nicest email back the next morning (SATURDAY !) with the name of 2 doctors in Connecticut (my home state).

These two doctors as well could not have been nicer and went out of their way to respond to my various questions (remember it was the 4th of July weekend and they both were away for the weekend, yet took their time). After the experiences with some of the doctors last week these 4 people more then made up for it! The only hurdle now was that this orthopedic center was 3 hours away from me (one way, remember I can’t drive because I injured my right AT) and they were only performing the PRP Therapy and I couldn’t find many satisfying reports for it.

After two more days of elevating and icing my ankle I decided to go back to the head of orthopedics and to schedule surgery afterall. I told him my decision and he said okay, let’s do another Thompson test to check it out again. Suddenly  he just smiled and shook his head and  said: “I don’t know what you did and I have never seen anything like this before but your tendon has grown back remarkably and surgery is not necessary any more”.

I think I laughed and cried at the same time and must have been quite the sight. Now I am expecting him to put me in a cast (as I still have the splint cast from 2 weeks ago) but instead he says “let’s fit you into a boot”. I was speechless! Well, actually not for long because I had done my research and wanted the Vacoped Pro and asked him if that would be the boot I get. He never heard of it before but was totally open to it and told me to get it and to come back a week later to have it fitted.

Vacoped fitted on July 15. I love it and it has helped me to quickly go from PWB to FWB (only when I am standing though, I am not walking without crutches yet).

And this my fellow ATR friends was my long, long story :) I promise to update on a regular basis now and to keep the entries shorter.

My next appointment is the day after tomorrow and I hope to get the okay for PT from the orthopedic at that point.

Happy healing everybody!

  1. 5 Responses to “Week 2-5”

  2. By 2ndtimer on Jul 27, 2010 | Reply

    this is the most interesting story…. so they have no clue after all if it was fully ruptured?
    Having spent the first 2 weeks in splint I hope it will heal properly. keep us posted.

  3. By normofthenorth on Jul 28, 2010 | Reply

    2ndtimer, my Docs (even the same one) couldn’t agree on whether mine was a complete ATR, a partial ATR, or a partial-but-multiple ATR! After Thompson, palpation, and three Ultrasounds (to guide PRP injections), I had heard all three stories. (The US’s and the PRP were all presided over by the head of the clinic, not my OS, BTW.)

    I’ve decided “Who cares?” If the non-surgical cure produces results as good as surgery with COMPLETE ruptures (and without the complications), it probably doesn’t matter. Just let it heal with a good modern rehab protocol, and then there’ll be NO rupture!

    Johanna, you’re making me wonder if there’s generally a strong correlation between being an arrogant jerk of an OS and forcing people into ATR surgery — or giving them a choice between surgery and an archaic “conservative” cure. And conversely, it seems sensible to me that being patient-friendly, empowering, and open to new ideas (=~ NOT a jerk), would make an OS more likely to be an early adopter of the new non-surgical protocols (like bit.ly/UWOProtocol ) that have produced such good results in the newest studies.

    Maybe putting it in a softer way: You clearly don’t HAVE to be an elitist closed-minded deaf-eared arrogant jerk to give your ATR patients only bad choices — but it helps! ;-)

    That also makes me wonder if your prominent reformed-jerk Doc has learned anything from what your AT did “all by itself” without his help — or if he still believes that surgery is necessary for everybody else, but that you are a miraculous exception to the rule!!

    Like you, I also decided to get my second, recent (Dec. ‘09) ATR repaired surgically — well maybe “decided” isn’t the right word, because I never considered the alternative, having been told in late 2001 that the non-surgical “conservative” cure was just for crocks and people too sick for surgery, or those who didn’t care about strength, ROM, or re-rupture rates!

    My (very nice guy) OS told me that he’d completely stopped doing the surgery, after hearing a presentation from the main authors of the UWO study, which convinced him that the surgery is basically useless. “I didn’t become a surgeon to do surgery with no benefit,” he told me, more or less!

    Isn’t that the exact opposite of being an arrogant closed-minded jerk?

  4. By stephanie on Jul 28, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Johanna

    Sounds like you are progressing well. I cant believe in 2 weeks you have been given a boot and allow to put weight on. I also had a complete ATR during badminton, today is 10 weeks since my injury. I was in a cast for 8.5 weeks non surgical, 4.5,2,2and non weight bearing until I had the cast off over a week ago. This is the treatment they offer in Scotland. Had 3 sessions of Physio since then. I am almost able to walk without crutches, but still a big limp. I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Happy Healing and hope you recover soon.

  5. By firstdayofsummer on Jul 28, 2010 | Reply

    Norm, I completely agree with you! I was shocked when I ’shopped around’ for my OS as to how many blankly refuse to even look at the newest studies. I do understand that treating ATR is only a small percentage of injuries they are dealing with and that it might not be possible to keep up to date with all of the newest studies in all the different areas. But if a patient asks for it and comes with print outs of the studies and they still refuse to look at it, that has arrogant jerk written all over.
    Sadly I saw about 10 of those as you know. However, things are finally looking up and it shows by sharing information (as you do), by being proactive and determined, it is possible to get the treatment we feel is right for us.
    You were lucky with your (very nice) OS and who knows, maybe it was an ‘obnoxious’ patient who insisted on the non-surgical treatment that turned him around…but then, he might have just taken the time and read the studies.
    In any case, I am a very happy ATR patient today :)

  6. By firstdayofsummer on Jul 28, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Stephanie,
    well to tell you the truth, my doctor did not really want me to put any weight on it but thanks to the achillesblog and all the infomation on here I pretty much did my own stuff and followed Norm’s protocol:

    My doctor has seen the progress and suddenly supports the protocol :)

    I have not had any Physio yet but am thinking of calling around and finding somebody.

    Happy Healing to you too and please keep my up-to-date regarding your recovery!

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