8 weeks - FWB and loving it!

What a difference a week makes! A few days ago I did a little victory dance on the inside when I went to get something from the other side of the house in a hurry, turned around and thought “where are my crutches!?”

The surgeon gave me the all clear last week to start ditching the crutches and transition to FWB as tolerated. He was in a much better mood than usual - he was giving me a lot of YES’s! Walking out the hospital juice in one hand and only one crutch in the other, it felt like living in a whole new world of freedom, gone are the days of bribing family members and boyfriend to bring food and tea to my bed. It is good on this journey to celebrate the little things.

Some notes from the appointment:
- WB as tolerated
- one crutch as required
- 7.5 degrees PF until removal of boot
- walking with boot for 2 weeks
- after 2 weeks start to get out of boot
- must use runner with heel or physio shoe with heel wedges
- 3 weeks or so
- physio mid-next week
- swimming next week
- no pushing off/kicking
- next appt. in ~6 weeks

Yet to get an appointment with the physio but looking forward to building my calf strength up again and make the transition easier into 2 shoes. It is nice to read about the progress to 2 shoes from fellow ATR blogs jdotjones85 and Ron with invaluable advice in the comments.

Surprisingly it was quite easy to start FWB after a couple of days though the bottom outer heel just below the ankle does get a bit sore but the pain eases off after a few minutes of walking. I still carry one crutch around if I am going to be out for the whole day as my walking technique will disintegrate into hunchback mode when the fatigue sets in. I even managed to go back to the scene of the crime, stand on court for a few minutes and have a very awkward hit back to myself (as I still couldn’t run, change directions, lunge), admittedly a terrible idea as I woke up with a very sore right hip the next day. It is time to reign it in and take recovery one step at a time, literally!

In this journey it is sometimes incredibly hard to stay positive about the current situation, but looking back on the past 2 months, I am surprised with how easily the body and mind adapts to the change and the best thing to do is buckle down and focus on recovery. One must trust that the body will do its best and in no time you will be back on your feet.

Happy healing everyone.

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7 week progress photo & FINALLY PWB!

melbournemarathon

melbournemarathon

A couple of days shy from the 8 week post-surgery appointment and finally starting to PWB with my crutches. There has been some pain not in the Achilles but rather the heel of my foot - understandably it is very sensitive after having no weight on it for 6 weeks! Thank god for the achillesblog community with lots of advice on how to start walking in the boot. My doctor said to only put 10-20% of my weight on the injured leg but as the days go by I am finding myself naturally putting more and more of my weight on the foot, however when I am in a rush I tend to switch back to the crutches and go NWB. Have also finally been allowed to sleep without the boot, the first night was terrifying as I kept waking up to check that my achilles was still there but the second night was back to pre-ATR sleep with the boot not getting tangled up in the sheets! Bliss at last.

There is still a part of the scar that hasn’t completely closed over. It started oozing yellow gunk and some blood at the start of week 6 and the scab is only starting to form now, hopefully this will not stop me from entering the pool in the near future. The calf seems to have shrunken to a new low. The atrophy in the past couple of weeks have left it in a very jelly-like state but the circumference had remained the same as the non-injured leg. Today, the left measured 36cm and right 33cm.

I went to watch a club squash tournament last week and was overcome with a mixture of defeat, helplessness and sadness at my situation. It was hard to watch the women’s matches knowing that pre-ATR I could easily have run them around the court, it is sometimes hard to accept that although its been nearly 2 months there are still many more months ahead before I can get back onto a court and play competitively. After playing for 3 teams simultaneously and making the grand final for all of them in the previous season, having to pull out of all of them has been challenging and somewhat disappointing to let a lot of people down. Nevertheless, I have learnt to appreciate the chance to slow down, get back into reading novels and spend more time on my studies! Once again, a quick trawl of the achillesblog community have lifted my spirits and have spurred me to start regular workouts again - I have managed to find some handy videos of core workouts through andrewc’s blog. If anyone has some great modified exercises worth looking at, please send them this way!

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6 week progress - still NWB, Melbourne Marathon drama!

melbournemarathon

Had my second post-op on Friday with the surgeon just after hitting 6 weeks since the injury. Took my boot off, surgeon proded, poked and ran his hands down the length of the achilles for about 10 seconds before saying that all is going well and recovery seems to be on track. Anyone got referred for a second ultrasound to confirm recovery?? I am sure the surgeon knows what he is talking about but I sometimes get paranoid about how the AT is going!

A couple of pointers and pretty much reiterated what was said at the last appointment at 2 weeks since surgery:

  • Still NWB until 7 week mark then start to PWB to 10-20% body weight - basically still using crutches as support and maybe put some weight on the toes but only for a couple of minutes a day. My eyes glazed over by this point, and I couldn’t wipe the smile of my face! Luckily boyfriend was taking notes and paying attention!
  • Continue with the one basic exercise of moving to foot left to right gently while holding the ankle
  • Continue to sleep with boot on until 7 week mark and then slowly wean off boot at bedtime - anyone have issues with sharing a bed with someone else and any risks that come with being kicked or moving around while asleep??
  • No physio, swimming etc. My boyfriend also took the initiative to ask about our upcoming trip to Tasmania for 3 weeks in January and whether there’d be any issue with hiking and the surgeon seemed to think I will be ok as long as it’s not to strenuous with the up/downhills and not for a long period of time. The one hike I really want to do is to go up Cradle Mountain which is an 8 hour return trip…

Surgeon concluded with “be patient, we want to ensure the tendon is properly healed to allow the best chance for recovery.” - looking around at other recovery protocols it seems that mine is a slow/conservative route but am hoping it doesn’t lessen my chance to make a full, functioning recovery to competitive squash. The next appointment is at the week 8 mark, fingers is crossed for more PWB, a green light for PT and a chance to ditch the crutches!!!

I had also planned to do the 3km walk at the Melbourne Marathon 2 days after the appointment but the surgeon flat out said no to the idea - he was worried that I may damage my shoulders; I was disappointed to not be able to participate as the rest of the family were doing the marathon, half-marathon and 10k. I was able to sit at the finish line at the MCG, soak up the atmosphere and Melbourne did the usual thing and brought out shocking weather towards the end of the morning so was pretty happy to stay dry and watch all the nutters out there finish their race! It was exciting to watch the winners of the marathon cross the finish line with very impressive times. My sister ran her first half-marathon and got within her goal time and my mum took my place in the 10k and finished quicker than expected 7 weeks after knee surgery! I am looking forward to being able to train for the 10k next year!

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5 week photo - 2nd post-op tomorrow!

5week

5 week scar progress after spending a week in sunny Gold Coast as a coach for a university squash tournament. A hard week for me to sit on the sidelines watching every match as well as resisting the urge to drink and party all night. The weather was a balmy 30 degrees every day with the beach at our doorstep and I was not allowed to swim at all! After a long week, the women’s team won Gold and the men’s team lost narrowly to our rival university to come 4th.

Managed to get some exercise done at the courts, have discovered I can do 50 push ups on my left toes before I start to fatigue (I could barely do 10 in a row with both feet on the ground pre-injury), so it feels good that despite all the inconvenience of crutches, my upper body is getting a good workout. Being left handed and playing a racquet sport, I have always struggled with one side of my body being predominantly stronger than the other. Another plus was finally managing to get back to pre-injury weight after eating all my sympathy chocolates… all that walking is finally paying off!

Second post-op tomorrow and I’m looking forward to probing the surgeon about the next milestone, and maybe a chance for a swim!

beach

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4 weeks post surgery

4weeks

Scar progress. A lot smaller and neater than I thought but have been told as achilles is stretching out so will the scar. I can feel bumps and lumps as I run my finger over the surgery site and hope that it is my achillles working hard at reattachment. I feel a sense of relief at coming this far and knowing that the risk of a rerupture is significantly reduced.

Still bruising and swelling around my inner ankle but virtually no pain at all. Have been testing my range of motion when its out of the boot and am continuing to do my one exercise several times a day. As well as comfortably moving my foot towards my body at the set angle, the joint is getting easier to manipulate.  Really looking forward to setting this baby to 15 degrees plantar flexion.

Heading out to a uni ball tonight with the promises of unlimited alcohol, this will be a fun challenge for a self confessed party animal. I am most devastated with not being able to dance.

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3 week progress since injury

3 weeks

From tumblr:

Now that it is in the boot and I am pretty mobile, my ankle has swollen again and my feet have taken on a purplish hue. Getting the achilles to stretch to the bottom of the boot has gotten easier and it’s now uncomfortable at times when I try to give it a little stretch or wiggle.

Went into uni for the first time yesterday and had a few near accidents with steps and doors, and walking more than 500m at a time becomes exhausting. Rain, escalators are not your friends.

Have been quite down the last 2 days, I swing between being cranky at how many more weeks I have to NWB and hopelessness at how slow it takes me to do everything. I am lucky though to have friends who take the time to constantly write me emails or send texts and that takes my mind off things.

This is a great task at teaching anyone patience. Must persevere.

2weeks

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2 weeks post op - first surgeon’s appointment

postop

From tumblr:

Post-op follow up appointment yesterday.

I am not one for needles and other gross medical things but was very surprised when the nurse took of my cast to reveal the scar. A lot smaller than I thought, quite neat (stitches had dissolved). My foot felt vulnerable left out in the open and my leg didn’t really have any control over the movement, though I didn’t really attempt to test out my new achilles’ range of motion.

Not much atrophy from the calves although gave my shins a quick massage and disovered that it was really sore and tight! Minimal swelling apart from a little bit of bruising over the ankle which the nurse said was probably caused by sitting up too much.

The surgeon prodded and moved the foot around and gave me an exercise to do every day - just move the foot from side to side for 5 mins.

Got fitted into a boot and it was set at 30 degrees plantar flexion. I felt an uncomfortable stretch through the achilles and scar and could not manage to have my heel touch the bottom of the boot. Though this morning I have managed to do that! Still feeling quite uncomfortable and sometimes throbbing though the pain has subsided and is now quite manageable without drugs.

Next appointment with the surgeon set for 3 weeks’ time. In the meantime, no weight bearing, no swimming and sleeping with the boot on. Will attempt a small modified workout sometime this week. At least now I can give my right leg a wash and a shave!!

boot
The boot I have been given is a Maxtrax. My most expensive shoe yet!!

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7 days post op

From tumblr:

  • 7/9/2013 - Election Day

    Today marks 1 week since the achilles surgery, and boy has it been a long week!

    It still feels surreal that my right leg will be completely out of action (non-weight-bearing) for 2 months. After exercising twice a day nearly every day for the previous 2 months, being bed-bound is a slow hour-by-hour struggle.

    So far I have battled with diet (or too much eating!!), lack of exercise and lack of mental stimulation. I should be studying but I can’t sit up for too long or my ankle swells up and lately I have been suffering nausea and headaches. I know I should be grateful that my leg has been given a very expensive second chance at life but I can’t help but wallow in self-pity, especially when I am home alone and making a cup of tea and taking it back to my room takes 3 times as long as it should.

    Yesterday my boyfriend drove me to uni so that I could fix up some paperwork to withdraw myself from playing squash at the upcoming Australian University Games (which by the way it THE highlight of semester 2) and it was nice to talk to the staff and get out of the house for an hour or so. I did get tired by the 45 minute mark and needed a nap as soon as we got home.

    I voted today and it was lovely to not be able to carry any of the propaganda that gets shoved in your face every 5 metres or so. My ankle did swell up a bit and started to press against the cast. I nearly slipped twice today with the wet weather.

    I have finished all the sympathy sweets and chocolate that have been given to me since being admitted to hospital so with week 2 underway tomorrow so to will the return of discipline that came with training hard every day, this time around will be applied to my studies and my eating. Only 8 more days till my first post-op with the surgeon and I can transition into a boot! Baby steps.

    Boyfriend’s mother said that my body is tired because all my energy is devoted to healing my achilles. This made me feel better about being in bed for the majority of the day. The remainder is devoted to making cups of tea, finding chocolate and using the bathroom.

    Cannot wait to hit the stage where I can get up and get shit done (and go to the gym!)

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After surgery

From tumblr:

Completely ruptured my achilles tendon on Wednesday night at squash last week. Felt a pop and thought my opponent had hit me in the back of the leg.  Thursday ultrasound, Friday appointment with the best surgeon in Melbourne and surgery on Saturday.

Still a bit surreal that all this has happened and that I will be on the road to recovery for the next 3 to 6 months. It is a real blow to the progress I have been making with my crossfit training and the positive changes in my body. This blog will now be travelling down a slightly different road.

I am very lucky to be surrounded by supportive family and friends and especially my boyfriend who despite my protests has not left my bedside since being discharged from hospital, and helps me with my anti-blood clotting injections (I am not a needles person!!!)

On the running front, I will be on crutches and a moonboot by the time the Melbourne Marathon comes around so will be doing the 3k walk instead. So on the fundraising front - you will still be making a difference!

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Introduction - anyone else at 5 weeks?

achilles

I completely ruptured my right achilles on 28 August 2013.  I was playing squash at the time, training twice a day most days (a combination of gym, yoga, squash, running, spin) on top of my pennant matches (was playing for 3 different teams) and was in the  process of training for a 10k run - it was a personal challenge as well as a fundraising endeavour for a family charity. I was documenting my training journey to keep myself accountable to the run on another website when I found achillesblog during my two week bedrest. Thought I would join the community and find a recovery buddy on a similiar timeframe/sport. It has certainly been a blessing to read everyone else’s journey and see that progress being made.

I am a 22 year old university student.

The run is in a week but I will instead be doing the 3k walk. The 10k is the aim for next year!

My fundraising page: http://melbournemarathon2013.gofundraise.com.au/page/JoSeeTan

Training blog: http://joseeisrunningforshoes.tumblr.com

I will post my previous tumblrs posts related to the achilles injury in subsequent entries and hopefully will log my next surgeon’s appointment later in the week!

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