It’s Been Awhile - One year - 9 months

Hey all,

I realized I hadn’t updated this blog for over a year.  It’s been one year and nine months since I had surgery for a Haglund’s deformity (fancy name for a bone spur) which rubbed my achilles in two.  I really struggled with the recovery of this surgery, but am happy to say that my surgery foot is now feeling pretty good.  I still only wear very good shoes, with my custom orthotics.  I also try to not over-do and make my achilles angry.  The bad news I have to report is, I am currently in recovery from having rotator cuff/labrum surgery on my shoulder.  I also had bone spurs there that were cutting into my rotator cuff and labrum.  I didn’t let that go on for as long as I did the achilles.  I had surgery in May, 2014.  It is healing pretty good, but again, just a slow recovery.  The other piece of bad news is that my “good” foot also has a bump on it that is slowly starting to affect my achilles.  It is no where as painful as I let my “surgery” foot get.  But, lord, why, oh why do I keep laying down bone?  I have researched it and have really found nothing.  I have been to several doctors, and they do not know either.  I guess I am glad that I am a tough old bitty and that I have good insurance, because I am afraid a third surgery will be in my future.  Good Luck to everyone on their recovery.  It’s no fun, but you will get there.  Be strong.  Fight.

Nine Months Post-Op - Finally Getting There !!

December 6, 2013 will mark the nine month mark of my achilles surgery.  To review a bit:  I crippled along on a sore heel for 2 years before finally going to an orthopedic doctor.  The first doctor gave me steroid injections in my knee, but diagnosed me with a bone spur on the back of the heel pushing on my achilles.  He said surgery was an extensive recovery, so he wanted to avoid that.  I stayed with him for 9 months until I could take it no more.  I went to a different orthopedic doctor.  That doctor rubbed the lump on the back of my heel and said I needed surgery immediately.  That was December 0f 2012.  I scheduled surgery for January 2, 2013.  Then I got the damned shingles, TWICE.  That postponed surgery until March, 2013.  Even though my achilles had been gnawed in half by the bone spur,surgery was awesome.  I felt so good.  I was ticked when I wasn’t able to go back to work as a teacher at my 2 1/2 week check up when I had the stitches removed.  The doctor ordered 6 more weeks of stay at home/recovery time.  I finally went back to work on May 6th for the last 2 weeks of school.

I was in physical therapy from the first of May through the summer with the same physical therapist I had gone to before having surgery.  I would think I was getting better and could get out of the stupid moon boot, but I never could.  I began to panic when August rolled around and I was STILL in the boot.  The physical therapist was young, and I absolutely loved him, but he admitted he was out of ideas.

I changed to another physical therapist at the end of August, and she did a lot of hands on/manual therapy.  It hurt like the devil, and she had to touch places that no one should have to touch on me, but I felt a little better.  About two weeks into her therapy, she said she had a “vision” that there was more to my situation than just the ruptured achilles.  With my symptoms and where the pain was located (behind my calf all the way up to under my butt) she thought my lower back was involved.  I thought she was crazy because I’ve been down in the back before, and it wasn’t like this pain.  She explained that she thought it was my lumber 5 pushing on the sciatic nerve.  I had been going to a chiropractor periodically because being on crutches and the boot just make me all stiff and sore.

Well, I ignored her pleading with me to go to a back doctor for several weeks until my back did start to hurt.  This past week, I finally had an MRI on my lower back, and guess what?  She is right.  I do have small bone spurs on my lower spine, alone with nerve entrapment.  My leg still hurts behind my knee and up toward my butt, but at least the pull doesn’t go clear down to my achilles.

I finally feel that the achilles is on the mend.  I have other issues to address, but I’m hoping the achilles is behind me.

Everyone keep working hard.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Everyone is different in terms of recovery time, so don’t let my story scare you.  Many people on this board have been back at their activities within a few weeks.  I always have to be the odd one, and my recovery from achilles tendon surgery is no exception.  Good Luck everyone.

Seven Months post-op and Still climbing the Mountain

On October 6th, 2013, I will be seven months post-op.  I had surgery on March 6, 2013, after battling a bone spur/Haglund’s deformity for nearly 2 years.  My surgery had to be post-poned for two months because I came down with two raging cases of the shingles.  After surgery I felt really good and was ready to go back to work.  Ha- then about 4 weeks, the pain returned.  The surgeon had to remind me several times at the beginning of this recovery process that I had basically three operations at once.  I had the bone spur shaved down, I had my achilles pulled down and trimmed up, then it was hammered down to my heel with two anchors/screws.  A surgery that was supposed to last 30-45 minutes took nearly 2 hours.  The achilles had ruptured in the time that my surgery was post-poned because of the shingles.  Things were much worse than what the surgeon expected.  I probably should have had another MRI in March before surgery, but I didn’t.    I did finally go back to work as an elementary teacher on May 6, 2013, for the last couple of weeks of school.

I started physical therapy in April, and still continue to go to PT three times a week even yet.  I have really battled the recovery stage of this surgery.  I was in that stupid moon boot for 6 months.  I tried several times to make the break and wear two shoes, but the pain always returned with a vengeance.   One of the bone spurs is slowly growing back, but the surgeon assures me that is not the problem with the pain.  He said the bone spurs that were removed were probably growing there for several years before I had surgery.

In July, the surgeon prescribed a steroid pack that helped quite a bit.  I was able to wear two shoes for about 2 weeks, but then I had to put the boot back on because the pain was so severe.  Several weeks later, the surgeon tried another steroid pack, followed by a shot three weeks later.  I was hesitant to get the shot because I had read/been told that a shot in the achilles might lead to a rupture, and I’d already been there and done that.  My shot was NOT in the achilles, but rather it was given up further in the ankle.  The medicine, a steroid shot, and changing physical therapists seems to be doing the job for now.

My new physical therapist is concerned that my SI joint in my hip is pushing on my L5 vertabrae; therefore the sciatic nerve is involved and that is what is causing the pulling pain. I am still going to my first physical therapist for a shoulder condition that has been tentatively diagnosed as a torn rotator cuff, but the new physical therapist seems to be helping bunches on the achilles problem.  I really hated to change physical therapists for my foot/achilles, but I just wasn’t getting any better, and they admitted that they were flat out of ideas.

The new PT has given me a lot of the same exercises as the first PT, but she also does a LOT of manual massage.  I can’t say that I enjoy the massage, because I DO NOT.  It hurts (and it’s embarrassing for her to have to touch my back, butt and leg!!!).  But, it seems to help.  I had gimped along with the bone spurs/Haglund’s deformity for so long, that the muscles all the way up my leg were affected.  I have a hard time straightening my knee, and sometimes the muscles all the way up and down my leg cramp up and pull.  It seems like I am finally headed in the right direction.

It’s been quite the long journey, but I hope I am nearing the end.  For those of you just starting down the achilles recovery road, hang in there.  You will have your low days, and they suck; but you must push on, and hope the next day will be better.  Finding the right PT has made all the difference to me.   Good Luck to everyone.  Don’t give up, ask for help when you need it, and keep your chin up.  Things will get better.  :  )

Nearly Six months post-op and Still not there yet

To recap:  I had surgery on March 6th, 2013 for a Haglund’s deformity that had ruptured my achilles.  I had doctored with my family doctor for 6 months hoping that my achilles pain would subside.  She sent me ortho dr number one.  I doctored with this doctor for nearly 9 months trying heel cups, orthotics, physical therapy, stretching, steroid patches, etc.  He was hesitant to do surgery because he said it would be a major surgery, and recovery would be lengthy (he was right)

So on to doctor number three.  He said I needed surgery immediately.  Scheduled surgery for January 2, 2013, but then came down with not one, but two flaming cases of the shingles.  I thought I was going to die.  In the meantime, my achilles ruptured.  Surgery was much more complicated than the doctor or I had imagined.  I had two bone spurs removed, the achilles was dug out of my calf, trimmed off with a clean end, and attached to my heel bone with anchors.  I missed 2 1/2 months of my teaching job.  I was hoping that I would recover during the summer and be all better by the time school started up this fall.

Guess what?  School started yesterday and I am still in this flipping boot.  I still have A LOT of pain on the outside of my foot through my peroneal tendon.  I also have some pretty good pain on the back of my heel up my achilles. Sometimes I also have this horrible, stabbing pain in the bottom of my heel.  The pain can happen at any time, even while I am at rest and sitting.   I have been going to physical therapy 3 times a week since late April.  I have been back to the surgeon about 7 times since the surgery.  He did give me a Medrol dose pack in July which helped for a couple of weeks, but then back to a lot of pain.

I am at my wit’s end.  I am tired of the pain, and in the meantime, I have a really sore shoulder that has been tentatively diagnosed as a rotator cuff tear.  And, my “good foot” has a bone spur coming on fast and furious that is really beginning to hurt.

I did go to a different physical therapist this week.  I really, really love the people that I’ve been going to, but I am not getting any better.  The new physical therapist is in a private practice, and doesn’t have a lot of equipment, but she uses her head and her hands.  She has tried a few new things and I have a lot more motion that I have been having.  She does a lot of hands on and massage, which is something that I haven’t had a lot of.

I go back to the surgeon this week.  He mentioned last time that he would give me another Medrol dosepack and perhaps a cortisone shot in the heel.  I am not real wild about the shot in the heel.  Has anyone ever had one of those?  Did it work?  My second doctor told me that he could do a cortisone shot in the heel/achilles but it was dangerous and may lead to a tendon rupture.  I’ve already been there; don’t really want to go there again !!

The last several times I’ve been back to the surgeon I’ve asked for another MRi, but they haven’t obliged.  They did do more x-rays last month when I went.  The doctor showed me the x-rays and compared then to the ones before surgery.  I honestly didn’t see any difference in them other than the dots that were the anchors in the heel.

Any ideas/suggestions?  I feel my back is against the wall.  I have searched around for another practice that has orthopedic surgeons, but the nearest would be about four hours from my home.  I was just hoping this one would work out, but I am just not getting any better.

Good luck to the rest of you with your recovery.  Hopefully it won’t be as long and drawn out as mine.

Four Months Post Op - Still in recovery

July 6th was my four month post-op milestone.  I had surgery on March 6, 2013 for a Haglund’s deformity which caused my achilles to rupture.  This is been a slow process, and I’m still not there yet.  I hit a brick wall about a month ago when I felt some type of “zap” during an ultrasound treatment.  The surgeon suggested laying off PT until I had my schedule appointment with him.  Last week at the appointment, he agreed that my heel/ankle was still significantly swollen despite icing numerous times a day.  He put me on a 6 day steroid of Medrol.  I thought this was going to be the miracle cure.  It is a taper drug taking 6 tablets the first two days, three tables a day the next 2 days, etc.  I felt really good beginning the 3rd day into the 6th day.  Now, I feel like I’m back to the same old pain.  I had another consult at PT today and it seems that my achilles has healed too short.  It pulls from my heel all the way up to my lower back.  I will do some stretching/lengthening exercises, but now I’m wondering if I’m in for another surgery.

The first orthopedic doctor I went to (for nearly a year) was hesitant to do surgery because he said the recovery would be horrible (he’s right !!) and he talked about cutting my achilles horizontally/scraping off the bone spur/harvesting some hamstring from my good leg/lengthening my achilles, and stitching me up.  This doctor piddled around way too long and I was in too much pain, so I switched to a different orthopedic surgeon.  The second doctor did say I needed surgery right away (which was right since the bone spur had ruptured my achilles) but he said NOTHING about harvesting the hamstring and lengthening the achilles.

So, has anyone healed “too short”?  What did you do?  Now what?  Suggestions?

On the upside, at least I FINALLY ditched the stupid moon boot.  When I took the Medrol steroids, it made me bruise really easily, and the stupid boot made bruises around my leg where I tightened the velcro straps.  With the boot already cause tarsal tunnel on the top of my foot and a Morton’s Neuroma on the bottom of my foot, I just decided to quit wearing it.  I am walking in two shoes with a horrible gimp/limp.  I have to keep my ankle/foot wrapped tightly with an Ace bandage just to give me support.  I’m hoping that one of these days I’ll “turn the corner”!!

Good Luck to all of you on your achilles tendon recovery journey.   Sending “Good vibes” to all of you.  Happy Healing.  : )

Up Against a Brick Wall

So, it’s been 15 weeks today that I had surgery for a ruptured achilles caused by a Haglund’s deformity which gnawed it in half (Surgery March 6th, 2013).  I had to post-pone my surgery for two months because I got the shingles not once, but twice.  I was off work from my teaching position for about 9 weeks.  I went back to teach the last 2 weeks and got out of school on May 17th.  I thought since it was summer time and I could rest, ice, go to physical therapy and do my exercises at home that things would be looking up soon.

W R O N G.  I have had more pain in my foot/achilles the last 6 weeks than I had right after surgery.  Sometimes the pain is nearly as bad as before surgery, and much the same pain as before surgery.  I got a jolt from the ultrasound about 3 weeks ago during PT and I’ve been spinning my wheels every since.  They backed way off of my PT, and I don’t do anything at PT that I can’t do at home.  I’ve felt for about 6 weeks that there is still something wrong, and I can’t get anybody to listen.  I don’t know whether it is scar tissue, effects of the jolt from the ultrasound, a cracked heel from the pins holding my achilles, some residual effects of the shingles, or the stupid bone spur (Haglund’s Deformity) is growing back and is pressing on the achilles again.

Well FINALLY, this week at PT I had a heart to heart with the actual PT.  I had been seeing the PT assistants for about six weeks.  I felt REALLY bad asking to see the PT instead of the guy that I usually see, but I am just not getting any better.  I still have not progressed to two shoes (I wear two shoes for several hours, then back to the boot, and I have significant pain most of the time.  I kept telling the PT assistant that it appeared that the bump on my heel was coming back, and he thought it was just swelling and inflammation.  When I saw the PT, I had hardly removed my sock when he said, “WOW, it does look like the bump is getting bigger.”  FINALLY someone is listening.

The PT has been in contact with my surgeon and the PA since I’ve started therapy.  He again called them and I have an appointment next week.  I am to rest, ice, elevate and WEAR THE STUPID BOOT until next week.  I am so frustrated.  AHHHHH    In the meantime, my shoulders are killing me from being on crutches for so long (I’m not using them now though), and if I don’t get out of this boot soon, I think I will need a hip replacement on my good leg !!!! HA

So, my question - Has anybody ever had the bone spur grow back? If so, then what?  Another surgery?  Will it keep coming back a third, fourth, fifth time?   Anybody else have this long of a recovery time?

Good Luck to all of you with your recovery on your achilles.  I hope things are going good for you.  Keep your head up and be an advocate for your own recovery !!!

It’s A Week and a Half Into Summer-Where is the Recovery?

So, it’s been a week and a half since school got out.  I had my achilles surgery on March 6, 2013, and was off of work for about 9 weeks.  I went back to teach the last 2 weeks of school - the last day being May 17th.

I was all ready to get better now that school is out, but it doesn’t seem like that is happening.  I did take it easy - ice/ and elevate the first four days after school was out.  I worked on wearing two shoes and ditching the boot.  I would wear two shoes for a few hours and “practice” around the house.  I didn’t feel too much pain, and went for longer periods of time with two shoes each time.

I had an appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday, May 21st.  The doctor is a two hour drive away, and I wore two shoes.  I did use one crutch to go into the doctor’s office, because it is quite a large practice, and a haul from the parking lot !!!  The surgeon, and the PA (that was my former student) both looked at my foot/heel and poked and prodded.  They said things were looking good, and that they could “feel” my achilles and it felt really good.  They did tappety-tap on the sore spot along the back of my heel.  They said this spot is a little swollen because that is the area where they shaved off the bone spur, but the swelling will go down with rest, ice and elevation.   The doctor did ask if the bump was a little bigger this month than at the last check.  I told him, that I thought it WAS a little bigger, and definately more tender.  They gave me a prescription for some anti-inflammatory, and an order for 6-8 more weeks of physical therapy.  REALLY?  Six to eight more weeks of PT - I still have two weeks to go on the current order.  So, it appears that I will be in PT most of the summer.  Grrr  -

After the doctor’s appointment, I went ahead and finished out the trip to go see my mom in the hospital.  I was already halfway, so I figured I should go ahead and make the trip.  I took off on a three-day trip to spend some time with her.  For some reason being in the car absolutely KILLS my foot/heel/achilles.   I have a pretty roomy vehicle, but the angle of the dangle of my leg and foot just kills me.  It feels a little better to drive when I wear the boot, but I am stubborn, and I just kept on two shoes.

While I was stomping back and forth from the motel to the hospital, I continued to wear two shoes.  I did ice a couple of times, but OBVIOUSLY not as much as I should have.  I got through the three days wearing two shoes, and using one crutch most of the time.  But, needless to say, the 4 hour trip home was excruciating, to say the least.  I hurried home and had a PT appointment at 5:30 that day.  That session of PT wasn’t horrible, but my achilles/heel was really sore and I nearly had to cripple out of there to get to the car.

The next day, Friday, May 24th, the PT session was the worst yet.  The tens unit (or maybe it is called e-stem, I can’t remember) wasn’t helping, so they decided to try ultrasound to relieve my pain.  I’ve had the ultrasound numerous times, so I thought I knew what to expect.  He put the “blue goop” on and started the treatment.  They had always told me that you won’t feel anything when you receive an ultrasound treatment.  Well, that’s a big, fat lie !!!  I was about 3 minutes into the treatment, and it felt like he needed to add some more of the “blue goop”.  About the time I was going to ask him about it, I felt a horrible, sharp, stabbing pain starting on my heel, and up through my calf and hamstring.  I flinched and pulled back (and maybe said a choice word or two !!).  The PTA and PT were both there when this happened.  The PT reached over and flicked the machine off.  They really didn’t say anything, but I knew that was not normal.  They finished the session with a light massage of the calf and I was sent on my way. So, it this jolty pain normal ?  Has anybody else experienced this with ultrasound treatment?

After I got home, the pain didn’t subside, but instead intensified.  I had sharp, jolty pains shooting up my calf, and the bottom of my heel was killing me.  I didn’t know what to do, especially with the holiday weekend upon us.  Even though I had just been to the doctor three days earlier, I called the doctor’s office and asked for one of the nurses to call me.  In the meantime, I called the PT department and talked to the secretary and asked her to have the PTA call me.  The PTA did call me back within a couple of minutes.  He said, put the boot back on, ice/elevate, etc.  and he would talk with the PT.  Then the PT called me and talked to me.  He mentioned that the PA that was in on my surgery was in the satellite clinic that day and I probably should come and see him.  (The PA comes from Nebraska two days a month and does a satellite clinic in our little local hospital.)  Then the doctor’s office in Nebraska called back and said the same thing, to get over and have it checked out at the satellite clinic.  I didn’t even need an appointment, they were just going to get me in.  I wore the boot and hobbled to the car to make the trip back to the hospital to see the PA.  He thumped around on my heel, moved it around, told me to keep taking the prescription anti-inflammatory medicine, and rest and elevate.  No x-rays, nothing.

One of my friends loaned me an ice machine thingy that is pretty nifty.  You fill it with ice and water and hook up a hose to the wrap, and it ices your foot for about 6 hours.  Why didn’t I now about this handy invention before now?

I used the ice machine/wrap thingy and it felt like things were settling down.  The compression of having the wrap tight around my foot felt good.  The cold therapy also felt good.  But, when I quit icing, the pain soon returned, even worse than ever.

This went on throughout the day on Friday and into Saturday.  Finally, on Sunday, my foot /heel felt much better.  I have been staying put and trying to elevate.  I have only iced a couple of times.

I am at a loss as to why that ultrasound jolted me.  I’m also at a loss as to WHEN I am going to turn the corner and feel like I am on the mend.  The doctor has told me that this was a major injury and a major surgery and it will take time, but I guess after this much time (nearly 12 weeks,) I am just IMPATIENT !!!!

In the meantime, if you are just starting your journey, hang in there.  There will be ups and downs, but I am proof that you will live through these rough times !!!!  I don’t have another PT session until Wednesday.  I don’t know whether to go or not.  I wonder what they will say or do about the jolt that I received last time !!!

Until next time-everybody hang in there and good luck with your ATR recovery.

School’s out for Summer-Time to get better !!

I finally finished the school year yesterday, May 17th.  I had my AT repair surgery on March 6th, 2013.  I had crippled along for a couple of years before finally changing doctors and having surgery.  As I mentioned, my achilles was ruptured due to the Hagland’s deformity that had been rubbing on it.  My recovery time seems so slow compared to some on this board.

I asked my surgeon and PA about the slow recovery and they told me basically I had 3 surgeries combined into one.  I knew I was going to have to have the bone spur shaved down, and that they were going to make an up and down cut through my achilles to get to the bone spur, but I never imagined that my achilles would actually rupture.  After shaving off the bone spur, they had to debride my achilles, which they explained is basically getting rid of the mushy part, then they anchored my achilles to my heel bone.

I spent almost 9 weeks on sick leave from my teaching job.  During this 9 weeks, my mom had to have a very serious aortic aneurism surgery and she’s in a hospital 4 hours away.  Thank goodness my sister, who teaches on an Air Force base in Germany was able to come home for four weeks to be with my parents when my mom had surgery, because there was no way I could make the trip when she had surgery.  I eventually made the 4 hour trip and couple of times, and my mom is doing much better now.  I’m planning on going to see her next week.  I feel bad for not being there more, but I don’t think I could physically make the trip more than I already have, especially with starting back to school.  And, as if life wasn’t already complicated enough with my recovery, starting back to school, my mom’s surgery, traveling to see her, trying to go to PT, I’ve also started a transition class for my EMT-I certificate that I now have to fit in class 2 nights a week for the next several months!!!  I don’t know why I don’t have a few more things to add to my calendar !!  NOT

At nearly 9 weeks post-op, I am STILL in the stupid walking boot.  I also still have to occassionally use one crutch if I’m walking a long ways at school.  The PT was working with me on getting back into the shoe, but when I started back to school on May 6th, it was just too much walking, and on my feet and my leg and foot swelled and I had quite a bit of pain, so he just held off until school was out.  I know it’s because I haven’t used the muscles in my foot, but when I try to take tiny steps with my shoe on my surgery foot, my heel touches down, and the rest of my foot just kind of flips down.  It is hard to explain, and strange to feel.  Hopefully I will get the hang of the 2 shoes soon.

So, now that school is out for the summer, it is down to business and hopefully my recovery will pick up the pace.   Although, my PT explains that this was a major injury and it just takes time to recover.  When I have to use that stupid BAPS board and do the back and forth movement, it seems so easy, but I still cannot always do it.  And, it also makes me crazy that I can’t pull much harder on those resistance bands.  I can do the toe/towel scrunches, and I also can easily do the “pick up the marbles, small blocks” from the floor.  If I don’t get rid of this stupid boot SOON, I feel like I’m going to need a hip replacement on my good leg.  That hip hurts really bad, and it seems to be radiating over and up into my back.  I’m sure that it is just that I compensate when I walk, but I sure don’t need any more problems !!

I’m still having a lot of pain along the back of my heel and a little ways up my achilles.  I hope this pain will go away now that I won’t be on my feet so much.  The PT has tried calf massages, ultrasound, and the TENS therapy.  None of the three really gives me much pain relief.  The pain isn’t nearly as bad as before surgery, but it is still annoying, and I don’t think at this point I should be having any pain !!!!

I have an appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday, so we’ll see what he says.  I’m pretty sure he’s going to be pissed that I’m still in the boot and occassionally having to use the crutches.  But, when he told me I could go back to school, he said  that I could only be on my feet for 5-10 minutes at a time, followed by a period of 30 minutes for elevation and icing.  When recess duty is 20 minutes, that is hard to do.  My co-workers have been so good about helping me, but I just feel if I’m at school, I’ve got to buck it up and get on with it.  As good and kind as my little fourth graders are, a period of 30 minutes of ice and elevation just isn’t going to happen much.  Although there were a couple of days in there that I turned the lights out and read outloud to them and propped my foot up.  They loved it and so did I !!  HA

So, at nearly 10 weeks, I am still in the recovery phase.  I feel like it’s going so slow, but I’m this far in and I don’t really want to start over now.  For those of you just starting this journey, hang in there.  I have admitted in earlier posts that I’ve had a few major mental meltdowns, but I’ve had to suck it up and get on with it !!!    Hopefully now that it is summer, I can focus more on recovery and PT and not worry about my kids at school and how much time I had missed.

Good Luck to everyone on their achilles tendon recovery.  Remember to ask for help when you need it, and try to enjoy the quiet time because soon enough your life will be back to the crazy, rushed life we all live.  Until next time -

8 weeks and 5 days - Time to go back to work

I had my Haglund’s deformity surgery/achilles tendon repair on March 6th, 2013.  As I wrote previously, the achilles/foot was so sore before surgery that after surgery, I felt like a whole new person.  At my 2 week post-op check up, I felt so good, I was sure that the PA would remove the stitches, write me a prescription to begin PT, and tell me to ditch the crutches and get back to work.  W R O N G

The PA that I saw was, of course, one of my former 4th grade students.  Yes, it was strange for him to have to gawk at my ankle/incision, but I had to get over that a long time ago and just go with it.  He did remove the stitches, did a little pokey/pokey asking if it was numb, tingley, etc, and had me put my boot back on.  I was sent home from the surgery in the boot, and never did have a cast.  The PA says, “Everything looks really good-four to five more weeks.”  Four to five more week of WHAT?  What could he possibly mean?  It felt so good, I was ready to go back to my elementary teaching job.  Granted, being on crutches wasn’t real easy, but as good as my achilles felt, I was sure that the crutches would be gone in a couple of days, and back to work it would be.

NOPE- no such luck.  The PA informed me he wanted 4-5 more weeks of rest/elevation/icing, and crutching around.  He did tell me that I could put a little weight on the injured foot, but, very little.  I was crushed-four to five more weeks at home?  Really?  I had already been house bound/ laying flat with my foot elevated for two weeks and two days.  So, back home it was.  The doctor’s appointment at the two week mark was the only the second time I’d been out of the house.  Even though I had the surgery on my left foot, I still hadn’t driven.

Within the next week, I began to see why he wanted 4-5 more weeks of rest.

Around the 3 1/2 week mark post surgery, I started having sharp, jabby pains in the area of the heel spur/Haglund’s deformity and up the back of my calf.  The pain wasn’t as intense as before surgery, but it was getting there.  I iced, elevated, and took Extra Strength Tylenol.  The pain was bad enough, that I called the doctor to inquire about things.  He prescribed some type of muscle relaxer because “your calf muscle was pretty ugly too!”  The muscle relaxer didn’t really seem to help much, but at least it did make it sleepy at night.  Since surgery I’d had a tough time trying to sleep.

After the muscle relaxers ran out, the pain was still pretty persistant.  I called the nurse, and she told me the doctor wanted to see me.  So, I met with the surgeon at about the five week mark post op.  Again, he did some pokey/pokey, removed the rest of the gross scab, and told me that he thought things were progressing fine.  He still wanted me to lay off work for another 2-3 weeks, and then begin both work and physical therapy.  (He told me that when I DID go back to work, I was only to have 5-10 minutes up on my feet, followed by 40 minutes of elevation and icing!!  What?  That was going to be pretty difficult to do as an elementary teacher !!!)

In the meantime, my mom had some pretty major surgery, and spent 3 weeks in ICU at a hospital 4 hours away (and is currently in a rehab program to regain strength).  I was trying to drive up to see her, and crutch across half the earth to get into her hospital room.  (In our family, we do things up right.  Not much goes wrong, but when it rains, it pours!!!)

I started physical therapy about 7 weeks post-op.  I was scheduled to return to work, and finish out the school year, about 8 weeks post-op.  I started back to work on Monday, May 6th, 2013.  I still had the sharp, jabby pain in the heel area, up toward the calf, but both the surgeon and the PT said that the “nerves are regenerating and getting hooked up again.”  Damned nerves.  They need to quit that!!

My school kids were so glad to see me, and I was glad to be back.  I’ll have to admit though, I tire very easily, and  lunch duty and bathroom breaks are a bit difficult (I haven’t had recess duty yet!!).  My co-workers and the kids are great, and they all help out.

As of right now, I only have about 6 days of school left.  I can make it.  I think I can, I think I can.  I have my PT sessions 3 days a week after school.  I am still trying to go see my mom on the weekends.  I can just about get rid of the crutches, and then I have a lot of pain during the day and have to use them again.  The PT says that things aren’t going to get much better until I am finished with school and not up and moving around so much.

For all those just starting the AT recovery - HANG IN THERE.  There will be down days, when you feel like giving up, but hang in there.  I’ve had a couple of mental meltdowns, but I just had to suck it up and get on with it !!!!

I’ll have to admit, that this is the hardest things I’ve ever done.  It is hard to be by yourself for so many days at a time, hard to figure out how to do the laundry, tote it to the utility room, and back to the bedroom, hard to fix something good to eat.  It is also hard to go shopping.  I still haven’t done any grocery shopping by myself.  I’ve had 2 good friends, that would bring me a few supplies as I needed them.  That’s another hard thing - ASKING FOR HELP.  I am NOT very good at asking anybody for help.  I would gladly help out anyone/anytime, but asking for help really sucks.  I have abused these two friends beyond what is reasonable !!!! HA.  There is no way I can ever re-pay them for all that they have done.

So my advice for everyone is - HANG IN THERE.  Things will get better.  Even though I am in a slump right now and I feel that I’m not getting any better, I just have to wait my time out until school is over, and hope for the miraculous recovery (which will probably take a few more months!!)

Until next time - the roller coaster rolls on.

Eight weeks post-op /Still a long process

Today marks eight weeks post-op (surgery March 6th, 2013).  I am still recovering from surgery, but my achilles feels so much better than before.  That bone spur was a killer, as it gnawed my achilles in two.

I was sent home from the surgery center in the walking boot with strict instructions to wear it all the time.  I was allowed to take it off on March 10th to re-dress the incision, but I couldn’t get it wet.  I was also instructed to un-do the velcro strips to ice it.

The first four days after surgery I did not take a real shower.  I just sponged off and washed my hair in the kitchen sink (gross, I know, but I HAD to have clean hair!!).  I was soo afraid of screwing something up, I was cautious about everything.

I was able to use my bad foot for balance only.  I had ordered a rolling knee scooter because I knew the crutches were going to be nearly impossible for a fatty like me to use.  However, that knee scooter was horrible.  With the walking CAM boot, it just hurt to use it.  I HAD to learn to use the crutches.  I’m sure an elephant on stilts isn’t a real nice site to see, but I did manage to use the crutches.  Even though, I am 8 weeks post-op, I am still using the crutches.  I was allowed to go PWB (partial-weight bearing) at about 2 1/2 - 3 weeks, and FWB (full weight bearing) at 4-5 weeks.  However, I just can’t get the hang of walking in the stupid boot, so I am still using one crutch occassionally.

I did find some helpful hints to get around and accomplish things as I recovered.  As I mentioned before, after 3 days, I was on my own to fend for myself during recovery.   The first thing I figured out was that plastic sacks (like Wal-Mart sacks) are your best friend.  You can put anything in a Wal-Mart sack, and carry it in your teeth as you crutch around.  If I fixed a drink, I would put a lid on it, put it in a Wal-Mart sack and crutch to the living room, etc.  Also, I used those plastic sacks to load up my dirty laundry to take to the laundry room.  When the laundry was clean, I folded things, and put them in another Wal-Mart sack to tote them back to my bedroom.  Wal-Mart sacks, very good thing.

Another thing I learned was that a curtain rod that is curvy on the end is very handy.  I used that puppy to pick things up, to reach a wash cloth in the bathroom, to slide the soap to the edge of the tub so I could reach it, etc.

I also hadn’t thought much about the showering process before surgery (even though I had 2 months to prepare), so I had to quickly devise a plan for that.  I used a regular trash bag to tie around my boot and taped it up.  To shower, I sat a regular $20.00 cheapy, wooden bar stool outside my bathtub/shower.  I would sit on this stool and swing my bad leg over the tub.  Then I would stand with my weight on the good foot which was outside the tub and swing over and sit in a 2nd cheapy, wooden bar stool that I had placed IN the bathtub.  This was the way I would shower.  I have seen the plastic showering chairs, but they were way too low for me to use !!!  I also have a removable/ hand held shower head.  This was AWESOME for recovery.

When I first started showering, washing hair, fixing hair, dressing the wound, getting dressed, and changing the liner of the boot, it was nearly a 2 hour process.  It would be lunchtime before I was really dressed and ready for the day.

I did use a wheelchair to make my way around the kitchen for about 3 days, but it was just a total pain.  It was big and bulky and I couldn’t get close enough to the counters.  I had read on this board where somewhere has a rolling stool, like a doctor’s stool.  I ordered one from Amazon for only $50.00 and it has been a lifesaver.  It is very important HOW it is used however.  Never, ever take your bad foot and use it to push or pull yourself across the floor.  My laundry room and kitchen have tile, so the stool rolled very easily.  But remember, only use your good foot to guide your way around.

Thanks to this board, and stories others have shared, I knew I just had to hang in there and muddle by day by day.  It was 11 days before I left the house the first time.  A friend just came to get me and we drove around our little town and got a soda.  I was exhausted afterwards (even though I didn’t get out of the vehicle, she got my soda for me !!).

I was looking forward to my first post-op check up to get my stitches removed.  That appointment was March 22, 2013.  I felt so good, and my heel was no longer so painful, that I was POSITIVE that my doctor would tell me things were progressing nicely and I could resume NORMAL activities and go back to teaching.

The roller-coaster rolls on !!!

Until Next-time —-  To everyone out there recovering-GOOD LUCK.  It’s a long, slow process, but you CAN DO IT.  :  )