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.

4 Responses to “It’s A Week and a Half Into Summer-Where is the Recovery?”

  1. My unedumacated guess is that the ultrasound found and aggravated a nerve. I really doubt it shocked you - but (over) stimulating a nerve could result in exactly the kind of “jolt” feelings that you’re describing. It could be that you have residual inflammation which is pressing on the nerve, again resulting in the jolts that you’re feeling in your calf. Or the mechanical stimulation of pressing the machine head into the area (not the ultrasound vibration) has shifted something - again resulting in pressure on a nerve.

    Ideas? Keep icing and elevating in case it’s inflammation. Maybe try self massage in the area. But, it might be worth a call to the doc too.

  2. I had the same thought as ryanb, that the ultrasound has probably stimulated a nerve. Normally if the u/s settings are too high you would experience thermal effects i.e. heating/burn rather than a jolt.

    I have used a home ultrasound throughout my first 6 months at a setting just below where the heating effect occurs. In the first 6-8 weeks when I used ultrasound I could feel my already aggravated cutaneous nerve was being stimulated. My big toe and the ridge of my foot would tingle slightly.

  3. And I was wondering about overheating or burning. I don’t think our deeper (non-skin) tissues are very “smart” about heat, so the reaction might seem off-base but still be from heat.

  4. It’s been 5 weeks since my FHL surgery. I too am experiencing electric jolts in the arch of my foot and feel large swollen lumps inside my foot. The PT therapist said I should freeze a bottle of water then roll my arch over the frozen bottle to help relieve the swelling and to ease off the stretches which are aggrevating the nerves.

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