Finally, the finish line! Hard to believe it has been a year since my AT failed me but time has flown by since the first few months of NWB in a cast. From where I’m standing now, it really hasn’t been all that bad. (Of course, given the choice, I wouldn’t want to repeat the experience but I can say that it could have been a lot worse.) I have zero complaints about the non-surgical approach. My achilles has slimmed down, I have no scar and I can do everything that I could before my injury (with the exception of being too chicken to get back on the skateboard and too sane to ever go back to hot yoga.) My mile time is still abysmal so that hasn’t changed either Flexibility is back to normal-I can do weighted squats/lunges and burpees/mountain climbers without any problem (well, I still have problems but not due to the achilles.) Things I will continue to work on is a single leg calf raise (it’s half the height of my good leg) and a little more symmetry. I don’t think I really “need” either but a girl can dream
Thanks to everyone here who supported me and provided me with great advice early on and throughout my recovery. This site has been a life saver! I will continue to check in and hope to report back when I get that full calf raise or attain symmetry (don’t hold your breath.) Since I haven’t forgotten how to insert a picture yet, here is the current state of the ugly stepsister for your amusement. Yes, it looks pretty much the same as the last time and the time before that! Hope that everyone is doing well!
Have any of you switched to lower drop running shoes? I can’t believe how much of a difference I have noticed from my old style Saucony versus the new lower heel drop platform. I really don’t know what the delta was on my old shoes but these 8mm are SO different for my weaker leg. I can’t get over how sore they make my calf. The good side is fine but whoa, Nelly, the left side gets tired and sore! I’ve had to reduce my mileage but I’m hoping these will help strengthen my ATR side. Anyone else experience something similar or am I just plain out of shape?
The crutches, the boot, the inflammation all seem like a distant memory. My only reminder is the 2 cm I’m still trying to build. (At 6 months, I had 3 cm to build so I’m making slow progress.) In terms of functional strength, I don’t feel too much of a deficit anymore (although there is a slight weakness that I notice when walking long distances and when wearing certain shoes.) Single heel lifts are another story–I don’t feel much improvement there. I still can’t match the good side and still can’t hold the tippy toe at the tippy top when tippy toeing around. Running up and down the stairs on the ball of my foot is no problem (with or without the laundry basket)–it’s so cool to be able to do that again. I think that is one of the things that I missed the most! Don’t get me wrong, laundry is the bane of my existence but it’s SO awesome to be able to run it up and down the stairs instead of dragging it or throwing it off the balcony.
Overall, I’ve been pretty diligent about the exercise except for several weeks in the month of December which were a major slackfest. Other than that, I’ve been putting my time in on the spin bike and have been doing a fair bit of hills–walking and jogging. It took about 7 months to get to the point where I felt like the strength in my injured leg was equal to my good leg on the spin bike. I noticed the difference mostly when standing but these days, both legs fatigue about the same time and I no longer feel like I’m favoring the strong leg.
The walking/jogging has taken a little longer and I’m still sort of working through it. I experienced some swelling and discomfort on the achilles lump when I first started jogging at 6 months (never made it to the rubber track) which made me back off and get back on the bike for a few days. I got stuck in this cycle for a little over a month. In retrospect, the rubber track was probably a smart idea (should have listened to the Dr.) It may have made the transition to jogging a little easier on my healing achilles (The lump has been absorbed too–I can no longer feel the rupture site although the whole achilles is thickened.) Nowadays, I can walk for miles without any achilles discomfort but I still get a burning sensation on the anterior and lateral muscles of my lower leg (think dorsiflexion.) It bothers me mostly on the flats but goes away on hills or after warming up for several miles. On the whole though, I have no complaints. Even my mile time has improved (although I won’t be breaking any records (personal or other) by any means.
I peek my head in here every now and again and see lots of new names and stories. I’m happy to see some of the “veterans” around too. Whether you are a newbie or a veteran, I hope that you are recovering well and quickly! This has been quite an adventure and am I’m happy to have learned from those who have traveled this path before me. I’ll see you on my One Year Ruptureversary!
No post would be complete without the calf shots, so here you go. I’m becoming increasingly doubtful that symmetry is in my future but I will keep on trying (hate to admit that DH might be right.) Try not to shudder at the frontal shot. Yikes! Photos do not lie. I always think it’s getting better until I look at the pics
Today was my six month appointment with the OS and all is well. I am happy to report that for the first time, he actually said that I made the right decision choosing the non-operative route because I couldn’t expect a better outcome at this point even with surgery. Like Micah, I am cleared to start jogging–preferably on a rubber track for the first several weeks. He also stressed the importance of not overdoing it and taking a couple days off in between jogging events. I am to continue my heel raises and balance work until I check in with him in another six months. At that point, I should be functionally back to normal. There is also a 3 cm difference between my calves which I’m hoping to remedy by then. All in all, I can’t complain. Hope that all is well with you!
ETA: Reporting in after my first walk/jog. I did my mile loop (on the street–such a rebel.) It was reminiscent of learning to walk in two shoes again–it felt good but weird. The recovering leg requires more thought and effort when pushing off the ball of the foot. You all probably knew that but I’m sharing anyway Next time you see a jogger going at a snail’s pace, you can think of me!
Still scrawny but here you go anyway:
I’m getting closer but I’m definitely not there yet. This seemingly endless quest makes me ponder what a single calf raise is exactly. I’m finding myself wanting to re-define it. I can raise up on my bad leg if I’m holding on to something but I can only clear a quick inch off the ground when standing without support. Is this a single calf raise? I think not, but I wish it was. Progress but is slow going. The half way mark is a mere six weeks away and I’m really hoping to have a real single calf raise by then. Yes, I want that next milestone.
Not much is new. I’ve been pretty good about keeping up with the heel raises, lunges, squats, tippy toe walks and such–not so good about doing the band work. I’ve been spinning–half standing, half seated and I’ve noticed great improvement in my foot strength over the last few weeks. I haven’t had much time lately so I’ve been neglecting the hills but I hope to get a few in next week.
While my leg is coming along, it’s still a weanie compared to the other side. I think it is getting ever so slightly better (even if my husband thinks it’s getting smaller and more defined–ugh.) I’m ignoring him, btw. Here are the progress photos–I added the side view so you can get a better view of the atrophy on the left leg. All I can say, is I’m glad we are heading into fall and long pants!
Hope you are all doing well! See you in a few
That’s right, people, my ever so discerning daughters have declared that gimpy has left the house! Limp free, baby! Well, let me clarify that to limp free when wearing good shoes (I’m stealing your material, Ekiaer.) I still hobble around a bit when barefoot or wearing certain shoes. (I’m not quite sure why.) It’s taken a long time but as my strength has improved, my limp seems to have miraculously disappeared (Trin and Micah–you were right!) Along with the limp, my constant worry about my achilles has been diminishing as well. I’m still careful mind you–I just don’t think about it much at all during the course of the day.
These last few weeks I’ve been practicing restraint and it’s a lot harder than it sounds. Take my hill days, for example. I walk up the dam with no problems whatsoever so naturally I think to myself it will be twice as good for me if I walk it twice. I notice a little discomfort half way up and ignore it but by the top, it’s a little sore. It’s a lot more sore as I walk down hill and boy am I happy to see the car. Fast forward to the next day and my achilles is tight and a little swollen–hello ice pack. This has been the ongoing scenario and I was getting a little tired of it. So I thought about it, read a few posts (Yaswak comes to mind) and I decide to try a more conservative approach. This past week, I forced myself to walk the same hill route five times before increasing. (The only thing that I am allowing myself to increase as I see fit is walking on the flats–but honestly, I get so bored that I rarely want to walk further anyway.) This method of slow progress seems to have worked because I doubled the hill without any ill effects the next day. More progress with less regress–I’m sold!
I can see how the milestones become fewer and farther between as we mosey on down recovery road. I notice little improvements here and there–I’ve been able to stand and pedal on the spin bike for 30 seconds at a time now. I’m up to four per session now–adding one every week. It doesn’t hurt but it definitely takes effort. While I haven’t really noticed much quad weakness (on the bad side) in general, I definitely do notice it here. My left quad is WAY weaker and gets a little jittery after 30 seconds of standing. It’s a little frustrating but I’m hopeful that with consistent work, the strength/endurance will come back.
I’ve been keeping up with the band exercises and heel lifts ad nauseum. Not much is new in that department. I was planning on scheduling my fourth and final PT appointment last week but I forgot to call. Now I’m kind of wondering whether I should bother or not. I’m not sure that it is worth the co-pay plus it takes an hour out of my morning–one and a half including drive time Perhaps I will flip a coin! My next milestone will be to try some skating. I never got around to it after my dog incident. I laced them up and skated around the driveway a bit but found my balance a little lacking and the push offs giving me a little trouble. I’d like to give it another go this week. It would be a nice thing to add into the routine for some variety.
It’s slow going around here but I’m still plugging away. I hope all of you are doing the same! Here’s my picture. I know it looks the same but I think it is getting a little bigger. I measured it and was closer to 13″ than it was before. I could have sworn my other calf was 13 but that one now seems to be 13.5″ (a crucial measurement for boot shoppers.) Still a long way to go but at least I’m headed in the right direction
Sometimes, I think it’s good to take a break. After the disappointment of Week 14, I’ve been coasting. I spent a lot of time on my feet–orientations, back to school shopping and that sort of stuff. Squeezed in a few heel lifts and spinning/walking here and there. The good news is the soreness is gone and I’m back up to my 2 miles a day of walking (yes, I’m still walking with a bat.) In fact, I timed my walk today–what took me a little over 20 minutes a few weeks ago, now takes me 16! Whoa, look out, Usain Bolt. I’m on your heels (lol!) I’m not recommending that everyone slack off but I do think that we need to pay attention to the injured leg and ease up when it starts to bother us instead of pushing through it. Rest can be a good thing because the other kind of cool thing I noticed is that I don’t have that same tightness and discomfort when I stand and pedal on my spin bike. At the end of my workout, I always stand for a bit. Up until recently, I had to really lean on the handlebars to take some of the weight off of my injured leg. Boy, was I surprised when I stood and realized I could support most of my body weight without pain. I can also walk up stairs without planting my whole foot on the step–I can let my heel hang off a bit and it feels fine. I don’t really know when this all happened but it seems to have occurred while I was busy slacking off.
I’m back to usual programming for the rest of this week and week 16 with a few tweeks. As my strength and range of motion improves, I’ve realized I can do a few things that I hadn’t tried before. I can do little bunny hops and squat jumps (not very high), jump rope, and supported single calf raises. I can almost tippy toe in place (with bent knees) but I need to hold on to something for balance. I haven’t tried skating yet but I plan to put that on the itinerary for this week along with more hills. This is the view from the “hill” in my backyard. I used to run the dam but these days I’m just happy to walk it. I’ve been taking the paved road but I hope to graduate to the dirt trail one of these days (practicing incremental.) I finally read my handicap placard and realized that parking at county parks is free with a valid handicap placard. Did you know that? The hill is too far away for me to walk to right now but I can park at the Park entrance for free–at least until November! How awesome is that? By the time my placard expires, I should be able to walk or jog there–fingers crossed The view from the top:
One of these days:
I’m afraid I can’t top my “squat toilet” pose from last week but I can tell you that I didn’t think I’d be able to do this for awhile. Balancing stick pose on my bad leg without toppling forward.
Calf muscle is still out of town but here you go anyway. Hope that you are all healing well
I hate to report that Week 14 has been a little bit of a disappointment. I’ve had some ankle/achilles soreness after getting the bejeezus scared out of me when I got charged by a loose dog. I did a combination of running and hopping to get back in the house and my achilles is still angry with me. I’ve cut back the walking to once a day (armed with my friend, L. Slugger.) Let’s just say that dog better hope he doesn’t cross my path again–batter up! I gave up on my walk today–I was just too sore so I sat on the bike for awhile. Inspired by ekiaer, I laced up the skates but that was a no go too. Too much discomfort on the achilles trying to maintain balance on my injured leg–pushing off even gently was uncomfortable.
So what is new, you ask? Well, let me tell you. I can squat all the way down like this now. It was only a few weeks ago that I could barely get my quads parallel to the ground. Look at me now! (Of course, I don’t really know if this is a position I even need but if I ever need to get really small, I know I can do it.) My ankle flexibility is definitely improving.
Next new trick: I can get a non-zippered boot on! This is a major coup in Kellyland! I could barely get my foot into the shaft of the boot three weeks ago (yes, I tried.) PT said my ankle would eventually loosen up and she was right. I see my shoe options opening up for me come fall. Not my favorite pair, but they are comfy, low heeled and hide the ugly stepsister.
I’m hoping that the achilles discomfort dissipates over the next few days. I will be taking it easy and limiting my walking. Heel raises and balance exercises don’t bother it too much so I will keep up with those. Hope to be back to “normal” next week. Take it easy, Peeps!
“You can’t expect to be any further along than you are right now” is what the Doctor said to me today. (I may or may not have been ever so slightly whining about my slow progress.) Not sure I believe him but I guess that’s a pretty good place to be. Strength and range of motion is good and the tendon has filled in quite nicely. I asked him about the tender bump above the rupture point and he said that is a good indication that I’m healing. He would be more concerned if there wasn’t a bump! Who knew? I guess the tendon ends don’t just heal at the rupture site all neat and tidy. I learned something new.
We went over things that I have been doing and should continue doing. I almost laughed when he said to increase incrementally–little does he know how familiar I am with that word. He said to practice the exaggerated soldier walk and really lift off on the ball of my foot on the injured leg. Walking is good and that I can gradually increase mileage. No jogging until I can do a set or two of single heel raises. I’m allowed to in-line skate if I want but to start out for 15 minutes and increase time gradually (add 5-10 minutes each time.) I may feel great and may want to go longer but need to remember that it is important to see how I feel the next day too (that’s the part I tend to forget about.) I can go back to yoga as long as I’m careful not to over stress the tendon with balancing postures. Skiing in December/January should be no problem since my ankles will be in a fixed boot. (I may not share this tidbit with the family–I was kind of hoping for a tropical vacation this winter for a change–so mums the word.) I can continue PT but he thinks that I’ll do just as well on my own. He recommends that I talk to the PT next visit and see if more visits are necessary–he will approve them if needed. As for shoes, I can wear regular shoes now and just need to make sure they have a 1″ differential between the sole and the heel. I was surprised to hear that my running shoes aren’t really high enough and that I should add a heel pad or two to take the stress off the tendon while the healing continues (thanks for the tip on the gel pads, AndrewC.) My next appointment is in three months–I wonder what I can accomplish by then? Single calf raise, maybe? (Dream of a single calf raise is more like it.)
These weeks in two shoes are kind of blurring together. I switched back to the elliptical this week, lowered the ramp and tried to concentrate on lifting my heels as I step. I added an extra mile to my walk on Monday which I regretted on Tuesday. (Hello? 50% increase is not incremental.) I won’t be doing that again any time soon. I also had a mis-step on the stairs–I let me foot hang off the step when going up with the laundry basket. Ouch! The closer I get to normal, the more careless I seem to get. Need to watch that!
I expect this week will be more of the same–I will keep slogging along if you guys do the same!
In lieu of the calf close up (which looks the same as last week,) I’m going to share my calf routine which I perform at the barre (my stair rails.) For those of you have taken ballet, I’m doing plie and releve in first, second and fifth position. It works the calves differently and adds some variety to the standard shoulder width calf raise. I also do the pigeon toed version (toes together and heels out.) These weren’t prescribed by PT so be advised. I don’t see how they could hurt though. I do think you have to build up to them–I’ve only recently had the calf strength to do them. You’d be surprised how different they feel from the standard shoulder width calf raise!
See you next week
These weeks in two shoes sure fly by unlike the l-o-n-g days of NWB! I’ve been doing pretty much the same things but have upped my walks to a little over 2 miles a day. I’m still limping but I’ve been told it is getting better (my family is not one to sugar coat anything so I’m pretty sure this is true.) One thing I’ve noticed is how weak my foot is when it comes to rolling off the forefoot–the weakness is primarily the calf and not so much the achilles. I’ve been keeping up with the spin bike too–I can stand with less discomfort but not enough to do very much. I stay seated for most of the ride. The exercises/stretches PT gave me seem to be helping. Heel raises are getting easier–I don’t feel like I’m going to get a charlie horse in my calf every time I get onto the ball of my foot. I can also really get my heels off the ground now even without support. Same goes for the calf stretch–hanging over the stairs doesn’t make me want to cry. It’s uncomfortable but in a good kind of way. Stairs are getting better too. I can almost walk heel to toe instead of rolling off the edge on my instep. It doesn’t feel natural yet but I can see how I will eventually master the stairs again.
PT is having me try kinesio tape to see if it makes a difference. It’s suppose to stay on (even with showers) for up to three days–so I will let you know how it goes. She said there is a good YT video on how to self tape the ankle so you might give that a looksy if you are interested. I haven’t seen it yet as I’m not convinced it will make a difference.
In addition to the other exercises/stretches, I got some new balance exercises using the theraband that I’m excited to start working on. I’m sure many of you have been doing them already but they are forward, backwards and lateral stretches done while standing on the injured leg. Lateral is definitely the hardest for me right now and I find I really have to engage my calf to maintain my balance. I’m suppose to do wall sits with the ball while doing toe taps–not sure what that does except engage my quads (but whatever. She said to do it, so I’ll do it.) The other new exercise is kind of a slow walking simulation that emphasizes rolling off the foot. This is suppose to help me correct my limp. From standing position, step forward with the good leg while slowly rolling off the injured leg on to the toe (right to left):
then slowly roll back on the injured foot, raise the good leg and balance on the injured leg, step back on to the good leg while keeping the injured heel on the ground and lifting the toes (left to right) :
This therapist offered a little more guidance in what to do and how often. I asked her if I should be increasing my walks and she said to keep it at around a two miles a day until I get rid of the limp. She thought adding in some hills would be good. She also thought using the elliptical would be better until I can spin while standing–saying that weight bearing will probably produce more benefit that seated spinning at this point. I asked about jogging and she said she wouldn’t bother trying until I can do single leg calf raises–gulp, that’s going to be awhile.
All in all, I can’t complain. Slow progress is better than nothing and two shoes is better than the boot! Hope that you are all doing well.