Kerri’s AchillesBlog

Just another AchillesBlog.com weblog

4 months post-op

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 8:57 am on Friday, August 21, 2015

Okay, I’m just going to post a few quick updates. At this point, I feel that I’m almost back to normal as far as everyday activities. That is, I can walk around my house, get up and down stairs (slowly, especially going down), and I’ve made it through trips to the zoo, Hershey Park, and the aquarium, which all included quite a bit of walking. My heel and ankle became sore after walking, and my achilles too after a few hours, but I made it. I was even able to walk on the sand the other week. There’s still that stubborn limp though that comes after sitting too long and when I get tired. Still, it is getting better.
So, progress, but I’m still nowhere near where I used to be as far as strength and physical activity. I had my last PT appointment this week since I have to go back to school, so now I just have a home program to do in the gym at school. I’m not allowed to run until I can do 5 single leg calf raises. This could be a while since I’m not yet able to do even 1 and I can’t walk on my toes yet. I’m supposed to start by using a machine with 25% of my body weight and work from there. I signed up for the Color Run at school, so I guess I’ll be walking that. I’m so anxious to just be able to jump, and run, and at least do back handsprings and bars. They don’t even want me on a beam because of what could happen if I fall. Patience is the name of the game.
I discovered during the mess that was me trying to pack that my ankle is too week to wear heels, so I’ll be wearing a lot of sneakers and flats this year. Oh, I got new shoes! They are nikes, and they have a higher heel than my last pair, so they feel great when I wear them! I had to try on so many pairs to find one I liked though. This was the first time… ever… That I really had to think about how shoes felt, their shape, how I walked in them, and how the back hit my scar. Of course, I would think about fit some before, but I could basically pick up any nikes in my size and the felt great - not the case anymore. Not that it’s important, but I got a new backpack that matches my shoes, and I’m super excited.
Even with my new shoes, I’m nervous about getting around campus, which is super hilly. We’ll see how it goes.
Okay, just a few questions to wrap things up:
What is okay pain and what is bad pain? Is there a rule to it like stretching is okay but sharp pain is not?
Did anyone else experience just enough swelling/scar tissue to make your shoe snug? And does anyone have recommendations for comfortable dress shoes?
Okay, that is all. Now I’m off for my junior year of college! In like 3 hours! Yay yay yay I’m so excited I can’t contain it aaaaaaaaaaaah! Thanks for reading!

3 months (and 3 days) Post-op!

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 1:13 pm on Saturday, July 25, 2015

Wow, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since I heard that awful snap.  I went to the doctor this week at exactly 13 weeks or 3 months post op.  He pushed on it and moved it, and this time he wiggled it around and then jolted it back.  It was like a quick forced dorsi-flexion, and it was not pleasant.  But, the tendon could handle the force, so yay!  He told me that my strength is average, but my walking and range of motion is below average.  That was a little disappointing.  He told me to just stretch a lot and wear a night splint that holds my foot in a flexed position when I sleep.  It’s super uncomfortable, so I’ve just been wearing it when I sit around.  It seems to help a lot though when I get up to walk after wearing it.  It doesn’t hurt my tendon, but the outside of my lower leg always hurts after wearing it, so that’s weird.

He told me I don’t need any more follow-ups, so I guess it’s all up to me and PT from here on out.  I think I need to trust it more.  I’ve become so used to being cautious, that it’s become a habit.  For example, if I don’t think about it, I still go down the steps like a little kid, only stepping down onto my right foot.  Also, during my most recent beach trip, I wanted to go feel the water, but after one step in the sand, I felt like I wouldn’t be able to make it down and back.  Looking back, I feel like if I had tried a few more steps to let myself get comfortable, I probably would have been fine.  I think I was just nervous.  It seems I need to push myself a bit harder and start doing things before I feel 100% ready.  After all, there are only 4 weeks left until I have to walk uphill to all my classes!

Okay, I’m going to go stretch and practice walking now.  Happy healing!

Walking, PT, and 2 Shoes

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 3:56 pm on Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Okay, it’s been a long while since I last posted.  Since then, I was cleared to walk in the boot at 6 weeks post-op, then I started PT at 7 weeks, and moved into 2 shoes at 9 weeks.  So, I’ll just talk a little bit about each of these steps.

At the 6 week appointment, my doctor told me I could start weight bearing.  He said to keep using the crutches to partial weight bear for about 4 days before going FWB.  It was an evening appointment, so I just played around with partial weight bearing using crutches for that night.  It was super weird.  There was pain in my heel –kind of a stinging pain– when I put weight on it, my leg felt week, and it felt like I weighed about a million pounds.  Also, after 6 weeks NWB, my body’s instinct was to avoid putting my foot down, especially with my full weight on it.  The morning after the appointment, I took my first steps without crutches.  I kept carrying things around in my hands just because I could.  I used crutches on and off that day, but I was completely done with them after that — so much for 4 days of PWB.  For the first week or two walking in the boot, the pain in my heel continued, and I also felt soreness in all the tendons on the top of my foot.  It was also a bit frustrating that I was only allowed to stand for 15 minutes at a time and I had a pretty severe limp that slowed me down a lot more than the crutches did.  It was like taking a step backwards in terms of mobility.  But, it’s all part of the process.

Transitioning to 2 shoes was not too bad, but I was again frustrated by my slowness.  He told me to “wean out of the boot” and I “don’t have to go cold turkey,” but I haven’t put the boot on at all since that 9 week appointment.  My limp was really bad at first, as I was afraid of over stretching my tendon by bringing my un-injured foot too far in front of it.  But, that is getting better slowly but surely with twice a week PT along with daily “homework” and practicing walking around my house.  The thing that bothers me most at this point is stiffness when I wake up and pain where my shoe rubs my heel, but there isn’t a lot of actual pain or swelling in my tendon.  Also, since my leg is so week, my knee sometimes hyper-extends when I’m walking.  I also hate having to wear shoes and socks all the time.  I would much rather be barefoot.  In other news, the calf squeeze test finally works!  And, my family has promoted my from Gimp to Limp in the nickname ranks! Okay, that’s enough about that.

Now onto another part of the process, physical therapy.  I went to the same place that I went to about 7 years ago for tendonitis and stress reactions in my feet, and they still remembered me!  I guess I haven’t changed that much since I was 12-13 years old?  Anyways, they did the eval, and what surprised me most was that I lost a lot of big toe flexibility.  I also found out that the pain in my heel and foot was from nerves waking up and atrophy of the fat pads in my feet.  They had me do some easy exercises — marbles, toe curls, seated wobble board, alphabet, and just moving my foot up and down.  I only got two marbles in my alotted 4 minutes on the first day, but it got a lot better within a few days.  I also do massage, Game Ready, and Stim (the shocky thing) every day.  Since then, I’ve progressed to a lot more exercises.  I’ll try to list some of my favorite things I do in PT now at 1 day shy of 11 weeks post op.

Treadmill - stand with left foot on the part that doesn’t move and let repaired leg ride along on the moving part to retrain the motion of walking.  This is probably my favorite exercise because right after it I am able to walk with basically no limp

Bosu - I stand on the ball with the balls of my feet at the center and then press my toes down so my feet are parallel to the ground.  It’s great because it really works my calf, and I can clearly see when I’m favoring my repaired leg

Seated Heel and Toe raises

Plantar-flexion, dorsi-flexion, and whatever sideways movement is called with resistance band

Okay, I think I got it all.  Sorry for the somewhat confusing explanations.

Yeah, so I’m happy with the steady progress, but I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get back to 100%.  I mean, I don’t want to go back to gymnastics all the way, but I want to at least be able to do bars, dance, and workout.  I’ve created and started following a low impact workout schedule since I can’t stand being inactive, but what about dancing?  I just want to know if, realistically, I should expect to eventually be able to balance on my repaired leg on releve and do turns on it and do switch leaps that both take off and land on my repaired leg.  Are any of you dancers who have come back after this injury? I’m also looking forward to maybe trying new activities once I’m all healed up.  Any suggestions for sports that are a little lower impact that gymnastics?

Wow, if you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed.  Thanks for sticking with me through my boring summer day ramblings!  Happy healing!

Tips for Getting Around on Crutches

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 8:40 pm on Monday, May 25, 2015

I’ve gotten some compliments on my crutching skills, so I figured I’d share some of my secrets.

Oh, and just so you know, the first week on crutches is the hardest, so don’t get discouraged.  They’ll always be annoying (I threw mine down on the ground today because I was mad that I couldn’t get them to lean against my desk), but it will get easier to get around.

Stairs: Stairs are easiest using only one crutch.  That way you can hold on to the railing with one of your hands so there’s no chance of falling forwards or backwards down the stairs.  To go down stairs, put the crutch down first and then bring your foot down.  To go up, lift your body up first and then the crutches.

Doors: The best way to get through a door is to look helpless so someone will hold it open for you.  But really, it’s easiest to push the door open really hard with one arm and then quickly put your crutch against the bottom like a door stop.  Then the door will be open and you can just go right through.

Carrying Dishes: You have to move kind of slowly, but it works.  I like to put the plate or glass in the same hand as my injured foot.  Then, I just hold my arm really close to my body so it doesn’t slip out and I move along.  Sometimes I kick the crutch forward with my bad leg to make it move forward faster too.

Carrying larger things like books and laptops: Use the same method as above, but with both arms.  Squeeze them very close to your body and kind of just use your arms and upper body to swing the crutches forward and than swing forward.  While this is certainly doable, I definitely recommend just using a backpack.

Small items like phone, wallet, and chap stick: Shove it in your sports bra, or, better yet, a fanny pack.  There is an event at school where it is socially acceptable to wear fanny packs, and I found out that they’re so convenient!  I wish I could wear a fanny pack every day of my life.

Escalators: Don’t do it.

I have pretty good upper body strength and balance from gymnastics, so I think that helps a lot.  My biggest tip would be to get creative.  Seriously, no one judges you when you’re injured.  And, even if they do, you getting around is more important than what someone might think of you.  Just find what works for you, and go with it.  Also, buy a fanny pack.  That is all.

Best of luck with recovery!

A Busy Start to Summer: 2-4.5 weeks post-op

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 8:01 pm on Monday, May 25, 2015

Wow, I haven’t written in quite a while!  I’ve been super busy.  Here’s a quick recap of what has happened during the past few weeks.

I finished my sophomore year of college. That means no more finals, and no more walking miles a day on crutches to get to classes or exams!  But, that also means I had to pack up my entire dorm room and move out.  Packing on crutches is … hard, to say the least.  My friends and parents actually ended up doing most of the packing and took everything to the car for me.  Then, we bought a ton of ice cream with my extra meal points and headed home for the summer.  It’s always bittersweet leaving.  As much as I’m glad I don’t have any classes to worry about for a while, I kind of wish I could stay there forever; it’s basically my favorite place in the world.

I went to D.C. to see my brother conduct an orchestra at a museum. This was actually really cool.  The thing is, the metro is not so cool.  First off, I think it’s gross and a little scary.  The real issue though is accessibility.  Have you tried using an escalator on crutches?  If you haven’t, don’t.  If you have, you know my struggle.  Someone had to stand behind me and hold onto me to keep me from falling when I got on to go up.  We found the elevators to go down, but it was a hassle because we had to go down and across then down another elevator and then back up again to get to the level we needed.  How do they even think to make things so complicated.  I don’t know, but it was a good day nonetheless.

I studied for my first actuary exam. For a week and a half after I finished school, I spent basically all of my time studying.  I had taken a class that covered most of the material, so it just involved a lot of video lectures, practice exams, and practice problems.  It was rough.  After getting 37% on my first practice exam, I developed an excuse I could use after I failed.  Since I missed a week of school, I had to focus on catching up on school work instead of studying, so I was not adequately prepared.  Sounds reasonable, right?

I got my cast off.  On Wednesday, May 13th, during my first week of studying, I got my cast off!  The doctor also took my stitches out.  My leg is soooo tiny! They fit me for a boot, but my foot would not stretch far enough to go flat in the boot, so I’m getting it readjusted tomorrow so my foot will be flat and I can hopefully walk on it in a boot next week!  I take off the boot 6 times a day to move my foot up and down, and I take it off to shower too.  It always seems like it gets tighter after I shower, which is weird.  The best thing is my range of motion has increased significantly just from moving it.  Initially, I couldn’t even get my foot to a 90 degree angle with my leg, and now it goes almost as far as my other foot.

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I took my first actuary exam.  I went in fully expecting to fail, so I just treated it like a practice exam.  It seemed easier than the practice exams, and I got a preliminary pass!  Take that achilles, I don’t need to use you as an excuse!  I also ended up with a 4.0 this semester thanks to a kind math professor who rounded my 92.86 up to an A.  Sorry to be braggy, but I just think this goes to show that you don’t have to let this injury slow you down.

I went to my brother’s graduation.  After sitting through the university wide ceremony and watching about 1500 students walk across the stage during his college’s ceremony, he’s finally graduated.  And, I never want to go to another graduation in my life.  Unfortunately, my other brother graduates high school next year, I graduate college the following year, and my little sister graduates high school the year after that.  So, I’m in for a lot of graduations in the upcoming years.  My family and my brother’s best friends family went out after graduation for a crab feast.  I refuse to eat them because I don’t like seeing their eyes and ripping their legs off, but I like it when we have crabs because they take forever to eat so it’s a very social event.  His friend’s sister had knee surgery the same week I had surgery, and I’m jealous because she was weight bearing as tolerated right after surgery and her scar looks much better than mine.  My scar still has a big scab at the bottom that looks kind of gross.  Oh well, it’ll heal eventually.

Yeah, so those are all the major things that I’ve done.  Now that all that is over, I have absolutely nothing to do, and it’s really weird.  I finally finished unpacking from school today — it only took 2 weeks — so I guess that’s something.  I haven’t had this much free time since I was in second grade because I’ve always had gymnastics practices and summer jobs.  I’m sure I’ll go to the beach at some point, but I want to wait until I’m out of my boot so I don’t have to worry about it getting sandy.  Maybe I’ll knit, or scrapbook, or actually do all the DIY projects on my Pinterest boards.  Okay, now I’m just rambling.  Hope everyone has a great start to summer!

Oh, and I’m posting a picture of my scar too.

The scar is coming

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It is ugly

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Stop scrolling if your squeamish

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Last chance to avoid seeing the incision!!!!!

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Here it is!

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It Works!: 1 week post-op appointment and week 2 after surgery

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 6:54 pm on Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It had finally been 1 week since surgery, and I was finally ready to graduate from a splint to a real cast.  The nurse and doctor took off the dressing, and I warned them not to let me see the incision since I really don’t like stitches.  When they got it off, the doctor said everything looked good!  But, he said it was tighter than he would like it to be.  The gap was really big, so he had to either make it a little tight or extend the tendon, and he decided to make it tight.  I don’t even want to know how he would have extended it.  He had me press against his hand with my foot, and I could feel the muscles and tendon working!  It works, it works!

It was a huge relief, because I had a fear that somehow the surgery didn’t work and my achilles still wouldn’t work right.  Even though I didn’t look at the incision, my mom took a picture of it.  I’m putting further down in this post for you to see if you want.  Hopefully it will be far enough that you don’t have to see it if you don’t want to.  It’s pretty big and crooked.  It looks like I had a tipsy surgeon, but I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason it’s shaped like that.

They had me flex my foot until it was slightly uncomfortable and then put me in a pretty purple cast.  I wasn’t going to have people sign it, but a lot of people asked to, so I let them.  It’s like an elementary school flash back.  It’s weird that it feels like it’s stretching so much even though it’s not even at 90 degrees.  I took pain medication for the last time that night, and I’m so glad I’m done with it.

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Question:  Would it be considered cheating if I wrote notes or formulas on my cast for finals?  It’s not like they can make me take it off.

On Thursday morning, my mom drove me back to school to go to my last two days of classes.  Since then, the pain has not been bad at all.  It sometimes feels tight or sore, but it’s really not bad.  I made it to classes okay, but it’s really hard to get food.  I got to go to the worship service I usually go to on Thursday nights and see a lot of my friends, and then on Friday I finished a few projects and attended the last few classes of my sophomore year!  I don’t like that I’m already half way done.  I want to stay here forever!

On Saturday, I studied for finals and went to the gymnastics club end of year picnic.  It was a perfect study break.  I got to see my friends before we all leave for summer, eat picnic foods, and enjoy the weather, which is finally warm!  Then, it was back to my dorm for more studying.

On Sunday, I went to Church, and I got to talk to someone who ruptured their achilles almost two years ago.  She reassured me that all the weird little pains I feel are normal.  Then, I studied some more.  Studying is a common theme for this week.

Monday came around, and it was time for my first final!  When I went to my first exam in a testing center, I was struggling to get my ID out of my backpack while I was waiting in line, and I dropped my pencil on the ground.  Then, the people around me just stared at it!  I’m going to say it’s because they were so focused on the upcoming exam, but still.  I was already basically falling over trying to get my things out of my backpack.  Fortunately, someone who works there came over and let me skip the line and go in through a handicap gate instead of waiting in line and going through turnstiles.  That would have been disastrous.  Yeah, so she carried my stuff and I got to go in and take my exam.

After that exam, I got lunch and then took another exam in a computer lab.  I’m not going to go into how it happened, but I accidentally took the wrong exam, which took about an hour.  Eventually, I realized it was the wrong exam, so I opened the actual final and completed it, which took 2 hours.

By the time I got back to my dorm, my foot had been down over 3 hours.  My toes were giant!  I elevated it for a while, but it didn’t really help.  I gave up on getting the swelling down and went to study with some friends.  Then, we all went and got food together.  I really like spending time with friends now, even if it means crutching forever, because it makes me feel more normal.

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On Tuesday, I had an 8:00 am math final on the other side of campus.  When I got to the building, I couldn’t find the elevator, so I sat down and scooted down the stairs.  No shame.  In the afternoon, I had a Skype interview, so that was kind of fun.  Also, that night, I got dinner with two friends, one who was the chair of an organization this past year, and the other who will be co-chair with me next year!  I’m really excited about this position, and it gives me something else to do while I can’t be as active.

Today I didn’t have any finals, so I got brunch with my future roomie and got to be super lazy today.  It’s now two weeks post-surgery, and here are some takeaways.

The Hardest Parts:

Being waited on–I hate my lack of independence.  I want to do things on my own, but I have to have my friends do things like open doors and carry my tray at the dining hall.

Carrying things–carrying a laptop on crutches takes a lot of coordination

Keeping swelling down–it’s hard to keep my foot up all the time when I’m studying and taking exams, and it gets kind of painful.  It also starts to feel like my foot’s cramping, but I can’t stretch it out since it’s in a cast.  And, my toes still turn purple pretty quickly when I put it down.

Rain–I can’t really avoid walking places, so I’ve resorted to the trash bag over the cast method for getting around campus in the rain

Physical exhaustion–I usually wake up with a pretty good attitude, but by the end of the day, I just want to cry.  I’m tired from crutching, and I’m frustrated from all the little things throughout the day that were hard because of my injury.  It causes me to get upset over little things.  For example, I could only miss 3 questions on my math final to get an A.  I missed 4, putting me at a 92.86 (a 93 is an A) in the class, and so I cried over my A-.  I should not have gotten so upset over that, but I swear injuries amplify emotions.

The Best Parts:

Restored faith in humanity–when strangers hold doors, offer to help you get food, and ask if you need anything, it just makes you happy to know there are so many kind-hearted people in the world

Focus on other things–typically, I would spend a lot of my free time at the gym.  Now, I’m forced to do more sedentary things like studying for finals and for my first actuary exam!

My left leg–it’s getting pretty toned

Friends are the best–I feel so loved by all of my friends who have gone out of their ways to help me.  And, even when they don’t realize it, just being around them brightens my mood every time.

Things to Work on:

PATIENCE–I need to remember that I’m not going to heal overnight, and it’s okay to need help with some things.  I wish there was a way I could speed up the process, but it just takes time.  I need to just focus on what I can do instead of just sitting and longing to be back in the gym.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even find a new hobby that I can keep doing when I’m recovered!

Thanks for reading!  Now I’m all up to date and my posts should start getting shorter and easier to read.  Let me know if you have any comments!

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Okay, as promised, a picture of my leg is coming

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STOP SCROLLING IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE MY INCISION

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INCISION PIC COMING SOON!

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HERE IT IS!

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Wow, look at the pretty colors!

Back to School!

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 4:34 pm on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My dad drove me back to school on Sunday night, and it did not go as well as I had anticipated.  I got very uncomfortable from the long car ride, I felt sick to my stomach, and I was exhausted from crutching from the parking garage to the dining hall and back.  I was also trying not to use my pain medicine, so I think I only took it twice that day.  The first place I went when I got back was the gym to see my friends and teammates, so that made my day a little better.

Luckily, my parents are amazing, so I stayed in a hotel with my dad so he could help me get around Monday.  At first, I was a little embarrassed to have my dad walking with me to classes, but I got over it quickly.  Our campus is huge and hilly.  Luckily, my furthest class this semester is only about .2 miles away, and I only need to walk a few miles total in a day to get everywhere I need to be.  But, it seems much longer on crutches.  Also, almost every walkway and building has at least a couple steps to get into it.  I can handle it on crutches, but how do people in wheelchairs manage getting around here?  Anyways, classes were a little rough.  During my 9:05 probability theory class, my eyes were definitely closed at least half the time.  The pain medicine just makes me fall asleep!  So, I didn’t take any more after that except to go to sleep at night.  Other than that, I was able to stay awake in my other classes, but it was pretty tricky finding ways to keep my foot elevated various classrooms and lecture halls.

On Monday night, my mom came up and traded places with my dad, and we stayed in a hotel again.  I was able to go hang out with some of my friends, which made me feel a little more normal.  After that, I had to buckle down.  I had to do a quiz that was due the next day and start studying for my make up stat exam that was also Tuesday.  I told my professor I wasn’t supposed to come back until Thursday, but he said I had to take it by Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I went to class, then I studied with a friend before taking my exam.  It did not go well.  I left most of the first problem blank, and about 20 points of the exam was on the one topic we covered while I was out.  But, at least if I fail I have an excuse.  I stayed in the hotel one more night, and the next day I went to all my classes before my mom drove me home for my 1 week post-op appointment.

Here are my takeaways from my first 3 days back:

-I probably went back too soon, and I recommend waiting a little longer

-Crutching is exhausting

-My parents are the best

-Campus is not that handicap-accessible

-Doors to public buildings are really heavy

-Campus is big- SO BIG

How long did everyone else wait before going back to school/work?  I felt like a baby for staying home so long since my friend was back 2 days after arm surgery, but I’m wondering what the typical time off is for this injury.

That’s all for right now!  Next time  I’ll tell you about my 1 week post-op!

Home Sweet Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 4:06 pm on Tuesday, May 5, 2015  Tagged , , ,

Wednesday: The rest of Wednesday was not bad at all.  The nerve block was still in effect, so I felt no pain.  I basically stayed on the couch all day with my leg elevated and slept a lot.  Really the only problems that first day were a sore throat and a little nausea.

Thursday: Around 5:20 am, I woke up in horrible pain.  Yup, the nerve block wore off.  The next 4 hours or so were pretty rough.  I’m not good at describing pain, but I would say it was mostly an intense ache throughout my entire calf and ankle.  I started taking my pain medicine in doses of 1.5 pills instead of 1 every 4 hours — don’t worry, the prescription says 1-2.  I actually hate the pain medicine though because it made me nauseous and made me fall asleep.  After about 10:00 am, the pain was bearable, but definitely still present.  I spent a lot of the day sleeping again.

Friday: This day was much less painful than Thursday, which was great.  I tried to do some school work, but it’s hard on pain meds.  I still had no appetite.  I had a phone interview for a summer job in the afternoon, and I don’t really remember how it went.  I had to miss a banquet at school that I was looking forward to, so I was upset about that, but there was no way I would have made it through an evening of dinner and dancing.  Yeah, the rest of the day was pretty uneventful.

Saturday: It was basically the same as Friday minus the phone interview.  I tried to paint my toenails, but I couldn’t see all my toes because of the splint, so it didn’t go that well.  Just look at the picture.  It was my last full day at home though.  The surgeon wanted me to stay home until after my appointment the following Wednesday, but he said I needed to wait until Monday at the very least.  So, I headed back on Sunday night so I could make it to Monday classes.

Displaying 20150425_145744.jpg

Aside from when the nerve block first wore off, the pain was very manageable.  The hardest part post surgery was learning to accept that I couldn’t do everything for myself.  Also stairs.  Stairs are hard.  But, it’s only temporary, and it’s all part of the journey to full recovery!

Surgery

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 3:40 pm on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sorry, no creative title this time.  I went into the surgery center around 7:00 am on Wednesday, April 22nd–Earth day!  I signed my life away, and then I went back to a curtained off room and got into a gown and all that jazz.  I HATE needles, so the nurse–who was absolutely wonderful at her job–had me lay down when they put in the IV.  After that, I answered some questions, they told me some things about recovery, the doctor came in and initialed my leg to make sure he doesn’t cut open the wrong one, and then the anesthesiologist came in.

They gave me something to make my “goofy” while they did the nerve block.  They just put a couple needles in the side of my knee, and it was cool because I didn’t have to see the actual needle, but I could see it on the ultrasound screen in front of  me that they used to see where the nerve was.  Beyond that, I vaguely remember being rolled to a different room and then someone putting a mask over my face and telling me to take deep breaths.  She told me it was just oxygen, but I have a feeling I was getting a little more than just oxygen.

The next thing I remember is waking up.  I had a new splint on, and I was back in the curtained off room.  The first thing I said was “when can I go back to school?”  What a nerd.  The nurse brought me peanut butter crackers and ginger ale, and then my dad came in.  I kept just holding up my leg and looking at it; I’m not sure why.  My throat was pretty sore from the breathing tube they shoved down it for surgery, but my leg didn’t hurt.  My leg kept shaking though, so the nurse gave me pain medicine because she said it was my body’s reaction to the pain even though my brain wasn’t registering the pain.  Interesting.  I got dressed, hopped over to a wheelchair, and they let me leave around 10:00 or 10:30 in the morning.

My dad told me what the surgeon told him about the surgery.  Apparently the incision was bigger than he wanted it to be, and I have an extra tendon.  Only like 10% of people have it, and it just runs along my achilles and doesn’t do anything.  So, he cut it and used it to reinforce my achilles.  Isn’t that awesome?!  I’m like a superhuman!  No wonder I was so good average at gymnastics!  There was also a 5 centimeter gap between the two ends of my tendon, so that’s cool.  Apparently every time I walked it moved further up my calf.  There was a bit of scar tissue since I didn’t get surgery until 13 days after the injury, but he said it helped that I’m young and flexible.  So, yeah.  I’m just happy I woke up.

Let me know if you have any other interesting surgery stories!

Okay, I think that’s all.

Oh, and to anyone who may be nervous about surgery, don’t be.  It’s really not that bad.  Plus, you won’t remember most of it, and it’s helping you get better!

Trainers, Doctors, and Surgeons, Oh My!

Filed under: Uncategorized — kerri at 3:17 pm on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but I enjoy writing it, so here comes another piece of my story!  When we last left off, I had just ruptured my achilles, and I thought I was fine.  This post will cover how I found out I wasn’t so fine.

I walked around the entire afternoon on Thursday, the day of the injury, and then I spent the next day at a science museum and probably walked just as much.  Actually, according to my Fitbit, I took 18,515 steps that day–on a ruptured achilles.  It took me forever to get anywhere, but I was convinced that it’d get better if I kept walking.  Our team actually made it to finals, which was super exciting, so they competed again on Saturday.  I was a little bummed that I couldn’t compete, but it was nice to just be on the floor with them taking pictures and cheering on my teammates.  It’s so much less stressful when you don’t have to compete!  That night, we had a banquet.  I wore 6 inch wedges, naturally.  The next day, we drove back to school.  Since I still couldn’t walk properly or balance on 1 foot, I made an appointment with the club sports trainer that we can go to for free.  And so began the series of doctor visits.

Trainer, Monday 4/13:  I hobbled in, and he did a quick examination of my leg and ankle.  Then, he had me lay on my stomach and he did the calf squeeze test.  He didn’t say what happened, just that I should see UHS, the doctors on campus.  He then had me ice and use those electro-shocky physical therapy things for 20 minutes and told me to find crutches to use.

Doctor, Tuesday 4/14: I made my way across campus to UHS, now on crutches I was borrowing from a teammate.  I told the doctor my main concerns, which were that I couldn’t balance on my right leg at all and I couldn’t stand on my toes.  Every day, I had been trying to do both of these things, but when I put the ball of my foot down to stand on my toes, my whole foot would just go to the ground; I had absolutely no strength to support myself like that.  She did the calf squeeze test, and said “oh no, that’s not working.”  It’s not quite what I wanted to hear.  She told me to keep using crutches and go to an orthopaedic.

Surgeon #1, Friday 4/17: My friend drove me to the orthopedic office, and in under a minute, he diagnosed my injury as an achilles tendon rupture.  Like all the others, he just squeezed my calf and knew.  I showed him that I could point my toes — I’d been practicing this every day as well — but he said it was just other muscles compensating.  He informed me about a possible non-surgical method, but he said he wouldn’t use it on someone as young and active as me because I wouldn’t be satisfied with how it healed.  He told me he could do surgery Tuesday and to call my parents to see if they wanted me to do surgery there or at home, which is about 3 hours from school.  We decided to do surgery at home, so I left.  I was pretty upset.  I expected to just go in and get a walking boot or something and be on my way.  I spent the car ride back to campus telling my friend how there was no way it was ruptured and the doctor was wrong.  Eventually I asked “Is this what denial feels like?”  Her answer “yes, I’m pretty sure this is denial.”

Displaying 20150419_185155.jpgHave a look at my beautiful achilles–or lack there of

Surgeon #2, Monday 4/20: I spent the weekend pretty normally, went to a tailgate, did work, and tried to pretend this injury wasn’t happening.  Sunday night came, and my dad picked me up to go home for my Monday appointment.  My parents said you could tell just looking at it that my tendon was ruptured.  You could clearly feel a dent in my leg.  Anyways, the doctor told me he could get me in for surgery on Wednesday.  It surprised me that they didn’t even do an MRI or ultrasound to confirm the injury.  I really didn’t like the idea of someone cutting me open without knowing for sure what was in there first, but I guess I didn’t really have a choice.  They put me in a splint to immobilize it until surgery, and I went home.  Now I actually had to use my crutches.  I had spent most of the past week at school just limping and carrying them.  Oh!  I also got my own crutches to use, so I guess that’s cool.

I spent Tuesday emailing my professors and trying to get ahead on schoolwork.  My main worries were a stat test that I would have to miss on Thursday and a banquet that I wanted to go to on Friday.  It was the second to last week of classes, so I was probably more anxious about missing school than I was about surgery.  I never really let it sink in that I was having surgery, so I was able to keep a pretty good attitude and not get too nervous.  Well, that’s all for now.  Next time: surgery!

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