Jul 11 2012

5 months

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

It has been 5 months since I tore my Achilles. I wouldn’t say I am at the home stretch yet, but I am confident I will be there soon. Here is what I have been up to the past couple of weeks:

About a week and a half ago, I went to the Stawamus Chief for a hike. The Chief is the second largest granite monolith in the world and offers spectacular scenery of the town of Squamish and the waters of the Howe Sound. It is not a strenuous hike, but still a good workout. I really enjoy hiking so I was happy and surprised to see that my Achilles wasn’t causing any problems at the pace I was going.

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Leg strength and balance is recovering nicely. My squat numbers are increasing steadily and I can do single leg (pistol) squats on the bad leg now. No explosive movements yet, and I know it will be a long, long time before I can do some cleans and snatches.

I haven’t been seeing the Physio often (with my income, I can be quite frugal). Luckily I actually bumped into him at the gym last week and he basically gave me a free session. I told him I had been jogging on the treadmill for a couple of weeks so he decided to show me some light agility and jumping exercises. When I tried to jump onto and off a tiny step, I was actually really hesitant at first. But after doing it the first few times, the mental roadblock cleared and it’s been progressing well since.

Vancouver has been having absolutely gorgeous weather these past 2 weeks. I went for my first outside 5km (3.1 miles) jog last week. The 1st km is the toughest cause the Achilles feels so tight and stiff. My times so far have been 25:57, 24:33, and 23:57 (today). I still have quite a ways to go before I am back to my pre-injury times. Sprinting still seems so far away…

A few days ago, I went down to Mount Baker in Washington for a day hike. Again no real problems but I did bias using my good leg coming down the slopes of snow. It just feels good to be back hiking; I love the breathtaking views and the company of good friends. I am really looking forward to doing more this summer.

"You know what I’d really like to do the most right now? Climb up to the top of some high place like the pyramids. The highest place I can find. Where you can see forever. Stand on the very top, look all around the world, see all the scenery, and see with my own eyes what’s been lost from the world."

- Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

mt-baker

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May 14 2012

I’m happy that I tore my Achilles: Week 13

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

It’s almost been 2 months since I last updated this blog; I felt that I didn’t have much to write about. Quite honestly one of the main reasons I started this blog was because it was a form of therapy for me, writing therapy. I guess I used this blog as a venue for me to vent my frustration.

Anyways I’ll get the important stuff out of the way first, about my Achilles. This way, for those who are reading this, you won’t waste your time reading about my "reflections" at the end.

My Achilles feels great. It’s getting stronger, more flexible, and more stable each day.

I’m able to get a pretty good cardio workout now; I have no problem on the bike and elliptical anymore, I can basically go at full intensity.

I found Yoga extremely helpful. I lost so much flexibility and balance and even though I knew this, Yoga REALLY made me see this. I’ve only been to a few sessions but I was able to see lots of improvement each time.

For leg strength, I’ve been dong back lunges, step ups, and single leg deadlifts. Weights are still light, but it’s  slowly getting there. I still find squats quite difficult, my hips and left ankle are still quite tight.

I dislike doing calf raises; I find it incredibly boring and if I’m being lazy, I’ll skip them. I can almost do an unassisted calf raise now and I found walking on tip toes to really help.

From what I’ve been told, I don’t have a limp anymore when I walk. Hopefully though my friends and family aren’t just being nice. But I do know that when get tired from walking, I’ll limp if I don’t concentrate about pushing off with the ball of my foot.

I’m hoping to break out into a jog soon. I think I’m almost there.

Why am I happy that I tore my Achilles?

There were so many opportunities available to me before I was injured, and I never took them. "You miss 100% of the shots you never take" - Wayne Gretzky (my rugby coach used to always say this).

I’m happy for this injury because I realized how much of a darn coward I was, and a few weeks in, I realized that I’d hate myself if I let a stupid and minor injury like this one prevent me from doing the stuff I want to do.

For example (and I’ll use this lame one…) one thought that ran across my mind at the beginning was: "Great, just how exactly am I going to impress women now?" Now I’ve never been popular with the ladies, and the last thing I needed was something to make the playing field more difficult.

I am happy I tore my Achilles because I am more hungry for the things I want; I have a clearer sense of my goals and I am less concerned with what other people think of me.

It’s really given me a great opportunity to have an introspective chat with myself (I should highlight a "meaningful one" because I have pointless chatters with myself all the time). The injury may have made the road to where I want to be more shrouded and murky, but the finish line has gotten much clearer and brighter.

I also like to think it’s helped me meet this amazing and beautiful girl. And for reasons I can’t quite comprehend yet, she’s willing to go on long walks with me. Which is well… really good for my rehab. The walking I mean.

10 responses so far

Mar 20 2012

Status update: Week 5

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

I haven’t exactly been following the orders my doctor prescribed me about 3 weeks ago…

Originally, I was supposed to have heel wedges in my boot til the 6 week mark in which then I could start removing the wedges and begin rehab.

For almost a week now, I’ve been in 2 shoes, going for strolls, on the bike, and consistently adding exercises for my foot.

I know… I shouldn’t be doing this, and I’ve gotten way out of hand. Originally, I was supposed to be doing only active plantar/dorsi-flexing and inversion/eversion exercises without resistance. But I found that it got to easy to the point where it was getting pointless. So I started using the resistance bands and things just spiraled out of control from there.

The thing is though, my foot and calf are feeling much better and stronger each day. I saw my Physio the other day and although he wasn’t happy that I’ve been ticking all the risk boxes, he is surprised by the speed of my recovery.

The point of this post? There is none really, other than to show that I am a very impatient person and that if things go or don’t go so smoothly, I’ll hopefully have served as a useful guinea pig for the Achilles Blog community.

On a sidenote*

I had a great weekend down in Yakima, WA. It was the final exercise for a weekend Army course I’ve been on since November of last year and I just wanted to grind it through with my injury. I was definitely a bit worried for this weekend though as it was a bit more physical; the past month had been mostly classroom in nature.

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This weekend was a big marker for me, for the past few weeks I was quite worried about how my achilles would hold up on this exercise. There were some times I felt I was getting out of my comfort zone, but in the end, things went well and I had a great time. I am however glad to be done the course and able to focus more on recovery now.

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7 responses so far

Mar 05 2012

Random ramblings at week 3

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

3 weeks ago, I ruptured my left Achilles. Here are some random ramblings that have accumulated since then:

2  week check up

I had my 2 week check up with the orthopedic surgeon last Wednesday. He’s a very busy guy so I didn’t get to meet with him for more than 5 minutes. Points brought up were:

  • Recovery is going smoothly.
  • Next appointment would be in 4 weeks (6 week mark) , in which I could start removing the heel lifts.
  • I can start weaning off the crutches.

I can walk (very awkwardly) now!

After my appointment, I went and bought another boot for outside use as well as heel lifts for my right (good) foot. This helped level the height difference so I can at least somewhat walk now. OK walking is an overly optimistic word to be using… I can limp at a leisure walking pace now!

The heel lifts for the right foot are incredibly uncomfortable though; I have a new profound respect for women that wear high heels. The upside is that I am a good inch or so taller, which is awesome.

Range of motion exercises

I begun doing some ROM movements (active plantar/dorsi flexion and inversion/eversion) since week 2 as mentioned in the Willits paper. (Check out Normofthenorth’s blog if you haven’t already!)

I was really surprised how difficult this was the first I tried it… My foot felt like a complete stranger to me. There was no movement in my calf at all, and even though this was expected, it was somewhat of a big shock for me. Especially considering I could see how much my calf moved when I did these movements on my good leg.

It’s been a week since and my stranger of a left foot has begun warming up to me. The movements are much easier now and I’m seeing movement now in the calf as well. It’s a bit weird how this small achievement was such a big deal for me. I became pretty ecstatic the first time I saw my calf twitch, which I know probably sounds quite lame.

I am really looking forward to begin rehab.

Trying to stay fit…

These days I’m finding myself sitting down much more, which is not doing wonders for my back (and sanity!). I am an exercise junkie, I need my daily fix.

My workouts have obviously been quite limited; the past 3 weeks consisted of basically variations of pull ups, push ups, single leg squats, leg raises, and sitting dumbbell presses. Oh how I miss anything that is cardio in nature… When I can start swimming, I think I’m going to go live at the pool.

Before my injury, my workouts have also been fixated on strength and conditioning so I could improve specifically for a sport/goal. Now though I feel like I don’t care in that regard anymore. I’ve always been into trying new sports and activities, but this injury has made me want to explore so many more.

Swelling and discomfort

I was pretty fortunate; pain wasn’t an issue for the 1st week. Sure my foot swelled up nice and puffy, but other than aesthetics, I didn’t really care.

Then a week after, my calf became very tender at night and in the mornings. I would wake up in the middle of the night and it was a hassle falling back to sleep. The mornings became even more annoying because it already took me much longer to get ready than usual. I’m trying to stay away from NSAIDs, but I admit I popped back an Advil one morning.

The swelling and discomfort have become much, much better now. I barely notice it at night anymore and the morning discomfort goes away in about 10-15 minutes.

My recovery goal right now:

My main recovery goal is at the 4.5 month (~18 week) mark, and it is to still be able to go backpacking in SE Asia. My main concern is how tired my Achilles will get each day of traveling; I want to enjoy those 2 months to the fullest extent. It’s obviously still too early to tell, but that is what I am aiming for right now.

Anyways those are my random ramblings at week 3.

7 responses so far

Feb 22 2012

“Don’t feel sorry for yourself, only assholes do that.”

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

Up til my appointment with the Orthopedic surgeon, I don’t think I accepted reality just quite yet. I was still clinging on to the hope that maybe it was a partial tear and recovery wouldn’t take as long.

My father asked me about my appointment when I got home, and it wasn’t when I told him that it would take 6 to 12 months for a full recovery that it kind of sunk in. I couldn’t look my dad in the eye for the rest of the conversation.

I set some goals that I was eager to complete this year, and I found it quite disappointing that they were going to have to wait. Some of them were to: run a marathon in May; complete Tough Mudder with some close friends; learn to rock climb and mountaineer; and go backpacking in Southeast Asia in July and August. Also I did not like the idea that I was going to be useless at work for a good while (I’m in the Army Reserves).

It was annoying; in my head I knew it was not a big deal, there are so many people with REAL problems. But here I was letting these negative thoughts seep into my mind.

So I do what I always do when I began to whine about life: slap myself, tell myself to stop being an asshole, and watch something inspirational.

I actually watched this video again that day: Amy Purdy: Living Beyond Limits

That definitely did it. I began to stop thinking about what I couldn’t do anymore, but what I could still do. I stopped thinking about what goals I couldn’t complete anymore, but what new goals for me to set. And though I might become weaker physically, I knew to be sure to capitalize on this challenge and grow stronger mentally and emotionally.

Anyways you’ll have to pardon me for that last part, it was quite corny. But I am in high spirits these days, and it’s definitely better on this side. Continue Reading »

6 responses so far

Feb 21 2012

I chose the non-surgical route

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

I met with the Orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday 15/Feb/2012.

Having done some preliminary research, I thought I was set on surgery. It seemed to me that if you wanted to return to full strength and have less chance of a re-rupture, surgery was the choice.

To my surprise, the doctor advised against surgery. He was a fan of a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS) that showed the non-surgical route being just as effective, and without the complications of surgery. The problem with past studies was that the conservative methodology was just that, it was too conservative; it required immobilization for about 6 weeks before even beginning rehab. This study used a much more "aggressive" rehabilitation approach.

(I would later find the link to the article here: Operative versus Nonoperative Treatment of Acute Achilles Tendon Ruptures )

In the end he mentioned it was my choice, but I listened to him. There were some other factors as well, main one being that I did not want to miss work for any longer than I would have to.

I was strapped into an AirCast Boot fitted with heel wedges (to provide a 20 degree plantar flexion), given crutches, and advised to go non-weight bearing (NWB) for 2 weeks before seeing him again.

Though with my arrogance, impatient nature, and very (overly) optimistic view I haven’t been NWB but that’s a blog post for another time.

* On a Side Note *

I just wanted to add that I was actually misdiagnosed when I went to a walk in clinic the day after my injury. I expressed my concern that I was afraid I had an ATR, so the doctor gave me a couple tests to see if I could exert pressure against her hand with my foot. She said I had simply strained the tendon and to rest up for 2 weeks and then come back and see her.

I was relieved, but I still had a lingering in my gut that it was worse than she said it was. I went and got a second opinion the next day, and was told immediately to go to the ER after the doctor performed the Thompson Test. It was then that I got scheduled to meet with the Orthopedic surgeon.

I have all the respect for doctors in the world; many of my close friends are pursuing that path. It is rigorous, demanding, and most often at times an under-appreciated profession. Doctors make mistakes, I understand that. But if you are unsure, I do advise to get a second opinion.

19 responses so far

Feb 20 2012

How it happened

Published by kilomike under Uncategorized

Rupturing my Achilles only increased the amount of items that I need to complete on an everyday basis. Regardless I have decided to procrastinate even more and start a blog detailing my Achilles tendon rupture.

First, a bit about myself.

My name is Kevin and I am 23 years old and exercise is daily ritual I can’t do without. It’s the part of my day where I can reset, clear my mind and have that personal time to collect my thoughts. Of course, the endorphins that are released during exercise is a big plus too.

Anyways, I ruptured my left Achilles tendon on Sunday night, 12/Feb/2012. I was doing a circuit of shuttle runs, farmer’s walk, and jump rope when I heard a big "pop" while doing some double unders.

I thought I bumped into a dumbbell behind me but there was nothing there when I looked. I immediately lost balance in my left foot and couldn’t help but kneel down. I could feel a numbing sensation in my left achilles and when I went to feel it, I couldn’t feel it. That’s when I began to panic.

My first logical thought was, "crap, how long til I can work out again?" (OK maybe not that logical but you exercise addicts will understand) It then ran through my mind that maybe this was pretty serious. I limped back to my car and quickly drove home and applied RICE.

I didn’t feel any more incapacitated than a sprained ankle so I carried out my activities as usual while limping. In retrospect, I probably should have gone to the ER that night.

There was some pain, but it was tolerable so sleeping was not an issue. I decided I would go to a walk in clinic first thing in the morning.

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