Dropped the crutches today! 5 weeks


I dropped the crutches and took a few steps today - big deal for me since I’ve been a complete wimp about trying it.  My Vaco boot is still at 5 degrees, so I need the big sole to get a "roll and bend" and the knee.  It’s also MUCH higher than my good foot - so I get the hip hitch thing going:


Compared to all you young athletes, I’m having to put LOTS of concentration into each step, and my calf hurts afterward.  The PT promised me that I wouldn’t hurt it in the boot with all my weight… I’m thinking about buying the lift kit for the other foot - but expect to be in the lower sole soon - not sure if I want to spend the $$? Any input?

I picked the crutches up after about 4 x10′ walks - as it’s making me nervous to do so much in one day.  How much should I do?  I’d love some advice! Wish my doc was available - but I actually learn more here :).  Massage is really loosening up the ankle - but I still have a very limited range of motion.  My doc told me that both ends of my tendon were like mop strings and he had to cut off a lot to find good solid tissue.  This is making me heal tight. Anyway - I’m so excited and had to post right away.  No one here would "get it" - except my kids who cheered - since they know I’m one step closer to the cooking and cleaning again. ;)  You young guys are INSPIRING me (and I hate to get outdone as well!)  Can’t wait to go to PT tomorrow (now 3x per week) and show them some progress! I’m so happy!  Blessings, Kim

23 Responses to “Dropped the crutches today! 5 weeks”

  1. Congratulations! Dropping the crutches was the best feeling. In regards to the hip hitch thing, I wear a high heeled sandal or a boot on my good foot to even out my hips. They aren’t really high heels, maybe 2″, and it makes walking much easier.
    Once I ditched the crutches I never picked them up again. You’ll walk slow for a day or so, but then you’ll just “get it” and you’ll be walking everywhere fairly quickly. Good luck!!

  2. My experience was like Jennifer. I discovered I could do full weight bearing one day. By the next day, I had put the crutches away for good. I sort of wished they’d been the old wooden kind, just so I could have a little celebration and burn them.

  3. Congrats Kim! Great news and I can tell you are an overachiever - good for you!!! :-)

    I’m at 7 weeks and have been hobbling around without crutches for a few days, feels SO good to have some independence back - carry my own coffee, papers, make meals, etc.

    I typically keep one crutch when I go out of house just to be safe and secure, and keep both for middle of night bathroom trips - I sleep without the boot!

    Keep up the great work!!!!!

  4. Jodi’s got a point - I did keep the crutches for mid-night adventures. However, that’s just because I was sleeping free, and it was a lot quicker to grab the crutches and go NWB than to put the boot back on, and then take it off when I got back to bed. I kept them bed-side until I was FIRMLY in two-shoes mode; able to walk comfortably barefoot around the house in the dark.

  5. Hi Kim

    My lift kit arrived just after I stopped use of the boot (same type as yours). It comes in 2 plug-together parts so you can have it extra-thick or thick. I tried it though and wish that I had had it earlier (it was late into the UK as a new product apparently). It was just great to be ‘on the level’ and better balanced.

    It was less hard than I expected when I came off the crutches and went into the boot, but better still the day after, as if the brain forgot that it needed them. They say that there can be a memory effect… Be confident but cautious. I kept one crutch close by and used it sometimes outside for a while.

    You’re doing ok though. Plenty of PT too - more than I’ve done I have to admit.

  6. Good for you! I went into PT yesterday using one crutch and he had a fit. He said I wasn’t cleared to be PWB. I tried to explain my way out of it by saying I needed to carry my shoe. Didn’t work! Shame on me. The rest of the visit was good though. I did use the bike and like you felt some twinges of pain but they were mostly in my head. This injury does get in your head. One day I’m feeling great and the next I’m scared to death of re-rupture.

    One thing he told me was that the recovery is slow and I should just be patient. Not sure I can do that but I’m trying. He also looked at the way I was stretching my foot up. I have been pulling my toes and foot up. He said I should try pulling my foot up while pointing my toes down. I found it much harder to do but the stretch felt stronger. Keep up the good work.

  7. My ankle is a little sore tonight, so I’m back on crutches. It was exciting, though. I’ll try more tomorrow and use the one crutch!

    The PT is so creepy feeling, Hillie. Not as much pain as creepy tightness. Lots of swelling after all the action today. Can’t wait to try again tomorrow.

  8. kimjax.
    If you don’t get the lift kit, do something to level out the other foot. Women have it so easy. They can just go to their closet and pull out their 5″ stiletto heels for the other foot. :) (you all do have 5″ stiletto heels don’t you? If not, don’t ruin my fantasy) I wound up stuffing 2 pairs of athletic socks into my shoe to even it out with the boot. You will not believe how much difference it makes to have both feet at the same level.

    As long as you aren’t fatigued, walk as much as you can. The more you do, the quicker everything else will come together.

    Don’t sell yourself short because you aren’t a young athlete. You have the advantage in terms of experience, patience and mind-set. At least that’s what I like to tell myself since I will be turning 60 in August. Maybe some of that is actually true because yesterday my therapist told me I’m ahead of the curve in terms of recovery.

  9. Awesome job. Looks like fun. I agree with Michael that this injury does get in your head. I know I was afraid just seeing my leg laying on the table while the casts are being changed. The thought of sleeping without a cast or boot on is weighing heavy on my mind. Great giant step forward.

  10. Good job, Kim. Keep it up. This is as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical one. Looks like you overcame your mental fear of weight bearing.

  11. Hi Kim, and anyone else’s advice welcome too,

    I follow my exercises at home and during the day at the office. Then, after 3 weeks. I go back to the physio for a review. Kim, you and many others it seems, go to PT regularly. I’m at week 14 and trying to work out which would be best for me - would the physio for example, make use of equipment that I don’t have at home e.g. x-trainer, or massage on the calf?

    Would appreciate any views you’d like to share.

  12. Kimjax–yay on getting off the crutches! Isn’t it the best feeling to make that progress? Like others have said, once I started walking with out them, I only use them for night time if I have to get up.
    I found my old vintage 1990’s Doc Martens to be the exact height of my boot. My kids make fun of my “alternative” footwear look, but so what? No hitch step!
    I had to go shoe shopping today to find an appropriate shoe to wear to a cocktail party. The boot and strappy heel look really silly….but the height is perfect!

  13. I’ll have to check out the closet for higher shoes - don’t want to go unstable though - stilleto heels are out! (sorry, starshep! :))

    My ankle is really swollen today - I think 0-60 was probably a mistake. Should have stopped at PWB - but it’s a great feeling to know that my leg still supports me. :) I am going 3x per week to PT - so I’ll check with them today to make sure I didn’t overdo it. The swelling seems to indicate that I did…

    It’s so nice to be able to bear weight and support myself around the kitchen, etc.! Jennifer - what week did you get rid of the crutches? Thanks, Kim

  14. Kim, I was able to go FWB at 5 1/2 weeks and dropped the crutches for good. At night if I had to get up I would put the boot back on. A hassle, I know but I was afraid to use the crutches with a bare foot. I kept picturing myself falling and landing on the unprotected foot. At 8 weeks I went into two shoes so I didn’t have to bother with the boot at night. Good luck to you!

  15. Hillie - I go to PT 3x per week - and have found as much or more on this site as far as rehab exercises. (I really like the Boston rehab protocol) Most of my gains are from the work I do at home - but going to PT gives me confidence and courage. The massage is the one thing that they do much better than I do, as I’m way to creeped out to push as hard as they do on the scar and calf - afraid I’ll break something, lol. I get a huge increase in ROM every time they do the massage - I do it 3-5 times a day at home with my leg completely vertical - instant relief from swelling. I think I took it a little too fast yesterday - but looks like no damage done. Everyone seems to say they had swelling during initial PWB/FWB.

  16. Hillie:
    I’ve documented my first 15 therapy sessions in my blog. I’ve listed the equipment and included pictures. You can find the start of it here http://achillesblog.com/starshep/2012/05/21/summary-of-first-11-physical-therapy-sessions/ Hope it helps.

  17. Kim, Starshep

    Thanks for the extra info. I’ve been doing many of the exercises ok but none involving gym-type kit except for my static bike. Thought it could be useful also to be more regularly ‘pushed/encouraged/motivated’ by the PT.

    KIm, I don’t recall the Boston protocol. Can you please leave a link?

  18. Hillie, it’s under the rehab link on the main blog - lots of good info there!

  19. Thanks for the memory jogger Kim,

    I read most of that stuff at the beginning of this saga, but definitely need to revisit. I remember something with recovery timeline and good exercises (many similar to mine now) by a medic from MA but which had quite long periods fixed and in boot. My timing, boot, etc has followed UWO protocol almost completely. As I also used a Vaco hinged (no internal wedges) boot, I have been very pleased with my treatment to date, but just wanted to continue the optimum rehab now that I’ve been fully mobile for a while. No crutches since week 3-4ish, and both shoes for 3 weeks, and driving (right ATR) 3 weeks thank goodness. Just some more swelling as I have done more.

    Seeing my PT this coming week, so doing a little research first.

  20. Reading this post just made my day! Congratulations!!

    One week in, I am already so anxious for the day I can drop the crutches!! And to know you did it at 5 weeks gives me hope. Thanks!

  21. Hi Kim - so glad I landed on your blog as I seem to be going through the same stages as you did - now 4 weeks post-op, in a CAM boot since yesterday and allowed to bear weight as much as I can tolerate. But I am terrified to do it, as the tendon feels sore after just a few tentative steps, still with both crutches. Ankle movement is also very, very limited. One question for you: did you use any kind of electro-stimulation or ultrasound to help rebuild the calf muscle. Mine is so atrophied I am in shock every time i look at it (and it was so strong before - as a result of 2 weeks of sporty holiday that culminated in ATR)…

  22. Muriel, don’t worry about calf size at this point - it will take a long time to build it back up - mine is still noticeably different at 21 weeks! Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do in the early weeks as your AT’s not ready for the load.

    I was the same way with pain in the initial PWB stage. In this post, I picked the crutches right back up the next day, because I had severe pain and swelling that evening after my FWB adventure! I waited another week and went to one crutch for a few weeks. Just standing and using the injured leg for balance was good exercise. I remember how frightening it was to put any weight on it at all! I have great sympathy for you!!

    Be sure to ride a stationary bike or swim while you heal. Everything starts to atrophy with inactivity, so the more you can do now, the better you’ll feel when you start walking. Even though the ROM exercises and therabands seem worthless, they were really helpful when I did them consistently. I hope you heal quickly - I’m starting to forget about my leg most of the time anymore, and stumbles don’t even faze me or the AT. :) Far cry from the re-rupture terror of the early days, lol.

  23. Kim - thank you so much for replying promptly,. I am looking into hiring a stationary bike & doing v gentle ROM exercises with my ankle as well as massaging and ice. Thank you also for explaining that you went back to crutches until you were ready; some posts online seem to suggest you should push your body to FWB walk as soon as you can, but I feel better knowing that for someone else at least, it was OK to take a (metaphorical) step back even for a few days and return to crutches. And finally - your last words about starting to forget your leg most of the time: well that is brilliant. One day at a time, one day at a time, I will get there too! Thank you again.

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