Just met with my surgeon 14 weeks after being put back together. I have clearance now to start:
- Strengthening the calf. Until now, I’ve been limited to stretching, walking, and about 10 minutes a day on an elliptical trainer.
- Jogging slowly. Not that I’d be ready to set any speed records, but I can now start jogging at a slow pace. I think I can take the Slowskys.
- Riding the bike. I haven’t been on my road bike since before the rupture, but now look forward to it. First things first, on the trainer, but soon on the road.
The tendon is still tight in the morning. I have no pain in the area, even after walking for miles at a time. Swelling still occurs every now and then. The calf is finally starting to look normal. Walking these past few weeks, and really concentrating on pushing off while in my running shoes, has helped. But I’m having a similar issue as others, pain in the front of the heel area, away from the tendon, that feels like a nerve pinch. My surgeon believes its the result of the swelling and operation and that things haven’t found their way back ‘home’ yet. The pain is occasional, usually when walking uphill or upstairs.
I hope the pain doesn’t affect my cycling. Having ruptured the Achilles playing basketball, I’m committed to lower impact sports like cycling and swimming. Getting back on the bike will be a great reward for being patient these past 3 months. For those of you having just ruptured, be patient, you will heal. Good luck!
Short visit with my Dr. yesterday and now I’m walking in two shoes. I don’t know who’s happier, me, or my wife now that she knows she doesn’t have to shuttle me everywhere. Here’s what I think helped me get to this point these past four weeks since losing the cast:
1) Do stretches first thing in the morning, even while in bed. I think this really helped me. Each morning the calf and tendon is tight, I would do my physical therapy approved stretches often before getting out of bed and putting the boot on.
2) Walk, walk, and walk some more. Walking in the boot is uncomfortable, but its worth the discomfort to get the leg moving. You may not think the heel’s getting any benefit, but I think any movement helps. Both my Dr. and therapist stressed the need to walk, and I think it helped.
3) Give yourself a massage. Five minutes rubbing the scar helped to loosen things up. I’d try to do it sitting at my desk, on the couch, any opportunity I could find.
4) Read through Achillesblog.com. I continue to find useful information throughout this site. I read it once a week for some motivation and to get valuable information.
Good luck everyone!
Four weeks to the day after surgery and I’m now in a boot - DeRoyal Pacesetter Air Walker. Getting the cast off yesterday was a thrill. Seeing my ‘peanut’ for a calf, however, was a reality check. Thanks to reading other posts on Achillesblog.com I knew not to expect much (thanks alfia). I will use the crutches for at least the next couple of weeks while I get more comfortable with the boot, put more weight on the Achilles, and start PT.
For those about to get the cast off, be warned…you may feel ‘pin pricks’ on your heel as you start walking around, even when you’re not putting much weight on your foot. I was told this is normal as the foot starts to figure out how to be useful again. Anyone else have comments on these ‘pin pricks’?
Something to noodle on as well… I decided to sleep last night without the boot on. Probably not the best idea I’ve had, I woke up at least 5 times worried about the Achilles. Tonight, the boot stays on, and hopefully I’ll sleep.
Next goal, get in the pool!
Had a good, quick check-in with my surgeon on Friday the 2nd. They gave me a debrief of my injury, letting me know I did shred the Achilles. They see shreded Achilles in older people that have weaker connective tissue, which surprised me. They believe I just landed in a way that caused the tendon to explode. However, it looks like I’m healing nicely.
To avoid this in the future, I’m looking at exercises that specifically target strengthening connective tissues and lots and lots of stretching - likely the root cause of my Achilles. I regularly stretched my hamstrings and quads, but ignored my calf muscles.
I’m now in a fiberglass cast, nice blue and green colors. The stitches remain in, at least for the next two weeks and my next visit. I’ll be in a cast for the next month as they slowly bring my foot to a 90 degree angle with my leg. I’ll then be in a boot and off to PT in early February. That puts me at 6 weeks post surgery at the start of PT and PWB.
Forget about seeing a well defined calf even after two weeks. I had to laugh at my shriveled up calf muscle when they took the first cast off. I thought after two weeks it would still look okay. It doesn’t. Instead, it looks like a dried up peach, and feels like a mushy banana.
A little of what to expect those first 10 days after surgery:
1) The first 48 hours suck. I was groggy, out of it, and in pain.
2) Before the nerve block finally wears off, have the pain pills at the ready. I didn’t fell a thing the first 12 hours after surgery. My boys could poke at my toes, pull on them, but I couldn’t feel a thing. But at around 2am, the pain flooded my leg. Pain pills took a good half hour to kick in.
3) Pain dissipates quickly. At least it did for me. Two days after surgery I had no need for the pain meds.
4) Keep taking ibuprofen to manage swelling. This really helped me the first few days. The temporary cast I have gives a little, and keeping the leg elevated helps. But take a few ibuprofen throughout the day - if you can stomach it.
5) Keep it elevated, at least the first week. I’m on day 10 now and can have my leg down on the floor, or level while in a recliner, for extended periods without much issue. But that first week, whew, if my leg was lower than my heart for 10 minutes it felt like it was about to explode.
6) Go up the stairs on your backside. Yes, its embarassing, but much easier and safer than using crutches to go up a flight of stairs unless you have a handrail or bannister you can easily balance yourself on.
7) If you’re active, stay active. I waited 7 full days before trying to resume some normal activities. I haven’t been to the gym, yet, but have started with strength training at the home with pushups, pullups, anything I can do just to stay active - helps keep cabin fever at bay, or at least I hope it does.
Don’t panic. You’ll bump your foot, accidentally put your leg in a position that feels strange (or worse), or noticed that late night leg jerk and think ‘crap, I’ve screwed it up.’ From reading all the posts on this site (thanks Hoss, Dennis), get used to it. There’s not much more you can do to the Achilles now to screw it up.
9) Expect strange feelings on your calf. The cast, it seems, puts a large amount of pressure on your calf. When walking around on crutches, if you’re like me, you may experience more pain in the calf than in the Achilles area itself. I believe its just to swelling and bruising in the calf, and not because of something else.
Four days till my post surgery check-in with the doc. Till then, I’m getting used to flying around the house on crutches.
Day 3 after surgery, no pain in the heel, and my calf likes to remind me its around with a spasm (no pain) every now and then.
Top 5 things you can do the first few days postop:
5) Get in touch with your sensitive side…yes, Oprah’s on!
4) Import all your CDs into iTunes. If anyone wants Quiet Riot’s Greatest Hits, let me know.
3) Document the mundane…amaze your family and friends, “honey, the dog has 67 spots” or “at 8:30 am it was 11 degrees” or “hey, my right arm has 352 hairs!”
2) Browse ebay and try NOT buying the crap you find.
1) Stink it up! Goal today, take a bath, I’m ripe. I’m even offending the dog, he wants to bury me.
Things ain’t that bad, not with YouTube around…Python Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life
I’m fit. I cycle. I run. I strength train. I am 37 years old. I just can’t play basketball anymore. Tried to Thursday morning (Dec 18th), first time playing in a pickup game in 9 years. The last time I played I gave myself a high ankle sprain. So I hung up my shoes and picked up lower impact sports like cycling. But Thursday morning I gave it another shot and about 20 minutes into a pickup game, POP. Then a sharp pain hit, and I tried to step forward and couldn’t.
At first I thought I had just injured my calf. I could move my ankle around, just couldn’t stand on my right foot toes. After hobbling to the car and driving myself home, I told my wife I thought I’d just ended my days on the court. Then a few minutes later after taking my shoes off I felt around the heel and couldn’t feel the Achilles tendon.
Thankfully, I was able to get in to see an orthopedic surgeon that morning and scheduled surgery for Friday morning (Dec 19th). Thankfully because we were supposed to fly to CA on Saturday for the holidays and a trip to Disneyland. At the time, I thought we could manage it. The doctor said it was possible, but definitely uncomfortable - but the plus side, we’d get to the front of all the Disney ride lines!
Surgery went great, and they let me know my tendon looked like spaghetti. I don’t think I’ll ever look at spaghetti the same way again. No pain for most of the day thanks to a nerve block. But when that thing wore off at 2am, OUCH. Pain 7 out of 10! Now, mid-day on the day after surgery, I feel just a little pain. But that pain, and the threat swelling and blood clotting on an 4 hour flight has canceled our trip to CA and Disneyland. My two boys, 8 and 7, don’t like the idea of not having Christmas with their Nana and Papa, but my 7 year old said it best, “Its the right decision Dad.” We will enjoy Christmas at home, and my boys will enjoy making fun of their gimp dad.
This wasn’t what I thought I’d do the week before Christmas. But thanks to reading a number of other blogs here, I know I’ll get back on my feet in no time.