Official Diagnosis

The day after my disastrous episode in A&E I hobbled my way into Nuffield to meet the ankle and foot ortho specialist. I was in there for a good couple of hours and came out feeling a lot more in control than when I went in. He listened to my story - said from how I described it he was 90% sure it was a rupture, took my cast off me and did the calf squeeze test, sure enough no movement in my foot at all. He replaced the cast with an aircast boot with four wedges in it.

We talked at some length about the pro’s and con’s of surgery vs conservative management. He basically said the re-rupture rate reported on the internet currently is widely out of date and there is actually only a couple of percent difference between the two methods. However he did point out that with surgery once you are weight bearing you can rehab harder and faster on it as the tendon has been manually repaired - anyone else had this advice? He also said what he would see as the point of difference is that with conservative treatment you are likely to get up to 95% of your previous strength and function back whereas with surgery you will hopefully get those extra couple of percent. If I wasn’t overly bothered about how my ankle will perform in a sporting arena afterwards I would probably have gone down the conservative method however I play underwater hockey (weird I know - youtube it, it’s the only way you’ll know what i’m talking about!) for Great Britain, you play this with fins so getting full function is my highest priority.

Once I’d decided on the surgery route he discussed how he would go in with the PARS Achilles Jig system. Basically sounds like it minimises the surgery site and complications with scar tissue etc afterwards. He took loads of time to show me videos etc. He also gave me a 6 week course of injections to reduce the risk of blood clots and arranged for an ultrasound a few days later. Because I’d had a long haul flight he wouldn’t operate any sooner than in two weeks time due to the risk of blood clots so surgery was booked for 10th November.

I think up until the point of seeing him I was secretly hoping i’d done anything else to my leg, basically praying I’d broken my ankle. Felt pretty rotten when I left knowing how long I was going to be out for.

I had the scan the following week where they confirmed the tendon was completely ruptured and there was a gap of 1.7cm. I knew from the millions of articles I’d read that this wasn’t too far to operate and at least shouldn’t require a graft.

I’ll post some pics that I took when the cast came off, it’s weird because when I first did it there was minimum swelling and bruising yet for the first two weeks it just kept getting more and more bruised! Was this the same for everyone?

Against The Statistics - Achilles Tear Abroad

I’ve never written on a blog before so please bare with me but I have already gained so much useful info from this site and taken great comfort from reading other posts that I thought I’d give it a go!

I shouldn’t really have ruptured my Achilles, it’s against all the statistics. I’m female, under 30 (just!) and consistently active. I was enjoying an otherwise amazing holiday, had done a couple of 5 k runs and decided we were going to knock around on the tennis court the last couple of evenings.  On the last evening noone wanted to play apart from me, I persuaded my parents and other half to come and have a game and up we went. My ankle was aching a bit but I’m so competitive once I get going I just ignored it (never having had ankle problems in the past). Sure enough, 40 minutes in I ran forward to return a short shot and my leg gave way on about the second step and I hit the deck. I did the classic look around in confusion to see who had hit me with a tennis ball then realised that the noise and feeling were something going in my leg. Didn’t realise what at first but knew it was bad. I was pretty upset on the court but that was probably more to do with seeing another year out of sport (more on that later) than the pain.

Taxi to the hospital where an orthopedic specialist confirmed that it was my Achilles and it had ruptured (didn’t need the translator with those brutal hand gestures!) They wanted to operate there and then but I managed to persuade them to stablise me for flying and sign me off to go as I was due home the next morning. The next 24 hours included a horrendous 7 hour flight  home with a back slab, under arm crutches (I can see why they’re no longer given out in the UK!), special credit has to be given to the mental Domican porter who made my trip through the airport particularly hair raising (and almost fun?! - No hands Miss Laura!)

Landed into Manchester airport at about 6 am, home to call my health care providers who advised heading straight to A&E  so that’s what I did. Four hours later and absolutely no closer to getting any answers on what was going on with my leg I had an X-ray through the cast (why?) and despite not taking the cast off to look at my leg I was sent home with new and improved elbow crutches and a promise that I’d get a call to fracture clinic within the next 7-10 days. The less said about that experience the better - I went home, re spoke to the team at my insurance providers and had an appointment with an ortho ankle and foot specialist the next afternoon.

Sorry it’s such a long post, turns out its pretty cathartic writing about it so I’ll continue in my next post :)