lotus10’s AchillesBlog

24 days post-op: getting used to the boot

Posted in Uncategorized by lotus10 on the July 26, 2010

PWB-with-crutches really took me a while to get used to. It was like walking on eggshells. When I got home after the ortho visit, I went online and ordered more socks and more heel-wedges. The sole was barely touching the bottom of the boot. At first, the range of motion exercises were barely discernible. I wondered how the leg would ever recover to pre-injury shape.

Again I worked that weekend, but put the good leg in a platform-soled sandal. I know, horrifying to some. But it was the only way I could achieve an even balance. And it made a difference, to be at a level height.

When the heel wedges arrived, I stuffed until my leg was just comfortable, and it took a total of 5 wedges! This probably added up to close to 3 inches of height, then there was the boot itself. I questioned if I should even be in this boot, if it’s taking this much support - but after reading other people’s blogs here, figured I’ll remove a wedge every 5-7 days. I’m now down to 3.

Things didn’t feel that much better at first. Showering was still precarious, going down the stairs always daunting. But I realized that it’s close to impossible to re-tear if you’re in a boot - I’m sure it happens - but I tried to wear it as much as possible, until it got unbearably hot or a couple of times a day for ROM exercises - which was painfully slow, but I could tell small differences every few days.

Then about 2 days ago there was a breakthrough: I just knew that I could place the bottom of the boot with a little more weight on it than before. Then I was standing up from sitting without using crutches. And then I took a few small steps without crutches at all. It’s like Bambi learning to walk. I haven’t done a crazy amount of walking this way yet; I think, if it feels like “maybe it’s too much” you’re probably right. And reading the re-tearing stories has me paranoid.

I still don’t know the moral of my injury; it still pisses me off and go through moments of “why me?”, but slowly, things are better. I guess it’s the wonder of the human body, its ability to heal, in ways we don’t completely understand.

8 Responses to '24 days post-op: getting used to the boot'

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  1. gunner said,

    on July 26th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I’m not sure what kind of boot you’ve got, but it sounds like a far cry from the VacoCast I used, which eliminated the use of any wedges and fit perfectly from day 1 and during each adjustment.

    Check it out if you want to trade up to a more efficient model.

    In terms of “why”, for me this has been a great learning experience. The first time I’ve gone through an injury where I was able to significantly influence the course of the treatment. In my judgement, medicine would work far better for all of us, if we were more and more in that position.

    best of luck

  2. lotus10 said,

    on July 26th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks Gunner. Yeah the heel wedges became rather ridiculous. You could see the pile of wedges from the outside of the boot. Anyway, like you, I can’t wait to get back to tennis (that’s how I tore mine), I’m hoping for at less than 12 months, but realistically, no sooner than 6 months? Even the machines?

  3. normofthenorth said,

    on July 26th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    3″ of heel wedges, unless they’re crushing under your weight, is a LOT! The UWO Protocol says 2 cm (< 1″ !). I got 3 cm by mistake, but still just over ONE inch! And I’m guessing that my feet are bigger than yours, so the ankle-angle you’re at must be SOMETHING! You chose that amount because it felt good?

    On the one hand, you have every right to be pissed off and to ask “Why me?” OTOH, it usually doesn’t help as much as focusing on how lucky you are in so many ways, and noticing, appreciate, and being grateful for the progress you’re making. (Do you think Bambi wasted time wondering why she couldn’t walk immediately?!? ;-) )

  4. rougemac said,

    on July 26th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I bet Bambi’s wife wasn’t giving him/her a hard time for interrupting her summer holidays, or work’s insurance company calling wondering if you can go back to work at an automotive assembly plant!! I think the closer I get to walking the more positive I have become. For some time after surgery and I was stuck on the couch stoned with percocets, I was feeling sorry for myself and “why me”, what should I have done differently to prevent it. I am 19 days post op and feeling much better, My boot is now @ 22.5deg and I can put some weight on it while walking with crutches. Such a small physical accomplishment with such a huge mental lift!!! Keep moving forward lotus!!

  5. lotus10 said,

    on July 26th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Yeah Norm, it was high, the angle was rather extreme, but maybe girls are used to it? My ankle felt that stiff, so anything lower than that made me wince. I probably could have done with a little less, huh. To reassure you, 12 days later, I have 3 wedges in today - and I just went and measured it, because these days I seriously seem to have nothing better to do - it’s 1 and 1/2 inches in total, and very comfortable. (the 5 wedges consisted of wedges of different height, some from the ortho office, some from the online store, so I know it doesn’t add up.)

  6. gunner said,

    on July 27th, 2010 at 8:13 am

    Lotus: Just read your whole saga, well written and witty. As a physician, have you developed an opinion on the merits of non surgical repair?

    I’m expecting to ease back into tennis in the next few weeks so will let you know how that progresses. Sounds like you were moving back when yours popped. I was moving forward. So it seems the safest reentry mode would be to stay at the service line and restrict any serious back or forward lunges, in other words, play “old folks tennis”, and hope the ball gets within reach.

  7. lotus10 said,

    on July 27th, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Thanks Gunner, it’s been therapeutic to write here, and get it all out. Never thought I was the blogging kind.

    I don’t think I have the patience or personality for a non-surgical repair - I would have been left wondering if I should have had surgery. But 99% of my physician colleagues tried to convince me to go the non-surgical way (not sure if they knew if it was based on evidence, or they’re just opposed to all, and any surgery) and quoted this and that complication. My surgeon did describe the two options, and explained to me how the two ends would “find each other” (my words) without surgery. Well, it would certainly have been cheaper… can’t believe the costs I see on my bills/insurance claims.

  8. normofthenorth said,

    on August 5th, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Were those physicians surgeons? Fascinating, especially if so!

    Since the non-surgical route seems to produce strength and ROM at the speed of a pretty fast protocol — in fact, quite a bit FASTER than you’re going WITH surgery — I don’t understand your saying you don’t have the PATIENCE for it! Where I come from, going faster takes less patience, not more.

    I wonder how long the medical insurance companies will keep paying the thousands of dollars for standard surgical repairs of ordinary complete ATRs, after the latest four studies (the only randomized ones that used the same fast protocol on all patients, AFAIK) have all basically shown that it has no benefit. Maybe it will take FIVE randomized prospective studies, since FOUR doesn’t seem to be enough. ;-)

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