Hopefully this is my last blog update, having just celebrated the 2 year anniversary of a rupture of my right achilles that required about 1.5 hours of surgery, a nice stitching job, a shave of my right heel and a nifty titanium screw in the heel for good measure. Have started working out with ankle weights to try and increase my conditioning and quickness, and can no longer tell any difference with the right leg in terms of jumping, one-legged jump rope, etc.

Looking back on the last 2 years, the biggest hurdles have been all the various “injuries” that come along with age and retraining your body with new mechanics. I’ve had all kinds of fun with tendinitis in my right peroneal tendon (ankle stability), sore feet and most recently a nasty abdominal strain, all part of the fun of trying to work your way back to 100% after being in a cast and then boot for almost 3 months.

Best of luck to everybody out there who finds themselves in the midst of the various stages of rehab, and hopefully all those poor souls who are just joining our little club will find reassurance that it does indeed get better!!!

Some recent video of hoop drills, as I now creep up on the 2 year anniversary of my ATR. I suppose I am also creeping up on the point at which the ceiling for “improvement” will be driven by age and time limitations, and no longer related to the ATR or the atrophy caused by all those weeks of casts, crutches and walking boots. It’s amazing the extent to which an ATR can become a defining moment in a person’s life, especially for those of us who thrive on physical exercise and the bio-feedback (read: PAIN) of a good workout.

I figure I will try to post an update to “celebrate” the 2 year anniversary, and then will relegate myself to reading others’ blogs and hopefully trying to offer encouragement to the unfortunate souls who join us here in our exclusive club. continued recovery and good luck to the rest of you…

P.S. Since we are now also celebrating the one-year anniversary of our move to Switzerland, have tried below an update in the local variant of Swiss German. My language “skills” are also a work-in-progress, and probably have some catching up to do with the achilles, but nevertheless…

Ich han öppis film vo hoop gmacht, als chunts de 2nd jubiläum vo min ATR. Grad jetzt chunts de ziit wann de obergrenze vo mini verbesserig wirds über s alte und d’ziit begrenze isch, und numä über de ATR oder de verkümmerig das d’viele wöchen vo casts, crutches, und laufä schuhe händ erschaffä worde. Es verblüfft mi wieviil en ATR kann ene wichtig ziit in s läbä vo öpper becho, eigetli für de luut wer sind am glücklichsti mit de kampf uuf bewägig und schmerz vo enere gueti training.

Probieri en update machä für den 2nd jubiläum feiere, und nachdem begrenzä mi de blogs vo andere luute lis wärdä, und hoffentli kann ich öppis hoffnig zu den anderen luute zeigä. Wünschi all oi en gueti verbesserig und viel glück…

17 months afer surgery, and every day it still feels like the bad wheel is getting stronger. I’ve managed 5 months now of basketball, once or twice a week, as well as some lacrosse practices and games (indoor and outdoor). It has been almost a transition from one new “soreness” to another, first the weak ankle on the bad leg (ankle exercises and a compression sleeve have taken care of this for now), then sore calves and hamstrings as I ramped up the sprinting and cutting, etc., etc., etc. But I just tell myself that it is all worth it at the end of the day!!!

My exercise regime these days consists of core work and stretching every day, basketball / lacrosse twice or 3x a week, weight training twice a week, and a 5km jog every now and then. The bad leg is still not 100% but it continues to get stronger and hopefully by the 2 year anniversary it will be completely “normal”, and I would guess I am now about 12-15 pounds down from my weight back in March or April of 2011 when my rehab really started.

For those who are just entering the world of ATR’s or still rehabbing, keep in mind that I am 40+ and so the return to competitive sports and “normalcy” takes longer than it would have when I was in my 20’s or even 30’s. The old adage is one week of training for every one day off your feet after the age of 40, and it is proving to be pretty much true in my case. The good news is that I am now totally over the mental and emotional hurdle of the injury, and am able to push myself harder and harder in terms of training and conditioning.

Good luck to everybody out there, unforunately there are more folks joining our little club every day. Here is some video I took to celebrate the 17 months, in honor of the NCAA lacrosse tournament that is now in full swing : )

Finally felt comfortable enough with the state of my rehab to seriously look for a basketball club here in Zurich. Thankfully, there is a great club with open hoop a couple times a week just 10-15 minutes from our place, so drove out to join them this past Thursday night. Given the general lack of popularity of hoop here in Switzerland and the fact I haven’t played in well over a year I was a little unsure of what to expect, only to find out that those that do play over here are solid, solid athletes and great fun to hoop with. Also found out just how far I still have to go to regain even a semblance of my “old self” : )

Considering the hoop Thursday evening, a light jog on Friday, a 3 hour lacrosse practice Saturday, and 2 hours of shooting around and playing one-on-one with my sons this afternoon, the bad wheel is holding up better and better. The hard part now is focusing on continuing to strengthen the calf on the bad wheel and then fixing my running mechanics - all those months of cardio on the elliptical will reek havoc with your stride. I am definitely noticing a little soreness in my feet tonight, which is not really all that surprising given the test I put them through the last couple of days. The calf in my right leg is still not 100% - it’s just in the past week or two that I have finally been able to manage one-legged jump rope on the bad leg, which is something I will work to improve over the next month or so.

All in all, no complaints and I still continue to find new milestones even at 13 months post-surgery. I am finally getting 110% comfortable with the bad leg and am able to really push myself in terms of rehab and conditioning, which I missed terribly - field lacrosse season starts here in early April, which gives me the next target date in terms of rehab and recovery!!!

I’ve been trying to keep a video log of my rehab with basketball drills, figured I’d change it up for the one-year entry and try some lacrosse drills. Just a little over 52 weeks since the surgery to repair a ruptured right achilles, hard to believe it was a year ago that my wife drove me in first thing in the morning to get me loaded up on painkillers and then have me knocked out for about a 1.5 hour surgery. Still some tightness in the right foot, but that’s also the same foot that has always been tight and was probably the cause of most of the injuries I’ve had (back and achilles on the right side).

Still lots more work to do, but the effort gets a little easier and a little more fun with each passing week.

Well, at this time exactly one year ago I was sitting on a doctor’s table at our local emergency room as the doc laid out what to expect for the next 6-12 months. One plant of the right foot on a simple crossover move playing hoop and then the same pop!!! most of us will never forget…

After what has seemed like an eternity but has also seemed to be a blink of the eye, I “celebrated” today with the opening of our local club’s winter practice season for lacrosse, a great day (partly sunny and 12C here in Zurich) and a perfect artificial turf field, and then a trip with the family into the city to visit the local Christmas Market to eat some pizza and drink lots of gluehwein and gluehbier (hot and spiced wine and beer). For the first time since the injury, I am able to really get up and down the field at pretty much full-speed, including all the stopping and cutting, and push myself to the point where I can’t think about the achilles anymore because I am too busy trying not to puke. I would guess that, in terms of performance, it will probably still take until the season starts in April/May before I actually start considering myself “100%” - but all in all a great, great day.

In the last couple of days, I have seen 2 guys my age seriously injure their knees. When they talk about their surgery and then 6-8 week recovery, it almost makes me cry - but I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything. Even after a full year, both my heels still get a little sore after a tough workout, but it continues to get better and better with each passing week and I am now all but back to a place where I can enjoy physical activity without worrying about anything (other than soreness and age).

Continued luck to everyone else out there in ATR Land, this is easily the worst injury I have suffered but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Celebrated the 10-month anniversary of my surgery with a workout at the local sports park shooting hoop, after managing to get through the end of the lacrosse season with only some mild bruises and scrapes and general soreness. Still have more work to do, but the strength continues to come back in the bad wheel and I am sloooooooooooowly starting to get over the tremendous mental and emotional hurdle of really putting it to work. Broke down and bought a new multi-gym for our rental house here in Zurich, so with the elliptical and weights downstairs I should be able to continue more and more serious rehab even as the weather turns to winter. The repaired achilles is still mich bigger and wider than the other one and the scar is very much still there, but the swelling has disappeared and the peroneal and other soreness caused by the weak ankle muscles has faded, as well. Still tight in the morning but even that continues to improve!!!

Here is some video of the 10-month anniversary workout:

And here I was at the 14.5 week mark:

Work has picked up quite a bit and we get about a 2 month break before winter training for lacrosse starts for my oldest son and I, so I’ll get some time to rest up and really focus on building more intensity and duration into the workouts and rehab regimen. The workout now generally consists of stretching and core work, 60 minutes of cardio (elliptical when it’s cold or running and basketball/football drills when the weather permits) and then weights (3x a week on the weights). Besides the usual agility drills and jump rope, have also added in standing sprints (where you put your hands on a wall and then run in place at about a 45 degree angle), basically a sled drill without a coach screaming at you - the standing sprints in particular are excellent for rebuilding leg strength as well as confidence in the repaired leg.

As always, best of luck to everyone in their various phases of recovery…

Had the last lacrosse game of our season this past weekend, in the French side of the country (Le Locle). Managed to play 3 games, 2 of them with my son - besides the fact that the front ends of both of my shoulders are bruised from all the checking (lacrosse shoulder pads apparently are not like the US football pads I grew up with) and my arms, sides and legs are bruised from taking stick checks, I managed to get through with no injuries and had an absolute blast in the process. Only snag I’ve come across is some pain in my left leg (the good leg), which is likely some bursitis caused by the heel bone (the right heel bone was shaved down as part of the ATR), my poor mechanics and favoring of the good leg as I continue to strengthen the bad leg, and simple overuse. Hard to go from the sofa to 2 hour sports practices 3 times a week plus the games at my age, I suppose.

With the lax season over, I figure I’ll stick to the basics in terms of exercise for a couple of weeks and let the old body heal up. Then it will be time for a new “stretch” goal in terms of continued recovery and general wellness. Would love to get back to some basketball but it is unfortunately not a particularly popular sport here. May have to head into the city this weekend and see what the Swiss offer in term of home workout systems, would be great to find a multi-gym for the basement in advance of the coming winter, something to do some simple weight-training with and definitely something with a leg press on it to keep working the calves.

By the way, there is absolutely nothing better (at least for us dads) than competing in sports with your kids on the same team. And competing with your kids in a sport that you are completely brand new at is even better, since you have no recollection of ever having been good at it and therefore have no preconceptions or expectations. It had probably been 30+ years since I had tried a new competitive sport, and even with all the continuing rehab and the ongoing recovery process it has been just about as much fun as I can remember ever having, legal or otherwise : )

Sorry to see that we still have more and more people joining our exclusive ATR Club, best of luck to everyone as they work through the recovery process…

Another great milestone today - at just about the 39 week anniversary of my injury, played my first lacrosse game with my son and the local club team. Rained pretty much the whole game and my legs will be plenty sore for a day or two, but no problems at all with the achilles and had a great time running around with my son!!!

Now I suppose I am getting healthy enough to start worrying about getting in real shape…

Ham and I After the Game...

Just coming up to 37 weeks since the surgery to repair my ATR. In the 3 weeks since my last post, I’ve continued to push the sprinting and sports drills, and am generally pretty happy with the progress. I’m still nowhere near the finish line in terms of speed or agility, but the running is really starting to pay dividends and I’m starting to feel more and more at home with the sprinting. And as an added bonus, although I still get some soreness in the bad wheel and the scar is definitely there to stay, the swelling has all but gone!!!

I can still tell when I favor the bad wheel (usually when I’m starting to get tired), but for the most part I am able to get through lacrosse practices and all the drills without any real discomfort (at least related to the ATR). My lateral quickness is probably close to 90% of its pre-injury level, with the fore and aft quickness probably still about the 70% mark. I’m hopeful that before the snow hits here in Switzerland I’ll be back to pretty much what I can expect to be my new “normal” in terms of sports : )

Happy healing to all the unfortunate souls who keep joining our exclusive little club, there really is good news at each juncture of the process and all of the persistence and patience really does pay off…

ATR Timeline

  • Name: lsjoberg
    Location: Zurich
    Injured during: Basketball
    Which Leg: R
    Status: 2-Shoes

    333 wks  5 days Post-ATR
    332 wks  6 days
       Since start of treatment