My Journey Back to Two Shoes

To Drive or Not to Drive?

steering-wheel I have been very busy with my students and responsibilities at the church. So I haven’t been out here on the site for a few days. I have been plotting and planning about my next milestone….driving.

I am coming up on 6 weeks post-op this Wednesday and I am ready to drive. My plan is to go to my post-op appointment on Thursday and broach the topic with the Ortho surgeon. I would like to drive by the end of the week. Your thoughts? When did you begin driving again? Do I need to move away from this thinking? I really want input. Thanks!

September 17th, 2012 at 1:14 am tagged , , ,

14 Responses to “To Drive or Not to Drive?”

  1. Hala Says:

    Hi Darlene

    I was keen to drive so started a few days after I was in 2 shoes, at 9+ weeks. I am in UK and had a right ATR so was using my injured leg to accelerate and brake. It was OK but not great to start with and so I only drove short distances very carefully at first. The problem was having the strength and confidence in my tendon to brake hard. After a week or so it became easier, and then I gradually built up the distance. I have so far only driven up to an hour (I am 19 weeks), but could probably do more. Good luck with your attempts!

  2. andrew1971 Says:

    From what I have read here it seems Surgical repaired ATR patients are more mobile sooner than most with non-surgical healing - probably because of lack of regions engaging fully in UWO protocols.

    I say that because I started driving between weeks 8 and 9 (non surgical right ATR), It’s detailed in my blog how I went about doing that, wearing the boot walking to and from the car and switching to trainers for driving.

    It took a while for me to get back into it properly (driving forms part of my job) first 2 weeks I could manage only half an hour before I felt too uncomfortable and really (I mean really) wanted to get out of my trainer.

    I was originally told no driving until 12 weeks, 8-12 weeks seems to be the window of people returning to drive.

    It’s about strength in the tendon repair and confidence - you need to be able to stop suddenly, in a safe controlled fashion without re-rupturing, over-stretching or damaging the tendon or being a danger to others on the road….. your doctor should be able to advise, in my mind I’d say it’s too early (too risky), but that’s a feeling rather than experience or knowledge on the subject.

  3. pauls Says:

    Started Driving at 8 weeks, post surgery! Was a bit sore and used cruise control for a bit but now at 11 weeks no problem driving at all!

  4. crutchesintx Says:

    I will be interested in how this turns out for you. I am right behind you timewise and I am also itching to drive. I have had to have relatives come from out of state to drive me around while my wife travels for work.

  5. starshep Says:

    When I started driving again, at 12 weeks after my ATR, I decided that I would learn how to brake with my left foot. While I know have recovered to the point where I feel I could execute an emergency stop with my right foot, I find I prefer to brake with my left foot. In fact I think I can react to emergency situations faster by using my left foot to break.

  6. mcdarling Says:

    Thank you for all the input. I will ask on Thursday and see what the good doctor says and I will let you know. One thing, I should definitely err on the side of safety. So I am not going to fight it. If my tendon is not ready, then I WILL wait!

  7. andrew1971 Says:

    It’s better to be in a good enough physical condition to avoid a hazard safely rather than be the cause of an accident.

    “It’s not about you, it’s about the other people on the road” - is what my dad told me when I was talking about getting back behind the wheel.

  8. ryanb Says:

    Perhaps my feet are unusually ambidextrous. With an automatic transmission, I found that my left foot was equally capable as my right when it came to operating the two pedals (why wouldn’t it be?). I started driving on day #9 post surgery. I typically crossed my legs, tucking the injured right foot in behind my left, which gave me plenty of foot-room.

    It’s been suggested (and I think it’s a good idea, even though I didn’t do it) that written clearance from your doc and/or PT would good to have on hand in case of an accident. Might even be worth checking with your local DMV for any rules regarding this.

    I went back to right foot driving (and driving a manual transmission) at just under 6 weeks, concurrent with my transition to 2 shoes. For a few weeks, I’d occasionally catch myself left-foot braking, just a left over habit from the ~5 weeks of left-foot-driving that took a little while to break (so to speak).

  9. Adam Says:

    I started driving 8 weeks post surgery, mostly using my leg to push the pettles rather than my foot/calf muscles. Im at 14 weeks now and it feels just about normal. I often though about using my left foot to drive (automatic) but thinking about getting into an accident serious or non held me back..

  10. Hillie Says:

    Perhaps Ryan could record a video simulation of his cross-legged driving technique - better still if he has a boot to wear. I drive a mid-sized auto car and I wouldn’t have been able to drive this way, physically and because it was put in writing by my hospital that I mustn’t until in 2 shoes and legally capable.

  11. ryanb Says:

    I could take a picture if anybody really cares. But I think it’s pretty easy to visualize. Cross your lower legs, left foot in front of the right. This gets your right foot/boot out of the way, and puts your left foot where it needs to be - left heel roughly between the brake and accelerator pedal. I typically had to scoot my seat up a notch. I don’t think I had an unusually compatible car- I drove at least 5 different cars this way, including a mid-sized rental.

    > was put in writing by my hospital that I mustn’t until
    > in 2 shoes and legally capable

    I’m sort of curious about this. Were you specifically told you couldn’t drive with your uninjured left foot? Or was the admonition against driving based upon the assumption that you might try to drive with your injured right foot, perhaps in a boot? I can certainly see why that would be a really bad idea.

    As I said above - to be safe - you should probably get a written OK to left-foot drive from a doc/pt. But, I really can’t see any logical reason why operating pedals with your left foot is any less safe than operating them with your right foot. After just a little practice, it seemed perfectly normal/natural. The conversation yesterday got me thinking about this again, so just for fun, I drove home from work with my left foot :-)

    Most people are “handed”- I am right-handed and more coordinated with my right hand. Likewise, people are more coordinated with one foot- I am right-footed too. But there are plenty of people out there who are naturally left footed, who (normally) have to drive with their right “off” foot. So, that’s not the issue…

  12. Hillie Says:


    Curious why? I am sure that the only assumption was that while I was wearing the boot, I wouldn’t drive at all, and after that, when in 2 shoes, only when I could do an emergency stop. The advice was given whether your ATR was right leg or left. If I had had a left leg ATR I would have challenged the advice, asking for written clearance.

    When I was at about 8 weeks I tried the lower legs crossed routine - with boot on my right (atr) leg there was simply not enough room to work the pedals well enough, especially as the accelerator pedal is lower than the brake. Also, my foot was not as flat on the pedals as would be normal or most effective. If it worked for you, and I know that it has worked for some others too e.g. kimjax, then I’m pleased for you, I’m sure that you wouldn’t do it if you felt it to be an unsafe option. Maybe it’s an over-active imagination but I can just see a traffic cop’s face after he sees you getting out of the car with a pretty conspicuous boot on. Or the other party in an accident, whoever caused it “honest, I was driving left-footed”.

    As I said, if it worked for you, great!

  13. ryanb Says:

    No worries Hille- by no means did I mean to suggest that you should try something you’re not comfortable with. Rather, what I meant to question was that if you *were* comfortable with it, why the hospital would ask you not to.

    I drive automatics, standard transmissions, left-hand drive cars, right hand drive cars, modern motorcyles, vintage motorcycles (different controls), and have flown the occasional airplane. So, I’m very used to adapting to new control layouts- perhaps that contributed to the ease with which I adapted to left foot driving. Again, please don’t take my comments as a suggestion to do something you aren’t comfortable with- that’s the last thing I would advocate.

  14. mcdarling Says:

    For the record, I saw my Ortho surgeon to day for my 6 week post-op appointment. He was speechless when I told him I went for a drive yesterday, prior to his formal release. I did get the release from him before the appointment was over. I actually am FWB in my boot today! I was not expecting that. He did a lot of pushing and manipulating my leg to ensure Imcan really drive. I passed the test with flying colors.

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