Week 4 post-op + I’m a dumbass

So…might’ve been doing too much on the scooter too soon.  I went for my 4-week follow up and staple removal on Wednesday.

-Removed 22 staples.  Didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, more like a burning sensation, much like how people describe getting a tattoo.


-During debridement, the doctor noticed that part of the incision hadn’t healed.  You could see my repaired tendon (in the pic it’s all red and sad but this was because it JUST got debrided.)  It was only a 1/4 of an inch of exposed tendon but still, NOT GOOD.

-I got yelled at for moving too much during recovery (which was necessary and proper) and he stitched up the exposed part after numbing everything with three shots.  I’m now on bedrest for three weeks while it hopefully heels, and this time I’m taking it seriously.

-Got a new cast (purple with sparkles!) and they flexed my foot some more.  At least the stupid staples are gone.  I really hated those.

Scooter = Sanity (3.5 weeks after surgery)

I rolled 1.5 miles on my scooter today.  While playing Pokémon Go.  And walking the dog.  Victory!

Surgery + 2.5 weeks later

Apparently surgery went well. My doctor did note with some surprise that my calf muscles are very well developed (I’ve always had strong calves and a lack of flexibility in my calves which may have made me more at risk for ATR). He told me that had to give me additional muscle relaxant during surgery so they could work on me. Ugh. I guess that’s why I’m supposed to be NWB for at least six weeks after surgery - I have to let my super-strong calf atrophy enough so that it doesn’t just snap the tendon again when I can go to PWB!

So this was on my right foot, which means I can’t drive. I’m stuck in the house. Work is 30 miles away and nobody lives nearby so I’m off for a few weeks. (I love my job - supervisory hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. I have a team of 6-8 people under me who measure streamflow in NV. We chase floods and it’s really fun. I typically get about a day in the field every week and the rest of the time I’m managing and analyzing streamflow records as well as doing some small modeling and writing code in XSLT.) I get a lot of personal satisfaction from my career so not being able to go in has been really hard.

My husband got called out on a fire a few days ago and I’ve been by myself since. Luckily the neighbors are nice and invited me over for dinner, and several friends offered to take me to the grocery store when I run out of food and/or visit and keep me company. That is good. My husband is a logistics chief trainee on a Type 3 federal team and he’s loving life - for his day job he’s also a hydrologist (different agency) but he loves the craziness of fire work. Logistics chief is kind of like being a wedding planner, although instead of pretty dresses and beautiful people you deal with smelly firefighters and setting up port-a-johns in the middle of nowhere. He’s been calling me a couple of times a day to make sure I’m okay.

Is anyone else really paranoid about DVT? (deep vein thrombosis) I’ve heard some horror stories and I DON’T WANT TO GO THERE. Now that I’m by myself I keep waking up in the middle of the night paranoid that I have an evil blood clot somewhere that’s out to try to kill me.

I’m a bit over 2.5 weeks post-surgery today. I’m getting some random “weirdo pain du jour” and a couple of nights ago I had horrible stabbing sensations on the side of my ankle. It woke me up around midnight and I got so scared I ended up calling my husband at the fire. He’s been very supportive so he talked to me for an hour while I was in panic mode! Besides that though everything has mostly been okay. I’m dealing with the stir-crazy. I’m trying to eat healthy. I’m doing a bit of teleworking here and there. Occasionally I can feel the staples over the incision and that’s creepy. There are 22 staples!!! I won’t get them out until my next follow up in another 1.5 weeks. I’ve been doing some arms-only cardio thanks to Youtube as well as some very light upper body weight training - just something to keep my mind occupied and part of my body healthy. The doctor didn’t specifically say I couldn’t work out a little so I’m thinking it’s okay to do 20 minutes here and there. I’m also teaching myself to make lace. It’s a completely impractical and time-consuming hobby but that sort of fits my needs right now.

How it happened

I’m new here and am really happy to have found a community of people to commiserate with.  My story:

I completely ruptured my right Achilles on 6/29 while I was in Germany visiting my husband’s family (we live in Las Vegas so we were quite a ways from home).  Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut, and I was getting bored at an outdoor BBQ where everyone was talking very fast in the local dialect.  It was too much for my little Duolingo-German-trained mind to keep up with, so I decided to play with a similarly bored 7 year old.  In German, I managed to convey to him that since we were both bored, we should play games!  Specifically games that involve jumping around and obstacles!  So we start doing this.  It’s fun, and the next thing I asked him is can he do the games on his hands?  (I was a gymnast for 16 years and even though I’m 33 now, I still do various skills.)  His eyes got wide and he said "nein" so I told him I could and walked through a little obstacle course on my hands!  At this point the rest of the party was paying attention, and the boy’s aunt asked if I could do a cartwheel.  Easy.  I then decided to do the fateful round-off.  I’ve always loved round-offs for their energy transfer and spring, and they’re not so dangerous that you get hurt doing them.  (Riiight.)  I had remembered walking through the grass earlier and noticed that it was flat with no holes or rocks.  As I landed my beautiful little round-off in the aforementioned grass, I heard a weird noise that sounded like I’d kicked up a fist-sized rock that subsequently landed on the pavement.  I actually looked for the rock very briefly before the pain kicked in, and at that point I realized that maybe I hadn’t kicked a rock at all.  I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t put weight on the foot.  My husband ran over to help me to a chair where I immediately elevated the foot.  A bag of frozen peas was produced and I lay there trying not to puke.  As it became clear about half an hour later that I would not be able to walk and it wasn’t just a sprained ankle, we went to the German hospital.

I have to give kudos to the German health care system.  Of course they wouldn’t accept my American insurance (and I hadn’t even brought my insurance card with me anyway).  They told me the fee would be 150 euros, which is like $166 US.  I saw the doctor within 30 minutes of arrival.  I’m glad my husband is fluent in German because I was in a bit of pain and while I know various body part words, describing what had happened was a bit out of reach for me.  The 150 euros we paid got me an ultrasound, diagnosis, and a consultation with two different doctors!  They wanted to operate "sofort" [immediately] but our flight home was scheduled for 7/1, just two days later, so I asked to be stabilized so I could get treated at home.  If I’d had surgery in Germany I would’ve had to stay 2 nights in the hospital.  (Now that I know more about the recovery from an ATR I’m glad I didn’t choose to have surgery in Germany, and plus getting my health insurance straightened out in a foreign country would’ve been a nightmare.)  The German doctors explained that I could have the conservative non-surgical treatment or surgery at home, and they wrote up a diagnosis in German.  They got me nicely stabilized in a half cast so I could fly and gave me a pair of crutches to get around.  In addition they gave me a prescription for a blood thinner.  All of this for 150 euros!  In the US it would’ve probably been $5000 without insurance.  Say what you want about socialized healthcare systems, but I was very impressed with the quality of the care in Germany for such a low price.

Back in the Vegas, I managed to get into see an orthopedic surgeon the day we flew in, on 7/1.  (I had called several doctors from Germany - good thing we signed up for an international calling plan with our cell phones!)  He was amused at the note with the diagnosis from Germany and my husband translated it for him.  He explained my options just like they had in Germany and didn’t pressure me either way.  At this point I’d done a bunch of research and opted for the surgical treatment.  My surgery was scheduled for 7/13.