I am now 12 weeks post op. Good days and bad days. Wondering when it will be that I am pain free - that was the whole idea when I decided to have the surgery. I knew the commitment and long recovery but I don’t think I realized how patient I was going to have to be. Fully weight bearing and on and off walking with no limp at all. I have been doing a lot of ROM stretching and heel lifts - and walking ,walking, walking. I am averaging about 14 - 16 miles per week. Not sure if that is a lot or a little. I do a 1.5 mile loop at our house in the mountains which has a lot of up hill and down hill and am pretty sore and swollen after. Went to the gym for the first time tonight and I am concerned. I have been sore the past couple of days and tonight I did 15 minutes on the elliptical (no resistance) and then some easy stretching. My ankle is not really swollen that much except right around my scar - and there is a bulbous spot (much like the calcification before my surgery but soft - not hard) lump(s) there too. Maybe I did too much? Anyway - I am icing and plan on resting it tomorrow. Scar looks pretty good. Doc’s appt on the 20th so I will see what he has to say. He is very conservative so it will be interesting to see how he thinks I am progressing. I have a HUGE appreciation for all the hard work some of you have done to recover.
After 10 weeks post op and 2 weeks since the cast has come off I am finally FWB. I still do not have a normal gait. My steps are very small and short due to the tightness in the tendon. But, progress! Went from two crutches to one crutch and finally this weekend started FWB. Now walking about 2 miles per day according to my fitbit. Stretching and doing ROM excercises and calf raises each day multiple reps. Hope to start in the pool this week. Anxious to start really exercising but am not close yet. FWB is painful and my foot is swollen and warm. I have been icing and taking ibuprofin during the day. I have stronger meds left over and have taken two over the last few days at night so I can sleep. My goal is to get in at least one day of skiing before the season ends mid-April. Feeling a lot more positive about things than I was at my 8 week update.
Update: 8 weeks post op and the second hard cast has come off and my doctor now says that I am good to go - 2 shoes - wean off crutches and knee walker in the next 6 days and then walk - heel to toe. Walk until it hurts and then walk 10 more minutes…. It is day 2 since the cast removal and I am down to one crutch bearing most of my weight. I am so stiff and awkward and it HURTS! (yes, I am whining) I have to say I thought I would get more instruction and advice from the Doc - not real happy on that front. It seems weird to me that he had me pretty much completely immobile for 8 weeks and now I am supposed to just jump in and go for it. (I tried to get him to get me to PWB earlier but he said no way) He says no physical therapy - just WALK - and limping doesn’t count. He told me that after I walk 12 miles I will feel much better. I am looking for opinions, advice… I am afraid that I am hurting my tendon - my foot is angry, red, and swollen. I can tolerate the pain but want to make sure I am not going about this all wrong. I am icing and taking tylenol for the pain. I am trying not to go back on any stronger pain meds. I am a little discouraged at this point. Advice? Similar experiences? Looking forward to hearing back on what you all think I should (or should not) do!
About me: I am a 45 year old active female living in New England. I have been struggling with chronic AT tendonosis for years and have gone through all the traditional non-surgical treatments that are out there. Over the past year my left achilles has broken down to the point where I was in pain every day and had to stop any impact exercise/activity and also could not x-country ski. I finally broke down and went to see a specialist and we decided the best course of action for me to be able to do the things I want to do was to resort to surgery. He recommended an achilles debridement with tendon transfer. After much research and soul searching I agreed and scheduled the surgery. following is an account of my first few weeks- hope it helps others know what to expect!
Surgery Day: After 2 months of preparing and waiting surgery day finally arrived. I was all set. House set up for me to be disabled, work schedule cleared, and family prepped. I rented a knee walker and also purchased a used tempurpedic adjustable bed (in hindsight this was the best decision I have made in a long time!) to put in our livingroom close to our bathroom for my recovery. Nothing to eat after midnight and only clear liquids after that up to 4 hours before surgery. Got registered at the hospital and things moved fairly quickly after that. They had me put on this johnny and slippers and pack my stuff in a plastic bag. The johnny had a hook up that fed heat in to it which was great since the pre-op area was quite chilly. They took my vitals and hooked me up to an IV. The Doc came and talked to us and marked my leg for surgery. Then came the block. This was actually the most painful thing about the day (and it wasn’t really that bad.) They put a needle in the back of my leg and then in my inner thigh that bathed the nerves with novicane to numb my leg and foot almost completely. They gave me some valium through my IV to relax me and then wheeled me in to the operating room. I was down in no time with meds administered through the IV and don’t remember a thing until I woke up in recovery. I was in a bit of pain at that point so the nurse gave me an oxycodone and put something in my IV that helped immediately. There was a HUGE splint on my lower leg which consisted of an open splint with a hard bottom and packed with some kind of casting material (soft) on the top to allow for swelling. After a bit they put me in to the second recovery area where my husband could join me. They fed me and let me use the bathroom. I had felt pretty good up until the use the bathroom part - once I started moving around I got really nauseous. They had given me meds for nausea before the operation but they did not work 100%. I felt awful. I had to endure this feeling for the entire 2 hour ride home which was not fun!
I felt better once home and in bed. My leg stayed completely numb and pain free for 24 hours. I did start taking pain pills to make sure that the pain did not surface during the night. In the late afternoon of day two the block started to wear off. The pain was very manageable. The pain meds were making me very sick though. Had a challenging couple of days but then things started to improve. The most uncomfortable part thus far are the random muscle spasms that happen just as I am going to sleep. They happen all over my body and often in my operative leg. It is painful and annoying at the same time. I am told that it is normal an should subside in a few weeks.
Week 1 and 2
I don’t think I have ever spent this much consecutive time in bed in my entire life! The two weeks after my surgery are almost over. I have started to work 1/2 days sitting in my bed with my computer in my lap. I find that whenever my leg is not elevated it quickly becomes painful. I have read, attempted to learn to knit, and have played more stupid games on the computer than I wish to admit. I hate being reliant on others to wait on me to get what I need and have to keep reminding myself that I chose to do this surgery and that my positive attitude is key in my recovery.
The pain I have is very manageable. I don’t take pain meds except at night to knock me out so I can sleep. Have been doing leg lifts and other seated exercises daily and am feeling strong on my crutches and knee walker. The swelling in my leg is nill. I can move my toes (except for my big toe which was involved in the tendon transfer). I can feel what I think must be my stitches rubbing against the splint and can move my foot around quite a bit inside the splint. I have had one accident while on crutches and had to put some partial weight on my operative leg - it was very painful and reminded me to be extra careful as I move around. I am looking forward to my next appointment which is in a few days where they will remove my splint to check my incision and remove the stitches and put on a hard cast. I am told that it will be 8 weeks before I am allowed to put weight on my foot - if that is true I am only 25% through this first part of recovery. So far, so good but 8 weeks is a LONG time!
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