The Decision to Operate

Well, It’s now day 2 of my post-op recovery.  It was a longer road getting to this point than I would have liked, but I am happy I am finally on the road to a full recovery, and a clear path.  

It was election night, Nov. 4th, and I had our first playoff game in Volleyball.  We were the first cede, and were subsequently playing the bottom cede, so I was debating whether I should stay and watch the returns from the election, or go, win, and come home quick.  I went.  After being on the court and warming up for no more than five minuted or so, I accelerated forward, and felt a big snap at the base of my right calf.  I was confused at first, thinking one of my buddy’s made it to the gym and was messing around by tripping me up or something.  It felt exactly as if someone had kicked me in the back of the leg.  After a few seconds, I realized what had happened.  I tried to take a few steps and it felt as if I was stepping in a deep hole with my right foot.  I knew then it was bad.

I went to the ER then next morning, and they confirmed after a positive Thompson’s test, that I had at best a severe tear in my achilles.  Surgery was likely she said.  I got in the next morning to see a orthopedic surgeon who was just beginning at this practice.  I was his first patient it turns out.  He gave me good news in that he didn’t think I would need surgery, and that he did not want to immobilize it either.  Good news, but it did not sit well at all.  Luckily I have been in Health and Fitness for along time, and I have knowledge of the mechanics of the lower leg, and I know how serious an Achilles Rupture is, and the typical treatment protocols.  None of which was done by this doc.  I tried to listen, him being the doctor and all, but after week of nothing being done, of extensive bruising setting in, and of things jsut not being good, I decided to seek a second opinon.  I was lucky again to get in to see Dr. Watt the day I called.  A very well respected Orthopedic Surgeon who has done many Achilles injuries.  He’s worked with the SeaHawks, he was a volleyball player in college like me (an outside hitter as well), he was a climber like me, and his name is Michael.  It was serendipity I guess.  He told me what I had suspected and what I had expected my first doc to tell me.  He laid out my options which were operating or going a conservative route which requires being in a long leg plaster cast.  After weighing the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, and my best chances of getting back to 100% and beyond, I decided to go ahead with surgery.

The experience with surgery was awesome two days ago.  I was so impressed with the service, the compassion, the empathy.  They took wonderful care of me.  After it is done, Dr. Watt came and talked with me and told me that the tear was much more severe than was previously thought by the first doc.  It was about a 90% tear, not a 40% as was thought.  Had I not had the operation, I probably never would have run or jumped with same gusto again.  What a relief!

I am now two days post -op, and I feel pretty good.  Some pain, but all in all, not too bad as long as I keep it up.  It feels so much better to know that I am on the road to recovery.  Next step, out of the splint and into the cast next week.


6 Responses to “The Decision to Operate”

  1. 1 andymetz November 20, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Good luck Michael…keep posting to let us know how the cast goes.

  2. 2 padawg November 20, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Wow! What a story! Good thing you used common sense (your own!) and got that second opinion! Had my 10 week post-op today and start PT next week! Whoohoo! Now, since I live in the Seattle area too, I opted for a purple cast (in spite of the current UW football coach!), what color are you going to get!!!

    Take care and good luck to you!

  3. 3 ross November 21, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Great descision. School of thought is that conservative treatment is just as good as surgery. In my research not true. Although in a year the conservative and surgical statistics demonstrate similar healing outcomes. Research points out there are more re-ruptures without surgery, less likely to return to your sport of choice, and with surgery you definitely get back to ‘real’ life quicker. So IMO surgery is the way to go.

    Good luck and keep us up to date.

    Doc Ross

  4. 4 annieh November 21, 2008 at 3:26 am

    Like you Michael I was given the wrong advice and walked for nearly 3 weeks before I sought second opinion, as soon as I did I was operated on the next day, I had a complete tear, doctor didn’t know how I had managed to walk at all, let alone for 3 weeks.

    I was originally told by NHS Direct (in England) that had I had a rupture but all I needed to do was just to ice it for 2 weeks then to put hot wheat bags on it for 2 more weeks!!!

    I only wish I had done it sooner. I am glad you followed your own commonsense and consulted another doctor.

    Good luck with your progress


  5. 5 jonathan9 November 21, 2008 at 4:12 am

    Thanks for that Doc Ross, although I could’ve done with knowing that surgical/non-surgical advice on 25th July.

    I think I’m even more nervous about re-rupture than before.


  6. 6 mhildy November 21, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for the comments everyone. It is so nice to know that I can share this experience with people going through this at the same time. I look forward to chatting with everybody as our recovery unfolds. Good luck and happy healing!


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