Two years on….the boots on the other foot (but this time a break)

Well just over 2 yrs since my left achilllies gave up the ghost I find my self wearing a boot again. The good news is it’s for a fracture of my right ankle, which I have to say is so far easier than an ATR. I fell down a single step and felt something crack, funnily I was relieved not to hear a pop, I’ve spent the last 18 months being very aware of my good achilllies and looking after it like a kitten.

I’m in a removable boot that I can weight bear as tolerated and remove at night and although I’m fairly house bound at the moment being only 6 days post accident, I feel like I’m streets ahead of the journey I undertook with the ATR.

Good luck to everyone on their journey, this is a great site that I think of warmly. I learned so many things with my ATR, practical advice, patience, awareness and self awareness, who your friends really are… to enjoy enforced chilling.

Best of luck everyone

micah x

10 months on - from Aircast to ski boot

Its been a funny couple of months.  I was just feeling like I was getting back to normal-ish.  Doing a bit of interval running, being much less aware of the old achilles, wearing my favourite boots to town etc.  Then we had some pretty fierce gales and I made the mistake of wearing the above boots with a 3inch heel , a big gust of wind blew me sideways and as I stumbled I jarred my ankle and mildly sprained it.  What stupid vanity.  It was achey and sore for a month, the achilles was tender too and some tendenopathy returned.  I stopped running, did plenty of the excercises and it gradually resolved.

The BIG news is that last week I went skiing.  Everyone thought I was completely mad, apart from the physio, who had given me the green light saying the ankle would be quite safe and secure in a ski boot, I would be more likely to damage my knee apparently.  It was my first ever ski holiday and was actually quite comforting to get a boot on again! How strange!  I survived the week, all limbs intact and although the skiing was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, I was delighted that I’d done it, I felt like I’d made a HUGE achievement to learn to ski at the ripe old age of 52 after a ruptured achilles.  It was the weeks spent housebound that had made me vow to experience life to the full and experience new things, so something good has come out of it. :-)

The question is, can I be bothered to start running again? Something to ponder.

7 and a half months - survived first ski lesson.

Decided to go ahead with a ski lessons after the physio had said I’d be safe, from an achillies point of view, for a ski holiday in January and advised a couple of lessons before the holiday. Any advice regarding specific exercises to improve my experience gratefully recieved.

When I first had this injury in March, I would never in a million years have thought I’d be skiing in the future let alone the same year, its changed my outlook on life completely, its made me realize that you never know what is round the corner and life is too short not to try things out as you never know what you’re going to enjoy.

To those of you new to the injury, life has not stopped, its only pausing for thought. :-)

7 month non-op update , Permission to run granted

I know to those of you still in the early days of this injury, 7 months feels like forever! Although it dragged initally, once I got past about 12-14 weeks it seems to have flown.
My walking has appeared quite normal for a couple of months now and I can easily do 3 miles or so with out a limp, walking up rocky ravines and over bumpy moorlands. I get no pain at all from the achilles these days, no swelling for months either. The NHS has provided me with weekly,( yes weekly!) physio sessions at the lower limb gym for the last couple of months. When reading all your fantastic blogs on here I felt a bit neglected at first as many of you had lots of physio in the early days when I was getting very little, but here in Sheffield they step it up from about 3 months….and here I am.
I’ve persevered with the exercises at home and felt like I’ve struggled with the heel lifts and even now its a full body workout achieveing one small single heel raise where I pull the face of an Olympic weight lifter. Nice.
Today I’ve been given the green light for interval running, starting with 30 seconds running, followed by walking X5. Very exciting and I celebrated with a skinny latte (and Danish pastry, oops). I can, of course, increase this incrementally!! (The running, not the pastry eating Lol)
To top it off I’ve just booked a weeks skiing in January in the Alps, I’m going to visit my daughter who has been in NZ for their winter season and my confidence in doing this is partly thanks to this injury and also this ATR Blog. Its changed my outlook on life, grab it while you can.
Thanks to everyone for your support over the last few months, I’ll keep in touch and lookforward to seeing your updates.

Single Heel Lifts! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!!

Need I say more. Its a single heel lift that a pixie would be proud of, but I am grinning like a Cheshire Cat :-)

Following a satisfying session in the hospital gym yesterday doing  a bit of cardio, some quads, lunges, the catching the ball on the trampette whilst balancing routine etc, the physio came over to me to see how I was doing. We admired my stepping down display ie I bent my bad leg at the knee and stepped down with good leg whilst keeping the hips level, I showed her my progress with with heel raises, then she challenged me to a single heel lift. I tried and although almost nothing happened….something did! She said to try with my knee slightly bent.  Then she added a new exercise to my routine which is similar to trying to shuffle on  the balls of my feet with knees slightly bent, just for 20 seconds at a time! Okaayyy, looks pretty stupid but its new and exciting to me, and not as stupid looking as when I was doing lunges at Palma airport the other week when we were delayed!

Anyway, tonight I’ve given the single heel lift a try again and Hey Presto, possibly as little as less than a centimeter and lasting all of 2 seconds. RESULT!!!

Postcard from Majorca - a guide to exercising in public stairwells

Hi all, Its traditional in the retro world of holiday postcard sending for it to arrive after the sender is home and busy doing the washing, and this postcard is no exception :-)

Have just had a fantastic 10 days on the sunny Spanish isle of Majorca. Weather good, hotel fab, food plentiful (dare not step on the scales I just know its bad news), biggest decisions each day was beach now or later? One pudding or two?

The only problem was the hotel room had no step upon which I could perform those magic moves to get the achilles in shape. Plenty of steps on the staircase and thats just what I had to do, although trying to sneak in 30 of this and 30 of that three times a day whilst no one was about to give me that sideways "weird woman" stare was tricky, in the end  I just had to go for it.  There were also 3 steps up to the pool area with a nice hand rail, so mid afternoon I stuck my earphones in and got on with it, apologies if i distracted you from your kindle holiday folk.

Well it seems to have paid off as once back home I can tell that the eccentric heel drops are much much more controlled , although still get more difficult as the day goes on.  I’m also having difficulty stepping down the stairs in the manner that the physio wants me to do, my tendancy is to use my hips ie drop my good hip down to allow the good leg to reach the stair below, so she’s been getting me to try to keep my hips level and really bend the knee and stretch the calf.  I’m not sure that thats improving, but it may be slightly better.

The other improvement is one that I may not have noticed had Kellygirl not asked me ages ago about how I walk upstairs. I had been walking up completely flat footed, pushing off and using my quads and knee to lift up the body weight to the next step. However yesterday I suddenly noticed that I’m pushing off with the ball of my foot when climbing the stairs. Yippee! I had felt I was making no real improvements, but its the little things like that that really matter and spur you along.

I keep thinking my walking is improving, but then when we had our evening stroll along the sea front I find I’m still tiring before the rest of the family and trailing behing like a sulky teenager, but hey, I’m walking!

I would sign off with "Wish you were here", but as I’m back home and up to my neck in washing and ironing I’ll spare you that.

Keep doing the exercises guys, even if its on the  stairway at work or where ever, as it really pays off.

Micah x

Unexpected running shock!

On our way out to a party last night, we parked up at the local shops and as I was walking across to the off licence for a bottle of wine the heavens opened, I instinctively picked up the hem of my maxi dress, put my handbag over my head and ran!! About 6 steps until I realised what I was doing and intantly froze.  No harm apparently done, I must confess to the physio on Tuesday, another door has apprently opened :-)

Life in the fast lane

18 weeks non-op. I’ve not posted in a while because since I found my feet and returned to driving life has been a dizzy blur!

The achilles still gives me jip, as everyone says its a slow recovery,  its there as a reminder throught the day which has got to be good otherwise we’d be doing dangerous stuff and putting ourselves at risk, so I think of it as a posative thing, a little post-it note saying "think".

The achilles itself is still enlarged and I gather from reading other posts on here that it may be like that full stop. I do some stretches before tackling the stairs each morning, 30 secs x 3 on both legs and it loosens up nicely after that and better after I’ve tackled the stairs a couple of times.

My walking has been improving steadily, although sometimes I think thats nothing has changed lately, but then I look back on the calander and see that its only been 3 weeks an d 4 days since I did a walk with a work collegue of a mile in total with a lunch stop mid way where I was walking reeealllly sloooowly and was having lots of pain that eveining (yes! ice & elevation), but then the following week did 2 miles with the same effect, and the following week did 2 plus miles, faster and even OVERTAKING OTHER WALKERS!!  And to top it off, was  comfortable that evening too. A massive rapid improvement, but we always want more don’t we?!

The limp is improving, sometimes I think its not there atall, then I catch sight of myself in a shop window and can see that it is, but I don’t think the general public would notice much, it seems to vary with tiredness etc, I’m also much better at walking up inclines, its really hilly in Sheffield and putting good leg infront of bad leg initally was not possible on the steep hill which we live on, but suddenly that it fine, just a bit slower.

I’ve been seeing the physio every 2 weeks (NHS), it deffo should be more, yes I can do most of the exercises at home but its knowing that you are doing them right when there is a 2 week gap and then you find out that you should have been doing it differently, knee more over the foot, more weight on the bad leg etc. The good news is that now I’ve reached this level of strenght/activity I can start a weekly lower limb gym class run by the physios, it sould be twice a week, but being the NHS its recently been slashed to weekly, just my luck.

The programme I’ve got consists of 5 mins warm up on a bike, then step exercises ie repeatedly stepping up bad leg first and down again but taking all the wt on your bad leg to get up, I was making the mistake of  pushing off with my good leg.  Then stepping down good leg first, concentrating on then keeping my bad knee over the foot, then some squats with a gym ball behing my back and bending my legs till it pulls, hold it for a few secs then push up using my bad leg. Then some lunges stepping forward with bad leg. Next some 2 legged heel lifts on the step  which required confidence to let your bad foot hang over the edge as you rotate the weight over to good side.

All well and good until he gets me to show him my balance on bad leg, I showed off my great balancing skills, so he moved me on to the trampette, not bad at all, so he gave me a ball to throw at the wall and catch whilst balancing on the trampoline, it was avery bouncy ball, and a very bouncy trampette and I managed 2 and then 4 catches.  Can one of you with a trampoline in your garden please get your agile kids to do that and tell me its possible please!! I’m hoping to progress to doing it whilst singing Hallelujha!’

Work is tiring, and its difficult getting out of the house in the morning and finding time to do as many exercises as I would like to before work and later in the day. Management have been good and given me adjusted duties to avoid the things that I can’t do safely yet, and are even sending me on a course to enable me to extend my role doing less physical activities for a few months untill I am able to lift/push/run etc So I can’t complain there.

This site has been a life saver for me, mostly uplifting and hugely informative and full of lovely helpful people, thanks guys. When I do my stair exercises if I’m feeling down I think about you all, one of my many visual helps is seeing the pictures that KKirk put up of his walk in the Appalachians (I think) and him sitting on top of a huge rock with great views at 8 months (Thanks Kevin), its great to have something to aim for, my aim is Stanage Edge in Derbyshire is 30 mins drive from home and I’m hoping do some walking there by the end of August.

Thanks for reading this, I have rambled on a bit sorry, there is light at the end of that tunnel, and whats more its sun light!


12 weeks, discharged from the hospital - bye bye crutches

I feel as though I have reached a huge milestone. Several in fact! I came out of the clinic with a huge grin on my face, ditched the crutches in the crutch bin,  got in the car and drove home, made a coffee and carried it to my chair - 3 things that I know many of you are desperate to do and guys you will!  This day is just around the corner!! I want to dance a jig but woooohhhh eeeeassy there.

I survived New York at 10 weeks. It was hard but I took both crutches and used them all day every day, took lots of taxi’s and hopped on and off the tourist bus. Every one was so kind and polite, I doubt I would have got the same response in every tourist city.  The crutches were magic, Harry Potter magic. We jumped what must have been a 2 hour queue through immigration at JFK, were whisked to the front of queues in The Empire State and Top of the Rock, took special staff only lifts, had a rest in a wheelchair in MOMA….. I was pampered like a princess.  The  sore and swollen ankle was  helped a little by support stockings and hotel ice cubes, but I kept using the crutches and elevating it as much as possile.

Once home I went back to just one crutch, which I still needed on the hill up from our house as I just didn’t have to power to get good leg past bad leg, I have only been completely independent of the crutch for a week outside and my walking gait appears good briefly, then my hips go wonky fairly quickly if I get tired or loose concentration.

The physio is pleased with my ROM and I have been told to reduce the stretching to once daily as my dorsiflexion is almost normal. I am to continue with the collagen alignment excercises (now using a step) and I need to continue to build up my calf and I’m ok to start swimming again.

My balancing practise is paying off and I have gone from managing  about 5 seconds on the bad foot to over a minute in a three week period and my latest new exercise is walking backward barefoot!? Clear the decks! Who left that hoover there?

I started driving at week 12 as advised by the doctor and it was like riding a bike, only with more wheels. Here in the UK where we have 3 foot pedals we are all doomed to being a passenger until we can do an emergency stop in just shoes. I had sat in the driving seat at week 10 an put my foot on the clutch and it felt sooo wrong, clearly not quite ready, by 12 weeks I knew it was ok just by trying the pedal whilst stationary on the drive.

Good luck to everyone, for those who have shoe envy -  this is just temporary, I know I still have a good way to go, my top walking speed is slow, my walk is wonky but improving, down stairs walking is still stiff but better than last week, but milestones come in leaps and bounds. Happy Healing to all.


10 weeks - Take your leg on holiday

Ten weeks on and my injured leg seems to have a mind of its own. Its like we are not really related, just attached. Some days I feel great, we go for a walk together, the crutch tags along like a shadow or unwanted annoying dog, but as the walk progresses I find I use the crutch progressively more, sometimes wishing I had taken its cloned twin along too. Its no more than half a mile in total but the disadvantages of living in a hilly city are evident quickly, I have to sit on the bench at the top of the road before I can continue.

Its tinged with mauve, which I have seen others on here mention which is reassuring.  The achilles itself is about 2.5 cm thick and the foot generally swells slightly, sometimes with a little swelling on the inner aspect of the ankle. It is stiff and sore in the morning and evening, but varies during the day and also from day to day. I worry about all of it but its all probably normal.

I had my second physio session this week. Must say I’m quite disappointed with the frequency that I am able to get physio on the NHS with this severe injury. I had a shoulder injury last year and managed to have physio appointments every 2 weeks on the dot, but with this I have had a session at week 7 and then at week 9 and when I was told to book in for the next appointment in 2 weeks, the receptionist gave me an appt for 3 weeks because that was the next one available.  The physiotherapists themselves are great though, and I have assessed that my tendon is almost at the length that it needs to be, my range of movement is good also so have cut out the tendon stretching exercises and introduced ones to stretch the 2 calf muscles, and some supported standing heel raises to rearrange the collogen.

As a reward for the good leg being a good leg I am taking it on a little holiday, the bad leg is allowed to tag along too. Actually its our 24th Wedding Anniversary and we are booked to fly to New York in the morning for 5 days. It was supposed to be a city walking adventure, but we shall be using our unlimited tourist bus passes and those yellow taxis that you see on the tv. We’ve not been before and I’m hoping to still enjoy it, although I’m sure you will all relate to my uncertainty.

I hope you can manage without me for the week, keep blogging as I want to read about your progress when I get back. Micah .