Jan 07 2013

I Am Back Baby :)

Published by michel under Journal

So it’s been a loooong while since I wrote anything here.

Let’s just say my Achille’s rupture wasn’t the only bad thing that happened to me last year - my wife decided she wanted something else, so we separated, I sold her my half of the house, and moved…
(you’ll notice I changed my header picture…)

But! To all of you out there who may stumble upon this page, just out of your cast, discouraged as you look at the wobbly piece of useless steak that used to be your calf muscle, unable to move your foot, I can tell you this:


It does.

I was barely able to cycle this summer: couldn’t get up on the pedals so couldn’t do hills or long rides. Walking for any extended distance was a pain (literally).
So I changed sports for a bit. I went sailing. Kayaking. And I was fortunate enough to have a friend who let me use one of his paddleboards (half the time on a LPC Stealth no less) for most of the summer (Thanks Sean!), and that helped a lot with balance and building strength again in my ankle. The good thing about paddleboarding is that if you fall, you just end up in the water, no harm done. I did have a temporary setback in August as my scar was spitting stitches (removed about 3 inches of stitching in total), so I had to stop paddleboarding for a couple of weeks in order to avoid infections.

August/September/October was hell with my separation and moving, so I didn’t make much progress on building more strength. In November I was fortunate enough to get sent to Amsterdam for work, and during the weekends I walked, and walked, and walked all around Amsterdam, until I couldn’t walk anymore. Canals you say? Boat rides? Nope. I walked.
By the way, the Artis Royal Zoo, and the National Maritime Museum are great places to spend a Sunday afternoon!

What freaked me out when I had my skiing accident last winter was that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to ski at the same level again. So when the season started in December, I was more than a little apprehensive about getting back on the boards and going down the hill.

I bought new ski boots back in September - Tecnica Inferno Ski Boots - just wanted to make sure that my foot would be well fitted and protected.

So I chose a beginner’s trail and went really carefully… let’s just say that when I was at the bottom of the run I had a little tear of happiness because I knew my skiing had been saved. The only thing I try to avoid is bumps (which I never liked anyways) so as not to suddenly jar my ankle out of alignment or have any kind of impact.

At the office they told me I had to take my 2012 vacation days before today or I would lose them.
So I went skiing.
Every day.
For the last 23 days.
And it’s been the best therapy for my injury so far!
The ankle feels strong. And I feel good again :)

I even put on my red hat and played Santa to myself and got a new pair of Rossignol Experience 98 Skis for Christmas.

These things are a lot of fun, be it for floating in powder or carving on the groomed stuff!!!

Oh, and remember that analogy between the calf straight out of the cast and a hanging piece of meat ready for the BBQ?

It will build back up again. The volume isn’t quite equal between both calves yet, but muscle definition is back, and strength definitely is!

So to all of you stumbling onto this page: hang in there. It gets discouraging. It’s a pain not being able to do the things you love for so long. But you’ll be back. And you’ll enjoy all those things you love to do *even more!*
I know I did. No one could have prevented me from going skiing these last 23 days.

  • Tired? Skiing.
  • Snowing and no visibility? Skiing.
  • -25C? Skiing.
  • “Aren’t you tired of skiing every day?” Nope. Skiing :)

2013 is going to be a good year again - finally.

So here’s to a Happy New Year to all, and to all a Quick Recovery.

4 responses so far

Mar 19 2012

if the nurses tell me my scar looks really good, are they flirting with me? :) (atr+43|op+37)

Published by michel under Journal

Just a quick update on the healing of the scar.

Here is what it looked like a week after starting physio, 30 days after the operation:


And here is what it looked like 2 days ago, 5 days later:
scar 35 days after surgery


The swelling has gone down a lot; I ice it 2-3 times a day still, and it helps a lot to make it feel more comfortable.


During physio, we are still working to get rid of the accumulated blood with electro-therapy and massages, making sure that the muscles will be supple enough when it comes time to get moving again.


Also, I re-read my MRI report, and part of the problem why I’m still having difficulty moving my ankle from side to side is that there are a couple of other injuries in there; I have 2 grade II ruptures as bonuses to the ATR (and here I was complaining that we weren’t getting bonuses at work this year)…:

  • peroneus brevis tendon
    peroneus brevis
  • anterior talo-fibular ligament
    talo fibular

The good news is that the immobilization is also taking care of these, so again it’s a question of being patient and waiting it out.


So, to everyone out there who’s inching along their recovery and reading this, here’s a proper motto :)


Hang in there!

6 responses so far

Mar 19 2012

update on equipment/toys: Mobilegs - XeroSox - VACOcast Pro … xbox 360!

Published by michel under Journal

Hum… I started writing this a little while ago, but didn’t press publish, so here goes :)

Here’s a quick summary of the equipment I bought to try to make my life easier while going through all this.


Mobilegs Ultra

When I got hurt, I was lucky enough that my folks had crutches at their house that they gave me right away. But they were forearm crutches that were always in the way when I was trying to grab things or turn lights on or off, and that were a real pain on the wrists with their straight grips.

The Mobilegs are great. Their customer service is exceptional: anytime I have a serious question I ask on their Facebook page, they recognize me and *call me* on the phone to provide assistance. There is a plastic rivet that is a bit loose on one of the handles, and when I mentioned this on their page, I got a call to let me know that they were sending new ones in the mail. Nice people, that seem to know that if we’re using their product, it’s because we really need their support - pun intended :)
The Mobilegs themselves are very comfortable with their ergonomic grips and the spring-loaded and rotating saddles. I’m moving twice as fast with them as I was with the forearm crutches.

I got the Hot Rod flames skin to put on them and they put a little humor in otherwise long and boring days :)
Hey! It even matches one of the couches I’ve been spending time on… ;)
Mobilegs Ultra with Hot Rod Flames Skin
Here are a couple of links to buy these:


XeroSox vacuum sealed cast cover

If you’ve just severed your Achilles tendon, especially if you live in Canada, don’t wait, and order one of these immediately. You’ll thank me later.
The reason is that XeroSox is very quick about shipping their product, but unfortunately, if you live in Canada, it will go through USPS, who will then hand it over to Canada Post, who will do who knows what processing it through customs before they finally deliver it to your door. I ordered on a Monday, and didn’t receive it before the Friday of the following week, so 10 full working days.
Being able to take a shower is again one of those little things in life you pay no attention to until you can’t do it anymore. That first shower after doing the washcloth thing for 2 weeks was a godsend - I must have looked like an old prune when I came out… didn’t want to get out of the water stream :)

I went for the full leg instead of the half leg, and it was a good decision: the half leg would have fitted just a bit too close to the top of the cast, so having the full leg helped a lot in making sure that the cast wouldn’t get wet. Make sure that the seal is good: my now atrophied quad made a dimple close to the knee that could have let water in but I caught it in time :)


VACOcast Pro Achilles Boot

The VACOcast was also a good buy. I guess I<m not the only one on here to get this, so there are probably plenty of glowing reviews on other blogs on this site.
Make sure you get the proper size. I probably could have fitted in a small (my measurements were just on the border of small and medium), but went for the medium, thinking that if my foot swelled I would have room in there. Check the website for the proper fit http://www.vacocast.com/pro/
What I can provide you with though is the address to get the VACOcast boot in Canada, as the US distributor does not ship to Canada (there is definitely a pattern here…).
I already mentioned this in another post, but just so everything is on this one page, here goes:
Landmark Medical Systems Inc.
Phone: 1-800-563-2626
Phone: 905-881-2324
Fax: 905-881-2327

The prices are (as of February 15 2012):

  • VACOcast Pro Achilles boot: $299.
  • Weather guard: $5, although they told me it is not the same as the one on the VACOcast.com website
  • Additional liner: $60.

The weather guard isn’t really worth it. It looks like a shower cap, a bit sturdier, and is black. Good for covering the bottom of the boot but that’s it. I doubt it can take a lot of abuse. I just carry it in my backpack in case it rains when I get out of physio.
Also, if like me you’re going to be by yourself for a bit like I am (the SO decided she wanted a bit of a break from the cold -and me- and went to Florida for a couple of weeks…), it is probably worthwhile to get a second liner. I didn’t and since I didn’t want to risk it going to the basement to do a laundry load, I had to wait until a friend could come by the house to throw it in the wash. My scar wasn’t bleeding or anything and I sometimes put on a base layer hiking sock, so it wasn’t dirty per se, but it feels good after it’s been washed :)


Xbox 360

Since my surgeon put me on medical leave, I’ve been reading a *lot*, thinking even *more*, but since it was still winter up here - although it’s been really warm the last couple of days - I couldn’t really go outside and play, and seeing the blue skies and sunshine was making go nuts thinking about probably what is turning out to be the best skiing season in years…
I saw an ad for the Xbox 360 on sale last week, and just ordered it. I figured it would occupy my mind when I just can’t stand it anymore :)
Now the overpaid postman from Canada Post was too lazy to come to my door this morning and ring the bell, so I have to go get it at the nearest post office tonight once the tracking indicates it is available.
Should be fun with Forza Motorsport 4 that I got with it :)
Forza Motorsport 4
Links for Future Shop - it’s still on sale this week, and they give you a free game:

2 responses so far

Feb 29 2012

cast is off - vacocast in on - nwb for another month (atr+24 | op+18)

Published by michel under Journal

I went back to see my surgeon yesterday afternoon.
My cast was removed, as well as the stitches.
When they removed the cast I looked at my calf, ankle and foot and couldn’t believe they were mine: they haven’t been this small since I was 10 years old I think :)
Wow the entire lower leg is atrophied *a lot*… I also lost about an inch to my left quad… beurk :(
When the surgeon took my foot and told me to press again his hand I was scared s***less that I couldn’t put much pressure at all.
The scar looked good I’m told, with no signs of infection or anything, and relatively smooth.
The nurse then proceeded to clean my foot, and reapplied dressings after using some tape to make sure nothing reopens.
I’m starting physio this afternoon. Again I’m scared about them putting too much pressure too soon and something going wrong :(
The doc told me that since the tear was a complete one, at the muscle-tendon junction, he didn’t want me to put any weight on it for another month. I’m starting to have all sorts of little pains around my knee because of always keeping the leg up when crutching around with the cast, and now the VacoCast putting additional weight on there.
The marathon tracker plugin says I have completed 1.29 out of 26.2 miles to full recovery… man it’s going to be a long one.
Let’s go.

5 responses so far

Feb 15 2012

mobilegs ultra - or when a guy is injured, he still buys toys :)

Published by michel under Journal

So here’s definitive proof that I’m a guy: even though I’m injured and the road to recovery is announcing itself to be a looooooooong one, I’m still looking at toys.
This time it’s just different kinds of toys :)
I guess this is like a girl going to New York and coming back with 12 pairs of shoes ;)

So I stumbled on the mobilegs ultra website, and thought the product looked good.
mobilegs ultra crutches

So I ordered a pair.
NOTICE TO CANADIANS: mobilegs do not ship to Canada.
For you lucky Americans that can buy everything on Amazon, here’s the link to the Mobilegs Ultra on amazon.com.

Fortunately, a friend of mine is going to New Hampshire next week to follow an avalanche course, so I’m having the mobilegs shipped to his hotel.

I contacted mobilegs through their Facebook page, and they replied within the hour. They told me to send the info to their customer support, and I had a call back from Colleen from Mobi CS shortly after. Now that’s what I call customer service! Colleen did mention that there is a company that will ship to Canada, and offered to get me in touch with them. But since I had another solution, I ordered directly from them.

They do have coupons sometimes (hint: register for their newsletter - I had a coupon in my inbox shortly after). The last public coupon was 30% off for Super Bowl Sunday. Didn’t get that but am still very happy with the service they provided.

I will do a follow-up once I receive them and have had a chance to use them for a bit.

8 responses so far

Feb 15 2012

VACOcast Pro Achilles Boot - where to buy in Canada

Published by michel under Journal

UPDATE July 23, 2013: There is now a direct option to buy in Canada:
http://shop.vacocast.com or http://canada.vacocast.com
Thanks to Jeremy for providing the information.

Just a quick post for all my Canadian friends who are looking at getting a VACOcast Achilles boot for rehab.VACOcast Pro Achilles Boot

I contacted VACOcast in the US, and since they do not ship to Canada, they gave me the name of a local distributor in Canada:

Landmark Medical Systems Inc.
Phone: 1-800-563-2626
Phone: 905-881-2324
Fax: 905-881-2327

The prices are (as of today, February 15 2012):

  • VACOcast Pro Achilles boot: $299.
  • Weather guard: $5, although they told me it is not the same as the one on the VACOcast.com website
  • Additional liner: $60.

Hope that helps! Mine is on the way.

7 responses so far

Feb 13 2012

when Morphine introduces you to Morpheus

Published by michel under Journal


It’s one of those little pleasures in life that we take for granted until we have a serious lack of it.

My first night after surgery was hell: the back of my leg was throbbing and burning, I had a splitting headache, and my body was sore because I didn’t know which position to assume to rest.

But last night. Last night I was escorted by Morphine and Valium to a well deserved meeting with Morpheus :)

I managed to get 4-5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Woke up with a bit of pain, took another Hydromorphone, fidgeted for a while, and slept again.

My wife decided to sleep in the other room, so she could get some rest as well, and the extra room in the bed helped a lot.

Also, having read the stories of a couple of guys who groggily stumbled with their crutches going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had asked my wife to pick up one of those portable urinals at the pharmacy while she was getting my prescription. Not having to put the leg down for the entire night helped a lot. Plus you get to pretend you’re an astronaut on the space station :)

So eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we… won’t wake up with additional bruises from a nocturnal nature break stumble!

3 responses so far

Feb 12 2012

the calm before the storm

Published by michel under Journal

The surgeon called me Friday night and told me to be at the hospital Saturday morning at 7:00am for surgery.

Was stressed about being 5 minutes late, but turned out that nobody talked to us for about 45 minutes because, you know, that’s how government bureaucrats run an emergency room in Quebec… when my wife finally talked to someone that deigned to show up behind the reception desk, and told them that the surgeon was operating on me this morning, she was told “the doctors don’t decide what happens in this place, the administration does…” and people wonder why the health system is so screwed up here…

But everyone else was really nice and efficient. Had a quick ECG, then undressed, put on a really good looking hospital gown (not) and got in the stretcher and went into the operating block.

Met the anesthesiologist, who explained that she preferred doing a general anesthesia as they were going to flip me on my stomach to perform the surgery.

Also saw my surgeon, who laughed as I was telling the anesthesiologist that it was my first fall in the last 10 years, and told me I should fall more often to learn how to do it properly so I didn’t end up under the knife every time I do! The man better be good :)

Rolled in the O.R. a bit after 9:00am. Told the anesthesiologist that I was a bit nervous as this was my first time, while she was inserting the needle in my arm. She told me to relax, that everything was going to be all right…

… and I woke up in the recovery room! Holy cow I never went asleep so fast!!! :O I mean I didn’t have time to start my second sentence, I was already out. Didn’t feel a thing!

Stayed in recovery for a bit. Already had the half-cast/bandages on my leg, and didn’t feel any pain. I was so relaxed I was actually drifting in and out of sleep, and as I would drift in, I would skip a breath and the darn machine would start beeping and wake me :)

They rolled me out of there around 12:30pm and into a room where my wife was waiting for me. I was scheduled for another dose of I.V. antibiotics at 5:30pm, so we had to wait it out. I don’t know what they gave me, but I was feeling no pain the entire afternoon, and was still drifting to sleep, feeling good… and hungry!

I need to say that having my wife there with me the entire day was very reassuring, and I can’t thank her enough for what she did… and is still doing! If you have to go through this and someone offers to help and go with you, don’t refuse!

Had the antibiotics around 5:30pm. Was told they need to keep me 2 hours after giving me anything so I asked if I could eat while I was waiting.
After they gave me supper around 7:00pm was about the time the ankle started to be painful. I guess the pain killers were starting to wear off. I asked if I could have more, and they told me that if they gave me something they would have to keep me an additional 2 hours again. They also said that they wouldn’t give me anything different that what the doctor had prescribed and that my lovely wife had already picked up at the pharmacy.

So I took a pill and we finally left the hospital around 9:00pm. It was so noisy on that floor that I didn’t think I would sleep any better at the hospital than I would at home, especially since they wouldn’t give me anything different or more powerful than what I would have at home. An hour later I was in my own bed, still feeling ok. But now let me tell you something: I don’t care if the prescription says “take every 4-6 hours”, if you’re in pain, take something again even if it’s only been 3 hours. I didn’t dare do it last night, and didn’t sleep a wink because the pain was EXCRUCIATING!!! also I had a splitting headache to top the ankle pain…. Called my father this morning and asked him what to do and he said not to wait for the pain to be too much before taking a dose again. Don’t double the dose mind you, but if it’s unbearable, take a pill. Talk to your own doctor *before* you head home and try to go to sleep and ask him if it’s OK to not wait the duration indicated on the little label on the prescription bottle…

Long story short: for the rest of today I’ve been taking 2mg of hydromorphone about every 3 hours, and the pain has been quite manageable. I’m keeping the leg up most of the time, as every time I get up the blood goes down and I can feel every heartbeat in my ankle, and not in a nice way :)

Tomorrow I’ll start making phone calls to get my hands on a VACOcast boot and Millenial crutches. I contacted VACOcast in the U.S. and can’t believe they don’t ship to Canada. They gave me a distributor in Ontario but I have yet to hear back from them. Millenial hasn’t replied to my email either.

If anyone knows where to get these in Canada, please let me know!
I will update the blog with my findings.

aaahhhh 9:10pm - time for my friend hydromorphone to help me meet Morpheus tonight :)

3 responses so far

Feb 10 2012

Goodbye world! Or dammit I didn’t think I would be starting a blog like this…

Published by michel under Journal

Ahhh the classic Hello World post.

Since last Sunday when I fully ruptured my Achille’s tendon in a stupid downhill skiing fall, the first spill I’ve taken in 10 years, it rather feels like “Goodbye World”.

No pop, no excruciating pain. I thought it was just another sprain when I went to stand up again… made it down to the bottom of the hill on my other leg, up the chair, then down the bottom of the other side of the mountain in the gondola.

Called my father to give me a ride back home, 1km away from the hill, as I didn’t want to drive…

Took off my ski boot, my dad, who is a retired orthopedic surgeon, took one look at it and said “Sh.t!” (well its french equivalent anyway)… he knew right away… but I think he didn’t want to alarm me and maybe was trying to convince himself that it wasn’t fully ruptured, so he keep looking for my AT.

Called a friend who is a radiologist, and had an MRI on Monday - full rupture, some other tendons in bad shape also…  mildly depressing.

Saw the surgeon on Tuesday. Confirmed that best approach is to operate.

Operation is scheduled for sometime this weekend. I’m just waiting for the hospital to call and let me know when to go.

I’m lucky I guess, as the surgeon who will perform the operation is also responsible for the Quebec Ski Team, and my father is a retired orthopedic surgeon so I’ll have lots of support.

But man I’m still crying thinking of the long road ahead… ski season is kaput, and the cycling season will probably take a big hit also…

Wish me luck.

4 responses so far