Hello, my blog friends. I have returned after a significant hiatus. During said hiatus, a number of things have occurred, so let’s just jump right in.

First and foremost, I feel like I’m fully recovered. I have the strength (if not the muscle mass) back in the calf. I bike, jog, exercise, chase my nieces and nephews without any real concern about the surgical repair. That just feels like a huge accomplishment. I was standing in the kitchen the other day after a bike ride with the wife and just basked in how wonderful it was to feel the pleasant exhaustion in my legs. Just for the fun of it, I even did a couple of single leg calf raises to prove to myself that the achilles was really solid and the strength was back.

Second, I have mostly hung up the cleats/high tops. I’ll occasionally go out and play a little ball, but I don’t attack it the way I used to. I’m starting to think that this is more a concession to athletic ability and other nagging little aches and pains than a fear that I’m going to do something catastrophic. My perspective on that is this: “I’ve already been through it once. I’m not scared to have to do it again, even though it’s horribly inconvenient, and I refuse to live my life in fear.” So, I maintain my activity, but the hard core sports has taken a back seat to the other things going on.

Third, this whole blogging idea has really embedded itself in my brain. I’ve been noodling about starting a side business that’s a review site that answers the questions that I can’t seem to get on other sites. For example, during the convalescence, I had a chance to cruise a bunch of movie review sites as I planned my excursions into the world, but I couldn’t seem to find anyone to answer the following basic question: will this movie be entertaining enough to be worth my $12? The sites I found (and it seems like I hit them ALL) seemed to fall into one of two categories: too general and vanilla making them meaningless or so mired in the minutia and film school vocabulary that it sounds like a frustrated film maker. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was true about a lot of restaurant reviews, event reviews, and the list just goes on. So, I’m thinking about a site for the rest of us to answer, in these tough times, is it worth my money and will I be entertained/engaged/happy at the end of the day.

Well, those are the big time nuggets. I’ll pop back in here with more news, hopefully, on a more regular basis.

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It’s been a while since I’ve written or even really participated and I went into withdrawal. To make amends, I bought my t-shirt, read a bunch of other people’s blogs, and am now posting to bring everyone back up to speed.

I’m now up to wearing regular shoes. I had a post-op with the surgeon on the 10th of July, and he declared that I could “wean” off the boot. In all honesty, that weaning took about 30 minutes. He also told me that I’m healing nicely. When I pressed for details on what exactly “nicely” meant, he told me that he couldn’t feel a gap in the tendon repair site; there was good range of motion in the ankle; and, I was able to generate decent pressure through the ball of my foot in plantar flexion. All in all, it was good news.

I’ve been going to PT twice a week for the last seven weeks and have graduated in the last week or so to strengthening and balance training. We’ve progressed to toe raises, balancing on the repaired foot on the jogging trampoline while they throw a ball at me, and side steps onto a raised box. It really takes a lot of concentration to not “cheat” on the exercises by pushing weight completely through my heel or using too much of the good leg.

Like most of us in the two-shoes category, I’m now trying to stay motivated in the marathon with the small victories - more reps, heavier weights, longer durations, less swelling - instead of the more major milestones. It’s continuing to be a mental challenge without the endorfins.

That’s all for now. PT awaits!

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When all of the steri-strips and dead skin came off the incision site, I got my first real good look at the scar. It reminded me of that period in elementary school where it seemed like every boy was asking each other “hey, wanna see my scar?” That was pretty much all you heard on the playground, in class, in the hallways, and on the way to and from school. It was that period with boys where scars were cool, and you had to have one. The cooler the scar, the better. In fact, coolness wasn’t necessarily who had the biggest scar or the nastiest scar, but it had to be unique. It had to have a story. Let me tell you, our scars have stories. We’d have been uber-cool :D In fact, we’d have ruled the tan-bark.

I’ve had a few people want to see it, but I’ve begged off by telling them that it’s too much effort to undo the 6 straps on my boot, take off the tubigrip, give them their 10 second look, put the tubigrip back on, reset my leg in the boot, and redo the 6 velcro straps. I sometimes wonder at their motivation and the source of their curiosity.

Progress note - I’m scheduled to be full weight bearing in the boot today assuming my PT agrees. They’ve had me on a conservative recovery because of the muscle incisions to relax the tendon. So far, ROM is near normal. Her comment to me was that the brutal part - reestablishing ROM - has been fairly uneventful from her point of view and that the easy part of strength rebuilding should go smooth. She also told me that when the boot first comes off and I start re-learning how to walk normally, she might have me use two crutches for a little while so I don’t relearn walking with a limp. Sounds reasonable. At least it’s not using crutches just to achieve mobility.

Back to the scar thing. It really points to a discussion that’s occurred on a couple of blogs now about how people who haven’t dealt with serious injuries have a hard time conceiving what we’re going through. I saw a show on cable the other day called “30 Days” where the film maker (the same one who did ‘Supersize Me’) gets people to assume contrarian roles for 30 days. The one I saw had pro-bowl cornerback Ray Crockett use a wheelchair for 30 days. It was amazing and a little gratifying to see the same mental stages we’re going through play out. It was also cool to hear other people with apparent permanent physical limitations adapt and overcome. I think that’s the part we’ll always have some trouble with. We know our time on the crutches, in the wheelchair, etc. will eventually end. So, there’s a built in mental relief and goal. I know that I clung to that like a drowning man in the middle of the ocean. Many of our friends who haven’t been seriously injured (and all of us pray to some higher power that they won’t have to experience it because they’re our friends and relatives) don’t have the frame of reference to understand. Personally, I’m ok with that because this has given me the patience and understanding to let them ask their questions and give me their platitudes. I know that if there’s ever a time when I need people who do know, who can understand, and who have the shared experience, I can come here and hang with my blog buddies in the ATR Nation.

Thanks for that. Stay strong.

Mike

PS - at some point, I’ll get a scar picture up for everyone :)

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I’m back from my second PT visit and it’s been going well. The first visit was about medical history, recovery timeline to date, and ROM measurements, so I held off on the post (don’t hate me :D). In general, the PT is happy with my ROM and is focused on keeping the swelling down, continuing ROM, and building strength in some of the muscles.

To that end, we come to today’s visit. Quad focused exercises for both eccentric and concentric movement, ROM exercises, dorsiflexion resistance, massage on the ankle and calf to help reduce swelling, electric stim, and ice. In all of my PT experiences, the icing part is something that I really enjoy at the clinic. For some reason, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get the icing at home to be as effective or feel as good as when I get iced down by the PT.

Today was also just a great day. I went to a business event at Dodger’s Stadium as the guest of a friend of mine. She’s the Brand Manager for Southwest Airlines in our area and was invited to the Los Angeles Small Business Association Awards Luncheon. I got to tag along and network, get fed, and watch the game. Unfortunately, the Boys in Blue lost to the Rockies by a single run, but hey, I was cruising the stadium including up and down the steep stairs in the seating with only a single crutch! PWB is AWESOME!

I was so geeked up by such a good day, I actually came home after PT and just cranked out a bunch of stuff for work and am closing with this post! It’s really odd to say this, but I felt so . . . normal. The only concession I had to make to the recovery was to just go slow. Blog Nation - there is hope! Keep your eyes on the prize.

The adrenaline and the post-game high are wearing off, so, till next time blog buddies, I’m out.

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Blog buddies out there in the ATR Nation, I have shed the last cast and graduated to the boot and Partial Weight Bearing!

Today’s visit to the doctor was pretty momentous. They cut off the last cast, and I had the last of the stitches taken out. My orthopedist had me back in the boot with 2 heel lifts. The PWB protocol he wants me on is 25% increase per week, weaning off of crutches during that time, PT twice a week, and some other odds and ends. The doctor told me that the tendon takes 10-12 weeks to fully heal, but that motion and exercise actually helps it heal.

It was weird, at first, trying to use the crutches and sort of putting weight on the ankle. I kept wanting to lift the foot and not put any weight on it. It wasn’t until I had gotten back to the car that it started to be more comfortable. There wasn’t really any pain associated with putting weight on it for the first time in four weeks.

While I was on the table at the Doctor, he had me do some basic range of motion. It took a couple of tries to get what’s left of my calf muscle to fire, but ultimately, I had decent ROM. Plantarflexion wasn’t bad and I could do small circles in both directions. He gave me one critical criteria for when I do ROM exercises on my own: do NOT allow the shin to move (i.e., no rotation at the knee). I’m to make sure that the motion is focused on the ankle.

During the day, I’m pretty sure I was putting nearly half of my weight on the ankle on a regular basis and a couple of times even did the full weight. I’m pushing a little too hard - first day and all that. I really don’t want to trigger problems just because it’s feeling better than it really is. Over the course of the day, the remaining calf muscle protested a little with a cramp and I’ve got a little swelling, so elevation and ice are in order.

The psychological boost from transitioning to the boot has been enormous. First, just knowing that I can take the boot off is huge. Second, the ability to actually wash my foot. My foot felt fresh air and warm soap and water for the first time in three and a half weeks. It was great. I think it’s probably going to take a couple of washings to get all of the dead skin off. The feeling was almost as big a sense of accomplishment as the first shower after surgery. Third, there’s just the increased freedom of movement. Even though I haven’t ditched a crutch, yet, the ability to support even some weight on my foot instead of all of it on my arms is huge. I can more easily travel distance. Steps are still a bit of a challenge, but it’s still easier. Lastly, it’s an obvious symbol of the transition to the next phase of recovery.

It’s been a good day, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow and trying to string together a series of good days. Hang in there blog buddies :D

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