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  1. Story o f my Achilles rupture
    Oct 16 was supposed to be a really good day. I always love the 16 the maybe because it is my birthday number. Anyway I was excited to play pickle ball again that morning. I was joined by quit a large group of enthusiastic people all there to play pickle ball at the gym. It is a funny name for a really fun game that is sort of a cross between tennis, ping pong and bad mitten. And I love all of those sports. Tennis around here costs $ to play on the courts on the north shore and I do not have a ping pong table and no racket ball courts in the area as well. I had played twice before in the prior 3 weeks. I also had been riding my bicycle 1-2 times per week , walking the Hanalei bay 1-2 times per week, as well as hula once per week and my aerobic fitness tapes. I had just returned from a vacation from Western Europe about 1 month prior that I enjoyed lots of wonderful gourmet food plus walking tours daily over the 10 days. So as you can see I am not a couch potato and regular exercise is not new to me. I do not run marathons but feel like my daily life outside of work as a nurse practitioner is playing sports, ocean activities, dance and enjoying all that Kauai lifestyle has to offer. I always said that once I find myself not going out to the ocean, or enjoying the beautiful weather here then that is when I should no longer pay the high cost of living here.

    So anyway on that fateful day, I was playing pickle ball for about 1 hour when all of a sudden I felt what seemed like a terribly hard hit to my right posterior heel. I thought someone’s racquet flew out of their hand and whacked me. Terrible pain as I went down. I turned and saw no one was there at all, At that instant I knew that this was probably my Achilles. My calf hurt so much as well. I could put weight on when someone helped me up, but could not walk. From there I was seen at my clinic briefly and was fortunate to have the ortho doc wait for me to come in to been seen there rather than in emergency department. The pain was really terrible on the way to the clinic. Any way the ortho doc confirmed it was an Achilles rupture and had me castesd and scheduled a MRI to confirm.

    My initial reaction

    Well, being the optimistic that I am, I asked for a waterproof cast so I could go out sailing while healing. I figured I could go to clinic the following Monday to work. I had pain but was totally in denial or oblivious to what lay ahead for me.

    By Sunday night I called to say that I was really sorry that I would not be in to clinic to work. It really did hurt and the crutches for no weight being were so cumbersome. Argh. I ended up getting a scooter the next week for easier ambulation. It is this really small 4 wheel scooter with a handle bar and front basket that you kneel on these 2 pads with your injured foot, weight is on the knee and upper leg, so the injured ankle can rest.

    Delayed reaction

    Then it all really started setting in, I had 9-12 months ahead of me to recover, with 3 of those months non weight bearing. It is my right foot so I was unable to drive. Actually one day I decided that I could probably handle driving. So I actually tried with my right leg swung over to the passenger seat…. Not a good idea. My left foot could not smoothly do the pedals and my right leg kept bumping the shifter into neutral. I had to accept that I cannot drive. if there is anything I want to get at the store, go to work or anything I had to ask others to drive me. I was trapped at home. Plus just to go out of my new condo that I just bought I had to sit on my butt and scoot down or up I step at a time. I could haul my crutches but not my scooter on my own.

    The crutches did not allow me to carry anything unless a bag or backpack. Cooking for myself was a challenge. So was showering, which I no longer do because I feel that I will fall over, so I do baths with my leg out the side the tub.. I actually fell once in the kitchen while using the crutches. What a hurt to my ego! Not too much to my back that hit the stove.

    Stages of grief per Elizabeth Kugler Ross
    Denial
    Anger
    Bargaining
    depression
    Acceptance.
    I can see the stages of grief as the stages I am currently going through. I know there are many people that have huge issues much worse than mine and I try to remember this is only temporary.
    At first I was in complete denial how bad this whole thing was and how much my usual wonderful lifestyle came to a screeching halt with no warning whatsoever. I never had pain , nor did I slip or fall or take some awkward move to cause my Achilles rupture that I was aware of.

    After the injury, I thought I could go to work the next couple of days, then after that I thought I could go back my usual hours which are about 11 hours/day. Finally I had to reduce my hours, set up a working situation in one clinic room.

    I thought I would be able to figure out the driving with my left foot and realized that would set me up for another accident. More isolation.

    I became so angry that this happened to me, was this punishment for something else. I fought with my boyfriend who I felt was the opposite of helpful. No one understood how absolutely horrible it was for me to be stuck at home watching tv or reading books, looking down at .everyone else at the pool having fun. Angry angry!! Not fair! What a winer I had become.

    Insomnia

    When there is this cast on your leg and you try to get comfortable, it interferes with your sleep. I am not one who can usually sleep in once the sunrises, nor can I sleep during the day. This leads to tiredness which also messes up your mood. Pretty soon the noisy neighbors are making me grumpy, the wild kids at the pool are annoying me. I start to take steps. I hobble down the stairs 1 at a time on my butt to ask them to please go inside for their conversation at 11:30 PM. For the unruly kids who scream nonstop while at the pool for hours. I go down the 14 steps ( now I have counted how many) walk over with my crutches, go into the pool area and ask the parent to please teach their children to be quiet, or at least limit the nonstop screaming and teach them what the 3 signs around the pool say “ please be quiet and do not disturb the neighbors”. I love children but parents need to teach them. Irritable I have become. I guess lack of sleep, depressed with life events that has stopped my usual play plus loneliness and lack of ability to go play. What a grump I have become…. But rightfully so. The same kids threw 2 chairs into the pool while I was there getting some sunshine while their mother sat there reading her book. I had to call over to her to see if she saw and was she going to do anything. Amazing how the supervising adult was oblivious. She did not even have headphones on. What was her excuse? Mother of 4 kids and the oldest a wild thing at about age 10. Hate to see what happens in teen years.

    Not sure how much I bargained, but I definitely read a lot of articles and watched you tube about Achilles rupture personal stories, doctors and physical therapist recommendations for rehab, various approaches. I was going the non surgical route that my ortho doc recommended. I studied up on that viewpoint verses the surgical option.

    Once someone seems me in the cast, there is the inevitable question what happened to you?. Next there is the oh no that’s a really bad injury and takes a loony time to heal. There are so many people who know someone who had that also, oh so sorry that’s a really bad injury, blah blah blah. I wanted to find the best approach to get better, between my bouts of crying and loneliness. The pain was not so bad until the end of the day if I was upright a lot.

    Lonely
    People always say they will help you if you need ANYTHING! But most never come by. A couple do and boy do you appreciate them. I invited some ladies over to have a girl afternoon, that is when I realized how few good girlfriends I have. Then there are those folks who rise to the occasion to help, go out of their way to pick me up and take me to work. Amazing.

    I have spent most of my time with my boyfriend who at this point I am so mad at and wanting him to leave. I realize how much I do to run everything and how little he does. I could say more but for this article I will not. Actually things are better in the help around the house and run errands category. I do u deist and better how people who have health problems stay with someone who really is not the best for them, but at least is there and helps, not a hired stranger. Makes me think of my good friend with MS and having her ex husband live with her and help.

    Vulnerable

    This injury is a giant right up in my face realization of how totally I am on my own to survive financially. . Since I tried to go back to work and have succeeded at part time I cannot get TDI. Hmmm, now my paycheck is about 500 less than usual, I just spent almost all my saving for a condo purchase and now have a mortgage, bigger than my previous rent, but no 3 or 6 month back up emergency funds. I had better get better and work and re-establish my emergency fund and keep with my savings for retirement. Since I am single and have no husband to share the financial risks it is all on me. I guess it has always been all on me anyway. Why I have mad these choices or ended up this way certainly was not my dream. So current boy friend and daughter both live in my place, however their share of payment for costs is small. They all get a break. ??? Obvious to me now but a times that is too hard to currently change. I will think about that another day ( was that Scarlet o’hara’s line?)

    Pain
    Pain is really not that horrible. At first it was, but if I take it easy and keep my leg up and keep it from swelling the it really isn’t so bad. I did take some of the pain pills . Certainly helped especially at the end of the day later work when my leg was really down too much. But side effects to those pills did not bother me too much when I took, they helped the pain but….. Side effects….. Pretty soon I am eating prunes, drinking smooth tea and ducosate sodium. I would be backed up and then over treated. Too many trips to the bathroom, hobbling on the annoying crutches. And yes pain pills are depressants, and yes they did that,too.

    I cannot find anything in my condo because the move happened while I was on my vacation, and now I cannot physically dig around or go up to the loft to sort out or locate stuff. Well I got the basics. ANGER again

    Depression was the hardest of all my reactions to this injury. Yes my leg hurts at times, I have to use crutches or the scooter to get around, I cannot swim, surf, sail, bicycle, join my hula sisters dancing or hike. My trip to Arizona to see family over the holidays seems out of the question since I would have to fly. But at least prior to this isolated injury I am healthy and can use my arms and my good leg.

    Acceptance
    I am trying to focus on what I can do. I can read more, learn my new iPad, watercolor paint, practice my flute more and learn a new melody. I watched Wayne Dwyer for inspiration. I asked friends over 1 day and cooked a thanksgiving dinner. I have gone to the beach and sat there under an umbrella and looked with my binoculars at the surfers. . I am waiting for the whales to come back. Then I will watch them too. Plan to get involved with the whale association whale count this year. Focus on things I can do is my goal.

    Physically after 1 month my thigh shrunk 1 and ½ inches. This worried me even though I know it is expected atrophy with no use . I spoke to my PT friend, Todd and had a session on what I COULD do. So now I am doing some leg exercises, core exercises and weights for my upper body. At least it is positive.
    I now have used the electric scooter at Costco and Walmart. Pretty fun. It is rather interesting how people can stand right in front of you talking away and be totally unaware that you cannot get by. There are many obstructions to the physically challenged, ramps are not always there, aisles are very narrow in some stores with displays set in the way, bathroom doors in public are super heavy and hard to open, floor have all sorts of molding that the scooter has a hard time going over and of course my condo has 14 steps to go up or down to enter or exit.

    Acceptance is trying to deal with what you have to deal with. Stopping the why me. Changing the mood and refocusing. All I can say is that I am trying but it does not always produce the results I am aiming for.

    At my age, 60, I still feel like 30 most of the time, now I feel like I could be slipping faster into an older age. NO!!!!! I have to regain my health, my attitude and go forward. I am very cautious not to do too much because I want this thing to heal. I have heard of people going through the casting and immobilization only to need surgery later on.

    I am reaching out to friends to get out, go listen to music, sit on beach, went to a fantastic musical play, lunches and thinking about another game night or afternoon. I plan to go into the pool this weekend on a sunny day. Need my vitamin D. I am focusing on healthy foods and avoiding alcohol. The last thing I want is to gain weight with this in activity.

    Maybe I will consider travel to see my holistic / mental health friend to share this story and get some advice. I will send her the story. Then I could see first hand how you travel with these limitations, getting around the airport, buses, moving baggage, and what else?

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