Posted by: onhiatus | August 9, 2012

PT Session #2: Less than 1 cm attached?

Pretty enlightening PT session yesterday since it was the first one where I was FWB and able to actually run through some exercises.  The first session was mostly an evaluation with some take home exercises to try and then due to travel I haven’t been able to get back.

Started with laying on the table on my stomach. The PT massaged the calf muscle through arch of the foot, paying particular attention to my heel.  She explained the heel was super sore those first few steps in the am (& when I first take off the shoes) because the tendon was just getting used to stretching a bit of a different way. It goes away quickly though.   She also noted she was surprised I didn’t have that much swelling and then spent some time along the incision saying I should massage it at least daily to try and help break up the scar tissue.

She also looked up my surgical chart so I could learn more about where the tear was, how bad the tear was, etc. Yikes!  Said it was "substantial" because I had less than 1 centimeter still attached.  So they "stitched all around it" and then had to "secure it to the bone."  Considering that, I’m happy with my progress so far.. and thankful for my doc’s skills (and aggressive approach to recovery).

Exercises came next:  DF, INV, EV stretches, the marble pick-ups with an added INV/EV twist, windhield wipers, some time on the stationary bike, one legged stands, etc. The one legged stand was pretty funny.  You slightly bend the knee and engage your core and if you need to balance you can only use your fingertips to balance against the bar in front of you.  I kept comically swaying to the left but it was so frustrating to compare against the strength of the good leg.  Granted, it’s still early in the recovery process but seeing that much of an imbalance makes you work harder.

Can’t beat the ice time though.  No ice packs- just this awesome chilly boot/cast type thing.

photo

Went to work from PT, wondering whether things would be painful or sore later in the afternoon.  Thankfully, everything felt just as it has been so I hit the pool for another hour or so.  This time I added in actual full-length laps and I can’t explain the feeling of hitting that wall with your leg still feeling strong and in one piece.  Pretty awesome. And since I can’t run, I was trying to make negative splits on the return laps which totally entertained me and kept me from getting bored :-) Followed it up that night working on stretches and marble pickups.

Today (week 9, day 1 since surgery) finally hit the work gym and just did about 15-20 minutes on the bike.  Hoping to hit the pool tonight to relax for PT in the am.

Posted by: onhiatus | August 6, 2012

Awesome First Crutchless Weekend!

I thought taking those first few steps and limping around the house without the crutches was awesome– but nothing prepared me for the sense of freedom that comes with it!

I’m still celebrating that this weekend marks the first time I ran errands by myself in over two months! To anyone else, trips like the grocery store, car wash, dog groomer, taking out the trash, etc. might seem rather routine but when you find yourself suddenly able to get in and out of the car and you can walk down store aisles without your crutches you notice how much your perspective has changed. You are aware of every step you’re taking and grateful at the ability to take each of those steps.  Even things like the ability to pick up a 20 lb bag of dogfood and throw it into the cart seems reason to celebrate.

Have my second PT session this week but now that the one spot on my incision has closed up, I tried out the pool.  Used my crutches on the locker room floors to make sure I didn’t go crashing down thanks to a slick spot but other than that, slow and steady limp it was.

It’s funny how you approach the pool with extreme trepidation, fearful of kicking out or moving your leg the wrong way but your leg surprises you with just how resilient it is.  Have no idea what I should be doing so spent nearly 2 hours swimming and running through my land PT exercises, stretches.

1. noticed that rotation on my left foot/ankle is MUCH better counter-clockwise than clockwise (inner).  Is that typical or some remnant of just being stronger on one side?

2. Also noticed I’m starting to despise the letter “B”- it’s the toughest letter to write with my toe.

3. If anyone has any stretches I should be doing in the water, let me know- I’m planning to make it back there a lot more often.

I also happened to notice they have drop-in water polo practice in the pool each week- wondering how long before I can handle that?  Guessing/ hoping soon?

Ankle feels good after running it around like crazy the past couple of days. I’m used to rocking the nice big cankle at the end of each day now– but the only other thing that’s a little odd is how when you first take off your shoes and step on a hard surface, the heel hurts pretty fierce.  It takes a few minutes to adjust but is that a normal sign, too?

For those of you just starting this process. hang in there!  All that time in the cast and post cast suddenly becomes a blur and you’ll be feeling like your old self again, soon!

Posted by: onhiatus | August 3, 2012

Week 8+: First steps!!!

Started this post yesterday am with “It definitely feels like something’s changed & that I’m finally turning a corner or starting a new phase/ chapter in this recovery process” but little did I know what awaited!

Coming out of the cast (6 weeks) I was mentally prepared for the boot. When that didn’t happen and my leg was just free, I’m just now realizing how much I scaled back my activity level. Guess I was fearful of somehow damaging something and having to restart this whole journey.

This week (week 2 post cast removal) I feel a lot more confident. I’ve only had one PT session so far thanks to travel, but my foot feels so much more like a normal foot again!! When I’m sitting in a chair, it rests flat on the ground normally like it used to, it taps to the beat when music comes on, and I can even easily cross my legs left or right without having to think about it or readjust to a stronger side, etc.

Also noticed when I am crutching around, you can tell it’s tired of staying elevated. The calf starts to ache and everything just relaxes and feels so much better when I straighten the leg out and rest the foot on the ground. So I started testing things out, standing at the counters unassisted and even tried standing in the shower for the first time. Amazing how the little victories here are mentally such huge celebratory milestones.

Good doctor’s visit yesterday which gave me enough confidence to try walking for the first time. Came home, dropped the crutches and walked up and down the driveway & front walk! Felt tense after about 5 steps so I used one crutch to make sure I wasn’t doing any damage but then it soon relaxed and I was back to walking!!!!

Tested it out throughout the house in bare feet last night, too. Same thing. I can walk!!!!!

Tried a few spins on the bike and it’s so cool how almost normal the ankle feels. It’s kind of odd that I am walking before I am biking or swimming though. Either way, I’m ready for the next milestone… bring it on!!!

Saw this guy on the street a couple of weeks ago while traveling and had to snap a photo of his shirt. Thought you guys might get a kick out of it, too. Happy healing!

untitled1

Posted by: onhiatus | July 30, 2012

PT Exercises: Requested Pictorials

so far, so good.  Maybe it’s my imagination but my ankle is feeling stronger and fairly flexible. I’m going to enjoy this while it lasts because I know as soon as I’m weight bearing and at PT I’m going to be cursing it out again.

Got these 7 exercises at PT last week and per request, including the images here. Also thanks to Old Lady, also adding in the one where you write out the alphabet with your big toe. Curious on your favorites, the hardest, etc.

Posted by: onhiatus | July 27, 2012

First PT session down.. oh so many more to go

This am, 7 weeks and two days after surgery, had my first PT session. Just came out of the cast (6 weeks) a week ago but am still non weight bearing (& not booted) so I had no idea what to expect.

We spent the first few minutes talking about the injury, how it occurred, the steps of recovery taken so far, and how the leg feels now. Then we tested things out by measuring range of motion.

I asked him for the measurements so I could track progress:

DF:  5 degrees
EV:  10 degrees
PF:  38 degrees
INV: 38 degrees

He said I was doing OK and that the side to side rotationals were good but obviously the flexing the foot up part would take some work.  Have no idea what those numbers mean in scale to normal or how they rate to my good leg since I didn’t get those written on the take home sheet. But with ATR, I’m learning something new each & every day thanks to all of you and this site.

Finally got to see both ankles side-by-side, too:

photo1

Guess things look OK. They are just a little concerned about one part of the incision that hasn’t fully healed yet so I have to keep an eye on it.

After all the measurements we started on the exercises (my home study program until I can start putting weight on that leg).

The 7 exercises:

  • Stretch Gastroc sit w/towel
  • Stretch ankle PF sitting
  • AROM ankle DF uni sit
  • AROM ankle DF/PF (elevated ankle pumps)
  • AROM toe flx w/towel
  • PROM ankle inv/ever self
  • PROM ankle PF/DF self

The two pages came with illustrations and explanations on reps & time- let me know if you need more info on them and I can post the pics.

I’m just really excited at having something to work on so I feel I’m moving forward and not just looking at my leg wondering if things were progressing.

The one thing the PT said though is it’s a least a year until I can get back to where I was. Something is better than nothing though so bring on walking so I can get started!

Posted by: onhiatus | July 26, 2012

One week out of the cast - how much swelling?

Today marks one week out of the cast.  Didn’t go into the boot– instead, no weight bearing on the leg for two more weeks and then well.. I guess we’ll see.

Heard that the boot helps decrease the swelling. Is that true?  And how much swelling is normal? This is my leg yesterday after a normal, not so majorly active day.

photo swell

It doesn’t hurt at all (nothing like the swelling the first few days after surgery when you feel like your leg is being smothered by a python) so should I even be worried about alleviating the swelling? Any long-term damage by not doing so?

I can feel a slight tingling when I touch the scar though. You can feel the sensation shoot down through the foot. Wondering what this means but first PT session in the am so I’ll learn more.

Excited about finally to start putting a training plan in place and moving forward in this process!

Posted by: onhiatus | July 19, 2012

6 weeks & Cast off!! But no boot?? Yikes!

I’ve actually grown kind of attached to my NWB cast over the past few weeks.  It’s been my security blanket through the 5k, my taekwondo class, tons of airport trips & flights, up and down stadium stairs, and through the many other adventures that ultimately destroyed two sets of crutch tips & the one set of cane tips. Having that extra protection from a few key bumps & slips has provided its fair share of a loud audible Phew! time and time again.

Here’s what my last pair of tips looked like as I retired them. Poor things lasted a whole 12 days!  Seriously, maybe I need to look into an industrial version or something….

tips

So today (6 weeks & a day since surgery) when I was told the cast was coming off, I started asking questions about the boot- only to find out that my doc’s not a fan. He prefers to get you started on range of motion sooner than later so once the cast is off, it’s off. Your leg is naked and you just have to be careful.

So.. goodbye cast! In a weird way, I’m going to kind of miss it.

fourth3

Cast came off with no problems this time but I was told to be careful and not scrub my leg, just kind of let the skin heal by itself.  Really cool seeing your foot move on its own that first time. Huge sigh of a relief that as far as I could tell, all was well.

Passed the tests and it’s strange how free the leg feels– I can flex the foot up and down & side to side pretty well but I’m still kind of freaked out not knowing its limits yet. Was told I can bike & swim but unfortunately, the PT office doesn’t have an opening until the end of the month- right before my 2 week check-up with the doc.  I’ll try and get it moved up but suggestions on exercises or what I can be doing before then welcome!

Apologies in advance for how dry and scaly my leg is post cast removal but goodbye cast, hello free leg!

free

Posted by: onhiatus | June 27, 2012

My Week 3 Love/Hate Relationship With My Cast

So I’m not a huge fan of these new crutch tips. With my old ones, never even had a near stumble but 5 days in on these new ones and two near wipe-outs on our newly washed & waxed office building lobby floors. Ughh.

crutch-tips2

Debating whether I’m just more tired & worn out or if the more narrow, less rubbery tips are the culprit. You can compare to my beaten down old ones here .

It’s interesting though with every stumble your heart stops once you realize you’ve gone and caught yourself with your bad leg. And that’s when you realize just how much of a schizophrenic love/hate relationship you have with your cast.

At times you just want to tear the thing off, freeing your leg, and starting to strengthen things so you feel you are actually moving forward and making progress. Then, after your NWB cast makes contact with the floor but you realize you’re Ok, you are immensely thankful it was there & you fear what would have happened had it not been.

This am’s slip was OK I think but since I never had pain when the injury initially occurred, I always second guess whether I actually damaged or re-ruptured things. So hard to tell when you have no access to your calf or tendon.

summer


Posted by: onhiatus | June 22, 2012

Do or Do Not. There is No Try

This injury has forced me to scrap a lot of plans I had scheduled for the remainder of this year. In addition to all my nornmal activities, I’m missing my first Tough Mudder, my second marathon, my Taekwondo blackbelt test, and a ton of cool runs. And while mentally it sucks when you first realize you won’t be able to do the events, it’s even kind of harder as the event approaches. You feel the energy and see the excitement and then just feel helplessly sidelined.

One of the events I was really looking forward to was this weekend’s Green Mountain Relay. 200 incredibly scenic and beautiful miles through Vermont as part of an ultra (6 person) team.  Was feeling pretty bummed about missing it when our team captain dropped by my house the other night and surprised me with one of the team shirts.

yoda

Pretty awesome. Not only an awesome gesture that cheered me up immediately, it’s also a cool phrase completely applicable to this whole achilles journey, too. You just have to suck it up and keep hobbling along.

So on Day 19 as I head into week 3:  HUGE thanks to Team There is No Try.  You guys are the best.

Posted by: onhiatus | June 22, 2012

My Poor Crutches: Airports & Adventures

Day 17 definitely brought an adventure.  First airport experience since the injury and it was as though security had never seen a cast before. Amazing.

Got swabbed, scanned, metal detected a couple of times, had my cast x-rayed 3 times (7 times on the return flight), got kicked back out of the body scanner (apparently you need both feet touching the ground), and hopped a few miles around TSA while my crutches were under their own investigation.  I had no idea they had a special x-ray machine for casts, too. Here’s what it looks like:

xray

Used a wheelchair for both arriving & departing the Atlanta airport but other than that, it was crutches all the way. Speaking of  crutches…. How long does it take to wear yours out?

Not even three weeks in and mine already look like this.  Geesh…. Guess I’ll get new tips this weekend.

crutches

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