oscillot’s AchillesBlog

New member to “the club”

05/31/2015 · 6 Comments

Hey gang, longtime reader and first time poster here. Thank you, Dennis, for setting up this site, and everyone else, for sharing your stories and helping me realize that I’m not alone.

My story was textbook - 35-years old and trying to keep up with teenagers on the basketball court. I didn’t have tendinitis preceding the injury, but have always enjoyed pushing my body’s limits (e.g. CrossFit, marathons, and I’m a part-time Navy diver). I was experiencing some aches and pains in my 30s, but had never suffered a serious injury before my ATR.

The morning of the dreaded event (4/30/15), I had a great six mile training run. I was preparing for the Wild Horse Trail Half Marathon, and was pleased with the feeling of getting my wind back after a taking couple months off. I felt strong and fast, so when some basketball friends asked me to meet them at the gym that evening, I didn’t give it a second thought.

My first warning was a left calf cramp that had me writhing on the court in our first game. I took a rebound coast to coast, and while jumping off my left leg for a layup, it locked up. Trying to power through the pain, I stretched it out, massaged it, and continued playing. Minutes later, I had a right calf cramp while running down the court. I figured it was dehydration, drank some water, and went back in. Finally, the third strike came during a routine drive to the hoop. As I lowered my shoulder and tried to explode to my left past a defender (the same move Kobe was doing), a different type of explosion occurred. I thought something had hit the back of my left leg - perhaps a basketball thrown at 90 mph, or a light that fell from the rafters? Of course, nothing had touched me - it was the force of my calf under a full stretch that had ruptured my Achilles.

That night, I was ridden with guilt and regret. My wife is 7 months pregnant, and we have a 2 year old daughter. I have always taken pride in being her partner, caretaker (when needed), and helping to keep our household in order. I had heard how long it takes to recover from Achilles injuries, and how debilitating they can be (ending the careers of Isaiah Thomas, Shaq, and Charles Barkley). I am still coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to be a burden on my family for at least another month or two.

I also second guessed my choice of activities in the preceding years. I had been alternating between CrossFit and marathons - two extremely physically-intensive activities. I had used box jump rebounds, double unders, and wind sprints to intentionally smoke my calves in the pursuit of making my body stronger. Apparently, I succeeded - they were strong enough to tear a tendon from the bone rupture a tendon!

I had also started using a standing desk two months prior to the injury. After an hour or so of standing, my legs would get fatigued, so I would rest my right foot on my left calf, and stand on one leg like a flamingo. I now realize how foolish this was. I’ll probably keep my desks in the seated position from now on and accept the downside. (Maybe sit on a backless chair to encourage proper posture?)

After consulting with some friends (doctors and ATR recoverees), my OS, and this site, I decided to get the surgery on 5/7/15. There are conflicting opinions on this, but my OS promised greater performance / power upon recovery, and a lower re-rupture risk. Having never undergone surgery before, I was terrified of the idea of being cut open, but the anesthesiologist ensured I wasn’t conscious for any of it, and the pain was no worse than the initial injury (although this did mean rewinding back a week for three more days of pain and uncontrollable nighttime wailing).

I had the cast removed and stitches taken out at week 2 (5/19/15), but my leg still felt weak and tender, so my OS immobilized it in a DJO MaxTrax boot at 30 degrees. After two sleepless nights of the MaxTrax’s metal rods digging into my tibia and its velcro straps rubbing my wound, I ordered a VACO cast with expedited shipping (really happy with the purchase so far).

The most frustrating part of this past month has been the impaired mobility. Vegging out on the couch for the first two weeks had its perks (e.g. mid-day naps, catching up on TV and books, and of course reading everyone’s posts on here), but it was depressing to not be outside and a part of society. It was also exhausting and painful to crawl across my living room and onto the toilet without the use of my left leg - talk about a humbling experience!

Things got better in week 3. The pain and swelling subsided, I finally left the house to get a haircut, and mustered the strength to climb the stairs on my butt for my first real bath (I was bogarting my daughter’s baby wipes those first two weeks). I starting using a knee walker and crutches to go to the fridge, the bathroom, and my back yard. I had two scary falls, but protected my foot by landing on my knee and hip, preventing re-rupture. On the last day, I went into the office for a half day to bask in my coworkers’ sympathy, which felt awesome. =P

It’s week 4 (post-op) now, and I’m happy to report that everything is on track. The wound is healing up nicely, although I haven’t had the courage to get it wet yet. For now, wifey still sponge bathes my leg - she has been a godsend. I’m hoping my doc starts me on PT when I see him on Wednesday. I feel ready to start ROM exercises, put weight on it, and actively rehabilitate myself on my road to recovery.

Categories: Uncategorized

6 responses so far ↓

  • ericm // Jun 1st 2015 at 12:17 am

    Sadly, welcome. Sounds like we do some of the same activities. My wife was out of town this weekend and I was bored out of my mind so I passed some of the time watching the crossfit regionals. I was watching when Julie Foucher tore her achilles! Watching her reaction I instantly knew what she did. Sounds like hers was a partial tear but rebounding box jumps got her. If it can happen to her it can happen to anyone. It’s crazy what we can do at the gym but playing basketball or tennis and we’re done.

  • oscillot // Jun 1st 2015 at 12:38 am

    It’s a damn shame about Julie Foucher. Her and Kobe are a lot tougher than I am! On the bright side, her injury (and Kevin Ogar’s) are enlightening millions of people to consider the risks, and hopefully, mitigate injuries.

  • Stuart // Jun 1st 2015 at 11:42 am

    If you have torn the tendon from the bone then surgery is the only way to reconnect it so in some ways you did not have a choice. There is a lot of chat here about early weight bearing as well but you should talk to your doc about that as it could be counter-productive for your type of injury. Much depends on what happened in surgery but the tendon will have to glue itself back to the bone and if a graft was used the new tissue has to morph to be a little boney. Early weight bearing can hinder that so it is better to ask first to be sure.

  • oscillot // Jun 1st 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Stuart, I misspoke - I ruptured my tendon above the heel. Blog entry has been corrected (thanks!).

  • vball // Jun 1st 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Oscillot

    keep your chin up! Like you, I was pretty upset the first week and tried to come up with all the reasons why. Then I turned to recovery and determined not to set me back.
    I am 1 week ahead of you and just a few years older and things are getting better scary fast.

    My young daugter put it best when everyone was talking about “retiring” from volleyball and she said “but it’s his passion, he doesn’t need to quit”

    I started putting some weight on before my 4 weeks (supposed to toe tap but but slowly put weight on my heels to test it) and felt no pain. I’m almost fwb (I can probably get there if I tried but no need to push it) and this is a few days shy of 5 weeks.

    Have Vacocast and have the setting at 1.5
    Will probably move to 1.0 in the next couple of days.

  • cpo // Jun 1st 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Oscillot, thanks for sharing your experience, and sorry to hear that it’s been a bumpy ride. I am 11 weeks post-op and trending better, and one of the things that really helped me was keeping a journal. It’s very brief, just a spreadsheet that tracks days and general progress, nothing too detailed. That said, it has helped me see progress that I would have missed otherwise.

    Good luck, and hang in there!

Leave a Comment

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
Anti-Spam Image

Powered by WP Hashcash