oscillot’s AchillesBlog

Week 9 Update: The Power of Patience

July 9th, 2015 · 7 Comments

I’ve steadily progressed these past two weeks. Transitioning from 20 degs to 10 degs of plantar flexion in the boot was “a stretch” at first. My doctor asked me to go down 10 degs every two weeks, but I’m going to listen to my body and go with 5 degs every week instead. After each boot adjustment, it’s a little uncomfortable, and I find myself needing crutches for a day or two.

I went to 5 degs tonight, which meant swapping the wedge sole out for the thinner, flatter Vaco cast “rocker” sole. I only recently got used to walking in the wedge, albeit still with a very minor limp. Hopefully, the rocker is easy to adjust to.

PT has been really good. “Punisher Jim,” as I call him, is a portly bald fellow who likes to golf and talk about sports - so we get along great. He’s also a sadist masseuse, wrangling my foot and tendon in ways that make my teeth clench (along with an occasional yelp), but my tendon is magically and permanently a lot looser afterwards. The increased flexibility is well worth the $20 co-pay.

“The Punisher” also prescribed me a typical ATR recovery strength routine for the ankle and foot. I quickly built up to doing 2 sets of each exercise daily (30 reps each):
- midfoot curls
- marble pickups
- alphabets
- toe/heel/side foot lifts off the floor (emulates the wobble board)
- toe/heel/side foot theraband exercises
- icing

My calf was scary atrophied at first, and looked like a deflated balloon. Throughout the day, I’ll fire off my calf muscles in isolation for a minute or so of exercise while keeping the Achilles stationary. This helps to reawaken those nerves and neurons while filling out my calf.

After my second session, the last remnants of the surgery scab flaked off, so I am finally able to take advantage of our community’s pool after two months away. This had been a nightly routine for me, so this is a milestone. After a long day of work and putting my daughter to sleep, there’s no better feeling than going for a dip. The Vaco cast is bulky, creating a lot of drag, but it also floats, eliminating the need for a lounge float. ;)

My therapist suggested standing and hopping around in chest-deep water, so I might try and muster the courage to try that soon. Has anyone taken their boot off to rehab in the pool, and if so, how did you know you were ready and what exercises did you do?

I had returned to work in week 4, but was in pain and constant fear of re-rupture for another month. As the pain and fear have subsided, I’ve taken steps to return to some semblance of a social life. Last week, I met a buddy for lunch downtown, and walked three blocks from my parking spot to the restaurant without incident. Then, on the fourth of July, I willingly and knowingly surrounded myself with friends enjoying adult libations at a house party. It felt amazing to reconnect with so many friends in one place and enjoy a frosty beverage after two months of living in isolation.

Regaining the use of one, then two hands while losing the crutches has marked a near return to normalcy. I’m able to carry things to and from the kitchen, walk up and down stairs (relying heavily on the bannisters), load my daughter into the car, and drop her off at daycare - all things that I had taken for granted before my ATR, and am so thankful to get back.

The gains couldn’t be timelier. My wife and I are expecting our second child (a girl) sometime between now and Monday, so pretty soon I’ll be able to return the favor to her for taking care of me during that first month of misery.

One thing this injury has taught me is patience. Most people on this site are progressing faster than I am, but I subscribe to the notion that slow and steady wins the race. As far as I know, there is no long-term benefit for surgical patients to rush back. 80%+ of re-ruptures occur within the first three months, so I’m erring on the side of caution and keeping the boot on until [the beginning of] month 4.

The marginal increase in strength and mobility that I feel each morning is barely perceptible, but noticeable, and trending in the right direction. Most importantly - no setbacks. I’ve challenged myself when walking / standing too much, or when adjusting to a new boot angle, but always with a strategic, measured approach. Learning to be patient is paying off so far.

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