oscillot’s AchillesBlog

Entries from September 2015

#firefighterninja update 2

September 13th, 2015 · 9 Comments

Firefighter Ninja Dennis Lappen qualified for the Vegas finals of American Ninja Warrior (video here), but didn’t make the televised broadcast because he fell on the first obstacle. It was still an amazing comeback for at 39 year old who ruptured one year ago. Congrats, Dennis!

Dennis’ surgery center posted a video on YouTube, so I tweeted him a note saying what an inspiration he is for us ATR victims, and he sent back a very nice reply. You’re a class act, Dennis! Best of luck next year!

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Week 18 update: Two more milestones

September 11th, 2015 · 1 Comment

My condition continues to improve every day. As long as I walk slowly and maintain short strides, my limp is gone. I can confidently push off with my injured foot without experiencing the pain of over-stretching the Achilles. In the overly-conservative schedule that I had written for myself while booted, I hadn’t expected to lose the limp until October, so I’m ahead of schedule!

I also enjoyed my first post-injury walk on the beach over the weekend, and it was glorious! We’re having a summer heat wave in San Diego with temperatures in the low 90s, so a breezy beach day is a welcome treat. Walking on the sand is a tough calf workout, so I had to take breaks. I was also extra careful to watch where I placed my feet while wading in the water, as losing my balance or stepping in a hole could be disastrous. I’ve always been an ocean lover, so it felt amazing to feel the wet sand between my toes while soaking my sore Achilles and calves in the chilly Pacific. The beach day came two months sooner than expected, so I am really happy. I can’t wait to boogie board or surf again - maybe in the spring?

My next planned milestones are hiking up the hill behind my house (Dec), which is a realistic goal for next month (Oct), and alter-G running (Jan), which I’m going to ask my surgeon about at my checkup next Friday. It’s hard to imagine regaining these abilities when you’re booted and in pain, but months 3 and 4 - when I started to regain strength and flexibility - are proving to be very rewarding. My PT has me simulate jogging on a trampoline at our sessions, and it feels great to get the arms and legs moving in unison again. Today, I graduated from the recumbent bike to the elliptical at the gym. The last goal I have for myself, to run next year’s Dec 2016 San Diego Holiday Half Marathon, seems within reach.

During weeks 16 and 17, as I transitioned from high top to low top shoes, I noticed random, intense pains that felt like microtearing of my Achilles while resting. They would pass within a few seconds, and now I believe it was constructive pain - possibly nerves reconnecting? Did anyone else on here experience the same phenomenon? Interestingly, a week later, all pain and soreness is gone. I only ice to decrease swelling and accelerate healing now, so I can better prepare for the next day’s calf workout.

My repaired Achilles feels super strong, but not as flexible as it needs to be. I actually catch myself occasionally favoring it over the other side, as I am experiencing tendonitis from the atrophy there now. My PT instructed me to stretch the repaired side constantly, even while at rest, to increase its mobility, and to really work hard on eccentric loading of the other side, to strengthen and overcome the tendonitis. It seems to be helping.

Oh, one more thing. I’m so confident in my Achilles repair that I’ve listed my VACOcast for sale on eBay. It was time to free up some space in my garage, and I figure if I rupture the other side, I can just buy it back from whoever uses it next. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.

Happy healing, everyone!

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Week 17 update: Things I wish I had done differently (ATR rehab)

September 5th, 2015 · 4 Comments

My Achilles rehab is turning the corner. The repair is still swollen and stiff, but it actually feels stronger and less painful than my good side (with tendonitis). Today I walked and played a pitch and putt golf course - the first golf I’ve played in a year , as I’ve also been battling elbow and neck issues. I was limping, especially while going up hills, and my playing partner graciously commented how “nice it felt to walk slow” (wink wink). I feel so blessed to accomplish this milestone, because I really do love playing the game. Golf will help fill the void left by my forced retirement from basketball and marathon running.

I also had a notably good PT appointment today. “Punisher Jim” gave my Achilles a vigorous massage, and I actually felt him breaking up scar tissue like popping a sheet of bubble wrap. I didn’t notice any dramatic improvement in range of motion afterwards, but it was an interesting and amazing feeling nonetheless. I’m still healing short (only 2 degs dorsiflexion), but I’m confident this won’t be a problem for long.

Does anybody have any advice on how to prevent rupturing your “good side” Achilles? Due to miles of overuse before my injury and atrophy after it, I am battling tendonitis. My PT says to stretch, massage, and do heel raises while focusing on the eccentric contraction, but the only thing that provides any pain relief is icing.

It occurred to me that it might be helpful to write about things I wish I had done differently in the last four months.

Regret #1: Obviously, I wish I hadn’t ignored warning signs and hurt myself by overdoing marathon training and basketball. Would I have eventually popped my Achilles? Probably, but still…

Regret #2: I wish I had given the iWalk a chance. My rationale for avoiding it was the attention it would garner and the expense. In hindsight, my embarrassment and the $150 price tag would have been a small price to pay for the benefits of getting out, staying in better shape, and having the use of both hands for two months. As terrible as this injury is, the atrophy really screws you up, too, so anything to combat it is a good thing.

Here’s some guy who resembles my brother with the same last name as us playing badminton in his iWalk on week 4. He’s got a great attitude! I wonder if we’re related?

Regret #3: I wish I had started bearing weight and weaning off the boot earlier. Everyone’s injury, repair, and recovery is unique, but I felt like my OS’ one-size-fits-all protocol needlessly slowed me down. My swelling and pain didn’t get any better during weeks 4-6, and while I’m obviously glad I didn’t re-rupture, I feel like my body wasted away during these two weeks rather than starting on the road to recovery as soon as was reasonable. Even just light range of motion, Theraband, isometric flexing, and massage would have been beneficial. Just as you should listen to your body and back off activity when you are hurting, you should listen to your body and start rehab as soon as you are ready.

Regret #4: I wish I had purchased the Elasto Gel ankle wraps and good-fitting compression sleeves (I’m partial to these) sooner. Thank G-d I bit the bullet and sprung for my Vaco Cast on day 3; it so much lighter and more comfortable than the DJO MaxTrax my OS prescribed me. Having the right tools for your recovery is hugely helpful.

Regret #5: I should have started bathing earlier. During weeks 1 through 3, I was too afraid to drag my butt upstairs (literally) that I just sponge-bathed from the couch. That first real bath with my leg sitting on the edge of the tub felt so divine that I realized I should have had it in my daily routine from the start. It was especially nice to wash the dead skin off after getting the cast off.

By the way, did you all see the fastest man alive, Usain Bolt, nearly had his career cut short by an idiot cameraman on a Segway? It’s a wonder he was able to walk away unscathed. The man is a freak of nature.

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