oscillot’s AchillesBlog

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

09/05/2015 · 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.

Categories: Uncategorized

4 responses so far ↓

  • ejbvmi // Sep 6th 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Well said, oscillot. These sorts of reflections will be hugely beneficial to “newbies” as they chart their own paths to recovery. I, too, wish that I had bought the Elasto-Gel sooner. I weakened my own ATs by increasing my mileage in barefoot running too fast (read the book, but ignored the most important recommendation to increase by no more than 10% per week)… hind sight being 20-20… yup.

  • oscillot // Sep 8th 2015 at 10:56 am

    The seam on the back of the Elasto Gel wrap aggravated my scar over the weekend. I’m wearing them inside out now, and it works much better!

    This reminded me of that scene in Finding Forrester where Sean Connery’s character explains that he wears his socks inside out to avoid the seams, which makes a lot of sense.

  • davemulder // Sep 9th 2015 at 7:40 am

    I agree with @ejbvmi, the look back on what you would do differently is awesome for someone who’s early in the process.

    I’ve been reading your updates, and was wondering— at what point(s) along the way have you felt like you’ve made the most significant gains in your recovery?

  • oscillot // Sep 9th 2015 at 8:08 am

    For me, the biggest gains came after I transitioned to 2 shoes and I could strengthen my calf without pain towards the end of month 3. As the repair healed fully and swelling decreased, my PT was able to massage out a lot of scar tissue, which helped with range of motion.

    Getting out of the boot (when ready) to gain strength and mobility has normalized my gait (somewhat) and allowed me to return to social activities.

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