Mar 02 2012

1 - Injury: 2′ ladders are bad

Published by pablomoses under Uncategorized


I’ve been pulling information from, and made a few connections through, this site during my initial weeks of recovery from ATR repair surgery.  As its been helpful to me to hear others’ stories, now that I’m further along, I thought I’d take the time to share my experience.  I will break this up into a few posts per time-frames (and to keep this from getting too long).

Injury, Surgery & First 2 Weeks:

I am a 40 year old ice sculptor, and a lot of my work has risks: working with chainsaws and other power tools ,often in precarious positions, lifting heavy ice, etc.  While working on an installation in Beaver Creek, CO I did not think stepping on a 2′ step ladder to get over a low stone wall would be dangerous - a stone wall that I could and had jumped up and down many times without the ladder.  On 12/18/11 I was coming down from the wall just "tagging" one of the rungs with my heel on the way when the ladder slid out and my foot & calf were wedged between rungs as my full weight came down on it.  It hurt, and I said, "I think that’s my Achilles".  Then, after about 20 minutes, it didn’t hurt much.  Then I tried to walk, and it just didn’t work. My ski patrol buddy used a whole roll of tape on it to try to get something that I could put weight on, but it was no good.  Using a 4′ level as a crutch I hobbled over to the ski areas med clinic where the doc took about 15 seconds to feel both Achilles tendons and said, "You’re going to need surgery."  A lot of you know that feeling of all sights and sounds sort of draining away and the exterior world diminishing as you go internal and try to reconcile the news, then try to figure out how everything in life is going to get done with a crippling injury.  For me the timing could not have been worse as most of my work year happens from mid-December through New Year’s Eve.

Polar Bear Here’s the bear I was working on at the time of the accident - the far side is a 30′ drop to rocks where I had just been standing (roped in) on a 10" ice ledge and using a chainsaw on the bear… then I stepped on the little ladder, I think that’s called irony.

I got an appointment with a surgeon the next day.  He confirmed the diagnosis & got me into an Aircast boot, which I could walk on and work in up to my surgery date.  Surgery was scheduled for 12/28/11 - the surgeon recommended not waiting longer than 10 days to do the procedure as the tendon ends could migrate making for a more difficult surgery.  I also scheduled an MRI which confirmed a complete rupture high on the tendon (not at the base).   Surgery went smoothly, I’m told, and I woke up with nausea and a splint on my injured (left) leg.

I spent the next 9 days on the couch elevating & icing through the splint & using crutches to get anywhere.  At day 9 I had my first follow up appointment where they removed the splint (everything looked good) & I put the boot back on.  I thought it would feel the same in the boot as it did before surgery, but I put some weight on it & nearly fell over, so I grabbed the crutches.  I’ve read many posts on this site about people being directed by their doc to stay non-weight bearing for X-amount of time once they get into the boot.  I received no instructions per putting weight on the foot (or not).  Four days later (13 days post surgery) I went back to get stitches removed using only one crutch.  Doc commented, "You getting around ok with one crutch?"  I said yes, and ditched that crutch after few more days - so I was full weight bearing in the boot at 2 weeks.

A word about the Aircast boot (love/hate relationship):  Its heavy, its tall & it messes with the alignment of your hips - but it provided me with very good protection.  At 14 days post surgery I was on site building a 30′ long by 8′ tall wall out of 300 lb blocks of ice.  I had a team helping and tried to stay as safe as I could, but I was still stumping around on uneven snowy ground operating power tools, lifting & carrying up to around 60 lbs and pushing blocks around.  I definitely took a couple of slips & scary missteps, but the boot was bomber.  Pretty sore after those days, fortunately I have access to lots of ice!

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