The ultimate tear

Greetings fellow and former gimps!  I joined your world a few weeks ago, but first a little background.

I’m a 44 year old male (Pam is not my name, pamf is an acronym for punk a** mo-fo, something me and a group of friends call each other) that has played ultimate for over 25  years.  If you don’t know, ultimate is a Frisbee sport, and no it doesn’t involve dogs, tricks or throwing the disc into a basket.  I played competitively, traveling to many tournaments each year for quite a while, until my daughter was too old for me to justify putting her through the rigors of the travel.  This was about 10 years ago.  Since then, I’ve jus played recreationally around town.

Until this year.  I was talked into playing with a grandmasters team (you have to be over 40) and decided to play in my first tournament two weeks ago.  That didn’t end well for me.  We were playing in our second game of the day against a team that was made up of college kids.  I go to make a cut from a stand still, feel a pop and fall flat on my face.  I pretty much knew what happened (the wife had ruptured hers several years ago), but I still looked back hoping someone had come up behind me and clipped my heel or something, but no.  The kid who was next to me said he heard the pop.

So I make it home and go to see the orthopedic specialist my wife had seen years before.  This guy has the best name for a foot specialist, Dr. Funk.  I’m hoping I have a rupture similar to what the wife had and no surgery will be required, but no, I had to one up her by completely tearing mine.

So I had surgery this past Thursday.  I think the procedure is called an Arthrex Mid-Substance Bridge Repair or something like that.  They basically pull the torn tendon back together using sutures and anchors.  There are videos on youtube of the procedure and it’s pretty cool, though it was sort of disturbing watching it beforehand.

So now I’m sitting at home in one of those fancy boots, bored out of my skull.  The pain has been pretty minimal so far.  I did have a couple of hours the night of the surgery where I wanted to chop my foot off though.  The anesthesiologist did some sort of nerve block where I couldn’t feel my leg at all from just below my knee.  I figured this would wear off slowly and once I began to feel something I’d start with the pain meds.  Well it faded much faster than I thought it would and it took the meds a few hours to really kick in, so that night pretty much sucked.  Aside from that, there has been very little pain.  I haven’t even taken any of the pain meds for the past couple of days, only taking a couple of Advil prior to sleeping to help with the irritation of wearing the boot.

I go back to the doc tomorrow to get the bandages off.  I’ve been fantasizing about getting the boot off for the past couple of days and am excited to see what it all looks like.  I’m hoping he’ll tell me that I can start to walk with the boot and I can take the boot off occasionally, but realize that may be a pipe dream.

Well, that’s all for now.

18 Responses to “The ultimate tear”

  1. Pamf :) I love the acronym! Good luck tomorrow. You may be in luck, lots of protocols allow early weight bearing in the boot and allow you to take it off for some gentle ROM and to get some air.

  2. Thanks beanie. Basically he said what you said. Only bummer is I still have to sleep in the boot, at least until I get stitches removed next week. But I’m pretty stoked about what I heard.

  3. Great news, Pamf! I, too, was allowed to put as much weight as I could take on my boot once I had it, and yes, it is a great relief to be able to move around. :-)

  4. Wow, sounds very familiar! I did my ATR playing ultimate in mid September. I’m 40, had played regularly until a couple of years ago but haven’t much recently. I was talked into playing a tournament for a company event. Was going great for 4 games, I was happy how well I was doing with a lack of practice. Then in the fifth (and last!) game I was playing D and tried to follow my man on a cut…went down like I was shot and knew something was very wrong.

  5. Sorry to hear you’re another ultimate casualty Steve. It happened to some English dude during my regular pickup game a few months ago too. From what I hear, he’s sworn off the sport. I’ll be back out there as soon as I’m able, but only pickup.

    Recovery is going alright. I seem to be walking with the boot better every day, though the awkwardness of the boot has my hip, knee and big toe sore. Nothing too painful, more annoying than anything. I’m sure that the wife being a massage therapist is helping tremendously.

    Go back to the doc in two weeks. Wonder if he’ll let me walk without the boot after that. Also wonder if I’ll have to do PT.

  6. Hello ATR community. I didn’t realize how many people suffer from this injury - but I am very happy that I stumbled across this support group.

    From what I’ve read, I fall into the classic flag football ATR category. Felt like I got kicked in the back of the heel. I am NBW, had my surgery on 2/9/16. I am dying to get this cast/splint off to see what it looks like. I am a competitive beach volleyball player so I am looking to get to 100% ASAP. I’m also worried that I’m making things worse when I sleep and move around - but I’m sure that is a common concern.

    Any suggestions on how to get through work (for those that sit at a desk)? Today is my first day back at the office, and it is very, very uncomfortable. I can put it up on my desk, but that doesn’t really alleviate the discomfort (not to mention, its hard to get anything done.)

  7. hi kpeters

    if you see a few of the comments down (from today) you’ll see my story

    i’m back at work, did this 12 days after full rupture (i’m non-op though).

    doctor said that i could do my life as usual providing i don’t exhaust myself and i am careful at not bearing weight on the boot. i’m PWB mind you.

    have done 5 days of work, building it up, did 2 days last week and going for 3 this week, full week next.

    what i find is that having the leg up on a chair while i seat gives me a sharp pain under my arse (the cheek that is being lifted, in my case the left one).

    so what i do is i take a break every hour, for five minutes, to stretch the leg, then raise it on the desk and throw my back backwards (safely), and close my eyes whilst i do toe curls.

    if it’s too much i do this every half hour. i find that there has to be a balance between leg up, middle and down, for me at least.

    i’m going through a lot of water too, so going to the toilet helps to keep changing positions.

    hope that helps….

  8. kpeters, a cast is more uncomfrortable than a boot, but you can still get work done. Suggestion? Plan your painkillers so you don’t wait until the pain kicks it… Also try to put a stool of additional chair next to the desk so you can rest the leg while you work at the desk… not 100% comfortable, but it does give the foot a rest.
    Metonia has posts talking about pain management, Beanie and Bobbie are both great on getting back into shape.
    Good luck, and do be patient… this is not something that gets fixed quickly.

  9. Thanks for the suggestions… work has been tough today - I’m over it and my foot leg I throbbing. I have it up on a chair and my desk but I’m very distracted.

    Also, I find that crossing my leg with my cast resting on my non-operative leg gives me relief.. see any issues with this?

    Thanks again for the responses


  10. now that you mention it, i find that this is the only way i can keep the injured leg from being ‘funny’ when i’m in meetings or in public transport (over the leg or over the knee).

    my auld days tell me that this is not a problem as long as you don’t keep it like that for prolonged periods where the circulation may be limited.

    glad to hear you survived the day. as someone else said ensure you time your pain killers properly. i find that waking up to a couple of paracetamol and ibuprofen are good enough to get me to work. if life gets tough i pop another two of each at lunchtime (rare) and if it gets miserable i would take some codeine around lunchtime or early afternoon before i brave public transport back home

    personally i’ve also found that resting it well above the heart is the fastest method of curing the throbbing or the swelling.

    half the battle done Kevin!

  11. Thanks.. I actually haven’t been taking anything for pain… They gave me a shot to give myself every morning to prevent blood clots and a lot of Percocet - but those make me tired and I can’t imagine trying to work on that.

    I’m also hesitant to describe it as pain.. its really just severe discomfort from not being able to elevate it above my heart while at work.. I just hope I’m not making things worse.. I don’t see the Dr. again until 2/24.

    Anyway, I’m lovin the feedback and positivity!


  12. Has anyone been to the beach in a boot? Next weekend, the wife and I are headed to a sweet beach house she got to celebrate our 4th anniversary on Feb. 29th.

    I have my next doctor’s visit before the trip and hope I might be able to ditch the boot, but think it might not be a great idea to trudge through the sand without the boot’s support.

  13. Hi Pamf, yes I actually went to the beach in the boot and still PWB with crutches. The crutches sank so it was a bit tricky but I managed. The boot protects you nicely, so just go slowly and you should be fine. Walking on soft beach sand without the boot is difficult and it took me a while after two shoes to get used to it. If you’re not quite advanced in your recovery don’t try without the boot, the shifting sand puts your ankle into unexpected angles and your stability won’t be that great either - you don’t want to stretch the achilles or fall without the boot’s protection. Happy Anniversary! Have a great time and stay safe!

  14. So obviously my torn Achilles was attached to my brain and now I’m dumb as a stump. Not really sure why I thought I had an appointment before our beach trip, but the blank stare of the receptionist told me quickly that I didn’t.

    The heated pool and hot tub at the beach house were the most anticipated things to do while there, but of course the heating element crapped the bed before we showed up. Actually, for me, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The water was perfect for soaking my bum foot. Walked down to the beach just once, but didn’t go on the beach, just stayed on the boardwalk.

    Had my appointment today and the doc told me I could start walking around without the boot. I hope I never have to put that thing on again.

  15. Congratulations, Pam! It is great to go back to shoes, though I’m still relearning how to walk. ;-)
    Good luck!……… Manny

  16. I’ve passed the 4-month mark from my tear, but not my surgery. So far, so good, so what?

    I’ve probably taken a very different path from most. I never once went to physical therapy and just kind of did my own thing. This mainly consisted of just going about my life as my bum foot allowed. Walking as much as possible. Yard work when weather allowed. Yada yada yada.

    The big improvement for me came when I went back to play the sport I love, ultimate. I went back a little more than a month ago. I gave myself a pseudo “pitch-count’ of 10 points and obviously took it very easy. I limited my movements to light jogging and told myself that I wouldn’t try and overextend myself. Much easier said than done as I made a quick movement when the disc was slightly out of my reach. I made the catch and didn’t feel any pain then or at anytime during play.

    The key for me, though was that night. Up until that day, my knee and hip on the injured side had been very tight. This was most noticeable if I would wake in the middle of the night, the dull aches in both places would make it difficult to go back to sleep. That night was really my first good night sleep since my injury and I haven’t had the hip or knee pain since.

    I’ve been back to play 3 or 4 times since, each time pushing a little harder. No pain while playing, only some soreness for a day or two after. The kind of soreness you have after a good workout, not the kind after tweaking an injury.

    I feel good and am walking with no difficulty. I still have a ways to go and may never get back to my previous self, but I think I’ll get pretty close.

    By the way, I don’t suggest anyone else skip physical therapy as I did. It takes a special kind of stupidity to make this work. Not many have the kind of stupidity I do.

    And if you haven’t seen it, find the video of the college girl who shredded her Achilles during her conference’s 400 hurdles final. She did it going over the 2nd hurdle and somehow managed to complete the race though she was in obvious agony. That girl has bigger stones than 99.9% of professional athletes.

  17. Congrats on your progress. It seems like you are doing well. I am kind of a similar situation. I went to therapy for 6 weeks, then decided to do my own thing. For me to go back now, I would have to get a new prescription from the doc, and I think it’s too late now.

    I sometimes regret not going back to therapy due to having personal questions that only a therapist working with you individually would know, but it is what it is.

    I think this is the video you mention:

  18. Congrats on your progress. It seems like you are doing well. I am kind of a similar situation. I went to therapy for 6 weeks, then decided to do my own thing. For me to go back now, I would have to get a new prescription from the doc, and it’s too late now.

    I sometimes regret not going back to therapy due to having personal questions that only a therapist working with you individually would know, but it is what it is.

    I have seen the video you mention, if anyone else wants to see it, google Shelby Erdahl achilles race finish.

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