Today came my much anticipated visit back to the hospital. For the last week or so I have felt that my healing was going very well. There was no pain or swelling. Of course I couldn’t see inside my half-cast, but everything felt good and strong. I could push against the bottom of the half cast with what felt like at least 1/2 the strength of the good leg, but it was hard to tell. There was no pain.
The first thing I noticed when they cut off the cast was how much dead skin there was! It was really gross and quickly made a big pile of pink flakes on the sheet (they had used some sort of pink dye on my skin during the surgery). After that the atrophy set in. It wasn’t as bad as I feared, but still it was noticeably smaller than my other leg. Although entire calf hadn’t shrunk too much (2cm circumference), the much of muscle itself had turned to fat.
The next thing I noticed was how weak it felt. While it was in the splint, supported by the tensor bandage, it felt strong. But now out in the open, it was shaky as I did little circles with my toes.
The incicion site looked good. It is less than 3 inches long, which was a pleasant surprise as some of the pictures I’ve seen have had much larger cuts.
I was then fitted with the boot. I was told to use crutches still and only put a very small amount of weight on the boot. The doctor then told me basically not to do any excercise with the calf at all. I was only allowed to take the boot off occasionally to do stretching using the muscles in the front of my leg to stretch it. I’m not to push down using my calf at all. I asked him if I could just to very gentle calf exercises with to try to retain some amount of muscle tone, but he said no. But he did say that movement was good.
It didn’t make too much sense to me. If I can stress the tendon my stretching it, why can’t I stress it by using my calf? Also, why can’t I fully bear weight on the bad leg when it’s fully supported in the boot? Needless to say, I think I’ll be taking some “liberties” with respect to my rehab program. I’m already full weight bearing using the boot. It just feels totally fine to do so, other than needing to learn to walk with one leg 4 inches longer than the other. I’ve also been doing “leg raises” while sitting — just lifting the weight of my leg with my calf.
I probed him a bit about newer research concerning more aggressive rehab, and he sort of smirked and admitted that he was quite “conservative”. I took that to mean that I could take liberties? After all, it’s my summer which will be ruined if I don’t get back to sports ASAP, and his reputation if I re rupture, so I guess that makes sense. He also seemed very confident in his repair and boasted that he’s never had a patient re-rup.
Although I was getting quite agile on my forearm crutches, I am really enjoying being able to walk. I even went for a bike ride today. A “real” bike ride, not just circling around the driveway. I even went off-road a bit down a winding dirt path. It felt good - almost normal. With the support of the boot, it felt completely safe. I could use both legs equally, and was happy to discover that my upper legs hadn’t lost too much strength (I’ve been making a point to work them out as much as possible).
Now comes bedtime. The doctor said to keep the boot on. Again, WHY? It is rediculously big and clunky and hot to wear to bed. Again.. errr… no.
Here’s a picture of the back of by legs the evening after the cast was removed.
The incision site: