“it is me.”

Hi, folks-

First and foremost,  a big thanks to Dennis and the bloggers who provided some great info and support by proxy for this reluctant reader. 

I’m 48, raised in NY, now live in Ft. Worth, TX, with my wife and 2 kids (7 & 5).  For work , my wife and I are partners in a recruiting solutions firm. 

I lead a fairly active lifestyle.  Exercise has been with an Elliptical Cross Trainer for cardio about once a week (maybe every 2 weeks), always pedaling forward, rarely backward.  I now wonder ‘would that have made a difference?’   But not much else in the way of exercise besides summer swimming, playing catch, golf, an occasional game of horse, winter snowboarding, and just keeping up with my kids.  Wish I could bottle up their energy! 

The state of mind I was occupying a couple of weeks ago to believe that I could motivate my 48-year old body to dive right into playing full-court basketball without any real warmup/prep can only be described as delusional, if not borderline temporary insanity.  Unlike the many weekend warriors who have posted, I have not played hoops (or any competitive sport) in 6+ months.  So, of course, that’s exactly what I did on Tuesday, Oct. 6th - accepting a friend’s invite to shoot some hoops with some other dads at a downtown church gym.  Harmless enough, right?  As I left, my wife gave me a wry grin with arched brow as she warned, “Do not get hurt!”

I warmed up for a good minute.  We played an easy first game, but I was already winded and took a short break.  When I got back into the next game, a strange thing happened as I was getting back on defense.  I was backpedaling and just fell on my butt midcourt.  Didn’t feel any pain, but legs were definitely tight.  Just felt embarrassed for being so clumsy.  Halfway into the second game, just getting back some rhythm, feeling my game return after a long layoff, juices starting to flow, I made a quick move into the lane to get free - a move I’ve made a thousand times.  As I pivoted, I suddenly felt a pop, as someone had stepped hard down onto my left heel.  I felt a sharp pain and quickly turned to see who had tripped on me, and was surprised to see no one was behind me.  Still standing, and slightly confused, I tried to apply weight to my left foot and just dropped to the gym floor.  A couple of guys helped me to the bleachers and thankfully got me an ice pack to keep the swelling down.   There wasn’t a doctor in the gym, so someone took a look at my ankle and said it could be an Achilles injury - a tear or strain.  It was then that I also learned that two guys had gone down with ATRs just last year.  Hmm, but that’s not me.

After 15 minutes, I got up and tried to walk - actually didn’t feel so bad to step on my left heel, but putting weight on the ball of my foot was impossible and painful.   Any thoughts of making it back into the game disappeared.   I left the gym disappointed - hobbling away with encouraging words from my fellow warriors.   Combined with a relatively low pain level, my lack of knowledge about Achilles injuries and their severity only added to my state of denial.  “See you guys next week,” I thought as I carefully eased myself into my car for the ride home.  

Growing up as a gym rat in NY - from cheering for Willis, Clyde and the Pearl in the Garden to dribbling on asphalt courts outdoors in the rain to gearing up with a boombox on the subway to play against other club teams in high school gyms around the boroughs  - there is nothing like grabbing that leather roundball in your hands, nothing like knocking down a jumpshot or finishing a fastbreak, there is no feeling like stepping onto a polished hardwood floor ready for the next game to start, where, in that moment, all is good and nothing else in the world matters.  Those days are long gone, but the feeling doesn’t dim - so the body’s the first to go and the mind’s the last to know.

I kept my left foot elevated and iced the next day, sharing with my wife what had happened.  She was not happy.  But we had our busy daily lives to lead - filled with work, school, pickups/dropoffs, little league games, and birthday parties - oh, and a U2 concert at the new Cowboys stadium in a few days.  And did I mention my planned trip to NY to support a buddy running in the Marathon on Nov. 1?  Somewhere in the midst of daily commitments, I began to search the web for any information.  I begin to ask ‘Is it me?‘ I had been holding out for a couple of days, waiting for the injury to turn a corner, but saw no progress, and getting out of bed each morning was becoming more ’strenuous.’   And fortunately, I found this site.

After devouring several of the blogs/posts and appreciating the great network of support and inspiration, I finally realized the obvious - that the telltale signs were all present and a visit to a doctor was indeed more important than my ego.  I begin to wonder what if it is me.  I found some orthopedic surgeons on the web Friday afternoon and started calling, booking an appt with the first one who could take me on the following Monday (some posts here had noted the importance of getting surgery performed within 1-2 weeks of injury).  Over the weekend, the many questions of concern I received about my awkward Frankenstein-like gait were accompanied by one ATR story after another - all beginning with surgery and ending with a long path to full recovery.  I was very comforted to hear that several friends knew the surgeon I was going to visit.

Monday afternoon (Oct. 12) - Six days after making a simple move into the paint to get free, I saw Dr. Steve Brotherton here in Ft. Worth, a fine practitioner who also has treated TCU athletes for several years.  With his no nonsense approach, he reviewed the xrays, examined my leg, performed the Thompson test, and said that there was definitely a rupture and surgery was necessary.  He didn’t need an MRI to make the diagnosis.  As the news sank in, I asked about partial vs. full rupture and surgery vs. non-surgical.  He advised me about recovery stats and re-injury percentages (0-5% w/surgery, 20% w/non-surgical treatment); so, he was confident that surgical repair was the best approach for me to maintain an active lifestyle.  Alas, it is me.  I was immediately scheduled for surgery at a local outpatient facility that Thursday morning (Oct. 15).

U2 on Tuesday nite (Oct 13) in the cavernous house that Jerry built was enjoyable.  My friends insisted on getting me a ‘rickshaw’ driver for the long trek from the parking lot to the stadium… that was helpful, though attention-getting.  We wound up abandoning our seats to find better sound and groove in the SRO section.  I was getting repaired in a couple of days, so, what the heck?  We stood for most of the concert.  More than 25 years after War, the band still rocks.  Any mild pain or discomfort was soothed by good song and cold $8 bottles of beers.  The playlist was a great mix of their standout hits and new songs - the 2 encores did not disappoint.   But, my mind couldn’t help but drift to what was to come.

The couple of days pre-surgery breezed by as my wife &  I prepared for the day of and post-surgery.  Again, the comments on this site were invaluable to help me realize the severity of the impact; and, while we weren’t fully prepared, we were mentally ready for the change that was about to come in our household.

Thursday (Oct. 15), 9 days after injury - I’m told the surgery went off without a hitch.    My only recollection was getting the IV line inserted by nurse Brandy, followed by a shot of Benadryl, and then one of the sedative Propofol by my kind anesthesiologist, Dr. Neeben.  Yes, he had earlier informed me that it was the same med improperly used by MJ’s doctor as a ’sleep aid’.   Everyone at the Orthopedic Pavilion PSC2 was gracious and very helpful.  I so appreciate them for helping to make the day as anxiety-free as possible.  When I awoke, my dear long-suffering wife by my side, my only and oft-repeated questions to anyone within earshot were ‘how did it go?’ and ‘when can I start working out my upper body?’  My hard cast stretches from mid-foot up to just below my knee.  I had no short term memory for a few hours nd was just loopy for the rest of the day.

Today: Monday (Oct 19), 4 days post-surgery - A long weekend of Vicodin/acetaminophen staying ahead of the pain went surprisingly well, and has given way to a couple of ibuprofen when needed.  Even got to see my kids’ baseball games and had dinner out on Saturday.  My wife has been a true angel, taking care of the kids and me every waking hour.  She’s been a gem putting up with my fierce independence and rigid acceptance of help/support.  I am grateful for her.

While the doctor recommended towel baths to ensure that the cast remain completely dry, I bought a great cast protector and showered for the 1st time today… man, that felt exhilarating!  Sleep has gone upside down for me - awake until 3-4am, sleep until 11am-12noon. 

Using crutches are not great for in-house movement, standing. carrying things, late-nite peeing, or walking any amount of distance.  I highly recommend looking into a knee walker for getting around.  I feel much less hobbled and much more mobile with my rental (Dartmouth Knee Scooter by Bantex).  There are several models on the market.  I’ve seen rates on the web from $100-150/month).  I like the ability to plant my knee/cast on the cushion and then push forward with my good leg, just like a scooter.  Whichever one you get, be sure to get one with a handlebar to allow turning.  Added bonus, the kids get a kick out of riding on it!  And, of course, they’ve tagged my cast with pics drawn in a lovely orange-black Halloween motif. 

Key acquisitions:  Knee walker (rental), cast protector, shower stool,  Ric Burns’ New York documentary box set.

Key needs:  Good, healthy crockpot/slow cooker recipes - please share!  Upper body exercises (should one start working out while still in the hard cast?)

Next up: Driving w/cast, on-site business meeting, normal sleep pattern, 3-week doctor visit, Halloween.

Canceled: NY trip.

Stretch Goal:  To dance with my wife on New Year’s Eve (T minus 11 weeks).

Folks, my apologies for this mad long post.  I didn’t intend on being this long-winded.  But, writing this post has been so cathartic amidst the crazy whirlwind of activity since the injury.  And, while I am wary of what lies ahead, I’m heartened by the amazing words of encouragement offered on achillesblog.  Many thanks again and warm regards to Dennis and to every contributor on this helpful site…

With optimism,

pj

10 Responses to ““it is me.””

  1. PJ Welcome to our wonderful site, recipe below as requested

    Hope you have a large slow cooker..

    Annie’s English Stew

    1lb stewing steak cut into bite sized chunks browned in pan (or any other meat)
    Baking Potates cut into bite size chunks (this way they cook properly and stay whole)
    4 carrots
    2 leeks
    Mushrooms
    Onions if liked (I don’t add them because I use the leeks instead)
    1pt and a half of Beef stock (or tin of beef soup)
    Tin chopped tomatoes
    Seasoning to taste
    1 small spoon of peanut butter (allergies permitting)

    (Any other vegetables to taste, i.e. turnip, celery, peppers, tinned kidney beans etc.)

    Make sure enough liquid in slow cooker to cover the contents.

    Don’t know whether in USA you have dumplings, if so mix a packet of dumplings and form into small balls and drop in stew for the last hour.

    Add thickening agent if necessary just before serving.

    We like ours served with either beetroot or red cabbage, ooohhh I’m hungry now.

    Cooked for approx. 7 hours.

    Basically add whatever you want; and come home to a lovely hot comforting healthy meal.

    Glad you found the blog so helpful.

    Annie

  2. Dear pj,
    Never, never feel you have to apologise for a long blog! Very sorry to be welcoming yet another member to the club, but glad you have discovered it, you’ll find it immensely helpful and supportive (as you already have).
    You’re going to be just fine because you have such a great attitude - to this stupid injury and life in general. You are quite right to look at it as a campaign to be fought and won. And well done on getting out and about and staying in the real world. It’s all too easy to get fed up and take root on the sofa and just ‘drop out’, but you’re not going to do that.
    Don’t beat yourself up that the ATR was somehow your fault. It wasn’t, it was just a really bum bit of bad luck. And you are lucky to have a fab wife to look after you (I’ve got a husband to look after me, but I find they aren’t nearly so good at this sort of thing as wives!)
    So look ater yourself - especially in the first couple of weeks while the incision seals up - keep elevating, icing, blah blah blah!
    Best wishes,
    Smoley

  3. Welcome to the site pj!
    My admiration (and envy) goes to you for standing through the U2 concert with a raptured tendon. I am sure it was well worth it. Once you get to the physio therapy phase you can be moving to the beat again - that is my favourite background noise for my squats etc these days - it really cheers me on!
    So what will be your Halloween costume to go with the cast?
    one legged pirate with a walker maybe… :-)

  4. A flair for narrative! Nice post and unfortunately welcome.

    As for crock pot recipes I generally go with the tried and true fridge cleaner:

    1 measure of protein
    2 measures of carb (1 vegetable 1 starch typically)
    1 measure of liquid
    seasoning as appropriate for the protein

    make sure everything is bite sized and cook for 6 to 8 hours

    OR (and realize I never make this recipe, I always make something just enough like it to pass this on)

    1 pint homogenized milk
    1 pint whipping cream
    1 can evaporated milk
    3 cans whole baby clams
    2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    1/2 teaspon salt
    2 cloves garlic
    1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
    1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
    1/2 teaspoon dried dill
    4 cups potato cut bite sized
    5 green onions chopped
    1 whole green pepper chopped
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup butter

    sautee the onions in the butter until just starting to turn translucent then dump everything in the crock pot (including the clam liqour), use skim milk to ensure all the solids are covered with liquid and cook on high for 1 hour then low for at least 4.

    best substitution: wild leeks, exchange the green onion and garlic for fresh wild leeks (they’re the leeks that look like green onions and smell like garlic).

    this recipe is very heavy on the seasoning, it may be best to cut back if you have a more refined taste.

    for an alternative remove the flour, substitute skim milk for whipping cream, creamed corn for clams and instead of sauteing the onions in butter cook enough bacon for a half to full cup of bacon bits and sautee the onion in the bacon grease. follow the same cooking instructions - everything goes in, including the bacon fat.

  5. Annie - you are so kind to share your English Stew recipe with me - it looks delicious. I’m the chef in our kitchen and for my birthday several weeks go, I received both a slow cooker for the oven AND an electric CrockPot. I’ll be sure to try it out soon - perfect for the cool autumn weather. Keeping my family well-nourished (achilles injury or not) is an important priority. Thanks so much! I am also hopeful that your new diagnosis and treatment will bring you closer to feeling better.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  6. Smoley - your words of encouragement are very much appreciated. After reading your blog, I’ll not be complaining anytime soon about putting up with a cast for only 3 weeks. Nine weeks of a NWB cast - ouch! Thank goodness it’s getting changed periodically!

  7. 2ndtimer - I like the pirate theme! Since I was going to be out of town for Halloween, I hadn’t given it any thought. Actually, I performed in a play this past spring in a Superman costume (quite a surreal piece). So, maybe a hobbled Man of Steel with a chain of Kryptonite wrapped around the cast could work. Thanks for spurring the thought!
    Definitely looking forward to the PT and recovery - need to start building up the playlists for motivation. Come to think of it, it could probably help to listen to good tunes on a daily basis. Your progress after 14 weeks post-op is fantastic and provides one with much-needed hope.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  8. assumptiondenied - I greatly appreciate the recipes - never made chowder before and this one looks fantastic. And your blog/pics is such a great read! Question about ripping your LPs: I’ve got hundreds of 12-inch single LPs from my techno days that have been sitting in a hall closet, begging for a digital home. What equipment did you use to convert? Were you pleased with the results? Thanks again.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  9. pj

    My setup for ripping is pretty straightforward, turntable through receiver to sound card, it’s not a difficult feat if you’ve got the equipment fairly close together.

    Its a JVC belt drive turntable through a Yamaha receiver but I splurged a little and am running a Soundblaster X-Fi card in the computer.

    For recording software I’ve been using Audacity (free from SourceForge and very well written, exceptionally stable). I typically rip to high quality (24 bit 96Khz) WAV One file per side. I save the WAV before starting the cutting and pasting of each track’s waveform into new audacity sessions. When each track is separated I down convert to 24bit 44.1 KHz before converting each track to MP3 or Ogg. I then burn the original WAV files and the MP3 files to the same DVD for archival.

    To ensure tagging is uniform I use another free piece of software called TagScanner, its excellent for ensuring that you have uniformity in each track’s tags and can organize the files for you based on pretty much whatever criteria you wish, just remember that file names have a size limit of 256 characters - and this includes the directory structure! TagScanner isn’t very close to being intuitive, but its worth the study time.

    At odd times I’ll notice a bit of clipping in the music and to correct that I’ll use MP3Gain to help normalize the album.

    Playback on the PC is handled by foobar2000 and my CD ripping is done with AudioGrabber.

    Easier solutions exist - I know people who are very pleased with the results that they get from the ION USB turntable and cassette decks, but except for the sound card everything I use was either free or been with me long enough to have paid itself off.

    One of the best things about ripping LPs this way is that you’re required to listen to the music, you know - to ensure quality, not for the nostalgia. Nostalgia was discovering GEMM.COM and a reseller there by the name of Hollsco - I was in danger of exceeding my wife’s capacity for understanding.

    One caution on the chowder - keep turning it over, it helps free up the flavour of the clams.

  10. assumptiondenied - great tips! this is exactly what I was looking for. I’ve been considering the ION, but was concerned about quality. and given the time commitment, I only want to do this once with the best setup. Thanks again!

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