11 weeks post-op.

May 26, 2017

First time in a while I haven’t had some kind of appointment during the week. My pool PT didn’t work out (canceled one day, I’m out of town the other day), and I don’t see the doctor again for a month. I thought I’d post some observations after one week out of the boot. Sorry this got kind of long. I’ve been jotting down random things all week.

  • Surprisingly, I took off my boot after the last checkup (5/18) and haven’t put it back on. I got used to the combination of security and freedom it provided from weeks 3 through 10 so I was sure I’d wear it 50% of the time this week. I never felt the need. So long, old friend.
  • I think it was ericbabula here on the blogs who said “Eyes on task, mind on task” and I say that about 1000 times a day. Seems like I spend most of my time scanning the floor/sidewalk for threats. It’s nice to be out of the boot and it’s also terrifying to be out of the boot.
  • My ankle and Achilles are still quite stiff. I don’t have the best flexibility even on the good side, so the repaired side has some major catching up to do. My last measurements were 5 degrees dorsiflexion and 44 degrees plantarflexion. Admittedly, I’ve avoided most of the early dorsiflexion stretching my PT recommended out of fear of tendon lengthening or “healing long.” I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me. The plantarflexion feels good so I’ll take that as a positive sign. Also, the entire joint seems to have loosened up now that I’m out of the boot.
  • Everything feels safe and stable as long as I’m wearing shoes. Barefoot walking feels bad - like there’s too much instability to do more than stand in the shower for a few minutes. I can’t imagine walking barefoot or in sandals for any significant distance; then again, a few weeks ago walking at all felt impossible so I’m sure I’ll get there.
  • When I have discomfort, it’s as likely to come from the sides and top/front of the ankle as it is to come from the Achilles. Or even the foot bones themselves. Or the bottom of my heel. I’m very aware of the tendons on each side. It also feels like something locks or gets impinged at the front if the foot dorsiflexes too much. That’s been the only truly painful area - once or twice I’ve over stepped and got a shock of pain right there.  My uneducated guess is that the swelling prevents normal movement in that area (I still have a decent amount of swelling, especially by evening).
  • My gait has improved each day. It’s kind of fun to wake up each morning and feel the difference. I’m limping, but not nearly as much as day 1 in shoes. I don’t have much push-off strength. I mainly focus on making and repeating a proper motion. That means I walk super slow right now. I figure slow and safe is the way to go!
  • I really have to watch out for those moments where my brain reverts back to the old days and thinks everything is fine. I guess putting on shoes again triggers muscle memory and patterns or routines. A couple times I’ve put on my shoes first thing in the morning and set off like nothing’s wrong. That lasts about 1.5 steps until I remember how slow I have to move.
  • Stairs are tough. Going up isn’t too bad - I can walk up normally, alternating feet, as long as I make sure to plant each foot carefully. Going down *has* to be bad leg first with no attempt to alternate. I can’t flex that foot enough to take regular steps down, and I can see how easy it would be to get a really bad, hard stretch on the stairs.
  • If you’re on Facebook, the “Achilles Tendon Rupture Group” is really good. It’s a closed group so you have to send a join request. Nearly 2000 members and lots of good discussions and encouragement.
  • I’ve seen a few other posts about shoe selections so I’ll add this in case anyone searches on shoes for the recovery period. I have a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilators with orange Superfeet insoles that are comfortable and stable trail/everyday shoes. I wanted some running shoes to add to the rotation (all of my other shoes are too flat or minimalist for comfort), so I tried 4 types: Adidas Adistar Boost, Saucony Omni, Mizuno Wave Inspire, and Brooks Adrenaline. I settled on the Brooks Adrenaline in the end. It was an easy choice - great cushioning, a generous offset (12mm) that almost acts as a little wedge, and they’re bright blue/yellow for an appropriate level of flashiness. Second choice would have been the Mizunos, then Saucony, then I would have thrown the Adidas away because they were terrible.

Onward to week 12! Hope everyone else is making good progress. Enjoy the weekend.