15 weeks post-op. Later, doc.

I had my last appointment with my orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. That was the first time I walked into his office without any kind of assistive device, cast, or boot. It’s amazing to think about how anxious I was during earlier visits compared to slowly strolling in there in two shoes. He liked how everything looked and saw no issues with my self-directed PT plan. Unless something comes up, that’s the last doctor visit for me. He’s had 4 ATRs come in since my injury - it’s a small town Achilles rupture epidemic!

The doctor gave me a rough timeline for the next 2-6 months. He thought an attempt at light jogging would be okay in 3-4 weeks, maybe a return to “easy” tennis somewhere around the 6 months post-op mark. That’s faster than the plan I had in my head, which was jogging by fall and tennis at the 1 year post-op mark. So I’ll proceed along as I have to this point - letting my calf, ankle, and foot tell me when they’re ready to do things. They’re surprisingly good at communicating via stiffness, aches, and random twinges. I’ll probably end up somewhere in the middle of the doctor’s timeline and my original plan. I have my eyes set on a 5K in February and with continued good luck that should be a reasonable goal. No reason to rush the jogging when I’m headed into a brutal southeastern summer.

I’ve started light strengthening work in earnest this week. Of course, all that means is that I’m doing seated and standing calf raises (2 legs only) and slowly increasing repetitions. I’m also riding the exercise bike for longer periods of time. Combined with the theraband exercises, I finally feel like I’m working to get stronger rather than working only on mobility/flexibility. Oh, and I also try to balance on one leg for as long as I can…I do that whenever I think of it, maybe 10 times a day for a couple minutes’ worth of attempts. The stay-at-home-parent life gives me lots of little opportunities like that.

The bike and calf raise work are making a big difference in my walking. My gait feels a lot smoother, especially at that last stage of a step where I’d normally push off. I can’t say I feel any real push-off strength; it’s more like the muscles are waking up and remembering how they’re supposed to move.

I also started up a YMCA membership so I can go to the gym. I’ve always hated gym workouts but I have to say it’s different now. I have a new appreciation for how my body works, and a new understanding of how bad it feels when things go wrong. The simple act of lifting a weight seems miraculous. I picture the muscles and tendons moving and stretching and I marvel at all of the mechanisms involved. We’ll see how long that feeling lasts. I have to say, they sure have some fancy exercise bikes/stair climbers/whatevers these days. I sat down on some kind of recumbent bike and started pedaling - 5 minutes into the program a notification popped up telling me that a cooling fan was about to start. Then I felt a nice breeze out of small vents on the display that I hadn’t noticed. Welcome to the future!

I wear my compression sock about 50% of the time now. Still use an ice pack at the end of the day. Overall, the foot and ankle swelling has diminished. It’s still there, though, so the ice in particular feels good.

That’s about all for this week. It’s a welcome change of pace to feel more relaxed, and even a little excited, about the next recovery phases. The early weeks are such a mess of shock, fear, confusion, and impatience. For the first two months I could barely stomach the thought of walking, running, jumping, etc. Now I have to slow myself down when I’m exercising because I can’t wait to do those things. I know all of our timelines are different - I hope everyone currently healing reaches a similar point of relative calm (however long it lasts) sooner rather than later.

4 Responses to “15 weeks post-op. Later, doc.”

  1. There is a definite sense of calm resonating from this post. I like it. I have days like that, where I have this great perspective about the whole thing, and seem really good at focusing on the big picture. Then there are days that are NOT like that!

    There are so many online resources now for rehabbing various injuries, I’m sure you’ll do fine on your own. I tell my physiotherapist each week what I’ve done and what I couldn’t do, and she agreed, I’m the best judge of what I can and can’t do, just by listening to my ankle. I also know doing too much one day can set me back a week or more. I ALWAYS want to do more, but I know that will come in time. Hopefully!

    Continue to keep us posted on your progress. Still waiting for those beach pics!

  2. Way to go! Its weird to think when I started out on this blog I would ever get to where you were. Finally being in 2 shoes feels awesome. Im happy to read your posts because I know that will be me soon enough. I think my PT has been a little bit more aggressive than yours. They have me doing quite a bit of exercise. Hopefully it is not too much too soon. Anyways congrats man!

  3. Pics coming soon, shell. I also want to make a scar page because it’s fun (for me) to see all the gnarly stitches.

    ka744 — congrats on hitting 2 shoes! I think I ended up delaying my PT a bit due to losing faith in my provider here. I waited to run my plan past my doctor. Good luck with the exercise work! I guess I have some ground to make up.

  4. Sorry PJ - my scar isn’t too gnarly - LOL! I’ve kept silicon gel sheets on it since I want it to be soft/pliable so it doesn’t bug me when I’m back to playing soccer. You should be able to use the elliptical now - but check with your PT before you do. I find that is a good overall exercise machine to use. I do that first at the gym since it warms up my arms as well as my legs/feet. Then I do the treadmill, weights, PT exercises, machines for my glutes and end the session with the recumbent bike if I have time. My doc said NO INCLINE until I see him again at the end of July. So I put the elliptical and treadmill down to flat and go at it. You’ll find that you progress a bit faster now - but the workout is a LOT harder. My PT had me start doing 1 footed calf raises 3 weeks ago and wanted me to be doing 10 standing up by today. I got to 8 :) But last week I could only do 5! I was quite surprised this AM when I did 8 without warming up. Good luck and keep at it!

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