Sep 20 2011

Can’t believe it’s been 15 weeks

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In the initial weeks following my ATR, if someone were to tell me that 15 weeks would “fly” by, I would have never believed them. Yet, here I am, 14 1/2 weeks later and it’s flown by and ,it hasn’t. I am in two shoes and have been since mid August- full time in 2 shoes since late August. I can actually wear a sandal heel (as long as it is a cushy sole sandal). I am walking without a limp (except late at night when the ankle still swells) and for the most part, I am getting around. There are still alot of things I can’t do: run, jump, dance. But, I completely mobile I imagine it won’t be long until I get the confidence and strentgh back in my calf to do those things too.

The calf muscle has been problematic. It is still very weak. I can do two heel raises together but am nowhere near doing a single heel raise. I can raise up on two and then come down on one, tentatively, but that’s about it.

Ice is my friend. I ice after PT for 10 minutes and ice before I go to bed for 10 minutes. I have gotten out of a lot of good habits though I developed early in the injury though, like keeping my ankle elevated all day– that is a good thing to do- helps the healing, slows the swelling. I highly recommend it and should take my own advice.

PT has been the #1 reason my mobility has returned to a decent level. I have been going religiously 2x a week (yes, expensive)- my co-pay is $25 and I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on recovery thus far, but how do you put a price limit on walking? 

For those of you who have just injured yourself: Yes, it is really awful and the cast, crutches, boot process is truly challenging even for the most patient of people- and ATR hits athletes- not the most patient lot of people. I know I could very well be among the top 10% of most impatient people on earth. But, during the first four weeks, when I was in a cast, I read 5 books- hadn’t read for pleasure in years- I talked on the phone, watched some good movies and was, for the first time in 40 years … still.

That was weird, but also wonderful.

Becuase you know, you get pretty good at the crutches, then pretty good at maneuvering a fast gait in the air boot, and before you know it, you are doing more and more and life gets fast again.

I say… enjoy the stillness. For as long as it lasts.

Because you’ll be running again soon. Running late, running to a meeting, hurrying to the grocery store, Trying to fit more and more into a day, because you can. You’ll be mobile again.

I’ll do another update soon. Now, I’m gonna go check out some other blogs, catch-up on thier progress and meet some new ATRs.

2 responses so far

Aug 02 2011

Scaring myself silly at PT

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I have  been to 3 PT sessions so far. I like my physical therapist, she is very on-top of my recovery, remembers things I say, takes good notes etc. The second PT session, I was doing a stretch against the wall when all of a sudden: rriiiip! It sounded like a zipper opening. I went into immediate panic: re-rupture, I thought. No, she assured me, it was scar tissue letting go and pulling away from the tendon/ankle, and be prepared for it to happen again.

Well, it did happen again: yesterday. I was doing an ambitious stretch on a block, allowing my recovering heel to cantilever off the block and stretching. and again: RRRRRIIIIP. This time, it was loud enough for me to get really worried. It actually hurt a bit. I was reassured again that this was normal. The ankle felt fine again after an hour or so.

Has this happend to anyone else? These loud rip-like sounds of scar tissue pulling inside the ankle? It’s scaring the beejeebees outta me!

4 responses so far

Jul 19 2011

FWB- still not sure exactly when that happened

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I’ve always been a bit suspicious of people who saged: “Listen to your body…”  My trick had always been to take two iburofin after tennis or whatever exertion I had put myself through, stretch a little and call it a day until the next body torture sporting battle I undertook. I’ve always stretched, stayed fit, had lasting aches or pains checked out if they persisted, but I was never one of those people who was in deep communication with my physique. I know a few people who can literally exclaim with condifence: “I need iron!” or “My hemoglobins are low!” (?) 

While I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point, I have learned a few things about how remarkably resilient the healthy human body is– the body wants to heal and will go through a myriad of transitional phases all by itself to get to the next level of healing. Remarkable.

Two weeks ago, I was thrilled to get out of my cast. With some anxiety about my weak foot dangling useless, I strapped on my boot and was determine to get back to my real life. I attended out of town meetings for the past two weeks, valet parked my car, had others carry my stuff, struggled with a lunch plate, but nevertheless, I showed up with a pretty suit, a pump heel on my good foot and maintained whatever semblence of style I could muster with the big clunky boot on my injured foot.

Sometime during the past two weeks, I started leaving my crutches and not knowing exactly where I left them– sometimes for hours. It got to be that the only time I really knew where my cruches were was when I was leaving the house.

And everyone on the blog a few weeks ahead of me said that is exactly how it would happen. 

Other than the first few days in the boot, when I really challenged myself to be FWB to see how far I could go, it happend without my conscious participation– my body (my tendon) decided on its own, ” I am confident to walk without the crutches.”  And that is how I became FWB.

I am starting Physical Therapy this week. (2x a week) and hopefully, I’ll get my long lost calf muscle back. Yesterday,  my specialist advised: “You need to be in 2 shoes sometime within the next two weeks.”  I was stoked! Now, I am going to help my body along and make concerted efforts to get into two shoes. It’s the least I can do to help it out. You know, be a good teamplayer and all with a few solid “assists” on goal. :-)

5 responses so far

Jul 11 2011

Solid PWB at 5 weeks

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I am so grateful to the folks on this blog. I can’t imagine being able to report that I was solidly PWB after 4 days in the boot without the tips, advice and encouragement from people who are a few weeks ahead of me and already experienced the transition of cast to boot. I’ll emphasize that I am being extremely careful, never pushing beyond the point of pain– I just challenge myself a little each day- continued PWB, theraband exercises, the ABCs and dorsi-flexing. I am also happy to say that I have taken a number of steps at FWB without any disasters, mental breakdowns or pain. So exciting!  And, now that I am using the foot more assertively, I have learned what everyone is talking about when they report that their foot is swelling. (didn’t have much swelling until now). I am glad the swelling is still fairly light and an hour elevated with icing takes it back to virtually normal. (emphasis on “virtually”)  

While it was rather pathetic to get my two little nieces (4 yrs and 2 yrs) to watch me take steps at FWB and exclaim, “Look girls, your aunt can walk!” They both looked at me, perplexed, no doubt thinking: “What? Walking? …that was the whole trick?” But it took just a moment for the older one to sum up the previous weeks in her mind– her aunt going to the hospital, having a strange purple cast on her leg, grumpy and sitting all the time, unable to play– when she started jumping up an down: “Yay Aunt Polly, Go Polly! You can walk again!” 

It made my day.

3 responses so far

Jul 07 2011

PWB! (using that term loosely at 4 weeks, 2 days)

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At last, I am free of the cast! I am now in my Ossur Air Walker. I like the boot and it immediately felt much lighter than the cast. I left the surgeon with instructions to do the ABCs, put weight on it (with the boot) and do some theraband exercises. I was elated and totally looking forward to my first shower in 4 weeks with both feet in the shower!

My elation turned to terror when I took off the boot. My foot was just dangling there without the protection of the cast, unable to support me in the event of  a wrong move off the shower chair. I was utterly apoplectic! Oh, and I immediately launched a crying fit out of sheer terror (not one of my finer moments). I had been so thrilled to get the cast off and I realized in that moment of sitting there with my useless foot resting on the slippery shower floor, that the hard part was  truly ahead of me. That I would have to get myself to the point where I can put weight on this thing in a shoe. And my calf muscle? = what calf muscle? = gone.  That shocked me a bit.  My first shower sans boot experience was not quite what I had anticipated. (I did get to shave my leg though and that was truly a relief.  (Sasquatch leg!)

Now, it is two days in the boot and PWB. I have done the abcs, consciously tried putting more weight on it: I am not seeing progress yet. (well, maybe  little). I know I am being impatient. My follow up is on July 18 and I will get the go to start PT. (and presumably remove the lift I have in the boot.)

Did anyone else have this mixed emotion of happiness but also ”oh, that foot looks and feels so weak and useless dangling there!” It almost made me weak in the knees to see it.  I guess I’ve got a lot of work to do, but a little at a time.

I really would like to be FWB in the boot in 3 weeks if possible (July 25) and in 2 shoes by Aug 30 (random date)… Giving myself time.

One good thing: taking the boot off a bit and letting my foot breathe = heaven. That, truly, is a treat.

11 responses so far

Jul 02 2011

Experimental Pic Post and a question about socks…

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I am usually not so dense when it comes to technology. But, I am having heck of a time trying to post pics. I think I have found a solution. I can post a link to a pic in my media library.

Incision sans sutures http://achillesblog.com/polly/files/2011/06/incision-sans-sutures1.jpg

Ankle from the front (almost looks normal!) http://achillesblog.com/polly/?attachment_id=43

On Tuesday, I have my follow up with the surgeon and I get a boot! I am so happy to have this little milestone to look forward to. I have my mepiform ready (thaks Deana) and as soon as the incision has a few days exposure to air, I am going to start caring for the wound and hopefully, will tame the jagged gash down to an angry red line. (I’d be happywith angry red line as opposed to what it looks like now.)

I have a question: In the boot, I assume terry absorbant socks are recommended. I have ankle socks, not one goes above the ankle line. Should I go and get some knee-high athletic socks?  I’m talking about the ones basketballers wore in the 70s or the kind baseball players wear (up to their knee line).  I am thinking I should be wearing higher socks in the boot. Thanks!

5 responses so far

Jun 27 2011

Mishap

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Early this morning, my left crutch caught the area rug in the hallway and sent it sliding. The crutch slid with it and maybe because it was so early, instead of keeping my senses about me and adjusting my right foot with a hop or something, my injured left foot descended to the floor with force and nearly all of my weight landed squarely on my 3 weeks and 1 day recovered ATR.

First thing that went through my mind was ouch! But after I quickly adjusted, the second thought was: I have been so careful, did I rerupture? The pain in my heel seemed bad enough to worry. 

After 10 mins, there was no pain. The ankle felt like it had for the past few days. But there is still a nagging in my mind. How do you know if you rerupture? or if you reptured an internal stitch?

I didn’t call my surgeon because I am thinking that if I did some damage, there would be some significant pain. My next appt is on July 5. Am I taking this too lightly?

6 responses so far

Jun 23 2011

2 weeks 5 days- ankle looks great (from the front)

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On Monday, the ortho tech carefully cut my purple fiberglass cast and removed my sutures. I was expecting to be grossed out and to experience pain. I was totally squeamish, as expected. However, to my happy surprise, removing the sutures did not hurt at all.

I am trying to be all about the happy these days so some highlights of good news: (1) incision looks like frankenstein, but good, very clean, no infection or redness (2) I was informed that I would have another cast to elevate my toes further north but that on July 5, I will go into a boot.

It’s the little things…

I expect that I will push the NWB my Ortho suggested would last another two weeks following geting into the boot to PWB as quickly as responsibly possible. I have no intention to hurry this thing along more than necessary, but if I am in a boot, and I can tolerate the stretch with out prohibitive pain, I’ll try PWB. I am going to stay NWB for a week, then I’ll try some weight.

We’ll see…

I tried to upload a pic of my incision. It didn’t work. I’ll have to try this again.

3 responses so far

Jun 16 2011

1 week 4 days

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I get an email a day: Q: “Howz the Achilles?” A:  ”Torn”   Q: “Howz the recovery going?” A: “As expected: Slow”

The support is great, but folks gasp when they learn about the length of time required to heal this thing. I had a follow-up visit with my surgeon on Monday. He said everything is looking good with the sutures. But, they are still in there. I have a new cast on and my toes have now been elevated further north toward 90 degrees. I have this feeling that the part of my recovery that I might have control over won’t start until I get those stitches out (this coming Monday).   I believe that the next step after the sutures are removed is another cast, with further elevation of the toes.  My guess is that I’ll have that on for another week (or, yikes, two) and then I’ll be moved into a boot.

I guess my best scenario is that I will only have the cast on until one week following the suture removal and then I will be in a boot.

I am impatient. And, I’ve learned, I am a bit immature. I get irritated easily because I can’t do things for myself. I basically move from the veranda, to work outside for some fresh air, to the sofa, to the dining room table, to the bathroom. Then, in the evening, I climb the stairs to my bedroom with my crutches under the watchful eye of my partner– who, I have recently recognized,  is a living saint. I say thank you about fifty times a day.  Thank you for coffee, thank you for dinner, thank you for picking up my plate, thank you for helping my shower, washing my hair, laying out my clean clothes– all assistance delivered with a smile– remarkable.

I don’t know what to expect until my appointment on Monday. I’ve asked all the questions, did the research, got answers, bought a shower chair, plastic bag for the cast, applied for a handicap placard for my car (preparation for when I can drive around). I know there is a light at the end of this tunnel. But right now, I have to squint to see it off  in the distance.  It’s just a glimmer right now.

LOL, I reread this and all I can think to say to myself is, “Pu-lease, drama queen much? Get a grip, polly.”  You are going to get better and you are so darned lucky.  Snap out of it and get your mental act together.

4 responses so far

Jun 14 2011

First Serve

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How do you go from worrying about stuff like your sales quota, the garden that really could use some weeding this afternoon and increasing your first serve  percentage to “Will I ever walk properly again?” But that is how a major sports injury goes, isn’t it?
One moment of elation because your first serve was in,  hard and fast, and your opponent struggled to block it- all she could do- get a racquet on it producing a weak return, just over the net, short. You start racing to the net, and if you can just get up there fast enough, you have a bagful of options to win this point: drop shot- out of her reach, deep slice into the opposite corner, a topspin lob, over her head.  If you can just get there fast enough.
I didn’t get there. I didn’t get anywhere.
What surprised me most was the pop. It sounded like a little firecracker, or a BB gun. I went down on my right knee (nasty scab there) and that was it. I knew I did something horrible to my left tendon.  It didn’t hurt. I didn’t even feel the sensation of being hit in the calf as some people describe it.  All I knew is that there was nothing where my left tendon used to be.
I’m lucky- I know I am. My opponent walked me off the court, I got ice right away. My partner was home, took a cab to meet me at the tennis center (got there quite quickly, actually) and we got to  George Washington University Hospital ER without any trouble.  I had a choice, Georgetown or GW, as it turns out, I picked the one where the orthopedic surgeon who attended to me happened to be in my insurance network- again, lucky.  The diagnosis was a no brainer: the Thompson test revealed total rupture, the X-Rays were unnecessary but routine, the prognosis: “you will walk, run, play tennis again, sometime after about 9 months of recovery.”

I blinked. How will I work? whatabout tennis? how will I get around? Will I ever wear heels again?  How could this happen to me? I stretched, I’m in shape. I have never spent the night in a hospital. I don’t even get colds. This sux!

“We can boot you up, send you home and schedule surgery in a few days, or good news… we can admit you, get you on the the surgery schedule tomorrow and your recovery will begin right away.” 

I knew I was lucky again, but I didn’t feel lucky.  As soon as the surgeon left my bedside, I turned to my partner–who was thrilled my surgery could be scheduled so quickly—and I started crying like a wuss.  This has got to be a horrific dream and I want to wake up.  Right Now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 responses so far

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