That’s right…. Just like the post says….. I ran 1 mile, uninterrupted, 5 months to the day after surgery and another 1.1 miles today. That doesn’t even include warm up and cool down!!!! The reason I posted this was not to brag(well maybe just a little, but I’m proud eh!!) but to help motivate people that are where I was in the earlier stages of the recovery process. So here is a small recap and some words of advice for the newest members of our club or even veterans that are stuck at some plateau.

 

Here goes…….

5 months ago I was on my way home from the surgery thinking “what did I do to deserve this”. I got home and spent the next week laying on the fold-out getting very good at video games. I went from being very active to, well…… very inactive. As the next few weeks unfolded I began to get depressed and found myself wondering if I would even walk again. It is really easy for the depression to set in while laying around! After the second week I had a little slip and had to get recasted and was told I would be in for a few more weeks. 5 weeks in a cast, being at work rolling, around in my custom decorated wheelchair seemed like an eternity. Finally came time to get the cast off. If anyone has read my previous posts they know that this didn’t quite turn out to be the day of joy I had expected. I complained of pain in my calf and the doc sent me to the ER for an ultrasound where they found a blood clot in my leg. Next came a few blood thinning shots that night and the next afternoon.  As if it wasn’t stressful enough to think I would have to take blood thinners for at least 6 months to get rid of the clot I start feeling really ill the night after the second dose of shots and pills. A middle of the night trip to the ER in an ambulance found me bleeding internally from the shots. Oops, too much medicine!!! I came home that morning and laid in bed.

This became one of those moments…….

I thought to myself, “That’s it, I’ve had enough. I WILL get better. I WILL walk, I WILL run, I WILL do it on my terms. I can’t let doctors be in control of my destiny, I must take over and fight to get better”.

From that day I stopped being depressed. Everyone will have one of those moments and how you respond will make a huge difference in the future of your recovery. I went physical therapy with a positive, almost competitive approach. My therapist laughed at me when I would get frustrated if I couldn’t do something. Even hitting a road block with muscle rebuilding ddin’t get me down this time. We found a new treatment and I kept pushing. The treatment worked and I made huge strides in recovery.

 I finished PT on 12/31/08 and on the 5 month anniversary of my surgery, 1/6/09, I stepped onto a treadmill and said “I am going to run a mile”. It wasn’t easy but the determination took me to the end of the mile and now anything seems possible.

I know a lot of people that are at the laying in bed stage are thinking ‘yeah right’. That is exactly why I posted this long winded speech. I was there. I thought ‘yeah right’. But I found my moment and used it to kick the depression that set in. If you haven’t had one, you will. Just make sure you are looking for it. If you have had one, post something about it for others in a comment here.

There are probably people that have recovered faster or stronger than me but I think that running a mile at 5 months is a HUGE accomplishment and the thing I attribute it to is attitude. Once I shook the blah’s I never looked back.

Now I’m running from the blahs a mile at a time!!!!!

 

Happy New Year

Matt

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Well, I guess I am like a lot of the other veterans here. Our posts get less frequent as our injury improves and life takes over again. I check in and see if there are posts that I can offer advice on but this is my first in a while. I have come along pretty well all things considered. I have full range of motion, no pain in the tendon itself, and very little if any swelling or fluid. My problem now is strength!! I was going to PT two times a week for 4 weeks and once on my own at the gym. Then because of issues at work I cut down to one PT visit and one trip on my own(if possible!!). Until last week I thought I was going to be stuck with this wimpy little leg. My PT suggested trying a procedure called ASTYM. It involves some plastic tools of torture and shea butter. The tools are manipulated over the affected area to increase blood flow in dysfunctional tissuse - such as my MOST dysfunctional calf muscle!!! In three visits it seems to have done wonders.

At the start of the ASTYM I could lift 3 1/2 inches on my good leg(single calf raise) and barely an inch on my not so good leg. A week and a half and three visits later I can get up to 2 1/2 inches!!! Almost as far as the good leg. It is still week but the muscle seems to work better now if that makes sense. Before it would almost quiver when called upon to do anything more than walk. Now I have a little spring in my step and feel like I can actually flex the calf muscle. Has anyone else had trouble with regaining strength?

Like Kkdub mentioned on her page, I am EXTREMELY greatful that I did not have this injury happen right now. Even though I did it at the beginning of August and lost a couple of months of the short Oregon summer there is no way I would want to be crutching around in the ice and snow!! The guys at work said they would have put chains on my wheelchair for me though!!! Clowns!!

I am planning on wrapping up PT by the end of the year. I am out my out of pocket max for the year so starting January I would have to pay all over again. My PT says I have done really well and as long as I continue to do the excecises I don’t need to see her anymore after the ASTYM is done on the 30th. As for my surgeon I am SO done with him. He did an excellent job on the surgery but he spends NO time at follow up visits to answer questions. I have to stop him from walking out if there is something else I wanted to ask. 3 minutes for $180 just won’t work for me once I start paying again next year!!!! On my own from here on out. At least I have the internet for advice!! Scary as that may be other than this sight!!!

Happy Holidays to everyone and I wish you all the best!!!

Matt

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Just got into 2 shoes this Monday!!!! I went to visit my PT and told her that the boot was KILLING my heel and she said that my leg looked good enough to ditch the boot. Just be CAREFUL!! Did a lot of balance excersises, leg press, etc. My heel is still killing me and I have balance problems. I do fine fine until I close my eyes, then whoaaaaaaa. Anyone else have this problem at first. My PT says it is pretty normal because all the receptors in the ankle don;t know what to do yet. Take away vision and you’re relying on your inner and those weak receptors to keep you upright.

As for the actual PT work I love it. Good to feel like I’m making progress regardless of how slow. I feel a little stronger everytime. I can walk without a limp if I go REAL slow. Then at the end of a work day….. limping is pretty standard. The foot and mostly the heel get real achy!!! Ice and the spa seem to take care of that and then I start all over again the next day.

 How long did it take others to lose the heel pain?

How about losing the limp?

It’s such a long recovery and that becomes the most apparent when you get out of the boot, think you’re ready to rock and roll, and then BAM. You realize that you actually just got past the easy part. Now the real work starts. Building muscle, range of motion, stamina, and balance.

So to all those behind me…. Save your energy for the actual rehab and enjoy the downtime of casts and crutches. To those ahead of me, I admire you for getting there because I know what it takes.

One day at a time!!!!

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Well I had my 7 week post-op and the doc said that the tendon looks great. It didn’t get too thick. It is a lot thicker than the left but he said he was surprised that it looked so good. My flexion has proceeded rapidly and I can move past the neutral position with no pain. He was extremely pleased with the incision. It is so small and off to the side of my tendon(my heart goes out to those with full open surgery incisions). He wasn’t planning on taking me off the crutches just yet when we last spoke but he was really surprised at my progress. This was the longest he had spent with me in 5 visits. I asked the receptionist on the way out if she wanted to buy some crutches!!!!

My first PT appointment is Wednesday and I will be in two shoes in 4 weeks. Quite a quick turn of events considering that for the first week I had my cast off there was the blood clot scare and then the internal bleeding,etc.

Now I can walk barefoot, slowly, with almost no limp. The first few days in the boot at FWB have been tough. My heel gets very sore and leg gets tired but it is well worth it. I finally got to take out the RV we bought and take my kids camping. We bought it 5 days before the ATR and it has been sitting in front of the house since. A $3600 playhouse for my kids… I highly recommend anyone that gets to the FWB to get out and do things. Be careful of course, but do things. It is good for your mental state as well as your physical. You start to feel normal again. Also, the AT seems to get a good workout without straining it when I have the boot on even though it feels like a bag of cement at times!!!

The other recommendation I have is using a spa. I have recently started going back to my gym and riding the bike and lifted weights. Afterwards I go in the hot tub and IT FEELS GREAT!! The tendon and the muscles loosen up and it gets easier to walk every time. Try it!!

Thanks again to everyone that has offered their support and I hope I have done or can do the same for you!!

Matt

Comments 1 Comment »

The \’Achillon\’ that my doc used

Got a call from my primary care doc this morning and he said that my red blood cell counts are returning to normal after all the internal bleeding courtest of the blood thinners. Then, this afternoon, I went to have another ultrasound on the leg to check the clot. It has dissolved by approximately 50% in a week. No longer obstructing the bloodflow and well on it’s way to being GONE.

The AT itself is feeling great after being in the boot for a week and it sure is nice to sleep and bathe without a cast!!!! The incision is barely visible other than the purple line where it closed up(see pics)

Thanks for everyone that gave some support with the clotting issue. My advise to anyone else that gets a blood clot would be to get at least a couple of opinions on the treatment. Not that the heparin and the coumadin aren’t normal treatments, but they are also very powerful drugs that should be considered before jumping into use. I did a lot of reading on clots in the last week and anyone can get them and not many know they have them. Even endurance runners have gotten them on long airplane rides. A low idle blood flow such as that in a person with a low pulse who is in excellent shape can actually be at risk for clotting. The drugs theselves don’t even dissolve the clot, the body does. So, at least in my case, waiting a few days after getting out of the cast and becoming mobile again to check the progress of the clot would have been a safer course. That is why I say seek a few opinions. Just my two cents.

Hope everyone is doing well..!!!!!!!!!

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5 weeks on Wednesday and I went to get the cast off, boot on and start PWB. That appointment went good until I mentioned that my calf was a little tender. I thought this might be related to atrophy because the pain was minor. He feared a blood clot so sent me for an ultrasound. They spotted a small DVT in the lower leg and sent me to the ER. 5 hours later I left with doses of coumadin and tinzaparin(heparin) and was told to start taking these regularly. The next AM i had blood in my stool and went to see my regular doc. He thought that was fast for interal bleeding so wanted to wait and see if it reoccured. So I went to the infusion clinic for my next dose that afternoon. Later that evening the headache I had was not going away. I was up all night, very warm, head throbbing and then when I tried to get up I collapsed. My wife said I turned white as a ghost and was sweating profusely. She called an ambulance and rushed me to ER. They confirmed I was bleeding internally. Now they tell me, obviously, stop the blood thinners and get another ultrasound in a week to see if the clost id disolving on it’s own now that I am PWB and active again. What the???? Why didn’t we do that in the first place instead of giving a perfectly healthy 35 year with no clotting history rat poisin? Now I have a couple days before the coumadin will be out of my system. Was anyone else else ever told of a clot that broke down on it’s own? Rather than blood thinners? What a nightmare. At least the cast is off and I can bathe and sleep in comfort again. Now it’s just the fear of the clot. Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. 

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Well here I am…. Excited that I only have 2 more days til the cast comes off and boot goes on. Real excited and optimistic…. and BAM! The medical bills started arriving. I’m at $2500 and haven’t even started PT yet. Anybody else out there going through this with poor insurance like mine, or worse…no insurance?

What a complete buzzkill

Hopefully I can post some great news Wednesday after my appt!!!!

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Nothing too exciting as of late. Went to the doc after my little slip. They removed the cast and he spent the customary 30 seconds with me. Said everyhting looks fine and said be careful. Got another shiny new cast and off I went. It sure felt good for that 20 minutes I had the cast off. WOW!!!

Now that I know the tendon is OK I wiggle my toes a little more and lightly flex my calf. I have read that this helps blood flow. Anyboby else doing some “in cast” excercise? I don’t think it is bad but I know I could never get a solid answer from the Dr’s office. I don’t want to be doing something that would slow my recovery. It sure feels good to move things around. Sometimes I feel like I want to flex my calf enought to pop the cast off and be free!!!

 

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Aug 4th. Playing basketball and trying to do 18 year old moves on my 35 year old legs I felt the “pop” that is so infamous. I jumped to feet wanting to know who threw the ball at me only to fall back down again with my dysfunctional foot. After being convinced that no one through a ball at me I looked at my leg and quickly realized what had happened. Rather than go to the ER that night I went home and had some R.I.C.E. The next morning went directly to an Ortho, skipping the expensive referral because my health plan SUCKS!!!! He scheduled surgery the next day, Aug 6th, and my journey has begun…..

My 1 week post-op visit netted me a new cast and 4 more weeks of NWB. I think that I just might lose my mind. The cast is so uncomfortable at times I would like to chop it off. I have to remind myself to be patient and that it certainly could be worse. I will walk again. Many people with other injuries and ailments can’t say that.

Day 8: Back at work and using a wheel chair to cruise around work. I am fortunate enough to have a desk job that I could return to. Even though I am mostly sedentary the leg swells pretty badly after 6-7 hours at work and it TIME TO GO. It seems you get creative rather quickly to do the things that once came easily. Taking showers, going up stairs, raiding the fridge, etc.

Day 12: Slipped on my crutches and put a lot of weight on my bad leg. THAT HURT!!  I spent the rest of the evening elevating and icing. The next day was filled with worry that I might have damaged something. I called the doc to get his opinion only to be told by a medical assistant that he was not in but I should be fine. Easy for her to say…..  Has anyone else fallen and landed on the bad leg??? What did it feel like? 

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