I have always been pretty active. I ran track and cross country all through junior high and high school. After I met my wife we started playing racketball on a regular basis. When I got to my current church I found out that they have a men’s group that met every Wednesday night to play volleyball and I started a softball team. That’s when I ruptured my right Achilles tendon.
Not only was I the coach and organizer of the team but I was also the pitcher. We had a great season going, I believe we were undefeated. In the middle of a game, on June 11, 2002, I was up to bat and got a hit. Running to first base I felt something like someone hit me in the back of the leg with a baseball bat. In fact, I turned around and asked, "Who hit me?" Well, I made it to first base safely and dropped to my butt in pain.
Some friends drove me home and my wife took me to the ER. The doctor confirmed that I had ruptured my Achilles and scheduled me for surgery two days later on Thursday. I must have gone home on crutches (I can’t quiet remember). What I do remember is that I worked from home on Wednesday and wrote the sermon that I would deliver on Sunday. You see, at my church, surgery is no reason to miss church. If you have surgery on Thursday you will be preaching on Sunday.
The surgery went well. Because my surgery was held later than scheduled I ended up being admitted to the hospital partly because of the lateness and partly because all the physical therapists had gone home for the day. You see, we live in a tri-level home so there are three sets of stairs. I stayed over night so that they could teach me how to do the stairs on crutches.
My recovery went well. I was off pain meds within a couple days. But I do remember being depressed on a couple of occasions. One time I got really, really depressed was towards the end of the day. For some reason one of my arms started to hurt and I was hit with the realization that if my arms were injured and I couldn’t do crutches then I couldn’t go anywhere. The other time I got depressed was at Menard’s (a hardware store). For some reason we were looking for paint. My wife was pushing me around in a wheelchair (they had them by the carts). At one point, while my wife was looking at paint, she pushed me so that I was facing the opposite direction and couldn’t be part of the paint selection process. I guess it was a combination of being in a man’s environment (hardware store) and feeling less of a man and more like an inconvenience.
One funny story. After surgery, my wife asked my doctor if it was okay to have a martini while taking the pain medication. My doctor’s response was, "He isn’t going to be driving anywhere for a while, so why not have fun and have a drink while on those pain meds." So one evening, it was a Saturday night, I had had my pain meds and probably two martinis, and my daughter asked if she could pain my toe nails. Well, at this point, I had a purple cast on and she painted my toe nails purple to match the cast. Well I got up the next morning, Sunday morning and started getting ready for church and saw the painted toe nails. I couldn’t let the members of my church see me with purple toe nails so I have to quickly find the nail polish remover and clean the nails off.
At the time, we had a Mercury Villager mini van. That was what I drove. Since I’m left handed and footed, I would put my right leg in the cast on the passenger side of the center console and drive using my left leg on the gas and break. Thankfully I never got pulled over because I’m sure a policeman would not have like me doing that. But I had to work. That’s all there was to it.
Full recovery took a full year. I remember about six months after surgery walking through our school’s gym during basketball practice and the coach threw me a basketball and told me to take the shot. Well, since I had no strength in my right leg, I missed the shot pretty badly.
Jump ahead to current day. It’s been 13 years since I ruptured my Achilles. Last summer I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. On January 26, 2015 I went to see my orthopedic doctor because I was having trouble with a heal spur. He gave me a shot and in a few days the pain was gone. In fact, within a few weeks I felt good enough that I tried to go jogging. I got about four blocks in when my ankle started acting up. But I kept on running. After about a mile and a half it was sore enough that I had to stop. By March, I thought the heal spur was acting up again. I put up with it for a few months and then on June 5th I saw my orthopedic doctor again. I told him that there are times I have trouble not with the heal, but with my ankle. In fact, the night before the office visit I was just sitting in my chair watching television and the pain was terrible. That’s when he checked me over, told me to get on my stomach, felt around and discovered that it was not the heal spur but my Achilles. He put my on muscle relaxers, gave me a lift to put in my left shoe to take pressure off the tendon and scheduled me to see physical therapist.
I saw the physical therapist on Monday, June 15th for the first time. During the visit he used ultrasound and acupuncture to get the circulation going in my ankle. He also discovered that my right leg is 1/8 inch shorter than my left and told me to take out the lift from my left shoe and gave me a 1/8 inch lift for my right shoe. Unfortunately, this resulted in me having terrible back pain the day after the visit and even worse today. I can’t wait to see him tomorrow so we can figure this out. It’s bad enough having pain with every step because of the Achilles, it’s even worse now with back pain.
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