Hello all - this is my first post, but I have been browsing many blogs here on achillesblog for the past 3 weeks since my ATR. Let me start off by simply thanking Dennis for creating this fantastic, knowledge filled environment for people who have had or are currently suffering through this injury.
My story started on the morning of 3/11/14 in Steamboat when I was heading out for my 1st day on this trip, but having skied ±25 days so far this year both out west and near home in NE Ohio. A storm had come through that morning and had already dumped 5-6″ of powder on the mountain. On the 4th run of the day we were skiing the first tracks in some pristine glades near the top (picture) and during a turn my left ski hit something hard under the powder. A brief glance of pain in my calf, the ski released, and I somersaulted to a stop so as not to run into a tree. I stood up to retrieve my ski from 30 feet above, and upon placing the first bit of weight on my left foot, WOW, that’s not going to happen! After standing around waiting for 40 minutes, returning some work emails and advising my wife (back in Cleveland) that I had done something to my calf, my buddies came back with Ski Patrol and my sled to get down the mountain.
After easily (for me) transporting via sled off of the mountain (picture), I was transferred over to the nearby hospital to be admitted to the ER. For the most part there was no pain as I was seated the entire time, with my ski boot still on. At that time, I was only able to guess at what the injury might be as there was direct pain when touching the side of my calf above the boot, and the ongoing uncomfortable feeling of an imminent cramp in my calf. Massaging that area seemed to keep the cramping at bay. Miraculously, the highly experienced woman in ER was able to open up my ski boot wider than I thought possible and my foot was able to slip out. When she began a quick examination of my leg, there was no longer any pain or the cramping feeling in my calf. Both the tibia and fibula seemed to be intact. And then she touched the area an inch above my heel, where my Achilles tendon used to be connected. With that incredibly sharp pain I now had the answer to the mystery question of “what’s my injury?” This is where the extremely active, multi-sport, 6-day a week workout, never sit still, always on the go father of three kids under 10 and two Labradoodles that love their nightly 4-5 mile walks, started to cry for the first time in memory, albeit briefly, save for the occasional movie tearjerker…life was going to change dramatically for the foreseeable future as my single biggest injury fear just became a reality.
In what was simply the greatest experience in an ER perhaps ever, I proceeded through essentially a nonstop assembly line of another doctor that had me turn over and did the Thompson test and poked around my leg to my discomfort, over to the in-house PT department where I was assigned my new best friend the DeRoyal Tracker EX walking boot, crutches, and given some ice packs to rest my leg on. Through the process of moving through the ER with all of the repetitive questions, I became aware that I had not eaten anything since the early morning and had barely had any water since my Camelback had frozen on the slopes early on. While discussing my options with the PT for travel, timing, and having surgery back home in Cleveland, she too was aware of the current consumption status. She left the room for a bit and came back to advise me that in her opinion the top orthopedic surgeon in town, and one that works for the US Ski Team among other things, was currently at the hospital. She had spoken to him about me, updated him on my situation and low and behold, he had time for another procedure, basically right now. I met him, felt comfortable right away as every employee in the place had either had him operate on them personally or a spouse or similar. My buddy and I called multiple people in town and back home, and every report came back glowingly positive for this guy! Ok then, call the wife and tell her I’m going to just go ahead and have the surgery right now… Didn’t go over that well, but this made a heck of a lot more sense than traveling home, choosing a doctor, making an appointment, then scheduling surgery, then fasting for 8 hours, driving to the hospital, and on and on.
I was given a gown to put on, then got an IV, all of which happened right away. I woke up seemingly moments later with my boot on (two heel lifts) and no real pain to speak of. After about a half hour and a quick test on crutches, I was heading back to my friend’s condo. So, after my accident at 11:30 AM, I was on the couch with my foot up at 5:30 that afternoon post op. Pretty wild day. The doctor told me that that I had a particularly “shredded” ATR located approximately 2″ above the calcaneus, where the achilles attaches to the heel, but although it took a bit longer (35 min instead of 20) to complete, it looked to be solid repair. I was told to keep it elevated above the heart if possible for as much time as I could for the first 72hrs, but otherwise just keep the boot on 24/7, go do whatever I felt like doing, keep it dry, and fly home whenever I wanted and follow up with a doctor at home in about 1.5-2 weeks. After hanging out in the comfortable confines in Steamboat (picture) for a day and half with very minimal discomfort, my wonderful friend ended his trip a few days early to escort me back home to my family. I went ahead and received courtesy upgrades for the flights home so I could put my foot on the front wall in the bulkhead seats. Two flights (picture) with a few hour layover in the middle proved to be uneventful and relatively pain free while only taking Toridol, essentially stronger Advil. My anxious wife and family were happy to have me home!
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