On my 20th physical therapy session yesterday, we concentrated on perfecting my walking gait and building strength in the calf muscle. In addition to the machine calf raise and assisted single leg calf raise, my therapist had me walking forward on the treadmill at a pace of 2 miles per hour. I was a bit surprised that I was able to keep up and I was even more surprised about how much better I was able to concentrate on my walking technique.
Today I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in my heel-toe movement, walking speed and a lot in confidence. I’ve completely ditched the boot even in high-risk situations like weight lifting and playing with my psycho dog, Flair. Calf strength continues to be an issue and probably will be for quite some time. So today I decided to invest in a seated calf raise machine.
Wednesday when I was watching the White Sox game, the announcer, Hawk Harrelson, mentioned that when he was in the minors, a player was running the bases when his helmet fell off, striking the runner in his AT and causing it to rupture. That’s got to be the weirdest way I have ever heard of rupturing an AT.
My 19th therapy session was Friday and with my regular therapist on vacation, I had another new therapist. There was nothing new introduced and the session consisted of the usual warm up, leg press, calf raise on a machine and a few balance exercises, some using the Bosu ball. My therapist did say that now that I seem to have eliminated my limp, I need to concentrate on picking up the pace of my walk.
So with that in mind, after the session my wife and I went to a downtown restaurant for lunch and I parked across the street from the restaurant. I figured it would give me great incentive to walk faster by crossing the street, mid block. So throwing caution to the wind, I boldly jaywalked across the downtown street. Okay, it was downtown suburban Wheaton, Illinois. Maybe not it’s not like Midtown Manhattan or even Chicago but it was a street. And of course I waited until no cars were coming. Yet there was still a pot hole I had to avoid - a big pothole. Well at least a big pothole for Wheaton Illinois. LOL
My regular therapist is on vacation this week and I had a different one for my session on Tuesday. I was concerned because after doing more walking in 2 shoes, I had more swelling than usual in my ankle over the weekend. When I mentioned the swelling, all she said was that it is to be expected. After some warm ups, she tried to get me to do a one-legged calf raise with my bad leg. My brain sent the signal but my calf would not respond. She then showed me how to do an assisted one-legged calf raise by putting my good foot on a step and told me to do them at home. I’m beginning to believe right now that my biggest problems is the atrophy in my calf, because after doing them for just 2 days, I seem to be walking better. In addition to the assisted calf raises, she also had me doing a balance exercise that resembled a sobriety test but on a foam padded strip. Good thing she wasn’t a cop because I pretty much would have flunked.
I drove to the marina today to put the battery in my boat so the marina can tune it up for the season and launch it. When I ruptured my tendon in February, I wasn’t sure whether I’d have a boating season this year or not. So it was awesome to see the boat today knowing I will be cruising in it in a couple of weeks. This was the longest drive I have done since the tendon rupture and I was able to do the 100+ mile round trip without a problem.
Had my 17th PT session on Friday. Once again there was a delay because of a needed insurance company approval for more sessions. Still they did give me 12 more sessions. Not sure I’m going to need or like that many, but too many is better than too few. I have yet to be able to run or jump so I have a few milestones to get to. Plus my walking mechanics and walking speed are still not quit there yet.
I did max out the leg press machine for a single leg press with the equivalent to 200 lbs. We also upped my weight equivalent on the single leg calf press to 75 lbs. There were big additions to the Bosu Ball exercises. One was to stand on it with my bad foot and touch 3 cones (20 times, 2 sets).
Next with the Bosu Ball upside down, I had to squat on it with both feet and hold the position for 10 seconds (10 times, 2 sets). This was actually kind of fun.
Then I had to do lunges (20 times, 2 sets)
Next came some side lunges (20 times, 2 sets)
I finished up doing the treadmill backwards and the therapist really jacked up the speed on it. I had this scene from Beavis and Butthead going through my mind but fortunately it didn’t happen.
After the session, I went to the local mall to do some shopping. It was the first time for me walking around outside for any distance on something other than a deserted suburban sidewalk. It was surprising how much more difficult it was with the distraction of other people walking around. I really found that I am a lot slower right now than I’d like to be and the distractions took away from me concentrating on my walking mechanics. I did about a half mile total and was pretty glad to get back to my car without incident.
Yep, that’s the building where my doctors offices are and yep that aisle in the parking lot is where I ruptured my tendon. I do have to say that it was a great place for it to happen but nope, I didn’t plan it that way. My wife had some minor foot surgery 2 weeks prior to my injury. By that time, she could walk short distances but had trouble if the distance was too far. We went to her doctor’s office (also in the same building) to get him to sign off on a handicap parking permit form. By the time we got there, her doctor was only going to be in the office for another 10 minutes and then on vacation for 2 weeks. So when we pulled up to his office, I told my wife to wait in the car, since she was still moving pretty slowly, and I would take the form in. Just to make sure I got there in time, I decided to sprint to the building. I took about 3 steps, heard the “pop” and knew exactly what happened. I limped back to the car and told her that she would need to take the form in. When she got back (turns out we had plenty of time), we took the wheelchair out of the car (which she had been using the week before), put me in it and took me up to my primary care doctor’s office. Fortunately he was able to squeeze me in and gave me a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.
Today was my 16 week follow up with my orthopedic surgeon and yep, his office is in the same damn building. We do have other buildings in Elmhurst but this is a pretty big building. I thought it might be interesting to park in about the same location where the rupture happened and retrace my steps, this time without sprinting (not that I had a choice this time). I have to say, it did feel kinda weird walking through that area and my walking was a bit shaky. Still I wanted to face the demon and get it over with.
The visit with my orthopedic surgeon was pretty uneventful and he discharged me from his care pending finishing my therapy. I asked him how long it takes for the tendon to reach maximum strength. He told me 6-12 months and at this point, about the only thing that will cause a re- rupture is if I fall or put a lot of stress on my tendon doing something like sprinting or making a cutting move. He also said I could start jogging once therapy ends. Just before he left, he mentioned that I opted to go non-surgical and that even if I had chosen surgery, I’d be sitting here 16 weeks later in about the same shape. That was kinda good to hear.
For all of you planning your next rupture, I would highly recommend that you do it just outside your doctors office. I sure makes everything a lot easier.
Being a baseball fan and a White Sox fan in particular, I was a bit familiar with ATR’s. Our pitcher Jose’ Contreris went down with one a few years ago and I can still see the scene in my mind of Ryan Howard of the Phillies ATR in the NLCS last year. I knew that it took Contreris 8 or 9 months to get back on the mound. Nine months after suffering his ATR and a severe infection as a complication to his surgery, Howard has yet to play in a regular season game. So when I ruptured mine, I new my life was going to be different for the next 9 months or so.
Looking back on it, I’m a bit surprised how quickly these 16 weeks seem to have gone by. I went non-surgical so I missed the ordeal associated with surgery. Cast changes were every 2 weeks then on to FWB in 5 weeks and PT in 7 weeks. At 6 weeks my doctor was concerned about my swelling and had me wear a compression sock. He also was concerned that I might have a DVT.and sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound indicated I had a clot in a superficial vein. I was then ordered to take an aspirin a day and do 2 more ultrasounds to confirm that the clot was stable (which it was).
About the most trying time for me was the night that it happened. I then spent the evening researching my options. I found out that non-surgical was a possibility. Since I suffer from trypanophobia, an extremely irrational fear of needles, I knew that even getting an IV would be tough. As I tried to go to sleep that night, I kept repeating the mantra in my mind, “one breath at a time, one day at a time” and actually managed to get some sleep. I was pretty relieved the next day when my orthopedic surgeon said I could go non-surgical.
Fortunately I own a home-based business so commuting was not a problem and I could service my customers on the phone and through the Internet. My wife has been a huge help, driving me around and assisting me especially early on. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been without her. Crutches weren’t too tough for me to master including going up and down stairs. I was able to attach bags to them so I could carry stuff.
I actually look forward to PT. I have an awesome therapist and everyone in the place has a great sense of humor. We’re always cracking jokes and some of the stuff he has me do is even kinda fun. Of course seeing myself being able to do more and more is a great reward.
Still I have been missing out on a few things. I have a 1-1/2 year old German shepherd that I was training for AKC obedience competition and I had to put that on hold. She is a real ball of energy and I’m fortunate enough to have a big enough back yard to wear her out playing Frisbee. Maybe by the time, I’m ready to get back to training her, her energy level will be at the right range were she can actually slow down enough to pay attention to me. I was also looking forward to getting a new 370 HP Dodge Charger but I wanted to wait until I put another 5,000 miles on my current car. I’m able to drive now, but it will be a while before I can make a couple of round trips to California. Still, I’m sure I’ll be able to find a car dealer that can sell me one when the time comes.
Having just about transitioned to 2 shoes, I’m really fortunate that it looks like I’ll be able to enjoy boating season. And I think I’ll be able to make a few White Sox games. I just hope they’ll keep playing as well as they have been so far.
I have to say, I really haven’t had many down days because of the ATR. I’m not really sure why except that I have a firm belief that this will get better and that all it takes is a few months. The most important thing is to discipline yourself to do what you need to do and especially discipline your mind to keep your attitude positive.
Friday was my 16th PT session and nothing new was introduced. I did find out what I am doing as far as weight equivalent on the single leg, leg press: 170 lbs. and the single leg calf raise: 50 lbs. In looking back at my blog entries, I noticed that I did mention the side-stepping exercise. Sometime after the 11th session, my therapist decided that was too easy. He took a red Thera- Band and tied the 2 ends together to form a loop He then had me put my ankles through the loop and side-step down the length of a 100 ft. hall way and come back. This is usually my last exercise of the session and by the time I make it down the hall, I’m never sure I will be able to make it back.
I made it past another milestone today. I decided to try taking a walk outside in 2 shoes. My goal was to make a half block and come back. When I got to the half block point, I figured I could go for a whole block. I made it to the end, turned around and most importantly, I made it back! Whoopie! While my walking form was pretty good starting out, I have to admit it got a little sloppy at the end. It seems so hard to believe that before the ATR I could walk miles with no trouble but now even a quarter mile (400 meters for my brothers and sisters on the metric system) is a challenge. Still it’s a quarter mile more than I was doing 15 weeks ago.
Wednesday was my 15th physical therapy session. I’ve just about maxed out the leg press machine with 7of 8 elastic bands. Unfortunately, I had little progress with the calf raises since the last session. It is a stubborn muscle to train. We did increase the intensity of the stepping and balance exercises. At the end of the session, my therapist introduced me to the Bosu Ball. It is an inflated rubber hemispherical device about 2 feet in diameter. The purpose of it is to help build your balance and strength. While I didn’t master it in my first session, it does not seem to be as impossible as it looks at first glance. I’m going to be looking forward to playing with it some more. The good news of the day is that I’ve been cleared to walk outside on sidewalks provided I don’t put myself in a position to get tripped up. That means no walking the dogs for a while yet.
For the last week or so, I’ve been able to celebrate some small victories. Not only am I walking at home in 2 shoes and able to drive, I finally ditched the boot while sleeping. It feels so good not to have that boat anchor around my leg when I’m in bed. My doctor said I could have done it weeks ago but I toss and turn a lot at night and felt vulnerable without it. I also ditched my compression sock a few days ago. Once again the doctor said I could have done it weeks ago but I didn’t want to see my foot and leg blowing up like a balloon. Last week I was able to dig out a dwarf spruce tree (while in my boot) that died just before winter and replaced it with an arborvitae. My ultimate goals of running with my dogs, dancing with my wife, squatting 300 lbs. and just jumping up and down like a lunatic are still off in the distance but I’m getting closer. It feels great to think that I am really starting to win this battle.
I had my 14th physical therapy session yesterday and in addition to upping the weight on the leg press and calf raises, my therapist added a few more dorsiflexion stretching exercises. One is a standing exercise in front of a wall
In another I alternate standing on one foot and bouncing the other foot off a miniature trampoline propped up at a 45 degree angle. A third exercise has me stepping on to and over some steps. My therapist did say that he was going to request more sessions for me beyond the 4 that the insurance company recently approved.
The big news is: (drum roll) I have been cleared to walk up and down stairs at home in 2 shoes, although I have to do them 1 step at a time. So when I got home yesterday. I took off my boot, put on my other shoes and proceeded to walk around while carrying stuff up and down stairs. It scared the hell out of me. LOL It was a little different from my previous walking on a flat surface doing nothing but concentrating on my walk.
In addition, I can no longer keep my 1-1/2 year-old German shepherd, Flair, at a safe distance. I believe she is powered by a nuclear generator and has only 2 speeds, zero and 1,000 MPH and she is rarely at zero. Plus being a herding dog, if she detects from me just one twitch of a muscle, she thinks it is a call that I need to be herded outside so we can play. And if that’s not bad enough, just to make things more challenging for me, she likes to place ISD’s (Improvised Slipping Devices), such as a bone on a tile floor, in my path.
I can see this walking thing is gonna take some time to get used to.