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It’s been about a year since I ruptured my ATR and thought I’d drop by and give a quick report.

I went nonsurgical and the tendon has completely heeled. I’m able to walk and run without a hint of a limp and there is a real spring in my step while going up and down stairs. It seems like it took enough time for the limp to completely go. Up until about 2 months ago I was still noticing myself short-stepping a bit.

I’ve been hitting the gym three times a week and using both seated and straight-leg machines to work out my calf. Progress on rebuilding my calf muscle has been excruciatingly slow but steady. I still have about a 1 inch difference in circumference between my calf muscles. I still can’t do a single-leg calf raise on the injured leg but fortunately, there isn’t much real-world need for me to do one. I did have a bit of a set back when I overdid it on a leg curl machine tearing my glutes a few months ago. Talk about a pain in the ass. I kept re-injuring it doing stupid stuff and it is finally back in shape.

At 60 years old, I wasn’t really into playing sports anymore so I guess you could say my performance is about back to where it was before the injury.

I hope this give some encouragement to those of you new to this. Things look pretty bleak at the beginning but with patience and discipline, you will recover.

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Friday marked my last physical therapy session. Some how I hoped that my therapist and I would spend it sipping frozen margaritas and joking about all the fun we had over the past several months. Was I wrong. He worked me like a rented mule just as he always had. I have to admit though that I didn’t push myself quite as much as I had in the previous sessions. I didn’t want to run the risk of hurting myself on my last visit. He had me going through pretty much the same exercises he had me do over the previous session, although he did introduce another one. It was rapid stepping on and off a short step which kinda reminded me of Irish step dancing.

In thinking about it, I believe the therapy ended at just about the right time. My limp for the most part is gone. I’m walking at my normal speed and able to do side steps and pivots with no problem. While I can run at a jogging pace, I haven’t tried running at a sprint but I really have no need to. Since that’s what led to my ATR, I’m in no hurry to try it. About all that’s left for me to do yet is to continue to build my calf back up.

Last week I achieved my last functional goal by pulling up to the fueling dock in my boat and hopping off of it to secure it to the dock. Prior to getting the boat underway, I did some practice jumping on and off the boat while it was still tied to my dock. I thought about doing it in my boot but quickly discarded that idea when I felt I was more likely to break my neck in the boot rather than re-rupture my tendon. I have to say, that it was the best docking I had ever done in all my years of boating.

This will probably be my last blog entry for a while. I have been so fortunate to have come across this blog and the people that participate in it. You all have been so helpful in my recovery. I also have to thank my primary care physician for seeing me when I rolled into his office after rupturing my tendon in the office’s parking lot and of course my orthopedic surgeon for encouraging me to go non-op. I am especially grateful to my wife for being my personal servant and running the household in those first few weeks even though she had just gotten over foot surgery. And I want to give special thanks to my regular therapist, Jerome along with all the other therapists including Janet, Joy, Jo and Katherine at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Services who worked with me during my rehab. Not only were they great at what they do, they were really good people to be around.

I’ll keep active in the blog and offer whatever thoughts I can to those of you still in the struggle to recover. It’s a long tough road and we have to persevere.

I often had Matthew Wilder’s song, “Break My Stride” going through my head as I worked on my recovery, Now if I could only make the moves those dancers execute in the video, even if it’s not in 4″ stiletto heels. LOL

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Physical therapy session 27 today started out with the usual warm ups then proceeded to the short jumping and running in place that I did the last session. My therapist then had me do a series of lunges but using only the balls of my feet. I also did some rapid step-ups and step-downs from both the front and the side. When that was done, I asked him when I could do some running and he said, “How about right now?” To which I responded “Yes!” He took me over to the treadmill and had me do 4 minutes at a fast walk, then told me to boost the speed up to where I could do a comfortable run for another 4 minutes and finally to cool down for 2 minutes. After 4 minutes of walking, I increased the speed of the treadmill to 3.3 MPH and started running. Damn, that felt great! There was no pain in the tendon but I was surprised about the burn in my hip muscles. But who cares about the pain? I was running again! After 4 minutes of running, time for the 2 minute cool down. The rest of the day has been spent on “cloud 9.” In February when I ruptured my tendon, this day felt so far away and now it is here. I have one more PT session 2 weeks from today and I’ve got to start planning what I am going to do to celebrate.

I decided a couple of weeks ago that I could not equip my home with all the equipment I need for my ultimate rehab and started back at the gym. Their treadmills are way better than anything I would consider buying and they have a great variety of equipment for exercising not only the calf but the rest of my leg and body as well. One main piece of equipment they have is a seated leg press machine. Since I still can’t do a single-leg heel raise, it allows me to do the exercise with a weight less than my full body weight. After just a week of working with the seated leg press machine, I feel that I am already getting close to a single-leg calf raise. Another benefit of being at the gym is that it feels inspiring to be among others who are striving to improve their level of fitness.

I was finally able to go out on my boat a few days ago. The skies were clear with virtually no wind but the temperature was in the 90’s which made it a bit unpleasant. My wife and I took a short cruise to a nearby bay where we had lunch. I had my boot on as we shoved off but the water was so calm, I decided to take it off on the way back to the marina. Coming into the slip for the first time every season is a real adventure but I nailed the landing. When I ruptured my tendon, I was really worried that this day might not come this season. But things couldn’t have gone better. My next challenge will be pulling up to the fuel dock the next time out and being able to hop out of the boat to secure it to the dock. In case any of you were wondering how I got my screen name, when my wife and I were thinking of a name for the boat, we wanted to come up with something that combined our love of German shepherds and Star Trek. And yes that is a German shepherd in front of the boat’s name with a space helmet and warp nacelles strapped to its back. When I’m out on the lake, people keep flashing me the Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” sign. LOL

StarShep Boat

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Friday was my 26th session and with only 2 sessions remaining, we decided to space them out to one every 2 weeks. We are now concentrating on getting me to the point of being able to start jogging. With that in mind, my therapist had me doing 10 minutes on the treadmill at a speed of 3.8 miles per hour. This was about as fast as I could go and still maintain good walking mechanics. He also introduced 2 new exercises. In the first, I rapidly jumped up and down using only the front portion of my feet, while keeping my knees from flexing. In the second exercise, I ran in place lifting my feet only a few inches off the ground. At first it felt pretty weird but I quickly got used to it. It really makes me feel that I’m almost back even though I do have a way to go yet.

Right now, I’m considering getting a used treadmill, anybody got any tips as to what to look for?

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I had another new therapist at yesterday’s session and I think she heard about Kimjax nominating my regular therapist for the “Most Creative” award because she came up with a few new ones. For the warm up she had me alternate riding the stationary bike for 30 seconds standing and 30 seconds sitting. She then had me step on and off a platform with just my toes and balls of my feet on the platform for 4 sets of 30 seconds each. Next came standing on my bad foot and reaching to tap the top of a 3′ high foam pillar set about 4 feet in front of me with a 1 lb. dumbbell, then reaching down to tap the bottom for 4 sets of 10 taps each. At the end of the session she had me doing walking lunges which reminded me of Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” skit.

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My 24th physical therapy session was Friday and with only 4 more sessions left, we decided to decrease the frequency from twice to once per week. This will allow me to spend more time at home building strength while we concentrate on balance and skill exercises at physical therapy. After the usual warm-up and stretching, my therapist increased the weight on the leg press machine for the one legged hops. He then had me do step over lunges using the Bosu ball. Next he had me balance on my ATR foot on the top of the Bosu ball for 10 seconds with 10 reps. I then did some exercises on the wobble board with 10 lbs of weight attached to it. After that, it was side stepping with a green Thera-Band around my ankle for 200 feet in each direction.

Once that was done came the inevitable question, “Would you like to do more?” to which I automatically respond, “I’d like do more.” So he put a board in front of me that was mounted on some stiff pads. He then told me to do 2 sets of 10 vertical leaps with my feet coming a few inches off the board. I thought to myself that I’m really in trouble now. Still I took a deep breath and did it. It turned out to be neither that scary nor that difficult. Towards the end I was trying to keep myself from jumping too high.

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Tuesday marked my 23rd physical therapy session. I started the session by mentioning to my therapist that I am still coming down a bit short when stepping forward with my good foot causing a limping action. He observed me walking and thinks it’s due to a weakness in my hip muscles. So after completing the same exercises from the last session at a higher intensity ( warm-ups, stretching, one legged hopping on the leg press machine, the Fitter), he added 5 minutes of walking sideways on the treadmill. Then he had me do a new balance exercise. I had to stand on my ATR foot with my good foot raised off the ground, toss a 1 lb. ball into a small trampoline mounted in a slant against a wall and then catch it. Damn, that was hard. I think I only managed a couple of tosses at a time before I had to bring my good foot down to regain my balance. I wonder if Verlander got his start this way. LOL

I finally got up to the boat Sunday to clean it up for the season. I was concerned about being able to take off and put on the full mooring cover and safely to get in and out of it, but I managed without much of a problem. Next will be to take it out of the slip and drive it around.

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I had my 22nd therapy session on Friday and it was with my usual therapist. Since I have 6 more sessions left, we discussed what we yet need to accomplish. I told him my biggest goal was to at least be able to jog or trot. So after the usual warm ups, he came up with a few new exercises.

First came a new combination with the Bosu Ball. It was similar to the step-over from my last session but instead of landing on the ground with the foot I stepped over with, I did a lunge at a small trampoline that was raised off the floor and tilted.

After that, using the spring loaded leg press machine, the therapist had me sorta hop up with my ATR foot and land back down on it. The machine was loaded with the band equivalent of 45 lbs.

Then he had me do some exercises with a new machine, the Fitter. I placed my ATR foot on the center which is platform on a track loaded by bungee cords. The other foot stays on the stationary end of the device. I then got into a squat and pushed off to the side with my ATR leg.

Finally I did more side steps with the Thera-band strap around my ankles but this time with a much stronger band. I hate this exercise. It really wears me out big time but I know it is good for me.

Yesterday I got a summary of charges that my insurance has paid out. One of the most shocking charges were for my Ossur CAM boot. I have seen them online for less than $70 including tax and shipping. The thieves I got mine from, charged the insurance company $411! Whenever the government talks about health care reform, why don’t they mention anything about putting the scam artists in jail who send these outrageous bills to the insurance companies and ultimately pass the charges on to us in the form of ludicrous premiums?

Finally got up to the boat today to clean it up for the season. I was concerned about being able to take off and put on the full mooring cover off of it and safely get in and out of it but I managed without much of a problem. Next will be to take it out of the slip and drive it around.

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My 21st physical therapy session was Tuesday. My usual therapist was not available so I got one that I had before. She made the mistake of asking me what Jerome (my usual therapist) has me do first. I told her that Jerome gets me a Daiquiri and lets me spend the rest of the session sipping it in the lounge. She didn’t buy it. :( The session consisted of the usual warm up, strengthening and balance exercises. My therapist did introduce a new Bosu Ball exercise. I had to stand on the Bosu Ball with my ATR leg and my good leg on the ground behind me. I then had to step over the Bosu Ball with my good leg then step back over it. All this while not holding on to anything for balance. At first I didn’t think I could do it but it turns out that it wasn’t that difficult.

The next day came another real-world challenge for me. My wife and I went to a White Sox game. I knew even with the handicap parking permit, I would have the longest walk without a rest that I had ever done since my ATR. In addition, I would have to dodge the crowds coming at me and walk fast enough so I wouldn’t get run over by the crowds behind me. Just a day or so before, I noticed I was walking at a much more brisk pace with a real spring in my step. So much so that when I got out of the car, I purposely walked a little sloppy so that people wouldn’t think I was faking the handicap permit. I managed to get to walk around the concourse picking up food and beverages and get to our seats (which were in the upper deck) with no problem. Thankfully there are escalators. When I got home, I didn’t notice much swelling either. Best part of all though was getting to see the White Sox win in 10 innings with a walk off hit from Kevin Youkilis. Thank you Boston. It was a lot of fun to cheer “Youk.”

Next real world test comes next week when I take the boat out, weather and time permitting.

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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.

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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.

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