8 weeks post op = FWB (officially)

Do I tell him that I’ve been “cheating” or don’t I?

That was the question on my mind this morning as I went to my ortho for a checkup. At my last appt (almost 3 weeks ago), he told me I was okay for PWB. About 10 days ago, I started walking around FWB on my own without pain… however, with the accompanying stare from my lovely wife which meant “Be careful bucko”. I fit into both shoes just fine. The worst pain I felt was in my heel if I walked shoeless on a hardwood floor. I guess the bottom of my foot just isn’t used to all that pressure yet.

So I was pondering telling my ortho this morning that I had moved myself to FWB. When I did tell him, he didn’t seem surprised. I am officially off crutches and bootless. I can start physical therapy as soon as I pick one. The doc says I probably won’t even need much therapy since I’ve already got a modest range of motion.

Thanks to all on this site for posting your stories and comments. Those have made the last 8 weeks much more bearable than I could have imagined.

Cast off early… Woo Hoo!!

I’m now just over 4 weeks post-op. A few days ago, my foot started swelling more than “normal” when it wasn’t elevated. This was a problem because, well, a hard cast just isn’t flexible. By the end of the day, my foot looked like it had 5 very plump Lil Smokies hanging off the end. I checked for a fever (none) and any other signs of infection. Monday morning came, and I followed my wife’s orders and called the doc. Thankfully, they had an opening.
The nurse looked at my foot (still in the cast) and said those words I had been longing to hear… “Let’s get that cast off and take a look.” She left for a moment and came back with a giant vacuum cleaner which had a 3 inch table saw blade on the end.
I said, “Before we get started, please explain to me how that is NOT going to cut me.”
She said, “I’ll do better than that. I’ll show you.”
Then she turned the machine on and held the spinning blade against her hand. No cut. No problem. 3 minutes later, the cast was off.
Thankfully, everything is fine. I just have some unexplained swelling. No bruising, no red lines, and the incision looks good. My doc gave me a wedge and told me to wear my boot (which was waiting at home), but NO weight bearing just yet. That will start in two weeks.
So I went home and excitedly tried to put my foot in the boot along with the wedge. I had no idea how hard that was going to be. I put the wedge in and then put my foot in the boot.
I had not anticipated the pain/tension of trying to flex my foot that far. So I doubled the wedge, and by the end of the day, my foot was comfortably sitting in the boot. I don’t know how sleeping will go tonight. The big question is “Boot on, or boot off?” We’ll see.
Right now I’m just excited that I can:
1. Take a normal shower
2. Work out again (see #1)
3. Take off the boot and relax my foot

It’s been a very good day.

Jim Morrison was wrong

A few weeks ago, I posted about an episode I experienced with a less-than-friendly co-worker. That post received more comments than any of my previous or subsequent posts. I could choose to believe the reason was exceptional writing on my part, but I’m smarter than that. It’s more probable that many of you have had similarly bad experiences.

However, we are quickly approaching Christmas time. Tidings of great joy. Season of giving. Good cheer. Christ the Savior is born.

So, I want to post again asking you to share some stories of when people went out of their way to help you. I’ll start with two.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Subway for lunch. As I entered the shop, I noticed two rather gruff trucker-type dudes sitting at a table devouring their sandwiches. I ordered my sandwich, and turned to leave. One of the truckers got up, puffed out his chest, and slowly strode to the door. Much to my surprise, he had gotten up just to open the door for me. Rough exterior, big heart.

Tonight, I attended a high school basketball game. At half-time, I left the building and went to my car for a minute. On my way out, I passed two students sitting in the hallway close to the exit doors. When I returned from my car, one of those same students saw me coming back in and got up to open the door. They had seen me coming through the window.

When you’re crutching your way around the world, it’s easy to catch people being nice. And it often comes from some of the most unlikely places.

Dear Kenny Loggins, my foot is loose

This post is a comment/question for all those out there who have started or completed physical therapy after an ATR. I spoke with a friend of mine this week who is a physical therapist. He told me that when the time comes for physical therapy, follow the doctors orders and don’t overdo it. He has seen 2 people in the last year who have over-extended their Achilles during their physical therapy, and now the tendon is “over-stretched”. Those people actually had to go back and have surgery again to tighten up the Achilles again.

Have you been warned about this? I’m roughly 4 weeks away from PWB and the beginning of PT. I’m just trying to get my head around what to expect. PT will be my personal Christmas present.

This looks GOOD?!?!? (aka Doctors are an interesting breed)

Had my first post-op visit yesterday. I’ve never looked forward to a doc visit so much. Three things I wanted to do:
1. Feel air on my leg again. I’d been in a splint up to my knee for two weeks.
2. Attempt to move my foot.
3. Ask a list of questions I had compiled in the two weeks since my surgery.

I arrived at the doc’s office. The nurse removed the splint (more like peeled it off my leg). Ah, sweet relief! The feeling of fresh air on my leg was awesome. Then she removes the sutures and leaves. For the next few minutes, I investigated. Wow, is it still swollen around the ankle. I’ve got a 3-4 inch incision starting just above the base and slightly to the inner portion of my ankle.

So I start to wiggle my foot (as much as I could). I was able to raise it about 1 inch. Not much, but at least I wasn’t like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol 1. (”Wiggle your big toe.”)
Next, my doc comes in, and say “This looks GOOD.” I think he’s crazy, but I’m ready to have my questions answered. Here’s my prognosis.
- My right is no more/less likely to bust now that my left has.
- I’ll be a full cast (knee to toes) for another month. It will be off in time for Christmas.
- After that, we begin a walking boot (with wedges) and physical therapy.
- Increasing my protein intake will help my recovery.
- There is no medical evidence that increasing my glucosamine and chondroitin intake will aide in recovery or prevent future injury.

One comment about the likelihood of me blowing my right leg…
He said it was a force issue. My foot was in position A, my knee in position B, and when my calf muscle fired, the Achilles blew. Now, I’m an engineer, and I like numbers. So I tell him that I have competing statistics. I’m just as likely to blow the right as I was the left, but the chances of me blowing the right are minimal (he’s never seen a bilateral Achilles tear). To resolve this conundrum, I’m comparing this to “winning” the lottery. My chances are low to win it once. But if I do, it does not increase or lessen my chances of “winning” again. This is the only thing that helps me while I’m hopping around on crutches, fearing that I’ll tear up my good leg.

So now I’m in a nice blue cast. I asked if they had a “Twilight” theme … for my girls. They did not.
My wonderful wife tried to get the nurse to give me a pink one. I nixed that. :-)

Jim Morrison was right

People are strange.

Sometimes it’s a look, and sometimes it’s a comment.

I’ve found that, most of the time, people are willing to help someone on crutches. Or at least they will offer an encouraging word. But then there are those occassional idiots.

Today at work, I heard two people say “He’s just milking it.” Right. I was crutching my way to the bathroom. I’m def milking it. Geez. I’m sure they were kidding, but my opinion was probably colored by this next coup de grace. I work in a shirt-n-tie office (except for summer and casual Friday). Prior to my surgery, I got permission to dress business casual while on crutches (for comfort). I was even told I could wear nice sweat pants to fit over my heavily wrapped splint. Anyway, while on my way to the kitchen to get coffee (a.k.a. “milking it”) I was stopped by a co-worker who proceeded to cuss at me for dressing business casual (no sweats tyvm) while he has to wear a tie.

“Do you need you leg to tie a tie? Why are you so (bleep)-ing special? I’m calling HR.”

I thought he was joking… until the next comment a few minutes later when he came in the kitchen to solidify his point.

“I’m sorry, but that’s just (bleep)-ing ridiculous that you get to dress however you want.”

Well good morning to you Mr. Happy. I thought the whole thing was odd, until the end of the day when I asked one of the girls from HR, “Did anyone complain about me wearing business casual today?” Sure enough, Mr. Happy had complained. Thankfully, my HR director had responded with “Tell [Mr. Happy] to go bust his Achilles and then come talk to me.”

Point is, I never imagined that when you have this kind of injury you have to put on your “tough skin” to deal with people’s attitudes. I’d love to hear your stories of people’s weird reactions to your ATR injury.

1st day back to work

The first day post-op, everything was new. I had to plan how to move from room to room, get myself set up on the couch so I could last long periods of time without asking my family for various things - you get the drift.

That was Saturday. Today is Monday. First day back to work, and all was new again.

Driving to work wasn’t too bad. Using crutches and carrying my laptop almost cost me my laptop. I had to rearrange my desk so I could keep my leg elevated. There were of course the endless questions, but I work with a great bunch of people. They were very helpful. Had to plan out bathroom breaks and trips around the office. I need to find a better chair that reclines and has some kind of lumbar support. (My back was killing me today.) However, the leg pain has been very easy to manage. I ditched the Oxycodone after the first day, and I didn’t even take Advil today.

Three things I learned today:

1. Take the armpit pads off the crutches. This makes them slimmer and reduces the rubbing. You should be using your arms instead of your armpits for support anyways.

2. Boxers, not briefs. Much easier. Nuff said.

3. Cover your toes with a sock or something else. People outside your immediate family don’t like to see them. Truth be told, neither does your family.


My wife and I just got back from the orthopedic equipment store. I bought a stool to sit on while taking a shower. Also bought a pouch to hang on the front of the walker that I’m borrowing from my 70+ year old father (who doesn’t need it any more). I’m finding it easier to use the walker instead of crutches, but I look hilarious (according to my kids). I’m barely resisting the urge to make a fashion statement by adding some brightly colored tennis balls to the back feet of the walker. We saw some at the store with a leopard print on them. That’s just awesome.

And so it begins

The good thing is, I wasn’t doing anything stupid.

I am 41 years old. I exercise 5 times a week, am in pretty good shape, and I love all kinds of sporting activities. On Nov 4, 2009 I was playing a lunchtime game of wallyball at work. (Yeah, we have a racquetball court at work, along with a full exercise gym… pretty sweet!) I stepped back to set the ball to my partner and BOOM! I felt an explosion of pain at the back of my left ankle. I immediately knew what had happened.

After things settled down, I showered and drove myself to my primary care doctor. They performed the Thompson test.  My doc immediately got me an appt with an orthopedist that afternoon. I left and drove to the ortho. He confirmed the diagnosis - a ruptured Achilles. They scheduled me for surgery two days later.

If you’re like me, you grew up thinking that a blown Achilles was one of the most painful and terrible sports injuries you could ever have. Yes, the initial pain was intense (a searing explosion… like someone had popped a balloon of hot lava in my heel). But after a few minutes, it wasn’t so bad. Felt like a mild cramp. I could walk, but I couldn’t control my left foot. It was a very strange feeling.

The surgery was a success. They did a sciatic nerve block and then put me under full anesthesia. I must say, the nerve block was the most uncomfortable part of the entire procedure. But the whole thing went pretty quickly. I am now in a splint which keeps my foot angled down slightly. I can feel the splint is anterior and posterior, with openings on both sides. It’s wrapped up to my knee. I’ve got a prescription for Oxycodone for pain.

I know this is the beginning of a long journey. The worst part right now is the frustration of relative immobility. Before the injury, I could sit on the couch and watch a football game or movie without getting up for an hour or more… no problem. But now, sitting here knowing that it’s a struggle to move around is very frustrating - and it’s only the second day! This will be a time of God teaching me to be dependant on Him and others. Sigh, probably a good lesson for me to learn.

I’ve never blogged or journaled before, so we’ll see how regularly I update this thing. I’m looking forward to hearing your stories of struggle and success with this type of injury.

Blessings to you.