just found this site!

Hi everyone, I ruptured my left Achilles tendon on 4/11 trying to play basketball. I wish that I could say I was doing a reverse lay-up, slam dunk or something cool. I don’t quite know what happened, I believe I simply lost my footing and was trying to recover. I could have sworn somebody kicked me in the back of the leg. Like so many other blogs I’ve read, when I turned around to look, no one was there…I had a similar pain when I was young and figured it was just a calf strain. Initially, the pain was absolutely terrible; I really thought I broke my ankle because of the immediate pain and swelling. Eventually, I was able to sit myself down and watch them play for another hour. To further complicate matters, I rode my motorcycle there and was determined to get it home. I don’t know how I did it, the pain when shifting was excruciating, but I made it home…somehow. Stupid.

I spend the next week limping and taking Tylenol after Tylenol. The worst was when I woke up in the morning. When I tried standing up, the pain was agonizing. I would cringe in pain for at least 30 minutes while trying to get ready for work…it was awful. Finally, after over a week, my wife made me see our family doctor. He felt my calf and it was indeed pretty badly swollen. He also held the ball of my foot and told me to push down with my toes…nothing; I simply had absolutely no strength to push. He told me this is extremely worrisome and scheduled a MRI the following week. After finagling with my insurance company and $700 later I had my MRI. I received the results the following Monday and my family doctor told me that it was a partial rupture of the membrane surrounding the Achilles tendon. This now was beyond his ability and he scheduled an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.

I finally met up with my orthopedic doctor, he was a very serious guy, but from what I’ve heard, he is good. He felt the calf and the area around the tendon and then told me to try to push downward with my toes, again…nothing. Then the moment of truth, he said I have a FULL rupture of the tendon and the gap is about 1.5cm. The rupture itself is actually right where the tendon meets the calf, which he said is unusual. He explained to me my options, but said that being young, I really need the surgery so I can ‘enjoy’ the rest of my life without limitations. Well, I agreed and scheduled the surgery for 2 days later.

The surgery was scheduled for 6:30am 4/22 and this being my first surgery, I got virtually no sleep the previous night. The surgery actually was MUCH easier than I imagined. The nurses treated me like a king and I had so many drugs in me I felt practically nothing before and after the surgery. The worst part was when they were injecting the nerve blocker, my leg would involuntarily flex up and down and with a bad ankle, it didn’t feel very good. That is the last thing I remember before waking up post surgery and seeing my wife standing there. The nurses monitored me for about an hour after the surgery and then I was ready to go home for an exciting day of laying on my recliner…

It has been 8 days since surgery on my Achilles tendon. They put me in a splint and wrapped it. I didn’t feel very ‘safe’ with this and was scared to death of my wife accidentally kicking me in bed. My ankle was completely numb the first day because of the nerve blocker they injected. I was finding that I was dragging my foot when I had to use the bathroom because I couldn’t even feel it. However, at about 2am here comes the pain. Oh my God, I was cringing (and shaking) because it literally felt like a knife was stuck in my heel. I took Percocet after Percocet (staggering it every 3-4 hours) finally, at around 8am the pain was subsiding and I pretty much slept the ENTIRE day.

I returned to work the following Monday. I now feel that I returned to work way too early, but money is tight and I simply cannot afford to not work when my wife is in school. Needless to say, the swelling progressively got worse as the workdays wore on. I was eventually forced to see the doctor because the swelling would cause my toes to go numb. On the bright side, the doctor was able to look at my foot. He didn’t have much to say, but nothing out of the ordinary and the staples looked good. They now put on a hard cast and re-scheduled my follow-up appointment for 2 weeks. This cast feels MUCH better than what I had before and my leg feels much better protected.

I’m still in waiting mode, the doctor I feel is very conservative and I don’t imagine him removing the cast or letting me put any weight on my foot for at least 10 weeks. All can say is what a demoralizing injury. You literally cannot do ANYTHING by yourself and if you do try to fix yourself food or even use the bathroom, you are EXHAUSTED. The time and effort to do even simple tasks is just ridiculous and frustrating to say the least. I am able to clean myself up, while balancing on my good foot. I use body wash and just rinse off the soap with a wet washcloth. I believe they do have soap that does not require rinsing, but I have to check into that. I just don’t feel it is worth wrapping my cast and risking falling to take a shower and I DO feel pretty clean after ‘bathing’ myself and rinsing well.

It is the weekend and I am bored silly, I actually look forward to work the help the time pass, at least I’m earning money and being productive. Today, I decided to go out to eat with my wife and almost fell on our wet porch when one of my crutches slid from under me… Man that was scary; I really have to just suck this up and stay home when I don’t have to go to work…

6 Responses to “just found this site!”

  1. be careful with crutches, learn how to use it while in safe place. Be extreme at stairs. Do it slowly. No one will give you medal for speed anyway.
    At 4 weeks you might start PWB, but you have to be in the boot for this.
    Get info about modern protocols from Norman page and check with your doctor.
    10 weeks in the cast while you have to work will be hard, but possible.
    Good part is that your right foot is Ok and you can drive a car.
    Don’t give up - from now on you’ll get better and better. Every day you’ll get some improvement even small one counts ;-)
    You may check for my progress recovery videos too.

  2. Hi, and welcome! You know it makes me cringe when i read stories like yours - the idea of struggling through 10 / 11 days before proper diagnosis and the right treatment is just mind blowing. The pain must have been intense.

    I know what you mean about keeping yourself clean! It’s bad enough to have to sit around with one’s leg up in the air, but to be unable to bathe properly just adds to the frustration. I got a routine together fairly early, based on levering myself into the bath from a chair placed next to it. I wrap a towel around the top of my cast, and then put the whole of my lower leg into a swing bin bag - the type with ‘bunny ear’ ties! I tie that around the towel, and can then swing into the bath with my leg resting on the side. Obviously, my injured leg doesn’t go in the bath, but the towel / bag prevent any accidental splashes. When done, i lever myself back onto the chair to dry myself sitting down. Works for me!

    Good luck - hope the recovery goes smoothly.

    daviduk

  3. I used a hose spray to wash. Sit in the tub. Dangle the cast outside the tub, cover with the shower curtain, and the cast will stay dry. You can soap up and rinse using the hose spray. Finish by using a face towel to wash/rinse around the cast.

    Lou

  4. Welcome to the journey. Life will improve immeasurably as soon as you can get out of the cast and into a flexible boot. I did not have surgery, was in a fiberglass cast for 3 weeks, then into a VacoCast (a wonderful device I strongly commend to you). Had I left it up to the doc, cast would have been on for 6-8 weeks, then a much less effective boot.

    I remember those first depressing days of immobility quite vividly. Thankfully, they passed quickly as I gained knowledge of the process and took charge of my recovery.

    As to bathing, I put a garbage bag up over the cast, sealed it with “peel and seel”; crutched to the shower; propped my cast on a seat in the shower and quickly washed and rinsed. No picnic but worked for me. Once in the boot it was a piece of cake since it enables PWB right away.

    All best wishes.

  5. +1 to all of that! See if you can get a plan, or a road map, from your Docs, preferably on paper. Don’t let them treat you like a kid, or an object on an assembly line! Then compare theirs to the one I posted that’s been tested in a randomized study. And ask if theirs has ever been scientifically tested in a real study.

    “Mine” will get you off those scary crutches much sooner, and it’s been proven to produce good strength and ROM with a very low re-rupture rate (1 total out of 70-odd after surgery, and 2 total out of 70-odd after non-op immobilization). That was with PWB after TWO weeks, and Full WB “as tolerated” at FOUR. Other studies (linked on the main page here) have found that relatively prompt WB produces better AT results than lots of NWB — not to mention the falling risk and the rest of your life!!

    I still remember the one time a crutch slid out on me while I was NWB — SCARY! Mine was on a wet wooden floor at a friend’s house, invited over for dinner. No harm done, fortunately. Just like walking on slippery surfaces in shoes, there are some adjustments you can make on crutches that decrease your risk when it might be slick. Keep your crutches close to your CoGravity, take smaller slower steps, that sort of thing.

    And get permission to move (in a boot!) to PWB and FWB ASAP. That’s not the end of all risk of falling and hurting yourself, but it’s usually a lot safer than crutching.

  6. Hi,

    I can really empathise with quite a few of your experiences. Crutches on a wet floor - been there when stupidly trying to show how capable I could be by washing up. Water and stone are not a great mix. How you managed to put up with a week at the start though is impressive - you sound like you have a huge capacity to get on with things and that should stand you in good stead for the weeks ahead.

    The other respondees have already given great tips but something to share that I found really useful when bathing was a “Seal-Tight” cast protector, plastic seat and suction handles for use in the shower. The cast protector (there are quite a few around) is in effect a clear durable plastic ‘bag’ with a rubber seal that you put your leg through and fits up over your leg and cast. It does appear a bit like a giant condom but then who’s looking? It is re-useable and a lot easier than wrapping a bag around each time.

    I still had to manage navigating into the shower cubicle and the suction handles were great at providing secure handholds once off crutches. It took a little experimenting on the best place to locate them but they have made moving around to get under the shower so much easier. I also found that a brolly stand placed next to the cubicle was a great place to store my crutches so they could stay dry for safe movement when I got out. Having endured a couple of days in the bath with my leg over the side, the chance to have a whole body immersion without rolling like a beached whale was fantastic.

    Much of the recovery is encountering your own vulnerabilities and confidence, and learning just what you can achieve. I have found that, just as Mikek753 says, everyday there are little things that you can take as positives.

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