strengthinumbers’ AchillesBlog

My Nephew’s Name is Achilles, Irony?
April 5, 2011, 11:54 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I’m not sure if it’s ironic, funny, or just plain weird that my 1 year old nephew is named Achilles.

I limped into the ER with more fear than pain coursing through my veins. The obligatory X-ray was taken, along with my blood pressure 3 times, and then a 2 minute consultation from the doctor relieved me (temporarily) of my terrified mental state. My leg was swelling up like a balloon, but the prognosis was a ruptured PLANTARIS tendon. 2-3 weeks and the doc assured me I would be back to rattling the rim with stupefying dunks. 10 days passed, and I didn’t really see any improvement, except for the fact that the swelling had gone down a bit.

Since I was under the impression that it was a minor injury that would heal itself, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t in tremendous pain (just a dull underlying pain, and severe weakness in pushing off and the inability to stand on my toes) I did what every normal person would do and went snowboarding. It wasn’t exactly the best time I’ve had on the snow but I managed some good runs and didn’t come out on the other side any worse for wear.

I kept icing every day and the swelling gradually went away. I still wasn’t able to stand on my toes but driving was fine (pressing the gas and the brake) and I was limping around without any pain. The next weekend I went on a 10 mile hike/trail run followed by more snowboarding. This was a better time, but I still couldn’t manipulate my stride or my board for that matter the way I was used to.

More weekends went by filled with hiking in the snow, camping etc. As the swelling went down, I noticed a big gap in my Achilles. That terrified feeling didn’t just creep back into my stomach, it landed with a painful thud. I got online and sure enough, my symptoms aligned with that of a ruptured Achilles tendon. Still, I wasn’t quite sure why I was able to do all of the things I had done in the past few weeks. Granted I wasn’t doing them at full capacity, but I was able to engage in hiking and snowboarding with little pain. I read about surgery and the impending 6-12 month recovery time. My heart didn’t just sink, it hit bottom and kept going. I’m an extremely active person, and reading about the possible 6 months off I would have to take just to get over surgery was like reading a death sentence with my name on it.

I went immediately to an orthopedic specialist who signed me up for an MRI. Two weeks went by, and finally the MRI. Then, another week, and finally I was sitting in the examination room with the doctor telling me they could operate the next day. This was great news. At this point, it had been 6 weeks to the day since I had torn my Achilles in two! I had gone through a lot so far. Depression, anger, RAGE(!), and finally acceptance. I was just glad to be healing in a positive direction instead of living my life with an everlasting limp. Plus, the doctors assured me that in 3 months time I would be back to my old self, which was great news seeing as how I had mortified myself into a dark hole with all of the things I had read on-line.

I finally had the surgery. It took place 6 weeks from the day that my injury occurred and on top of the fact that for the past 5 weekends I had done everything in my power to traumatize it even further it was a success.

The cause of my sorrow was a pick-up basketball game. I had played basketball for 8 years but for the last 3-4 years I had limited it to 5-6 times a year. However, I had picked it up once again and started playing 3-4 times a week (I know, this sounds like an algebra problem, don’t worry there won’t be a test) for the last two weeks (prior to the ATR).

The night of the injury went like any other night. I spent some time in the weight room, and then made my way down to the b-ball court where a pick-up game had already been taking place. I didn’t really stretch much, I felt pretty warm already, and was invited to play. The first game was fine, I didn’t notice anything (like usual). The game lasted 15 minutes maybe? Then we started to play another game. About 10 minutes into this second game I got a pass at half court, ran down the court and made a layup. When I landed I felt like someone had kicked me in the back of the leg, between my calf and my heel. I literally turned around and said, ‘Someone just kicked me’. However no one was close enough to have done that. I immediately felt a weird sensation in my foot when I tried to walk normally. I had no support when trying to weight my toes and I knew instantly that this was not like any injury I had received before. My ankle was very angry at me and I drove immediately to the ER. And, well, you know the rest!

It has been 20 days since I underwent surgery to repair my ruptured Achilles.

I started this blog because during my pre-surgery angst, and my post surgery boredom I did a lot of research on the web which involved reading about other people’s ATR experiences. I was really shocked at what I had read compared to what I had actually experienced. Some of the main differences I have come across have been:

1) I read a lot about people being in a cast, or boot and not being able to bear weight on their injured foot for anywhere from 3-6 weeks!

My experience has been: the doctor sent me home with a boot and a piece of paper saying what I could and couldn’t do. Bearing weight on my injured foot was one of the first things I could do and it was as pain allowed. This happened to be 3 days after surgery! I shed the crutches completely after 8 days! For the last 12 days I have been crutch free, driving, walking 2 miles a day, working out, and even dancing! (all of this with the boot on of course). Plus, I had to sleep with the boot on for the first 14 days, or basically until I got my sutures removed.

2) A lot of the blogs I’ve read talk about immediate need for physical therapy. My doctor has not once mentioned PT, and I have not been prescribed it. This may change upon my next visit (which will be a milestone for me since I can get rid of my boot!), but so far they just keep telling me to do ankle pumps and range of motion exercises. I’ve even been full weight bearing on it without the boot on (which the doctor frowns upon, but as long as it doesn’t hurt and I don’t jump up and down on it I’ll continue to keep pushing it, lightly).

3) And last but not least, I guess has been just the absolute difference between recovery times. I’ve read blogs from all age ranges (25yrs old-55yrs old) and everyone seems to be in the same boat. My doctors tell me at the end of three months I’ll be playing basketball again, but what I’ve read seems to heavily contradict this. It sounds to me like it will be more like 6-9 months!

Anyway, I guess what I’m the most curious about at this stage is why my experience has been so different from everyone else’s?

This is my first blog post on this site, so I’m excited to keep updating and hearing from people who have or have not been experiencing the same things I am.

For my first update I guess I can catch everyone up.

Last week, two weeks after surgery, I had my stitches and sutures removed. The good news is that my incision was looking good and they were able to take everything out and I can now sleep without my boot on.

Bad news is that I still have to wear the boot for 4 more weeks. But, I can drive, and walk with it so it’s not all that bad. My one complaint about the boot is that after walking around in it for a while my heel is just screaming for a break. I wish the heel had some sort of cushion!

It is April 4th, my surgery was on March 15th, and so far I feel pretty good about my tendon.

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