Doomsday Part 2

I was supposed to start work on a limited basis again on 6/11/15 due to my new found mobility. I’ll set the mood quickly before I tell you what everyone is assuming…

6/6/15 was a beautiful hot humid day in North Carolina, a perfect day for a pool party. I had surprised my friend on his birthday by showing up from Wisconsin, coordinating through his girlfriend. They were happy, I was happy, the pool was cool and my leg felt awesome. And then I tripped….

I had been wearing my walking boot. My walking boot was set up in a way that it was able to flex. My boot allowed me to flex my right foot from my toes pointed downward at a 40 degree angle all the way up to 0 degrees (or where my foot is able to make a 90 degree angle while standing on it. It would not let my foot go past a perpendicular angle with my leg for this exact reason, if I suddenly tripped or fell, it would prevent me from putting extra strain and pressure on my Achillies.

I was walking near the pool when I tripped. I came down hard on my right foot and in my opinion the boot worked properly and prevent over extension of my Achilles. It was trying to regain my balance that was the problem. After coming down on my right foot and boot, I quickly pushed off with my right foot which activated my small week right calf muscle. I don’t want to minimize the severity of a disease but up until this point my right leg looked like I had polio. After pushing off hard on my right foot to regain balance I felt another large pop from the back of my right leg. The next day my leg was swollen again and I was not able to do the physical therapy stretches I had been doing before. I was in North Carolina and had a follow up doctor appointment scheduled for 6/10/15 back home so I decided to wait until I got back to Wisconsin to see the doctor. To put in dryly the 17 hour drive home felt even longer with the thought I re-injured my leg/Achilles.

I saw the doctor on 6/10/15 back in Wisconsin. I told her what happened and she called in my surgeon to inspect my Achilles. During the examination he told my other doctor several things that I did not understand. He then told he me thought I re-injured my Achilles and that I could expect to have my recovery time doubled. He also said I slightly lowered my chance of making a full recovery and that we would treat the injury without surgery. He told me that we were starting over from square one and that I was back to non-weight bearing. I also was told I had to start physical therapy over from week one protocols in 2-3 weeks. I came into this doctors appointment with lots of questions for my doctor but after getting this news all of those questions escaped me. Instead, my head was filled with questions of will I ever walk or run again and will I ever be able to work in the same capacity again. I was devastated.

I consider myself a very optimistic person. Even when the injury occurred I was upbeat and joked about it with friends. Not this time. The following two days were terrible. I have been with my wife for seven years and married for almost one and she saw a side of me she has never seen, and I hope will never have to see again. Being optimistic was out of the question during this two day depression. I had no plan. I did not want to talk to anyone about my injury. I did not want to talk to anyone in general. I had no light at the end of the tunnel. I was concerned about our financial security. I did not know when I would be able to work again. To say the least I was irritable and inconsolable. To use my wife’s words I was “doom and gloom.” I was devastated.

Luckily I have an amazing wife who let me vent for 2-3 days straight without complaint. I have an amazing family and group of friends who offered suggestions of how I should proceed and offered support. I have a lot of people that support me which I had completely lost sight of during that two day period. Once I was reminded of that, my optimism came back….albeit slowly.

My discharge paperwork from the doctor said I had strained or re-ruptured my Achilles. The doctor did not order an MRI before telling me we would treat it non-surgically. The doctor told me that a second surgery was not an option. After talking with family and reading these blogs, I wondering why I was not getting an MRI. I’m not a doctor and don’t claim to have anywhere near their knowledge but I wondered why they would not want an MRI to know the extent of the re-injury. What if I re-ruptured in a different location on the Achilles? What if it is just a strain? What if I tore my calf muscle when I pushed off on it because it was so weak? These are the questions I wanted answers to. I have learned that you have to be your own advocate when in comes to healthcare and ask these questions, because if you don’t no one else will.

This brings me to the present day. I am doing reasonably well again. I have regained a positive outlook on my recovery. I planned my finances and it turns out the outlook is not as depress and I thought. I started my first blog. After repeated calls to the doctor I got him to order an MRI to see the extend of the re-injury. I go in for the MRI this Saturday 6/20/15 and have subsequent consultation with my doctor on Monday 6/22/15.

Fingers crossed….hoping for good news….

7 Responses to “Doomsday Part 2”

  1. good luck and prayers sent your way

  2. Reading through your story I kept thinking my response would be to get a second opinion. I was happy to read how you have pushed for something more conclusive. If the boot was set up correctly then your tendon should be protected but from your description it sounds like you have done some damage. I doubt you would have doubled your recovery time but it would be a set back if you had damaged the repair and most likely put you back to the start at worst. That does not constitute doubling. I also do not understand why your doctor believes that now you will not recover fully. Plenty of people have re-ruptured and recovered fully, Some with surgery and others without, unless he believes you will now heal long. Another surgical procedure is often the case but not always required. A patient wait for the results is going to be difficult (anti spam word was patience) but you seem to have regained your sense of purpose and that will help. I hope the boot has been reset to plantar flexion (toes down) in the interim.

  3. I have a friend that re-tore her achilles after 6 weeks post op. She was eating dinner without her boot on and her small son started choking. She jumped up to help him and re- tore it. The OS did go back in and operate. Of course recovery started all over again. However she is now a few years out from the injury and is doing fine and back to all her normal activities, including a recent ski trip. So stay positive and a good recovery is still definitely possible.

  4. Thanks for the comments! Patiently waiting for the MRI and its results to see where we go from here. I also have contemplated getting a second opinion but I will wait and see the what the MRI and my doctor say first. And yes my boot is now locked with my toes pointed down. The good news (in my mind at least) is that after I re-injured it, I am still able to flex my calf muscle and bring my toes upward somewhat. I was not able to either of these at all when I originally ruptured it.

  5. Supajake- this is quite significant. The doctor could have performed a basic test to see if the tendon was still connected but in any event the MRI should be more conclusive. It seems from what you have said that you do have some connection. A partial rupture would not set you back too far. Sometimes scar tissue breaks away and people feel a little pop which is associated with some pain and swelling. That is the best case scenario. I always say ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’. It freaks me out sometimes when the anti spam word is so applicable. This time it is optimism. It also helps to find something to distract your brain or keep it occupied particularly if you find yourself dwelling on the outcome of the MRI. Years ago, while recovering from a motorcycle bust up, I bought a complicated graphic art program for the computer and taught myself how to use it. Others here have gone back to old hobbies which do not require walking but require you to think a lot. A suggestion only if you need it. Watching TV doesn’t really cut it.

  6. Good luck, Jake. This, too, shall pass.

  7. Hey Jake - sorry about your situation and I hope the MRI brings you some better news. I am very curious about what you said about driving from Wisconsin to North Carolina and back with your left foot. Really? I can’t imagine driving a block with my left foot! Did someone suggest this to you or is it something you came up with on your own? My OS and PT both told me it was a bad idea to drive, from a safety perspective, for at least 8 weeks or until I am out of the boot, whichever comes later. Anyway - best of luck to you.

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