suthrnman’s AchillesBlog

May 11th, 2013

1 yr-10 mo; My calf muscle is disappearing–surgery

Posted by suthrnman in Journal

I reached a point of despair a couple of weeks ago.  It hit me that my calf muscle seems to be getting smaller and weaker.  I set an appointment with a below the knee specialist in Houston–went yesterday.  Dr. Jay Oates was encouraging in one sense–he believes I made a wise choice with non-op; however, the results after re-rupture are not so great.  He suggested I was at 65% of original strength, but I will have to disagree . . . seems much less than 50%.

Dr. Oates believes my calf strength will not improve anymore from this point and offered the option of surgery to “cut a chunk out” and reattach.  When I left, I thought I would work hard on rehab for a month or so and then decide. However, after arriving home and going for a couple of miles walk, I believe I need to have the surgery asap.  It is not getting better and I don’t want to live with it.

9 Responses to ' 1 yr-10 mo; My calf muscle is disappearing–surgery '

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  1. mikejp88 said,

    on May 11th, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Yikes. What is he cutting out and reattaching? Did it not heal right the first time? Did it heal long and he’s shortening it?

  2. arielvit said,

    on May 11th, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I am sorry to read about this development. Why did the doctor say it will not improve anymore? I read you were already into hiking after a year.

  3. kellygirl said,

    on May 11th, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    I’m sorry you are having to deal with this after the second rupture. You have had a long road to recovery. I’d probably opt for surgery at this point too. I’m curious too though–does she attribute the muscle atrophy to healing long?

    Off to read through your blog posts. Good luck.

  4. suthrnman said,

    on May 11th, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I did okay while backpacking this past June; however, I did well considering it was my first major test after an ATR. I was definitely compromised in my strength while hiking. The trip was encouraging then because I thought it was the beginning of real improvement. My calf is now the same as last June and possibly weaker.
    The doc feels I have reached “equilibrium” with respect to any further increase or decrease(?) in strength. I’m not sure if it is getting weaker (it’s not getting stronger), but it is an effort to walk in heeled shoes or boots without favoring one leg. More so an effort with heels because I can’t push off with much extension–bare foot is better.
    I’m certainly open to any feedback. If I understood him correctly, then he believes the weakness is due to an overly long tendon. I thought of many questions after leaving which will need to be answered before the knife. For example, the risk of getting it too short or why my soleus seems to have recovered very well, but not the gasrocnemius. My cycling seems unaffected.

  5. ryanb said,

    on May 11th, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Really sorry to hear this. FWIW, I’m starting to think that what you’re describing (normal or even short Soleus, with a long gastroc) is actually pretty common; though it is not common for it to be so severe as to require surgical repair. I think I also have this symptom, but to a much lesser degree.

    At this point, I fear the doc is right; surgery to shorten the tendon is probably the only real chance of getting your strength back. For people who have healed long there just doesn’t seem to be any other real alternative.

    Keep us posted-

  6. normofthenorth said,

    on May 12th, 2013 at 2:17 am

    Suthrnman, this is a true bummer. As I recall, you went non-op originally, then reruptured, then treated the rerupture non-op — am I remembering all that right? It’s hard to know where things may have gone south, or whether we’ll ever know if non-op treatment of REruptures works as well (on average) as non-op treatment of first-time “‘primary” ruptures.
    For sure, if you’ve healed long and it’s compromising your strength to the point where you are seriously frustrated with it, having it surgically shortened seems the only choice — though one you’ve worked so hard to avoid, it’s very sad.

  7. Ripraproar said,

    on May 12th, 2013 at 3:17 am

    I can offer no advice , but I’m routing for you, keep that positive energy going, one thing for sure if you need the surgery you have been through getting back to walking before and I think once you have made your mind up, your positivity will kick in.
    Good luck

  8. suthrnman said,

    on May 12th, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Thanks for the input . . . on the “positivity”: I’ve enjoyed life over the past year plus. I’ve gone backpacking, cycling and worked out. The choices I made were reasonable. Moreover, the doc says that there are less risk with the surgery at this point rather than at the initial stage of rupture. I suppose he means that he can strategically operate rather than go into a mess with swelling and trauma . . . we’ll see. The next step is to see what the real cost is for the surgery, scheduling and protocol. I’ll keep you posted.

  9. torngoals said,

    on May 14th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Scary stuff….I sooo want to get back to power walking, which I know is a long ways off…but I know I’ll have to keep reminding myself to take it slow even a year from now because I tend to go for the gusto and be an overachiever ….and as my trainer says of me “doesn’t understand the concept of ‘rest’”. And I sure don’t want to retear. Seems like you’ve been through a lot. I’m sure you’ll make the best decision for yourself. We’ll keep you in our thoughts and prayers for a speed recovery if you decide to do surgery or some significant improvement in your calf if you choose not to have surgery. Hang in there!

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