Thirteen months and healing long

I haven’t posted in a while thought I would provide a quick update on my condition. I’m 67 years old and 13 months post surgery. I am back to my regular activities but at a reduced level.  These include daily vigorous trail walking up to 4 miles, biking 50-80 miles a week, Pilates 3 days a week and intermittent gym workouts. So here is my best shot at descibing my current condition:

  • The tendons appears fully healed but not fully recovered. I don’t get any real pain or swelling, maybe some tightness after strenuous workouts, and I have no fear of re rupture or rupturing the other leg. Range of motion in the ankle and foot region is close to the healthy leg. I do have some nerve damage on the inside of the heal and arch which can be annoying.
  • I am not a runner, rather a back country hiker and bike rider both of which I have resumed, but still working back to  pre surgery strength.
  • I have significant atrophy on the injured leg and despite all the PT and exercising, there is no sign that it is going away. I am unable to do a real one leg heel lift on the injured leg, it gets up about 1.5 in max and will not rise any higher.
  • My pushoff on the injured leg is reduced as well as overall leg strength. I have gotten to the point where I can get out of the saddle on longer climbs on the bike but there is still a big strength deficit.
  • Given the above, I have no doubt that I have healed long which seems to be a recurring theme in the blog posts. I am not going to do the shortening surgery, just too much and I think that I can live with the reduced function of the injured leg though not happy about it.
  • I had canceled a Nepalese trek scheduled for this fall to allow further rehab but it is on again for next year and I will be doing workouts specifically tailored to this trip including some extended backcountry hiking with a full pack. It remains to be seen how my stamina with the injured leg will be in this environment.

All in all I feel good but the recovery has been grueling and I can see that it isn’t over. In fact I accept the fact that it may take up to 2 years to plateau, and then require further diligence on my part to stay at a satisfactory level of fitness.

I enjoy the blog-it really helps to read the stories of others, and I wish everyone the best.

Nordic skiing

I went x-c skiing yesterday, 12 KM, classic technique on groomed trails with lots of hills. I was very nervous. It actually turned out great and was validated that the healing is taking place, but slowly. I’m not in the best cardio shape and strength and endurance is compromised in the injured leg, but all things considered it feels good to get back to what has always been a passion for me. Planning to get back up this next week.

6 months

I last posted at 4 months, and my achilles rupture rehab continues, very much taking on a life of its own. While much has returned to normal, the 12 month recovery now seems quite reasonable (crazy!) and there is much more work to do. So, here are some observations:

  • I am walking normally to the casual eye but can still feel a hitch largely due to continued weakness in the calf as I launch my stride forward. Distances of 3-4 miles don’t really cause me any trouble, but I certainly am not ready to do mountain trail hiking with a pack. I have been riding my road bike up to 20 miles on flat roads and am just recently able to get out of the saddle to climb small hills.
  • I have been out of PT for the last 6 weeks and continuing my exercise routine, working out at least 5 days a week. I still can’t do single leg heel raises on the injured leg; I get up about 3 inches and that is it. It feels like I will be one that takes the full 12 months.
  • I  have a lot of muscle atrophy in the injured calf. Not only is it smaller, but the density of the muscle is significantly less compared to my healthy leg.
  • I don’t really have any pain, just tightness around the surgery site in the morning or after hard workouts. In addition I have nerve damage on the inside of my heel/arch area and this area gets tender and sore. Dorsal flexion is maybe 80% compared to the healthy leg with most of the impairment in the ankle - this mobility has been a work in process.

In general I am doing OK but my original hope that I would set the recovery record has been dashed, lol. The big challenge is to continue to push hard on the rehab without getting discouraged, and giving up. Is this the definition of humility perhaps.? Thanks for listening and good luck with your own journeys - very much enjoy reading your posts.

16 week check in

Well, I have made it this far on what seems a life altering event.Maybe a year from now it will recede in my memory, we will see. All in all, things go well. I am doing PT every other week now and many of the exercises are the same with minor variations and tweaks. I work out daily; I’m not sure how else one could recover from this injury.
Mobility: Pretty good, some tightness across the bridge of my ankle and general tightness in the tendon area in the morning which passes. Plantar flexion is about equal with both feet and dorsiflexion is about 80% of the healthy leg.
Strength: This is a work in progress and I can see where the 1 yr recovery is not an exaggeration. I am doing the same exercises mentioned elsewhere in the blog but am still a long way from one leg heel raises with the injured leg. There is incremental progress in this regard; I can notice advancement week to week but not day to day….very frustrating.
Activities: I am walking on level surfaces as well as an off road trail with uneven surfaces. I can’t really push off as hard on my injured leg as I would like, but it generally feels good the more active I am. I have been riding my road bike for the last 2-3 weeks on a local asphalt rail trail. This is for the most part flat and I just spin, high cadence in the saddle only. I can’t really get out of the saddle and load the injured leg yet; this is the equivalent to a one leg heel raise, but will keep at it. This will be a good measure of the rehab program.
Limp: Its still there but very slight, and probably not noticeable to others. As I stride forward with the injured leg there is a brief moment of weakness where I collapse onto the good leg.This is as much in my head as in my gait, but a very real thing. When I am fresh and strong, no limp and when I am fatigued it comes back. Probably no great surprise.
Pain: Not really much pain, rather some general discomfort after big workouts. This can run from the toes to the upper calf and affect lots of different soft tissue areas.
Summary: Not much more to say. I continue to enjoy the blog site; I gain as much or more info from the bloggers and the related postings as I do from my medical team. Good luck to all on their recovery.

12 weeks

Well, I am 12 weeks post op this Thursday, and things continue to get better. I am doing PT once a week and have a full set of exercises and stretches that I do daily. The progress is slow, but measurable. I did 12 minutes on the rowing machine (first time since the injury) at the gym yesterday and it felt great while I was rowing but sore last night. I followed this with 3 mile walk today on flat ground. The limp is till there, more defined when I am tired. I still have a lot of weakness in the calf area and single leg heel raises are a ways out, but at least there is some muscle definition in this area now. Although I still have some stiffness in the achilles area, my remaining pain is in the heel and it really gets sore by the end of the day after being on my feet. I continue to ice when I get the chance, and use a topical CBD cream to help with inflammation for the calf all the way down into the arch of the foot. It is interesting to sort out the mental and physical components of the healing. On the one hand I know how far I have come, but at the same time it feels like there is so far to go…and no doubt there is. So it goes back to taking it a day at a time - ‘patience young grasshopper’ (in my case ‘older grasshopper’). On the bright side I played 9 holes of golf last week, using a cart and a 3/4 swing, but it will be a bit before I am back on the tour. I hope everyone is well out there with their rehab; we are in a special club.

Calf Pain

I am eight weeks post surgery and rehab is going well with 2 shoes, fwb and increasing mobility and strength. I’m doing PT 2x a week and in the gym pretty regularly with a set of exercises. My concern is with significant pain and swelling in the calf area. I am icing and getting massage but the deep muscle tissue still is very tender all the way up to upper calf. I imagine this is ‘normal’ but not much fun…anyone else have experience with this?


Six weeks post surgery and I have been released for FWB in the boot and driving as needed… woohoo!(good riddance to the knee scooter, lol). I have an aggressive PT and she wants me out of the boot in 2 weeks. Still have some pain and swelling in the calf and ankle area; it gets aggravated by the walking, but I’m not complaining. Related to this, they call this a walking boot but it is terrible for trying to establish a proper gate and tends to hyper extend the knee. Someone needs to invent a better option, maybe they have and i just got the wrong product. Im doing theraband strengthening for the foot an achilles area and ROM exercises as well as bridges, planks and upper body stuff. Net of this is that the leg is ‘waking up’ and is getting stronger, but slowly. Also doing stationary bike for 20 mins at setting 9 which gets the heart rate up a little. All in all, it seems like a bit of a milestone on this tortuous path.

So I am 2 weeks post surgery and I had the sutures out yesterday. The incision looked fine, tight and clean. During the last 24 hrs I have had some light pain at the incision site which I assume is normal. I have been released for PT at 3 weeks but can’t see the gal (background in college level team sports) I want until the 26th so I have cobbled together a workout routine I can do that is NWB for the injured leg, maybe 10-12 stretches and  exercises for lower and upper body. As part of this, I am doing unbooted ROM exercises with the affected leg, holding it in the air and doing light rotations with the foot. This produces a light tug on the tendon but no pain. Am I pushing this too hard, or should I just trust myself? I am waiting to hear back from the doc on this but not holding my breath. I can also put light weight (10% maybe) on the wedged and booted foot, just for balance, with no pain. Anyone else remember this point in their rehab…thoughts?

So, 6 days post surgery. I am off the painkillers, just taking a small dose of acetaminophen as needed. Incision site feels ok, tight and tingly with a dull ache. I am catching up on reading, tv (ugh), and surfing the web looking for info related to the injury and surgery. On the rehab front I ice regularly just above the splint, and keep the foot elevated. In addition I have a BEMER unit donated by a friend which emits a magnetic resonance to help in blood flow; figured it can’t hurt. Lastly I started some stretching/strenght training yesterday. Prone on my back I am doing crunches and leg raises in 2 planes. Using the knee role as a bench I am doing thigh curls as well as bicep curls and shoulder presses using a 15 lb hand weight. I am careful to keep the injured leg in a neutral position, and no weight on the foot bottom. Not much of a workout but really helps to keep me from feeling like I am just turning to mush.

Its my 4th day post surgery - time seems to be going very slowly. Sleeping has been fitful, a combination of pillows, foam blocks, etc to keep the foot in the air and some separation between my legs really helps. Frequent daytime naps make up for what I don’t get at night. I am going to attempt to go off the opioids today, just acetaminophen, will see how this goes. I got a knee scooter which really helps with mobility. First doctor visit is still a week out.