The First Three Weeks

Hi Everyone

The information here has been very insightful during the past month, and I thought I would share my story.

Edit - Just a little context, I am a 33 year old male. I am 30-40 pounds overweight but very active. I road bike 400-800 miles per month. I play softball and kickball regularly. I occasionally find my way onto a basketball court. I haven’t played soccer in a while, but that is a favorite.

10/21 - Rupture!

I had slowed while rounding first base on a hit to right field. The fielder played the ball back into the infield and as I realized a play was being made on my teammate at home I planted my right foot in an attempt to turn my single into a double. As soon as I pushed off I heard the snap, felt the impact on my calf, and wheeled around to see who or what had struck me in the back of the leg. There was no one there, and nothing had hit me. I managed to crawl back to first base and the realization of the injury I had suffered struck me. I rolled off the field and teammates rushed to assist. I was not in pain, but I knew I wouldn’t be walking off the field.

10/22 - Urgent Care.

The next morning I was in Urgent care where the Thompson test confirmed my suspicion. The nurse splinted me up and they set me up for an MRI on Monday.

10/24 - MRI

The MRI results were relayed to me before I managed to drive the 15 minutes from the medical center back to work. The Urgent Care physician who had seen me on Saturday morning referred me to their Orthopedic office, who would set me up for an appointment on Wednesday.

10/26 - The Black Boot

It was a tough 4 days between the injury and the appointment with the Orthopedic surgeon. The splint they provide is not very comfortable. While the nurse had put me in the splint with toes pointed down to avoid causing the tendon to curl up, the MRI confirmed that the tendon had already settled down near my ankle. The tear was up closer to my calf muscle. The Orthopedic surgeon offered me the conservative approach or surgery. When I mentioned wanting to get back to all of the activities I enjoy, he said surgery was the right option. He had the nurse bring in the black boot and immediately returned my foot to neutral. No more pointing down from this point forward.

10/28 - Surgery

One week after the injury I am lying on a hospital bed for surgery. I can tell you the nerve block administration is not something I would ever want to do again. Throughout this process I’ve dealt with any pain pretty well, but having a large needle inserted into your leg and triggering nerves isn’t fun. The surgery went by in a flash. Back home, I built myself a pillow ramp on the couch and planned to spend the next 7 days there.

Heres the part that I have yet to see many account of: I was immediately put back into the black boot at 0% (neutral) and told PWB when bareable for the first couple of days, and FWB after that. Everything I had read to this point indicated I would be NWB for weeks. I was skeptical at first. Not only was I to walk on the operated leg, but I was going to be immediately returned to neutral. This meant no wedges, no bi-weekly stretching of the tendon post OP.

10/30 - Pain

Monday morning I finally had full sensation. My PWB on nerveblock reverted to NWB. However, I would still test it here and there when I had to make my way to the bathroom.

11/1 - No Pain

Wednesday morning I stopped taking the small doses of Vicodin. Any residual pain was manageable with Tylenol. Here I should mention that I have gout which was diagnosed at 19 years old, and aspirin is not an option. So I am on a blood thinner and cannot take advil. I progressed to PWB when making my way upstairs to the bathroom. I usually had to adjust the boot. During the night when swelling might go down the heel would pull away from the boot. and point my foot down slightly. I had to loosen the straps and push the heel back down into the boot before I could put weight down.

11/2 - FWB

Thursday, less than a week after the operation, I could go full weight bearing for short periods of time. Eventually the rush of blood caused some serious discomfort, but walking itself was not painful and as long as the boot was was tight enough I did not notice any movement of the achilled/calf.

11/3 - Post Op Appointment

One week post op and I have a visit with the surgeon. He is very happy with his work and happy that I’ve kept the foot at neutral. He does a quick Thompson test, and sees flexing. I have yet to replicate this myself even now as I write this. I guess it’s hard to do this test on yourself. I walked into and out of the appointment carrying my crutches. I wanted them with me in case the surge of blood flow made things unbearable, but when I could walk I was walking.

11/7-11/11 - Back to work

I’ve ditched the crutches. I’ve returned to my own bed, taking up more space than usual with extra pillows at my feet. My wife is glad to have me back in the same room again. The dog is not as happy. While at work I can’t really raise the foot, so it spends the entire day under my desk. For the first few days I am very happy to get back home and elevate. The swelling is bearable but eventually becomes uncomfortable.

11/11 - Follow up #2

The doctor again takes a look at the incision. He’s still so happy with his work. I’m beginning to think he does this with all of his patients. It is reassuring in a way. He doesn’t do another Thompson test but is happy with my progress and sends me back on my way. I mention the VacoCast boot. The Black Boot allows for motion and sometimes shifts into an uncomfortable position. The VacoCast would also allow me to resume swimming. He reads over the literature and signs off on a prescription. It’s not a boot he’s used before but he seems interested in seeing how it works. I place the order that afternoon. My next appointment won’t be for another month.

11/16 - VacoCast!

So I need to start off by saying that I was very excited to end my day at work and get home to try this thing on. +3 weeks in the Black Boot and I was ready for something new. However, I’m a bit disappointed. Maybe I still need to figure things out, but my heel hates this boot. Underfoot I cannot get the beads to sit in a comfortable manner. There is a bit more flex in the plastic and I feel like I am pulling on the achilles slightly as I walk. Three weeks in this probably isnt the worst thing, but the Black Boot, while simple, did not allow my foot to flex in any way. I spent a significant amount on this boot so I plan to keep trying to get it to work. I’ll give it a few days and report back!

So this leads me to today! Dennis just set me up with this blog and I’m excited to get some feedback on my progress so far and share my story.

3 Responses to “The First Three Weeks”

  1. Thanks for posting SYZYGY.

    You hurt yourself 16 days after me and are already putting weight on your repaired leg. I’m jealous!

    My surgeon said no weight on my repaired limb. I see him next week and maybe I can start with some weight. That will be over 5 weeks post surgery.

    Your doc seems to be much more aggressive than any I’ve read about, letting you put weight on your leg right shortly after surgery. I guess they are learning new approaches all the time.

    You seem to be making rapid progress, which is great.

    Were you awake during the operation? I was never given an option, and was knocked out for over an hour.

  2. I’m 3 weeks post op and I am having trouble adjusting to the vacocast. I get pain in the inside of my heel when I wear it. I can’t figure it out. I’m am non weight beating for 8 weeks. Did you get used to the vacocast? Also, just a question, did your insurance cover the cost? I too ordered the cast myself.

  3. Hi Susan!

    I haven’t sent the paperwork for insurance yet. I have it sitting next to me ready to go. I will have to get back to you. I did have a prescription from my provider since the original boot that was provided was causing issues for me.

    I did a lot of rearranging of the beads. I too had pain in the heel, in addition to not being able to get the underfoot to accomodate my rather flat foot. I solved some of the heel pain by moving more beads out from underfoot and away from the achilles part to the heel where they protect it from the plastic part of the boot. I solved the underfoot but doing my best to flatten the beads in the bottom prior to putting the vacuum insert into the terry cloth. I would vacuum out the air, add the insert, put my foot in, add air back, then suit up take a few steps and vacuum the air back out again. Sometimes it took 15-20 minutes with multiple attempts to get it to be comfortable enough. With less beads underfoot they couldn’t bunch up as much.

    I will add the caveat that I am a little bit like the princess and the pea. I can be super sensitive to minor bumps and irregularities so my discomfort might be an extreme case.

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