My Story

Hello all, found this site a few days ago and have really found it interesting.  I suffered my ATR on 11/10/11 while working out on the treadmill. Came out of nowhere, just like everyone says. It felt like somebody hit me with a baseball bat as hard as they could in the back of the leg, I heard a snap, turned around to see what/who just did this to me, but of course, no one was there. Within 30 minutes I was at the ER and the Dr. immediately diagnosed the ATR (as I suspected) to my dismay. They put me in a cast and sceduled surgery for the following week. Needless to say I was miserable.

I am 37 years old and woud consider myself in pretty good shape. I work as a full time firefighter, and love my job, so being off from work really sucks. I also play ice hockey, fish, hunt, golf, etc. all of which are now on hold untill I can heal. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much at night the first few days, and unfortunately, neither did my wife. It felt so uncomfortable trying to elevate my leg and sleep with the cast on, but I did manage a bit of sleep.

November 16, finally came, my surgery day. I knew it was going to be rough, but also was a step in the right direction. I had a complete tear, so surgery was suggested by my Ortho and I agreed. With my active career and lifestyle, I wanted to make sure I would have the best chance to a full recovery. So I went under and the next thing I knew I was eating ice chips and I had a sore throat. I was told the surgery went well and to get plenty of rest and do as little as possible for the next couple of weeks. I was prescribed Lortab and took one when I got home. Later that night I hobbled to bed and slept like a baby, until about 4AM when the Lortab had stopped working!!! All I can say is that I was in the worst pain of my life, I took 2 more pills and prayed they would start working soon. For the next 45 mins. or so I felt like someone had a pipe wrench on my achilles and kept tightening it more and more. Finally the pain went away, or at least enough for me to fall back asleep.

The next 2-3 days were still very uncomfortable, but I knew now that every 4 hours I had to take a Lortab or else the pain would get unbearable again. So I set my phone alarm in the middle of the night to stay ahead of the pain. By day 4 post surgery, the pain was definitely getting better. I was sleeping in to make my days shorter. My son is in school and wife at work, so the less time I had to spend alone the better. All I can say is thank God for my laptop, I’ve probably spent 12-14 hours a day on it researching this injury, and everything I could do to help the healing process speed up.

Thanksgiving has now come and gone and I am very anxious for my first checkup this Wednesday. I have been doing everything they told me to so far. My right leg is elevated just about 24 hrs a day in some way or another. I can get around on the crutches pretty well, but still get frusrated that I can’t carry much while using them. I have been taking a few different supplements since a couple days after the surgery and hopefully they are working. Not sure if I can mention what I’m taking on here, but if I can I will…especially if I get a good report from my surgeon this Weds. I am supposed get my cast taken off and go into a boot. Not sure it will be much better, but again I’m looking at it as a step in the right direction. I have noticed there’s quite a bit of wiggle room in my cast the last few days, so I’m hoping that means that the inflammation/swelling has gone down and maybe the supplements I’m taking are working. Either that or my leg is shrinking from not using it, hopefully that is not the case though.

So I guess that pretty much sums up my 1st few weeks. Hopefully I will get some responses with lots of positive feedback. I will post again after my checkup on Wednesday hopefully with some good news of progress. Thanks in advance for your input and support.


9 Responses to “My Story”

  1. TC-
    Thanks for sharing your story so far. The first few days are the worst and most intense- I’m sure you’re glad to be through that phase. Time to settle in for the long haul.
    At your first checkup, the doc will mostly be looking for problems/complications (infection, out-of-proportion-swelling, etc.) Three probably won’t be an MRI to check the tendon or anything. Unless you’re having unusual problems, expect the typical: “everything looks good” :-)
    I’d be interested to hear what you decided on supplements. I don’t think there’s any reason you couldn’t tell us what you’re using. I’m guessing you already found my big list.
    From a comfort standpoint, the boot will be a BIG improvement: you can take it off (sponge bath, scratch an itch, air it out, wiggle your toes). Once I got rid of the cast, most of my time was spent without the boot/splint on. I only put it on when I needed to move around. If I was stationary - say in front of the TV - I’d take it off.

    Keep us posted-

  2. TC - Your sounding very positive and that has been a challenge for many of us. Carrying things around on crutches is a problem. Some people use a back pack or a bag you can sling over your shoulder. I got a thermous coffee mug with an open handle that would fit over the handle of my crutch. The lid of the mug stopped the coffee spiling. Too much time on your hands can end up a problem so I would also suggest you find something new to learn that will take about 6 weeks. You should be able to start exercises on upper body and unaffected leg soon. As a firefighter that will be important and you will be surprised how fit you can keep. An exercise bike could also be added in a few weeks, using the heel of the boot on the pedal at first. Of course you would probably need to have some gym equipment at home because driving will be out for a while.
    It is very normal to try and speed the healing process up but in real terms your timetable is fixed. If all goes well then you could be back doing most things at 5 or 6 months but you will have a significant portion of your life back from 3 months. 12 months to 2 years seems to be a time frame most look to full recovery. Some people prefer to rehab a bit slower than others but the way tendons heal is well documented and the fact is they take time. You can have some affect on how you rehab but you have to allow the tendon to go through the its process. Keep your head and don’t try rushing it. My physio told me green tea is good for tendons so since your into supplements you may like to give this a go. Good luck with it all. BTW, set your profile and add the time line widget and tracker (see main page) so we all can keep track of your time at a glance. There are other plugins you can add. There is a plug in that allows comments to be edited within 15min.

  3. Keep ‘em coming TC! The editing thing is a setting among your options (not a plugin/widget). I forget the details, but you’ll find it if you explore a little. Check off the box and we’ll be able to fix our mistakes for the first 15 minutes.

  4. It sounds like you are progressing nicely. That’s great to hear. I had a similar experience, from surgery forward. I think what has helped me a lot mentally is focusing on how everything will turn out alright, and not letting myself consider that it won’t turn out alright. It’s kind of a mind game, but I have concluded that patience, common sense, and a positive attitude are just as important to ATR recovery as good nutrition and lots of rest.

    As far as your NWB stage and mobility is concerned, I used a knee scooter to get around. I rented it from a hospital supply store. It was fantastic and allowed me to shop (with a shopping partner who also drove, so that was my husband), and cook dinner, etc. I used it on the main level of our house and then had the crutches up the stairs. I used the stair climbing (backwards, on my butt) as a way to strengthen my arms and abs (hey, every little bit helps!). I also borrowed crutches from a friend and kept a pair in the car in the even I needed them instead of the knee scooter.

    Good luck, and I wish you a terrific recovery!

  5. Just to clarify from my post prior, I left the crutches at the top of the stairs…I did not use crutches to go up or down the stairs! That’s what I mean about common sense…if it seems dangerous or risky, don’t attempt it! And on that note, I took a bath for the first four weeks instead of a shower. I was just too nervous that I could slip and fall, even getting myself into a plastic shower chair.

  6. Thanks so much for the replies. I think I managed to add widgets on the left of my page, but I will admit that I’m having a little trouble navigating this site. As for rushing anything, I definitely won’t be doing that. The last thing I want is a rerupture to occur.

    I’m still not sure what you guys mean about allowing you to edit your comments, please explain how I can fix this and I certainly will do so.

    I have to say that I am actually excited to see my Ortho on Weds. just to see how everything’s going under this cast. Hopefully, it will be removed and I’ll be on to the next step down this long road to recovery.

  7. hi TC,
    I am exactly two months ahead of you, my surgery date was September 16th. Hang in there, things get better.
    You mentioned you ruptured your tendon while on the treadmill which is considered a low impact and relatively safe exercise. Did you have any prior pain or tightness in your tendon? Or did the rupture came unannounced?

  8. @ housemusic:

    I was running at a pretty good speed (about 7.5 mph) uphill on an incline of about 8 when it happened. But I’ve played ice hockey for 30 years, and many other sports, so maybe it was just my time? I’ve noticed quite a bit of achiness and cracking in my ankles for the past few years, not sure if that played a role either.

  9. Nice blog TC, your comment about the pain in the first couple of days and knowing when the pain relief was about to run out is exactly my experience. Good luck

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