Slow and steady, but progress nonetheless…

Monday was two months since I ruptured my Achilles.  Time has flown by….but has been slow at the same time.  (I know, that doesn’t really make sense, ha!)

The first couple of weeks were a breeze! I was still driving, and zipping around on my knee scooter.  Sure I couldn’t work out, but I could still be “out in the world”.  Then I finally saw the surgeon two weeks and one day post injury in the afternoon.  The next morning, I was off to surgery first thing.  That’s when things slowed down…

Surgery went great, and I only needed pain meds for three days.  My spirits were up, and initially I enjoyed hanging out on the couch with my books, word searches, tablet, dot-to-dot (yes, dot-to-dot, but we’re talkin’ over 300 dots!), music, and Netflix.

Fast-forward a week…I really started to get bummed out.  Anxious for my post-op appointment, ready to get the cast off, thinking about everything I was missing out on, not being motivated to do the exercises I could do, and frustrated that everyone else’s lives were continuing on while mine seemed to stop.

Finally, three and half weeks post-op, I saw the surgeon.  Staples out, sutures out, boot on!  I felt on top of the world….very briefly.  That was a Monday.  The rest of the week was spent waiting for the PT referral, then making calls to my surgeon’s office, to my insurance, and to PT offices.  On Friday, near the EOB, I was finally all set for PT and scheduled out for four weeks.  In just a few more days, it’d be on!

Now here I am today.  Spirits much higher! On my third week of physical therapy (fifth session is in a couple of days).  As of yesterday evening’s session, I’m PWB at 25%.   Already, I feel like I’m getting my life back.  I’m doing my best to stay positive about all the little wins and gains that are going to get me to full recovery.  As much as I can, remembering how fortunate I still am, despite this unfortunate injury.

Since I started PT on Nov. 14th, my at-home exercises have been: seated heel slides, seated ankle inversions, towel crunches, prone knee flexion with resistance, side lying hip abductions, straight leg raises, clamshells with resistance, and the alphabet.

During my PT sessions, I’ve been doing those exercises, as well as a number of others with resistance, to work on my ROM and strength.  Yesterday, we added planks (on my left foot only), bridges, and seated heel raises, plus I have a few more resistance exercises I can do at home to work on ROM.  He’s very pleased with my strength and ROM, as well as how my incision is healing, swelling (which is minimal), and scar tissue.  So far the protocol has been in the hands of my therapist without guidance from my surgeon, but he and I are both ready to get a bit more aggressive.  He wants me on my feet (well, foot and boot) soon.  I’m strong and ready to really get moving again, though of course, I know I’ll need to listen to my tendon and not push it beyond the limit.  Plus my poor right calf has gotten so wimpy.

My next appointment with the surgeon is on Monday.  I thought about calling and speaking with him or his M.A. about giving the okay to get a bit more aggressive with the protocol, find out when the wedges can start coming out.  But at this point, I’m patient enough to wait and continue to do my exercises diligently each day.  Then he’ll see for himself during my appointment how strong I am and that I’m ready do to more.  I’ll be seven weeks and three days post-op by then.  I trust my physical therapist, and I’d have full confidence in him if the protocol is put entirely in his hands after I see the surgeon.

I read others’ stories on the AchillesBlog, and on a FB group I’ve joined, and though sometimes I am envious of those who are already on both feet, I am SO PROUD of everyone for all of their hard work, persistence, dedication, and perseverance!  No, I don’t know anyone personally, but I’m still proud and excited for each accomplishment they make along their road to full recovery.  I’ve found that it’s so, so true….as much as people, friends, family, and strangers sympathize, unless they’re going through this (or have gone through an Achilles injury), it’s just not the same as hearing or reading the words of people who have.  For me reading those words, seeing people’s progress, and reading stories of full recovery, that’s been a huge part in helping me stay mentally and emotionally strong through this….and it’s really still just the beginning for me :)

Slow and steady, my progress will continue on…

8 Responses to “Slow and steady, but progress nonetheless…”

  1. There’s a FB group?!?! Huh…well I’ll have to check that out!

    I whole heartedly agree. I don’t know anyone personally but when someone gets a wedge out, starts driving or is able to walk their dog for the first time, I’m so proud of them. For their patience and dedication. I’m so far behind them, but I know I’ll eventually be that person…that maybe someone will admire me for my hard won accomplishment.

    As much as my friends and family sympathize with my situation it really is not the same. I sat and talked with a total stranger outside the PT office who had also gone through the whole ATR debacle. We just sat and chatted for a good 15 minutes and it was so comforting. They were walking around without a limp and I thought, that’s going to be me in a little bit.

    It’s really the slow part of slow and steady I have a problem with. But it’s not like I have a choice. If this ordeal has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me patience. And playing the long game.

    Keep up the great progress Tima! We will get there eventually!!

  2. @junebug. That’s a great post and attitude you have!! While I would not wish this ordeal on my worst enemy there is a little sense of pride in “yeah I overcame that…”. Glad to see you are gleaning positive energy from the ATR community.

  3. Way to go Tima! Yes it is great to get the PT exercises to do on a daily basis and you can see progress as you do them. Definitely don’t rush it! I think we moved a bit faster with my left foot mainly because how I and my PT interpreted “3rd month” was actually 4th month to my doc. So we did things a bit slower on my right and I think that actually ended up being better for me. I’m sore more often with my left and just don’t seem to be progressing as fast. I figure that is because I’m doing things a bit earlier than on my right foot so I’m not as strong and it will take longer to get the strength needed. So I just do the exercises I can do and when I feel pain I stop and give my foot a break.

    So just keep on doing your exercises, bump up the reps or weight when they get easy and you’ll progress steadily onward and upward (literally - you’ll be standing tall - LOL!).

  4. its so strange that differing areas have differing protocols. Mine in Hull is 2 weeks in a cast NWB then 8 weeks in a boot FWB as tolerated, I was lucky and from the first day in the aircast boot i could just walk. I hear you and agree that the achilles rupture is something noone else can understand. I feel a bit abandobed by the NHS and since going into my boot noone has even looked at my achilles, so that will be 8 weeks by time the boot comes off on 10th dec ( I am so excited to reach the boot removal milestone, but also totally terrified).

  5. @Tima-great attitude so far. You will do well. Seems like you’re really wanting to get after it with the exercises. Be careful! I’m 20.5 weeks in and my PT says my tendon is still likely not fully healed. I’ve been by the book on mine and feel like it has helped me get stronger without much pain.

    Keep the letters coming!

  6. @Jeff16, you’re kidding. At 20 and half weeks it’s still not considered healed? I wonder at what time frame it IS considered healed. I know it will vary from person to person, but I’m wondering if there’s in industry standard. Like at 1 year it’s considered fully healed. So at 5 months in I’m still going to be paranoid doing stuff. *sigh*

  7. @junebug. I guess it depends on your definition of “healed”. I still have scar tissue built up and there’s is minor pain now and then. This gets better all the time. As far as industry standard I go by at 6 months cleared for all activity including explosive movement. At 1 year is about where you were before the injury. I look at it as an opportunity to vary workouts and embrace exercises you don’t do often which will overall make you more fit. Sorry didn’t mean to discourage.

  8. My doc doesn’t give the “do anything” OK until the 6 month mark as well. And he regularly reminds me it takes a year to fully recover. At 1 year for my right foot I was not anywhere near where I was at before surgery - but that’s because I didn’t have my all my stamina and strength back yet. In fact I wasn’t quite back to my pre-right-foot surgery level when I got my left foot done. But that’s probably because my left foot started paining me a lot more so I had to reduce the intensity of my exercise.

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