Posted by: timbertopper | May 21, 2010

Second Physio

I had my second session with the physio today.  I do most of the exercises on a daily basis at home as part of the recuperation routine but already can see the benefits in my range of motion, so lots of smiles there.

I have moved on very quickly, although whether that is because I was slow at getting going is something I am considering when reading others’ experiences (now checking into NormoftheNorth and Mikek753 as my baselines).

According to my physio I have now apparently permanently ditched the boot ( to ensure I get the flexibility back in my ankle) and am onto one stick.  The strange thing with this is that I am now moving slower than ever.  I have had plenty of previous experience on two sticks for minor injuries when younger, and so with very little recall I could get going on a huge body swing and even add a hop between stick contacts when trying to get anywhere really fast (e.g. down the station platform to catch the train - note this is not recommended unless you have a dry level surface and nobody in the way).  However, once my foot was reintroduced to the ground on PWB the contact slowed me down somewhat , and now I am on one stick I am having to be even more careful and precise, worry more about what others are doing around me, and learn what my foot can do in terms of strength.  This is all progress though and getting things right is more important than just getting there at normal speeds.  However, my competitive side is looking forward to being able to overtake someone on the pavement.

I have noticed a change in how the general public perceive me now I am one stick.  When on two I had unspoken sympathy, people would move out of the way and look to help through doors and such like.  They would even be impressed on the odd occasion I went up an escalator with little difficulty.  On one stick, that willingness of others to step in and engage has gone: having a free arm brings one back into the general melee, even though I am now slower and probably les manouverable than I was before.  I have been questioning my own attitudes on this aspect and realised that in the past have probably been no different in how I considered others.  A good lesson learned and another little silver lining of this experience.

One last thing whilst idly passing time: what to do with the now redundant crutch?  It is slightly sad to see it lying unused as it was (according to its label) made on my birthday.  However it has fallen apart in the last week so its timing was good.  We have been thinking what should go into a ‘Swiss Army’ crutch and have a list of 83 items that would be useful to build into the existing design, including bottle openers, laser pointers and retrieval magnets.  We have also tried to come up with the best alternative use: the winner so far is turning the crutch upside down so it can be used to walk hamster balls.  Perhaps I have too much time on my hands….

Posted by: timbertopper | May 17, 2010

First physio today

I know all my blogs are out of order but I am just back from the physio and wanted to record this whilst fresh rather than with the benefit of reflective hindsight.

I’ve had a ROM-walker boot for one week since my cast was off, and have been waiting the whole week to get a physio appointment to find out how it would help me progress.  I’ve been guessing what angle changes would take place,and how frequently and been reading other blogs on their experiences.  So I was surprised when my PT told me I could lose the boot and go to trainers now, except as I only had one trainer with me that wasn’t an option for today.  Having had a cast on for this length of time, getting a boot has been a great step (excuse the subconcious pun) - if for nothing else letting me get to the itching and have a wash.  I’m really happy to feel as if I am moving on, although feel I am missing out a little.  I will still be with the sticks though for a couple more weeks.

The PT session went well - ten minutes on a stationary bike (the joys of cardio-type work have never been greater), 2-leg heel raises, balance board for 1 minute, half squats, etc.  The step ups were fun merely for the joy of having to regain my proprioception: gravity has never felt quite so uncertain.  There is a lot of work to do: my right leg looks like it was when I was twelve (albeit hairier) but I now have a schedule and some renewed goals.  On to the next step.

Posted by: timbertopper | May 17, 2010

A little bit of pre-history

For my own record this is the abbreviated run up to my ATR. To save reading the rest, probably with the lesson is get your self checked before you do more serious damage.

Feb 5th 2010 and I was teaching athletics on the ATP.  I was not super fit but was able to do a sub 7min 2000m row so  my power levels were good.    The ground was damp after an early rain shower, but we were able to explore running and moved onto relays.  I had been careful to warm up and gradually increase the intensity but nothing was being done at pace.  I set off on a run to demonstrate a relay changeover, my right leg reached full extension and then the slip on the wet surface happened. 

The result was me ending up on the floor in pain and the students also on the floor, though the cause for them was rolling around laughing.  However they quickly realised something wasn’t right and they did some good first aid: got me a seat, lots of ice, leg elevation etc.  I carried on teaching the session and when we had finished the students actually carried me off!  A brief check suggested a tear in my right medial calf muscle.  My staff colleagues sent me home and I spent the weekend extensively doing RICE, and looking up about calf injuries.  The general trend was that I was a “Weekend Warrior” - a sporty middle age guy with lots of residual strength in my muscles but also with reduced flexibility so that under extreme stresses (such as being at full extension) damage is caused to the lower leg.  My immediate contacts thought the nomenclature was funny - I started to realise I was vulnerable to non-contact injury.

However I went back into work the next week with a very bad limp, using a stick and staying off any physical activity.  A strong protestant work ethic overcame the idea of giving it more complete rest, and I thought some careful planning on what I was doing would minimise any stress and strain.  Probably a mistake though.

A long planned family holiday in Morocco was later in the month, which we went on as my limp was nearly gone and my recovery seemed to be working.  What should have been a simple visit to an ancient mosque (a fabulous place) ended up being a long hike there, and even worse back as the guide didn’t find the bridge he thought existed over a river as a short-cut.  2 hours cross country later and my leg was exhausted and calf muscle felt wrecked. Definitely a mistake.

Back to work after the holiday and I was now having to be very careful in how I moved, especially on stairs where I couldn’t walk up on my toes without lots of discomfort.  For a fortnight I was fine if I moved in straight lines.  However, the right-hand spiral staircase to my office eventually got me in March as I passed people going up the stairs, and by not planting my whole foot on the narrow tread I ended collapsed and in lots of pain.  By the time I got home I had a lump on my achilles but the pain had generally gone.   A lucky escape I thought - actually another mistake!

The denouement was when giving a career talk at a college.  Having completed two good talks I went back to the main reception to hand the attendance registers in.  It was a busy public area so I kept scanning the room to avoid any one bumping into me.  I was still limping and my balance was not good enough to change direction without pain, so I was being cautious.  However, I missed that there was a low (4 inch high) platform near the edge of the room, I assume for small presentations.  I tripped over it by catching my damaged right leg and stumbled forward.  Final mistake!

Fortunately there were lots of chairs so I fell into one of them, and sat in a lot of pain reminiscent of the spiral stairs incident a fortnight or so beforehand.  A few people checked I was okay, and some minutes later I thought I could set off again.  I was wearing ankle height  shoes which probably provided enough support for me to walk  / limp slowly to my car and drive the 50 miles back to work.  Once there and back up the staircase to my office I finally realised it was far more painful than before, and my workmates carted me off to the local hospital.  Under two hours later and I found out how bad the damage was: a tear to my achilles.

So my ATR is the start of what I understand is a long process, but I have already been slowed down and compromising my normal life for  almost two months.  Now though I have a proper diagnosis and a cast so it looks ‘official’.

Posted by: timbertopper | May 16, 2010

Better Late than Never

Hi All,

I have only found this site recently and I am already some weeks down the line post-op.  Thanks to everyone whose experiences I have read and for the ideas I have borrowed to make my life easier in the last week.  I wish I had found it earlier!

I have not been a blogger before so my Achilles rupture has given me at least this positive of learning a new activity.  My aim for my blog is as a point of reference for me to remember where I have been, to help me focus on what is next and maybe to help someone else in the same way many of the current blogs have helped me. 

I am off for my first physio appointment this am so only have a short time frame to post this blog but will fill in more details over the next days.  Although I am only 7 1/2 weeks post injury and 6 1/2 post op, I had already spent 6 weeks limping from previous lower leg injuries so it feels like a long time not being me.  However I have been PWB for one week and already enjoying the change of locomotion and looking forward to more slow and steady progress.

Good luck to All!