A Texas gal tracking her ATR

american ninja warrior

‘Peggy Snyder qualifies for American Ninja Warrior’

Well OK…yeh, that’s not a picture of me…..it’s a picture of one of the gals trying to qualify for America Ninja Warrior….and no I haven’ t qualified :)   But you might as well have told me I could try out after my appointment this morning with the doc!!! Wooo Hooo!!!

But I digress….it has not been all fireworks, baloons and confetti.  Yes a while back (whenever I wrote my last post) he had given me permission to start back at the gym slowly.  And that is what I did.  But the old ankle/tendon keeps reminding me that it is NOT healed and that it demands I take it slowly and one step at a time, lest it will raise it’s ugly head, get all inflamed and let me know who’s boss!

Then the strangest thing happened.  Both my physical therapist and my doctor suggested (as others have in the past) that it might be time for me to get some new running/walking/exercise shoes.  So I did.  I got a pair of New Balance New Balance 1765, Silver with Diva Pink

and a pair of AsicsASICS® Gel - Noosa Tri 8 - Women's - Flash Yellow/Flash Pink/Multi

(Yes even when you’re 65 you like to be " stylin’ "….or at least I do).  To my great surprise the guy at Academy told me I’d been buying my shoes too small….always thought I wore an 8 (sometimes an 8 wide)….but I ended up getting an 8 1/2 in the New Balance and a 9 in the Asics and what a difference those new sizes have made.

So I’m going along like a kid with new toys and thought I’d be bright and put the orthodic that my first podiatrist had given me to boost my heel up a little (after all I’d been wearing them in my old tennis shoes!!??) I started having burning, hurting pain in my ankle…relating it to perhaps not going slow enough in my return to exercise.  My kids were coming from out of state for a week visit and I did not want to be in that pain while they were here…..so I called and got a "squeeze in" appt. with my doctor.

"So Peggy, what have you been doing differently lately?"

……Told him about my exercises, told him I got new shoes….nothing really unusual.

"Are you sure there’s nothing else?"

…..hmmmm let me think????? The only other thing I can think of is that I put the orthodic inserts into my new shoes.

"Let me see your shoe and the orthodic."  (remember he’s not the doc who gave them to me)

"Ah ha!…. See how the orthodic is built up more on the right side and see how the New Balance shoe has a kind of built in orthodic ….also built up more on the right side to support the ankle.  Well by putting the old orthodic in you are doubling the pronation and putting an unnatural  torque on the ankle….. and you’ve got it inflamed and swollen"

Well dang…..I guess that’s what I get for trying to self medicate (with the old orthodic)….guess for a minute I thought I was a podiatrist! So he put me on a 6 day pack of prednisone and told me to take the old pain meds if I needed them.  Took the meds, the kids came for a visit, I watched them zipline, took them to San Antonio River Walk and now they’ve gone and so has the rude pain in my ankle…………oh and also gone is the orthodic in my shoe….don’t need it….

So that brings us to today.  This morning at 9:30 I had a follow up appointment.  I am 15 weeks and 2 days post surgery and was told I was a prize patient. :) Yesterday I got released from physical therapy and today the doc told me to "go for it".  That’s what he said when I ask if I can start fitness classes, spin classes, kick boxing, power walking…..   GO FOR IT!  In my mind I heard…..SURE YOU CAN TRY OUT FOR AMERICA NINJA WARRIOR!  Ha Ha!   He must have seen the wild ‘Parkour’ , Ernestine Shepherd- body builder, Kickboxing, Marathon, Power Walking lights go off in my eyes because he got this huge smile on his face…..and said…"Now Peggy what is the one word we cannot forget?"   Hmmmmm….  yep you know what it is……..

I know… I know.  Believe me I am going to go slow.  I may be power walking, kickboxing, body building, leaping over tall buildings in my mind, but my 65 year old body….and especially my 65 year old ankle  (wait wait….I’m only 64…I won’t be 65 till November)….I’m good to go!   :)  No my 64 year old body is going to take this wonderful ‘release to return to being me’ at a very slow pace.  After all my husband said if I do anything to re-damage the ankle and am laid up again….I might as well tell the doc to just shoot me!  :)

So that’s where I am….standing at a place in the tunnel where I can see the light of day clearly, just have to remind myself continually that I’m not through the tunnel opening yet.

My best to all of you especially those of you who are just 1 day post surgery and think the dark abyss had covered you.  It does get better…it just takes time.  I’ll be back to encourage you and let all my ATR friends know how I’m progressing.  And lest you think I was kidding………..look out America Ninja Warrior competition of 2014!!

(No not really! )  But I do see at least a half marathon next year!  Onward and upward!

July 12th, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

Hello friends,

Gosh it’s been a long time since I wrote anything….you get the cast off….. get the boot off….start physical therpy,  are granted permission to start going to the gym to start working out slowwwwwly and poof you disappear from the Achilles Tendon Recovery blog.  I know that’s how it must seem.  But the site is always on my mind and each day as I make a little more progress I am reminded (or think about) those people all over the world who may just be one day post surgery, feeling like the road to recovery is a "forever" road.  As I walk around my neighborhood and my neighbors comment on the progress I’ve made, it’s now hard to remember that a few 13 1/2 weeks ago I was in a cast, with my leg elevated wondering when I’d ever see the gym again.

Two weeks ago (at week 11), my doc gave me the clear go ahead to start using the leg press, and other leg machines, to start using the treadmill a 1/4 mile, to start doing squats and calf raises.  I was thrilled, but am finding that he was not kidding when he said only walk 1/4 mile, only use the BOSU ball if I was near a bar to hold on to, only do the leg press (with calf raises) at the very lowest weight.  He said those things because he knows me (I’m not sure how, but he knows me).  He knows that if a quarter mile seems easy to me, next time I’ll want to go 1/2 mile, then a mile.  He said to use my own judgement increasing the distance and weights………but to be very careful…….cause he knows my judgement is to want to get back to speed walking or power walking 8 miles, to have the weight up there on the machines.  He knows my desire to get back in shape and lose the weight this sedentary time has put on me.  But he didn’t have to tell me all that, I knew that…..and just in case I forget it….my ankle/heel/Achilles Tendon does not let me forget.

I started out at 1/4 mile (not as easy as I thought)….moved to 1/2 mile and then this past Monday tried 1 mile on a nature trail……….two steps forward…..four steps back.  I went from virtually no pain to once again having pain….DUH!  When I went for physical therapy this past Wednesday, my therapist shook his head and (not in these words) but  in a very diplomatic way asked "what part of slow did you not understand?"

So yes I am progressing, yes I am ahead of schedule in my recovery…. but also YES, when they say slow, they mean recovery is slow and they are not kidding. I mentioned to my doctor when he gave me the go ahead to start back at the gym and start walking that I truly thought that it would be September before I was allowed to proceed and reminded him that right after surgery (or maybe pre-surgery) I was told full recovery was a year.  That really hasn’t changed.  I am ahead of schedule.  I think most of us who were exercising, playing sports, or training prior to our injury/surgery probably do recover quicker.  But we still have to take it slow, lest we inflame the tendon or worse tear/snap it again……….and then oh just shoot me!

So I stayed away from the gym for the past 3 days.  I will go back today and start from square one again at 1/4 mile and the lowest weights on the machines and I may stay at that level for a week or two.  The recovery that keeps me away from the computer and writing feels wonderful, but I dare not get cocky and get ahead of myself in this process.

I hope you are each progressing well.  If you’re just starting out, hang in there.  Your day will come….just take it slow. Enjoy the time you are sedentary by doing things you never allow yourself time to do…like reading, writing, painting, puzzles etc.  As crazy as it sounds, I miss those days.  I’ve decided that as part of my recovery, I not only need to take the physical part slow, I need to find some balance and allow for part of my day….or week to include time to do the quiet non-physical things I enjoy as much as I enjoy exercising.

I have a friend who has a granddaughter who was a preemie.  This precious child struggles with some challenges and has to go to physical therapy several times a week.  She’ll be two in November and she is currently walking with the help of a special wheel machine.  That sweet little girl is such an inspiration to me.  Her progress is slow, but she keeps on keeping on and someday she’ll walk without that machine.  She motivates me to look at this ATR as the process it truly is and reminds me determination will get me where I want to be.

I just have to remember……….

June 23rd, 2013 at 9:03 am | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

Hi everyone!  Today is June 1, 2013.  Boy doesn’t time fly when you are having fun!

Today I am 9 weeks and 3 days post-op and doing amazingly well except for the continued tight feeling in the back of my heel and the slight swelling if I stay up on it too too long.  I am going to physical therapy twice a weeks doing foot/heel stretches (alone and with bands), a circular board (with small ball on bottom to rotate my foot, the recumbent bike, some one foot balance work and a bent knee stretch.  Physical Therapist says I am doing well and have great flexion in my ankle.  I am allowed to use the recumbent or Nu-Wave bikes at the gym at low levels and can do upper body work.  In about 2 weeks, the doctor said I should be able to start  on the treadmill for short periods of time…starting with about 10 minutes - no elevation and low speed.

The athlete on my right shoulder wants to turn the treadmill up to a level 6 and jog at about 4- 4.5 miles/hour….but the more conservative, less brave, but wiser me, on my left shoulder keeps screaming…SLOW…SLOW….SLOW….DO NOT RUSH THIS!

Last Friday (May 24th) I started one hour with my tennis shoes on….weaning myself off of the boot….adding one hour each day.  Today I am up to 9 hours out of the boot.  I think about what I want to do for each day and sometimes put the boot on first thing in the morning and save my tennis shoe time for later in the day…..or I’ll get up and put my tennis shoes on and do my time and finish the day with the boot on.  I have to tell you my foot/ankle cry when it has to go back into the boot!  It has become a royal pain.

I know I’ll be thrilled when I can go boot scootin’  and it won’t be with the medical boot….but that will have to wait on the back burner for right now.

Last night we did go to a dance (without my boot) and I danced one very very slow dance….it felt good to get out.  But there were some women there that I was so envious of (because of the shoe fetish I have)….so if the day ever comes when the doctor tells me that I can once again wear shoes like this:   or like thisb.o.c Fiore Wedge Sandal

I will be overjoyed!

That may never happen, but it could because the doctor promises me that some day off in the future (maybe March 2014), I will be back to my normal exercise routine and should be able to wear a tennis shoe without a lift in it…..so

maybe…just maybe…..( ), he’ll say that on special occasions I can wear stylish shoes!

Hope you are each doing well on your recovery journey.  For those of you just starting out….it does get better…..it can be overwhelming at first….overwhelming, confining, painful!  But just take it one day at a time and know that each day is one day closer to full recovery….listen to the angel on your left shoulder and take it slow….that’s the main and most important word in this ACR….SLOW.

I have curtains to finish up, so I best get after it….they aren’t going to sew themselves.

Have a truly wonderful day and remember to smile………..as the corners of your mouth go….so goes your day!

June 1st, 2013 at 10:46 am | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

I’ve been down to San Antonio with my Mom and busy sewing curtains….but doing well on recovery….tomorrow I do 8 hours in  a tennis shoe….weaning myself off of the boot.  I promise I’ll write more tomorrow..

For those of you still in your cast and maybe just a few days post surgery….it does get better…honest!  I found this picture and it made me think of when I was just a week post surgery and already grumpy and going stir crazy….hope it helps life your spirits!

May 30th, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink

A faint glow on the eastern horizon
gets brighter
as if someone were blowing on ashes
lights up more ash clouds
until there is no doubt
the fire is lit
the day will come
from yesterday’s coals.

(part of a poem by Ruby R. Wilson…called "Birthday Sunrise")

I read those words (part of a poem by Ruby Wilson) on another blog I read called A Year of Being Here….each day I get a new poem in my e-mail.  This one (well the first part of it) really struck home with me after my visit with the doctor this past Monday, May 20th.

Needless to say it was (in my opinion) a very positive uplifting ‘moving forward’ visit.  I am as of today 8 weeks post-surgery and doing really good.  After taking and looking at the X-rays, he told me I have healed very well and my recovery is actually ahead of schedule.  I was hoping to get the green flag to take the boot off…but that didn’t quite happen.

I have to wear the boot one more week…sort of….let me explain.  I no longer have to wear the boot to sleep in and at the end of this week….as in 2 days…I can start wearing a tennis shoe with full body weight for an hour a day.  Adding an hour each day after that I am to start weaning myself off of the boot.  I am also allowed to walk to the bathroom at night without putting the boot on….so I keep a pair of sturdy shoes right by the bed…along with my walker (just to be safe) and it feels great!!!

But here’s a funny story about Monday night…..even after doing the teeth bared, fist clinched, elbow pulled quickly back …as in a BIG YES!!!! when he told me no more sleeping in the boot.  I laid down Monday night and I tossed and I turned and I got up and walked  a little in the sturdy shoes, I laid on the couch, I got back in bed…..and I absolutely could not go to sleep. At 3:15 AM, I said to myself…"this is ridiculous, I have got to get to sleep" (I had a 7AM physical therapy session!)….I said to heck with it, I’m going to put the boot back on and see if that makes a difference ……….. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz  need I say more! :)

The doctor told me I could take my tennis shoe to physical therapy and start doing some stand up exercises.  So after the regular stretching up and down, side to side and leg massage, they had me walk a little, do some step ups on a solid block and on the thick foam block (to get back to some balance training) and 10 minutes on a recumbent bike.  I can also go to the gym and do 10 to 15 minutes on a recumbent bike as well a upper bodywork every other day. Yehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

And then to my total unbelievable surprise, I asked the doctor when he thought I might be able to get back to walking any distance or getting on the treadmill……..I braced myself hoping he might say August (that would kind of be pushing it since that will only be 5 months post-0p)…….well you can imagine I almost fell off the table when he said….Oh I think if you start really slow with no elevation you should be ready in about 3 weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Holy Oh Moly!  My world just got a whole lot brighter.  But he did say more then once……..I’m not talking any speed and absolutely no elevation and only about 10 - 15 minutes a day.  HE JUST MADE MY DAY!

So you can see why when I read those words in that beautiful poem this morning……..I thought how fitting….the embers of my past goals have never stopped smoldering and I am ever so slowly blowing on them…and "the day (of continuing my goals) will come from yesterday’s coals"

Today’s the day I can go to the gym to ride the bike and do some upper body work……and by golly I think that is where I’m off to…I’ll be back though to read your thoughts and advice and the other interesting and informative blogs on this site.

Have a beautiful day….and please join me in warm thoughts and prayers for those who lost so much in Granbury, Texas and Moore, Oklahoma. If you live there we hope you and yours are safe.

May 22nd, 2013 at 11:03 am | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

It is just the most gorgeous day here in Georgetown…86 degrees very few clouds in the sky and me grinning from ear to ear. I just went outside and walked 3/4 of a mile (in boot). I guess maybe truth be known I hobbled 3/4 of a mile…..but in my heart and in my mind I had my ear pods in and was listening to Huey Lewis and the News sing "The Heart of Rock and Roll" and I was speed walking down the road. In my mind I had blocked out any other thoughts except the beauty of nature and the exhilaration I remember feeling every time I pump my arms and they work in union with the speed of my legs…. with my own self made wind blowing against my sweat stained face………(probably not a pretty picture to paint) but oh how I miss that.  It was good to get out of the house. It was good to remember that feeling. And it will be great to actually do that next March.

It’s a beautiful day.

May 16th, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (6) | Permalink

Last Wednesday, May 8, 2013, I went for my first evaluation at physical therapy.

I chose to go to the same sports injury therapy clinic I had gone to before the surgery and asked for the same therapist…because I liked him and felt confident of his knowledge of how to rehab my tendon and help me regain my strength and muscle tone to my “surgery leg/heal”. He told me that when he saw my name come up on his roster, his heart sunk….thinking I was still in pain….after doing 6 weeks of physical therapy with him last November….not realizing until he got my doctor’s report that I had surgery….a whole different ball game than just rehabbing a painful strained tendon.

Part of why I like him is because he takes the time to explain what was happening in my recovery and reiterating the importance of taking this recovery very seriously and very slowly. He used a cadaver foot/heel to show me how my foot had been positioned in the cast right after surgery at a downward angle to allow the tendon to heal in a shortened position and get a good strong hold on the heel bone…then the position it was when I got put in the boot with 2 one inch lifts at the heel, how it looked when one of the lifts was removed and what the position we had as our goal at complete recovery…or at least at the end of PT.

I found it interesting when he explained that when the surgery was done it was like having wet cement in my heel, now it’s hardening cement that is still in a pliable state…and that if we didn’t do the physical therapy, it would harden (like cement) and we’d really have a problem. So extremely important for me to do the exercises he gave me so we can slowly mold the heel and tendon back to a healthy working part of my body. I was pleased with the ‘visual’ his explanation had given me.

That Wednesday was also the first day I was allowed to walk 30 mins. (in boot) without my walker. That was a huge feeling of being offered some freedom ….and the realization and understanding of the “new pain” I would have! As Bryan, the PT guy, said….”right now your tendon is like a ball, all bunched up…and when you start moving it and stretching it, you will feel pain and burning as you unravel that ball”…… And boy oh boy was he right!!!

Sunday the 12th, having added a half hour walking without walker each day since Wednesday, I was up to 2 ½ hours, and after spending Saturday on my feet (with walker) helping prepare food for our Mother’s Day party, I was having PAIN. Out came the pain meds (that I thought I was done with)

I am also beginning to fully understand why they say “full recovery takes one year”. Not only do you have pain in the surgery heel, but every part of your body aches from taking on a new role in getting yourself around…. Who knew your shoulders and upper back would hurt from gripping the walker and pulling yourself up from a sitting position?…..And who knew the toes of the “good foot” would ache from bearing the whole weight of your body for 6-7 weeks? Who knew that your calf muscles would have small spasms as they start to really reawaken? I’m sure many of you further down the recovery road than I am know of this and more, …and now I am beginning to understand too.

So yes….as I approach the end of the 7th week…I have ‘new pains’, but I see ‘new gains’ ….and even though it’s still way way way on down the road, that light at the end of the tunnel is slowly glowing brighter.

I am looking forward to what I call the “epiphany day”, similar to, but probably not as dramatic as, the day after months of chemo, or after the loss of a loved one, or after a painful divorce, a day when you wake up and realize how bad, sad, or mad you’ve really been and your amazement that you once again feel so good…..your joy and surprise that you are once again happy. ( I’ve lived all those experiences and know that that day usually takes a year to get to…..so I’m looking forward to that day related to ATR sometime in March 2014)

Not long ago, I posted a picture of a sad little girl because that is how I felt. But I got to thinking that I should post a happier picture. One that gives me hope and encouragement….one that makes me reset my goals…that reminds me of how far I’d gotten before the Achilles Tendon started giving me grief and pretty much stopped me in my tracks…..and where I plan to get back to and go beyond when all this healing is over….

I like to say I’m 64…. and this is not where the story ends….

Cher sings in a song called “You haven’t seen the last of me”, I love the words…they fit so well…“I’ve been brought down to my knees…I’ve been pushed right past the point of breaking….but I can take it—I’ll be back on my feet. This is far from over…. you haven’t seen the last of me”…..

So I put this picture on my desk top of myself taken last June….

It gives me hope…it gives me determination…it makes me want to go for a 5 mile walk,  take a spin class or go to the gym for two hours (of course I know I can’t do right now….but I will…someday I will)…

This morning at 7AM I went to my first physical therapy…lots of gentle pulling and pushing of my ankle and turning this way and that, rolling my foot on some sort of small BOSU ball contraption…..and practicing my MONKEY SKILLS of picking up marbles with my toes.

(If you’ve gotten this far in this post and the picture is  there, please join me in yelling out YEHHHHHHHHHH! It’s only taken me a day and a half and 9 tries to get this posted) I was beginning to think I was going to have to take my boot off and throw it at my computer! (Norm….I just had a ‘duh’ moment…..when I figured out the original picture was too big!!! )

Gotta go do some ‘without walker’ walking….see you back here soon!

May 14th, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (6) | Permalink

I’ve written a post 5 times today….and every time I publish it and then go back to edit it…and update…the post is gone.

Guess I’ll go do my exercises and try again later….

May 13th, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (4) | Permalink

Well it’s been a beautiful day.  The sun is shining, it’s 82 degrees and I got to do a little gardening today! YEA!   I love working in my gardens and having flowers all over my yard and I’ve missed that in the last 5+ weeks……and it just felt wonderful to get out and pull a few weeds and put down some mulch….I didn’t do a lot (I don’t want to push it)….but even the 20 -30 mins. I worked (as best I could) seemed like a day of heaven.

So let’s see where I am…… Tomorrow,  I will do 30 minutes walking without the walker (in the boot). Then Thursday I’ll add an hour….and Friday an hour more etc.  Also tomorrow I have the appointment for my first evaluation with physical therapy.  Since I’ve been walking (with the walker) and putting a little more weight on my foot, I’ve had a few sharp pains on either side of the heel and a bit of burning.  But nothing major and I only elevate my foot and ice it once or twice a day.  It does not seem to be swelling.  The last couple of nights, I’ve slept without the boot and been very careful to put the boot on if I get a nature call in the middle of the night.  So all in all this 6th week has been OK foot recovery wise.  I’ve had a few low spells, but am working on getting that under control.

I read a great poem/thought this morning….that made me think about this slow recovery…

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” — A. A. Milne

My doc says I’m a couple weeks ahead of schedule because of the 4 anchors he put in when he re-attached the tendon.  It’s pretty amazing what they can do in the medical field these days.

The sky is a pale blue…..almost cloud free save  a few wisps here and there so faint you can barely call them clouds. I think I’ll take a book outside and read while I gaze upon my flowers.

Hope you’re having a sunshine happy recovery day too.

May 7th, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (5) | Permalink

Is there no place on this blog to be able to change font or font size.  I can’t seem to find it!???

May 1st, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink