A Texas gal tracking her ATR

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
6 Responses to “New pains…New gains…and monkey skills!”
  1. 1
    kellygirl Says:

    Okay, now I’m having trouble posting a comment. Let me try this again but first let me tell you that “Whoa, you look amazing!” If that picture isn’t motivating to get back on two feet, I don’t know what is :) Congratulations on your first day at PT and thank you for sharing your reflections. We are with you every step of the way–I’ll be cheering you on from Cali!

  2. 2
    torngoals Says:

    Kellygirl…you made me smile! It’s always good to have some one cheering for you. I have two more blogs I need to post to…so hopefully I won’t have the problems I’ve had with this blog. Have a beachfully beautiful day!

  3. 3
    ripraproar Says:

    Hi tg
    A great great blog, good on you

  4. 4
    bambam Says:

    Hi torngoals,
    glad to hear you are doing so well.
    Really jealous of the fact you managed to get your pic on (looking good by the way!)
    I’m on a break from trying to upload one as I must’ve tried 5 times so far with no success.
    I’m gonna have another go now and fiddle with size of the pic, see if that works.
    Your therapist sounds really cool and it’s great he takes the time to explain things properly. If only we could all have a similar therapist.
    At least his heart sank because he was concerned for you and not because he thought you were mad!!!!
    Good luck.

  5. 5
    normofthenorth Says:

    You GO Girl! (Hope that’s OK coming from a guy!)

    I’m not sure if I’m sorry or glad that my PT didn’t have a cadaver foot handy during my ATR rehab(!).

    I don’t think I’m quite as keen on “pain and burning” in the AT as your PT is, at 7 weeks in. But walking around FWB in the boot should be fine. If you’re swelling, try to control it with rest, elevation, ice, and maybe compression socks. (I carried around a wide-mouth thermos full of ice cubes in my back-pack when I was on crutches, and in my hands for quite a few weeks thereafter.)

  6. 6
    Peggy Says:

    Thanks for your comments. I woke up today in a kind of pity party mood. But I went to a meeting of a weight loss program I belong to and remembered that “I’m the hope I’m waiting for”…that I have to make the commitment…that every morning I have the opportunity to choose to be sad or choose to be happy….I choose to be happy and I choose to make the commitment again and do what I can to get fit and healthy even with this heavy black boot on. Have a great day all! Thank you for your support and encouragement!


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