A Texas gal tracking her ATR

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
3 Responses to “Lest I forget this progress is slowwwww!”
  1. 1
    loumar747 Says:

    Great update. You express the SLOW progression well. I am in week 6 and am feeling as though I’ll never get back to my pre-rupture life. As there is no pain, whilst in the ‘boot’, I sort of harboured the thought that I, perhaps, was different. You know, a sort of miracle patient, who could somehow progress as no other had done before. However, I am SLOWLY beginning to face the reality of me being a mere mortal. Don’t think I’ll be biking, golfing, kayaking this summer. Or, maybe, just maybe I will….

    Anyway, oongrats on your progression and with your positive attitude, I think you’ll soon be running that 1/2 mile.!

  2. 2
    normofthenorth Says:

    It’s tricky trying to embrace “slow” or “fast” as a simple motto. During the scariest parts of the rehab — like 0-12-ish weeks in — the evidence is clear that going “fast” produces better results than going “slow”, at least up to the pretty-quick speed of bit.ly/UWOProtocol . The clinical benefit of going that fast for surgical ATR patients is modest, but for non-op ATR patients the clinical benefit of going that fast is HUGE. And for both kinds of ATR patients, the NON-clinical benefits of getting off crutches sooner and returning to “mostly normal” sooner are HUGE.

    But many of us are impatient types, and even the fast schedule of bit.ly/UWOProtocol is frustratingly slow for many of us. And going even faster than that is at best uncharted waters, and at worst proven to give bad clinical results.

    And during several months after that scary period, although the risk of a rerupture drops to virtually zero, the risk of reinjury or serious setbacks still looms large if you do too much too soon. (I had a MONTH-long painful setback during my first, post-op, ATR recovery, because I was dumb enough TO DO EXACTLY WHAT MY PT TOLD ME TO DO(!!). (I knew she was being too agressive, and I argued, but when she insisted, I gave in. Dumb. Details on my blog.)

    So the right answer is to go at the RIGHT speed, as shown by the evidence. For some people — including many Docs and some PTs — that means going faster than feels right. For others — including many impatient athletic patients — that means avoiding getting over-confident and over-impatient. The trick is finding out whether you are going (or being instructed to go) too fast or too slow. For me, that’s where the evidence comes in.

    I think many people have too much faith in their surgeons and/or PTs to design their rehab program, often believing (almost always falsely, IMO) that the prescribed schedule is specifically customized to the patient’s specific injury, repair, or rate of healing. From a few years of reading and posting here, it’s pretty obvious that the vast majority of the difference between different ATR patients’ prescribed rehab programs is because of their surgeon’s or PT’s unexamined tradition, or what they were taught decades ago, or their confused notion that going slower is safer in avoiding reruptures, or national or regional fashions in ATR care. Even 6 years after the new evidence started piling up about ATR treatment, way too many well-paid and well-respected professionals continue to prescribe and administer second-rate care, heedless of the evidence. It’s not just about rehab speed, either.

    The good news is that the situation is slowly improving in most jurisdictions. The bad news is that it will probably take another decade or two for the vast majority of ATR patients to get first-rate care.

  3. 3
    kellygirl Says:

    Thanks for the update, Peg! Sounds like you are definitely figuring things out and will be out jogging in no time at all. You have a great attitude and it is always a pleasure to read your reflections!


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