Wow!! I did a double whammy. I have been active my entire life. I love sports and in the last several years have been active in triathlons and CrossFit. Recently I started back gymnastics which I enjoyed in my younger days. I had tumbled for several weeks when the injury occurred. I was doing a round off back tuck. After springing off both feet in an explosive movement I felt both Achilles snap. Thankfully I landed the tuck but did not have any Achilles for support. I fractured my right medial malleolus and tore my left deltoid ligament. It was severe pain immediately. Worse than childbirth and Ive done that four times. I underwent surgery 36 hours later to repair both Achilles and pin the fracture.
The first two weeks went by pretty uneventfully. I took pain medication for about three days after surgery. We had a lot of people visiting, bringing meals, and helping to care for our four small children. This kept me busy along with doing as much research on this injury as humanly possible. My first post-op visit was at 13 days in which I was to get my cast off and remove the stitches. There were so many things that I had lost control over that I was prepared for a long discussion with my surgeon regarding my rehab options. I wanted my life back and FAST.
My first visit with the surgeon did not go as planned. I pushed for a boot and asked to do gentle range of motion. His plan was to recast me till five weeks. In the end he conceded to leave me in the old cast bivalved so I could shower but nothing else. That is were my life started to fall apart a bit. Well, maybe more than a bit. I don’t think I have cried that much since having the postpartum change of hormones after childbirth. Im usually upbeat and optimistic but this injury had started to unravel me. I will admit I was depressed and grieving. Grieving for the things I felt I had lost. I was looking forward to a carefree summer with our children. Time on the lake water skiing, going to the pool, triathlon season with my husband and two dear friends. These things would not be this summer and I got quite pissed about it.
Obsessing about this injury is an understatement! I think I have read every sports medicine protocol and research article I can get my hands on. Needless to say I was not pleased with my surgeon’s conservative approach. I pleaded my case with his nurse practitioner quoting several articles which show that early weight bearing and range of motion do not increase re-rupture rates. My husband got a text two days later stating I could go into a cam walker boot at thirty degrees plantar flexion and fully weight bear as tolerated with a walker. I could also do ROM to 10 degrees plantar flexion. He had stated that he would talk to his foot and ankle specialists so I assume he did his homework and felt more comfortable with the current literature.
Now what? I got what I wanted but I’m scared to death. This injury still consumes my every waking moment. I still grieve over silly things like pretty shoes sitting in my closet. I miss doing things with my children. I feel like I’m sitting on the sideline watching life pass me by. Life is just harder right now. When I’m not rolling around in a wheelchair I’m standing or shuffling around with a walker with great effort. Each day does get better in small ways but the overwhelming disability seems to shadow those small victories. When I’m in a positive state of mind I can see my blessings. It could be much worse. It could be permanent. It could be incurable. It could be my child. My family, friends, and community have been wonderful. As a physician I can now see the role as patient much clearer. As a person who has never had a disability I can see the disabled in a new light.
Reading research articles and rehab protocols only tell you so much. They tell you what to do and when, but not how you will FEEL along this journey. This is were we need each other.