Two Years!

Hey all-

It has been forever since I’ve posted - mostly because I haven’t had much to report.  I do check in with the site from time to time, but as you all will discover, once you’ve healed there are so many other things that demand your attention.  Hang in there and you’ll eventually get to where I am.

I’ve been doing a bunch of bicycling this summer, both road and mountain bikes.  Since today is the 2nd anniversary of my ATR, I wanted to do something significant to mark the day.  I decided on a 17+ mile ride of the Douglas County (CO) East-West Trail.  The trail consists of surfaces ranging from paved to sandy to gravel to hard-packed dirt.  It has got flat, straight, curvy, hairpin, bumpy, and steep sections.  A few of the climbs really push me to my limit.  To make today’s ride even more challenging, I rode an 8-mile “prologue” from my house to the beginning of the trail and then a 3-mile “epilogue” home along regular streets for a total of 28 miles.  The “prologue” almost did me in as it is nearly all uphill.  At about the two-hour mark, I had to stop several times to get my quads to stop cramping.  The whole ride took me 3 hours, 20 minutes.  There were a few times where I felt less like I was riding the trail and more like I was surviving the trail.  Surprisingly, as I sit here, my ATR calf feels better than anything else below my waist!

If anyone is interested, the summary of my ride is here:  Don’t believe the “Leaderboard’s” listing me doing the ride twice today.  If you have 8 minutes to kill, click on the “3D” button in the upper right corner of the map.  It takes you on a Google Earth flyover of my ride.

Happy healing, all, and remember that you WILL get back to doing what you love!


Other foot update

So this other foot thing (see prev post) has been a crazier deal than my rather straightforward ATR.  The third radiologist that I spoke with (after getting plain films that showed no foreign body) agreed that there was metal artifact on my MRI, but that my real diagnosis was a tear of my third plantar plate.  An internet search yielded a lot of info about 2nd plantar plate tears and some pics of how to tape the toe - which I started doing.  I was stunned by how much better my foot felt after playing frisbee with such a simple intervention.  I did go see a podiatrist (hoping that he’d suggest things other than surgery) who said that my exam was more consistent with a neuroma than a plantar plate tear.  I felt like I was caught on a diagnostic merry-go-round.  His assistant did a fancier job of taping my toe/foot, he gave me some Celebrex and told me to put metatarsal pads in my shoes.

So where am I today?  Back to running around, chasing a white, circular piece of plastic as often as I can.  Last PM, it was in the 50s here and I had a great game of ultimate under the lights.  Afterwards, I had no pain in my foot (and my ATR leg is doing just fine, BTW).  To me, this foot thing reinforces what all the non-op ATR people already know: our bodies, when treated with a reasonable amount of respect, have tremendous healing abilities.

As an aside, I’ve started worrying more about the possibility of rupturing my other (right) side - so much so that I’ve started driving with my left foot so that I’ll be well practiced in case I can’t use my right!

Ya gotta be kiddin me…

Ok, so, my ATR recovery has been going just fine.  I started back playing Ultimate quite a few months ago and haven’t been having any problems - other than struggling to get my fitness level up.

About 2 months ago, I started noticing that after playing, my OTHER foot was starting to hurt in the forefoot area, kinda under the forefoot pads, just lateral to the middle of my foot.  Each time I played, my foot hurt a little more.  It was annoying at first, not bad enough to seek help, but had me stumped as to the origin.  I couldn’t remember any on-field trauma.  Then I got around to digging up the sod for the second of two flowerbeds that my wife wanted and I had an aha moment: my foot hurt right where I was pushing on the shovel!  I must’ve bruised something while digging up the first bed.  Fastforward a couple of weeks and after playing in our Sat AM pickup game, I was limping for the rest of the day.  So, I popped by my PT’s office for a quick opinion.  From history alone, he speculated that it was a capsulitis - inflammation of the area where the foot bones attach to the toes - ice, rest, ibu, etc.  The next Sat was our league’s end-of-season tournament.  During the second of two games, I made a plant/cut that sent a jolt all the way through the top of my head.  I was somewhat glad that we lost that game and were out of the tourney so that I didn’t have to play again.  The difference this time was that the next day, my foot really swelled up.  I iced and elevated, but the swelling persisted for several days.  So, I called my PT and set up a time for him to check it out.  When he examined me, pressing on the bones and joints was not painful, but when he pressed on the space between my 4th and 5th metatarsals, it was really tender.  His strong suspicion: Morton’s neuroma - an enlargement/scar tissue of the nerves that go out to the toes.  He did some massaging, ultrasound and icing and gave me the name of the foot/ankle specialist he thinks highly of.  I did a little reading about Morton’s, and some of the symptoms fit, but I didn’t think that the swelling could be accounted for.  Now, it just so happens that my main hospital is opening a new pediatric hospital and there is a new MRI machine.  The MRI techs told me that they needed to do some initial set-up scanning before they could use the machine on real patients (I do a fair amount of anesthesia for children who need MRI scans).  They said that they’d scan my foot.  Sure, I thought, why not have a scan to take to the foot/ankle guy.

I was put in a foot holder to help keep my foot still during the exam and given earplugs since the music headphones weren’t working yet.  About 10-15 min into the scan, the bottom of my foot started to hurt.  I figured that it was just pressure from the holder and tried to ignore it.  Another 15-20 min later, it was really hurting and I was feeling like I really needed to move my foot.  I was starting to wish that they would finish soon.  All told, I think that the scan took 45-50 min - longer than normal, but I knew that they were tinkering with the machine with the GE rep.  Finally, they came in and asked how I was doing.  When they told me they were finished, I told them that I was glad it was over because my foot was really hurting.  Once I got out of the holder and back to the control room, the pain was nearly gone.  The rep quickly asked me whether my foot was burning, which I realized that it had been.  In near-unison, they all said, “we think that you have a piece of metal in there.”


They showed me the pictures and pointed to an artifact spot and the distortion around it - which is indicative of metal - MRI scanners can’t “see” metals, but they can heat them up.  And in case you don’t know, the “M” stands for Magnetic.  The MRI scanner is one big, stinking magnet - strong enough to pull a pen out of your pocket or the older-generation aneurysm clips through your brain!  This must be a pretty small piece because I’ve never had any problems when I’ve been giving anesthesia.  It took having the magnets energy focused on my foot for it to be a problem.  I guess I’m glad that the magnet didn’t pull the piece through my foot and out.  I think the techs would’ve been pretty upset if I’d gotten blood on their fancy new machine.  So now, I just need to get some plain x-rays of my foot to find out exactly where this thing is and then what to do about it.

Of course, I did go play pick-up this morning.  I didn’t go all out, but I am sitting here with a cold pack wrapped around my foot while I type.  Sigh…

Can’t skip July

Wow, more than a month has gone by since my last post!  I guess that is because there really isn’t anything new to report.  I’ve been playing Ultimate ~2x/wk for the month and have had no issues related to my ATR.  Mostly, I continue to be frustrated at my level of cardiovascular fitness.  I did get the chance earlier in the month to take my kids to visit my parents in Michigan.  They live on a small lake where we used to do a ton of waterskiing.  It took me four tries, but I finally got up on one ski (I refuse to get up on two and drop).  Here’s a photo - my ATR leg is my back leg, again no issues:  Oh, well, I guess no photo.  I get a message saying that “file does not meet security guidelines.  try another” - whatever that means…

Scene of the crime

Today, I cleared an emotional hurdle: I went to play pickup ultimate at the place where I ruptured back in September.  It wasn’t the first time that I had gone there - I did so ~ 2 weeks ago - but at that time my schedule only allowed me 20 of playing time.  Today I played for a full hour and more importantly, did not mention my ATR to anyone.  Yeah, I’m still a fair ways away from my previous level of conditioning, but getting to that level feels more attainable.  The best part of the afternoon was that I caught the final score, catching the disc at full jump/extension and landing with one foot just inside the corner of the endzone.  I’ll be replaying it in my mind for a while!  Now I just need to get someone to get an action shot of me that I can sign and give to my PT for his wall…

Final PT session

I “graduated” from PT today - really at my suggestion.  I figured that although the every-other-week attention was nice, it was time to be finished.  When I told my PT that I was back to playing Ultimate Frisbee and running, jumping, stopping and cutting without hesitation, he agreed that there wasn’t much more that I needed from them.  I did make him write down a stretching regimen for me to follow before playing.  He said that the active stretching exercises have been shown to be more beneficial than the passive ones, but that doing the passive ones were still worth doing.  He said that his biggest concern was now my non-injured leg and suggested that I should continue with eccentric strengthening exercises with both legs.

Unlike tomingeorgia, I don’t think this’ll be my last post, but I agree w/him that this injury is not as bad as I first feared.  For those of you who are early in the recovery, I hope that you have my experience of forgetting the bad parts more quickly than you expect.

Today, before going to PT, I went and played some pick-up w/the group that I was playing with the day I ruptured.  Aside from telling a couple of guys that no, this wasn’t the first time that I’d played w/them, I didn’t think about my Achilles at all (just moaned a little about the relatively lower state of fitness that I’m in right now).

I think I’ll be ready…

…for summer ultimate frisbee league!  On Saturday, I played ultimate outdoors for the first time since ATR.  I did some standard stretching before playing and had no ATR related issues.  The only things that I noticed were tangential: I was slower, got tired more quickly and couldn’t jump as high as I remembered (although I did have a nice jump for a “D” that drew oohs and aahs from one of the young kids).  Another minor thing was that I played in running shoes instead of cleats, so I slipped a few times that I otherwise wouldn’t have.  Also, on Sunday I had no stiffness or soreness.  Can’t wait for next Sat!

The ‘dad is outta shape…

Lovely spring day here in Colo - figured it was time to get outside. Since my PT still doesn’t want me running on pavement, I decided to go for a spin on my road bicycle. Now, I was a little nervous because the last time I was on a bike was 4 days before my ATR. I had just set off on my mountain bike and I wiped out on a slick spot near the curb and whacked my face pretty good on the sidewalk. Fortunately, my ride was without incident other than being totally gassed after only 20 minutes. Not sure how far I went in those 20 min - I forgot to start my bike computer, but now that I’ve gotten the first ride out of the way I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s weather brings. Oh, only when I was really concentrating could I tell a difference between my ATR leg and the other. All I noticed was that my ATR leg seemed slightly weaker.

Ski Week

Spent last week up at Snowmass, CO with family and friends and had a great time!  It was the first skiing that I’d managed to fit in this year.  Had a bit of an issue w/my new, fancy ski boots - even had to switch back to my old boots in the middle of the week.  This had nothing to do w/my achilles, tho - more of a general fit problem.  It started snowing Wed and by Thurs there was over a foot of new powder - my favorite.  My kids (ages 11, 11, 11, 9) were actually complaining that the powder was too deep because with their short skis and lighter weights, they kept getting slowed/stopped.  Good thing that I had them in ski school and their instructor got to deal w/the whining ;).  I demoed some “fatties” for Thurs and was quite pleased.  My favorite feeling while skiing is popping between a couple of trees, dropping 6-8 feet into deep powder and getting snow-splashed in the face and this happened nearly every run on Thurs.  Overall, the only time that I ever noticed my achilles was when walking back up the hill to the condo from the Snowmass Mall.  Here’s a photo of me and my pals midmountain:

guess which one had the ATR...

guess which one had the ATR...

But it’s a good sore…

Woke up feeling creaky and old this AM.  That’s because I played nearly 2 hour of indoor Ultimate last night.  Can’t say I went all out, but I did sprint a few times and didn’t hold back w/jumping.  Didn’t feel a thing, good or bad, w/my achilles.  What I really noticed: 1) I do not have the same level of fitness that I did the day I got injured, and 2) I could tell that my left calf muscles were significantly weaker than the right.  I also realized that I am not yet ready to play man-man defense.  Still, overall I had a blast - it was a great way to celebrate the 6 month anniversary of my surgery.  I can’t wait until next Fri PM.

Took my boys and a friend of theirs to a cool park near here.  Here they are “on top of the world”: