More progress

At PT on Wednesday, I told my therapist about my outdoor walk/jog.  I was somewhat relieved that his reply was, “good for you”.  He gave me to OK to do more than just the treadmill, but said that he’d prefer that I stick to level surfaces that weren’t too hard.  I guess that meant to sidewalks and no rutted-up trails.  Then, I saw my surgeon yesterday at work - first time that I’d seen him since my last appointment in November.  He took a quick peek/feel and said that things were just fine.  I told him about my PT progress and he expressed disappointment that I wasn’t being moved along faster.  I brushed it off by saying that I was happy enough with how things were going.  So, tonight was indoor frisbee night and I announced to the group that I was stepping up to jogging/trotting.  I did stick to that - no sprints or really quick push-offs, but I did allow myself to jump for the disc.  And it felt great!  We finished about 1/2 hour ago and I feel fine.  I do think that I’ll go put some ice on now while I watch the Olympics.

Getting frisky…

So, today I went out to the spot that I mentioned during my last post.  I got a fancy altimeter watch for my birthday and I wanted to calibrate it to a known altitude (and then hurry home and see what it said the altitude of my front porch was).  Knowing that it was about a mile from the parking lot to the spot and that when I was doing the alternating fast walking/slow jogging on the treadmill I was going more than a mile, I decided that it was time for a road test.  Rather than alternating based on time (as I was doing on the treadmill), I decided to alternate based on the number of steps.  So, I walked 120 steps, then jogged 80 steps.  And it felt great.  The ground was reasonably soft, but not muddy, from some 4-day old snow.  The sun was shining and it was a crisp 45 degrees out.  By the time I got to the spot, I had definitely gotten my heart rate up.  I calibrated my watch and then repeated the walk/jog back to my car.  I got in my car and looked at my watch and almost screamed.  Somehow, it was off by over 2200 feet!  I’m not sure what happened, but I didn’t have time to go back and calibrate it again.  It is now over 7 hours later and I have no pain/stiffness/soreness.  Now I just have to wait until next week to hear my PT’s opinion about me accelerating my PT plan.

22 weeks

So, here in Colorado we tend to pay attention to altitude more than most other places do.  The signs that announce when you’ve entered a new city/town list elevation rather than population.  The highest place in my town is called Highlands Point.  It is about 3 miles from my house, nearly all uphill.  Plug 39.511645,-104.95629 into your favorite map program if you want to see where it is.  The path from the northwest is a rather steep climb, with two sections that are really tough on a bicycle.  As I restarted cycling last spring, making it to the top became one of my goals.  It took 5 tries before I made it:


The path to Highlands Point from the southeast is much more manageable, and is about 1 mile from a parking spot.  Last week, for the first time since my ATR, I walked the mile to Highlands Point.  Rather briskly, as there was a nasty wind coming from the northwest.  One of the great things about this spot is that there is a railing upon which are mounted metal tubes.  The tubes are aimed at the three main 14ers (mountain peaks that are over 14,ooo ft) of the mountains near Denver.  Next to the tubes are plaques listing the distance and elevation of the peaks.  The photos below were taken next to the tubes, not through them:

At PT this week, I brought up Norm’s 8 calf raises benchmark.  My PT asked how many I was able to do.  “Uh, haven’t done any since I tried to do one several weeks ago and wasn’t able to move at all.”  “Then let’s see what you can do.”  I was able to do 2 and after the second, I didn’t want to try a 3rd.  He was pleased that I was able to do 2, but said that it looks like I’m still a ways away from getting back to any real running around (which I already knew).  Guess I’ll still be playing “walking” Ultimate for a while.

Happy Birthday to me…

…I’m a hundred and three…

OK, really only 45% of that.

Had another PT session on Thursday and was allowed to do some jogging on the treadmill for the first time.  Before you get too excited for me, the drill was: fast walking for 60 seconds, then speed up to barely a jog for 30 sec, then repeat to a maximum of 10 minutes.  That worked out to a whopping 6 segments of 30 sec.  3 minutes total.  Not ready to chill the champagne over this one.  It did feel weird, tho.  Not bad, just kinda tight.

So, today is my birthday and one of the highlights was going to the rec center and doing another 10 minute walk/jog.  That was followed by playing some more indoor frisbee - walking the whole time without doing any jumping.  The guys with whom I played were all very understanding - even apologizing when they threw the disc out of my reach (although I did get the obligatory “doctor heal thyself” crack).  I’m really hoping that at my next PT appt I’ll get approved to at least trot a little.

This summer before my ATR, I had a few run-ins with the pavement while cycling - scroll down to see some of the damage.  With that in mind, here is the b’day card that my in-laws sent to me:

At a certain age, everything is an Extreme sport!

“At a certain age, everything is an Extreme sport!  Happy Birthday”

PHOTO: Scott Dingman * CARD: Avanti Press, Inc.

End of year musings

Wow, it has been almost a month since I’ve last posted?  I guess time flies when one is back to work, worrying about holidays, and finding that concern for one’s injury has become a lower priority.

I’ve found that I am still getting better each day, although the incremental improvement is sometimes so small as to be barely noticeable.  Also, at the end of long days, I find that my injured foot is more sore than the regular soreness of my non-injured foot.  Still getting some swelling over the tendon (with sometimes bizarre patterns depending on the sock I’ve worn), but nowhere else.

Physical therapy was stretched out to once/week this past month, with plans for sessions every 10-14 days in the new year.  I guess it is a comment on how my priorities have shifted that I completely forgot that I had an appt yesterday.  Fortunately, they had room for me today.  With making a set of appts for Jan/Feb, I’ve made sure that my phone reminds me early in the AM on those days.  I discovered something new at PT today: after massage/strengthening/balance treatment I was stretching before getting on the elliptical and I found that my injured side stretched much more easily than my non-injured when doing calf stretches.  When I questioned my PT, he said that it was probably a combination of treatment and calf weakness, but that there wasn’t any concern re: healing long.  I did find that after I finished on the elliptical that my right calf didn’t feel as tight as it had earlier.  We talked a bit about stretching in general - dynamic vs static vs none - and his take was that there was nothing definitive for any strategy.  Kinda reminded me of the debate about surgery vs casting.  Speaking of PT, I do want to give some recognition to Dennis Martin, as well as Tim and Wes, of ProActive Physical Therapy in Highlands Ranch, CO.

In other news, we had a landmark Christmas this year.  It was the first Christmas that didn’t devolve into fighting or parental shouting.  With my kids being ages 9, 11, 11, 11 (yes, 11-yr old triplets), this has been a long time coming.  My big gift was a fancy new Canon Rebel EOS T1i.  Here’s a photo that I just took:

16 weeks, 5 days Post-op

16 weeks, 5 days Post-op

Yeah, left calf is still smaller than right - as expected.  Not sure if the redness is due to today’s PT or always present - this is actually the first time that I’ve looked as my scar in several weeks.

Happy New Year to all!  Stay safe and if you’re in Denver, try not to let your kids get appendicitis (I’m on call Fri-Sat-Sun)!  Cheers, Ron

Saw, scar and shirt

Today was tree-cutting day for us here in the Rockies.

The National Forest Service has a program which allows the public to obtain a permit to go to a specified area and cut their own Christmas tree, called the Holiday Tree program.  The program covers three weekends in Nov/Dec.  I’m told that the program helps to reduce the fire risk.

Last year, I dragged the kids around for nearly an hour, looking for the perfect tree.  We ended up with a 14 1/2 foot tree that barely fit into the house.  Knowing that I’d be much more limited this year, we tromped around in the woods for about 10 minutes before choosing this year’s tree.  In the stand, this one is about 11 feet.  It is, however, much lighter.  I was able to carry it inside easily by myself.  Yes, I wore my achillesblog shirt, but no, I didn’t wear the running shoes.  I wore the hiking boots that I got for the transition from “the boot” to 2-shoes.Saw, scar, shirt and tree

The saw, the scar, the shirt, and the tree.  Cheers, Ron

A minor epiphany

So, as I was cleaning up after one of my boys vomited in the bathroom (fortunately on tile), I had a minor epiphany.  I now understand why professional athletes seem to heal faster than the rest of us:

Their bodies are their livelihood.

They already (I’m making some assumptions here) have their days structured around whatever physical activity it is that they do, so when they are recovering from injury, they just use that time for rehab.  And they’re younger than we are.

Our bodies are our escape from the rest of our world.

We have an average age of  37.5 years old.  That means that we’re likely married and have children.  We are either working hard to establish or maintain our careers.  Yeah, we had time carved out for our exercise/playing, but how many of us had that time available every day.

I was able to get to PT on Monday and did 15 glorious minutes on the elliptical.  I hadn’t been that tired in almost 3 months and it felt great.  I worked hard enough to mildly trigger my exercise-induced asthma!  Guess I’ll need to prophylax before tomorrows session.  But yesterday evening was daughter’s orchestra concert.  Today was 2 sons’ band concert.  Add in helping w/homework, trying to figure out a birthday present for my wife (birthday is this Sunday - I fear the boat has already sailed for getting something substantial in time), and all the other things that go w/being a husband and father and I’m hard-pressed to find the time just to do the home exercises once a day, let alone twice.  Especially given that I’ve been back to work full-time since week 3.

So, I’ve resolved not to be type-A about my recovery or to beat myself up for not doing everything that I’m told.  And, given that I can’t keep a twice daily exercise schedule, I’m not going to go all out with each new bit added to my rehab regimen.  I’ll just keep telling myself to look at the long view - recovery isn’t a race.

Cheers, Ron

Last “official” Dr appt

I say “official” because my orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Ted Parks, Denver, CO) said he still wants to check up on me towards the end of January - but it only has to be an informal check whenever we see each other around the OR.  Here’s what we discussed:

1. I’ve noticed more swelling these past few days, but he was unconcerned.  He said that things looked and felt great.  He did a little explaining about how there would always be more “fullness” at the point of the repair.

2. My PT progress - that I’d started on the elliptical and started doing heel raises

3. He told me that the 3-month mark was significant in that at that point, the repair was “bulletproof”.  He went on to say that “you couldn’t hurt the repair if you tried”.  All sorts of things flashed through my mind, none of which I am eager to put into action.  He also said that at that point, I could do whatever exercise I wanted: “You could try sprinting - you wouldn’t be very good at it, and you’d feel stiff, but you could try, if you wanted to”.

4. I asked him if he had any wisdom/advice re: rupturing the other one.  He said that there is some research to suggest that flexibility training can help, but that there is nothing concrete.  He said that the PT that I’d be doing currently could guide me as far as prevention for the other side.  I told him that if I ever developed pain in the other side, I’d listen to it this time rather than just playing through the pain.  I left wondering whether I should look into what it took to get a car with hand controls, just in case I did whack the right side.

I wonder what my PT’ll have to say about the “bulletproof” thing during my session tomorrow…

Here, finally, is a photo:

11 weeks

Sorry for the sideways look - I can’t seem to figure out how to get it to show right-side up.

Week 10

I’d been feeling that I’d reached a plateau phase where improvement would be slower coming, so I spiced things up by wearing my Keen clogs to work yesterday and today.  I told myself that this would help with strengthening the intrinsic muscles of my foot.  In reality, I think that they just made my heel a bit more sore by the end of the day, thus making my still-present limp more pronounced.  Oh, well.

I did have another PT session today and had two big (to me) things added to my rehab regimen.  First was doing standing heel raises.  I was prepared for them to hurt, but it really was more of a tightness feeling.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the complaining that my non-injured calf gave me.  Nothing terrible, but more of a “oh, and you think that we’ll just do whatever you want at the drop of a hat” feeling.  Second was being allowed on an elliptical machine, another plus-minus situation.  6 minutes in (I was told to go 15) and I was no longer concerned with how my achilles felt, but with how winded I was becoming.  I finished the full 15 minutes, but was really huffing and puffing.

Finally, I’ve posted here and elsewhere that I’ve been told to avoid putting neosporin on wounds as it inhibits tissue healing, that one should use bacitracin instead.  Since I like to use myself as an example, here are a couple of before and after photos of the road rash that I got this summer courtesy of a little bicycle spill (the first is not for the faint of heart!):

To me, the important thing was that I never let a scab form.  For about 3 weeks, I did twice-daily dressing changes, keeping bacitracin ointment on the wound and then keeping it covered.

Maybe next week I’ll finally put up a photo of my leg :)

What a difference a week makes

Last week: me in hiking boots, temp 23F, enough snow to keep the kids out of school for 3 days.

This week: me in running shoes, temp 76F, just a few spots of snow left.