I am Brad Pitt, conqueror of Troy

Sorry ladies, I’m not Brad. However, I’m confident my story won’t end like the movie Troy, where he got shot in his achilles in the end.

I am a 6′ 175lb 41 year old fit male from the great republic that is Texas. On April 25 I was playing a warmup volleyball tournament in preparation to go compete in Adult Nationals in Detroit on memorial day weekend. I debated about just playing libero (defensive specialist) in the finals but I was feeling good so I told my teammate that I’ll hit in the first game. I planted my right foot going in for a spike and felt that pop in the back of the leg. Looked back to see if anybody kicked or tripped me but no one was there. Damn, I should have played libero!

Apparently, I was told I was laying in this bridge position on the ground with my right leg up when teammates came over. Things were a little hazy for a few minutes. Fortunately, my brother/teammate was there and is an athletic trainer for the longhorn football team. He was examining the damage as I lay there. After a couple of minutes the pain subsided but I knew it wasn’t a sprain and something more serious. My competitive volleyball life was literally flashing thru my head and I thought this might be the end of that career as he told me he can’t feel my achilles.  I got up and hopped off the court and then drove home with my left foot that night.

I was more upset about not being able to make the trip to detroit in a month. I had trained really hard for the past several months and hit the gym 5 days a week to prepare my body. I felt strong and ready. For those that play the sport, you know what I mean when I say there’s an addiction to it. It hit home that night when i realized I’ll be out until at least thanksgiving. Thank God for my lovely wife, who now assumes all the responsibility of the house.

My brother came over the next day with a compression stocking and aircast boot and texted a foot doctor that the football team uses. I had an appointment set up for the following day. I am lucky he has those connections and was able to get me in on such short notice. I didn’t have to do much research on doctors and my brother to me he is aggressive and modern in treatment. Text my boss and several co workers informing them of the damage and that I’ll probably be out for a couple of months and will have to work from home. Everything’s cool there since I spend my career looking at a computer screen.

Sadly, I am no stranger to crutches or injury as I’ve had several operations on my knees in the past already (acl/meniscus/microfracture). I have successfully come back from those knee problem over the past decade and my legs are strong. I do have a bad back due to sitting all day long at work and trying to overcome that for the past few years. If there is anybody that is ready for this, it’s me. I’ve been done one legged squats for months so I am well equipped to be on a crutches for a while. Got to the doctor’s office on monday, PA came in and felt up the heel and said no need for mri or xrays and will have Doc come in. He came in and did the thompson test and confirmed my rupture and told me of the two options. I had already made up my mind (before I found this site) that surgery was the best course of action. It doesn’t scare me. Maybe because I’ve already been there/done that several times. After being down mentally for a couple of days, I had the resolve to come back so I was ready for it. Doc described his method and asked me to go home and google PARS. He does a mini open 1-2″ cut (horizontal) and uses the Anthrex PARS device to suture the rupture percutaneously. That gives him the option of opening up fully if he needs to during surgery.  Surgery was scheduled for 3 days later. Truth be told, my mind was already ready to get this over with and start recovery so I would have been ready to do it that afternoon.

I did tons of reading for the next few days, especially around the PARS method. On april 30, I was wheeled in and given a nerve block near the achilles and put me to sleep under general. Next thing I know, I was waking up. My father in-law and wife were there and they said I had to be given “extra” dose of Anesthesia b/c they had a little trouble putting me down. I told my wife that it’s probably due to the fact that I am such a beast, LOL!

I didn’t get a chance to talk to the Doc after surgery but he told my wife everything went great. My leg was wrapped up heavily in ace bandages with a hard splint (or half cast?) behind my leg and under my foot. Although I have had surgeries in the past, this was the first time I had been given a nerve block. Nurse said it would wear off between 12-48 hours. I was told to start taking hydrocodine pain killers before it wears off so I started that night. I never took the painkillers in my previous surgeries in my younger days because I didn’t like the groggy feeling and toughed it out. Not doing that again! I took it at night but the nerve block didn’t wear off until two days later. It was an odd feeling I didn’t really like at first b/c when my kids touch my toes, I couldn’t feel it. However, I was glad to have it b/c I could start feeling some pain as it wore off along with the tingling and numbing sensation from the surgery. I would recommend having it for those that are going into surgery.

After the fourth night, I stopped the pain killers altogether but did take a 4 baby aspirins during the day (DR instruction). I started doing research on boots and decided to get the vacocast. Saw Kobe B wearing it so if it was good for him, it was good for me. Told my brother about it and he forwarded to dr office. They don’t carry it but thought it was a cool looking boot and wrote me a script. I pressed and asked them to get it and then charge me for it instead of the aircast (I met my insurance deductible) so it would be easier for me. It got too complicated apparently, so just decided to order it along with an extra liner for ~$360 (they charge for shipping) and deal with insurance later. The splint was ok for the first week but I started feeling pain on the top of my foot and the side of my little toe the second week. Other than the occasional ache and tingling pain at the incision point, I was comfortable. I could feel my leg had shrunk during the 2nd week b/c it was getting loose inside the splint. I showered standing on 1 leg with a garbage bag taped around my lower knee. Bless my wife for doing everything for me. She certainly makes life easier for me. I stayed at home for 15 days and didn’t leave the house until my follow up visit.

Turns out the doc had to leave and wasn’t going to be there for my first followup so I asked my brother to text him and ask him to give me a call to discuss the surgery. We chatted for about 15 minutes and affirmed that everything went well the rupture was clean. He went with the PARS method and everything went well. I don’t know why this is not the gold standard everywhere yet but it should be. For those planning surgery, I would recommend finding a doc that specializes in it. I feel little pain have minimal swelling and the small horizontal cut is probably similar to having a bad accident in the kitchen with a knife that needs stitches. You can go to the Anthrex website and look thru the presentations. You can even youtube the surgery!

I spend a great deal of time the past 2 weeks either sitting and elevating or laying on my stomach and elevating while on the computer. My back aches more than my leg sometimes. I try to do some workouts every other day but doing pushups and some core workouts to not go crazy.

I went in for my 15 days followup on may 14 and they took off the splint. I was finally able to see the handiwork. Sure enough the cut was small and barely any swelling. There were some abrasions on the top of my foot and it was a little itchy(probably due to it being too tight or too hot in there). The tiny holes from the percutaneous method had healed up and didn’t have any stitches. The only stitches were from the ~2 inch horizontal incision. I have pics if someone wants to see it! I had brought in the vacocast and the PA said it was pretty cool looking and said they should carry it if insurance can be worked out.

It felt sooooo good initially to get the splint off and get some air around the leg and into the vacocast. I showed her the vacocast functionality and set it to lock at 3 and was asked to reduce by .5 every week until my next followup 4 weeks later. I was told to be NWB for 2 more weeks and then start PWB gradually to FWB by the next followup. I was a little impatient as I thought I could start quicker than that. She said start with sitting toe tap and work up. Its probably best b/c I am the type to push my rehab.

It was also my first time outside the house so my wife and I decided to go get some lunch and get me a haircut to clean up! For a time a felt normal again until I remembered crutching around too long sucks!

The next day I get a little curious (this site’s fault!) and wonder if i can put any weight on it. I probably put between 20-33% weight in the boot  while leaning on crutches and felt nothing. No pain, Nada, zilch. I start to walk a little bit with crutches and some weight and still nothing.

Then I get paranoid and stop. The last thing I want is to rerupture and remind myself of that so decide to take it slower and follow Dr advice. I will probably try again after next week. While the surgery itself wasn’t tough to deal with, I think the harder part was to deal with it mentally. I also had to cancel several trips, including my vball trip that I have been looking forward to for months along with a work and vegas trip. Finally, it was depressing because we had to cancel (or delay) our summer family vacation to new york in june. Wife and kids are pretty sad about that. So I remind myself about re-rupturing and will be extra cautious about it. Will probably wear the boot for a much longer time (since it hinges). I also went and ordered some height increasing shoes for when I do start walking. I may even use them later to be extra tall! I got them from here


and will see how they work out when they come in! They are supposed to raised the heel and I got these instead of the evenups.

Finally, I had two bad coughs/colds since christmas and had been on oral corticosteroids along with a steroid inhaler and asthma inhaler. I am convinced now that these weakened my tendon and led to the rupture.  Engineers always try to find a reason for everything!

thx for reading!

6 Responses to “I am Brad Pitt, conqueror of Troy”

  1. Hi fellow vball player,
    I, too, ruptured my left achilles tendon playing vball. All I did was ran to pass the ball. when I heard a “pop”, I thought someone stepped on my foot, but no one did so I thought I pulled a muscle. I massaged my calf and it felt better so I got back on court. Unfortunately I could not walk. I went to the after hour urgent care, and the PA told me he didn’t see any fracture on the xray, and I should feel better in 3-4 days. The next day the nurse called me and told me that the radiologist saw something on the xray and recommended that I MIGHT need to see the OS. I didn’t see the OS right away bc in my mind, I thought I would just rest like the PA said and I would feel better. 5 days later I still didn’t feel better. My husband insisted that I see the OS so I called the OS near my house in VA. I went to see him and he said I ruptured my achilles and I need to either wear a boot for 3 months and let it heal naturally, or have surgery and heal in 6 weeks. I went with surgery bc I have to get back to work. I can’t lie around the house for 3 months. Unfortunately, this OS doesn’t do foot surgery, only knee and hip, so he gave a referral to another OS who specializes in foot. I couldn’t get an appointment with him for 2 weeks. I can’t wait 2 weeks to see an OS, especially when Boss kept asking when I’m going back to work. I searched and searched and found one OS that was willing to see me in 2 days(someone canceled). I went in and he said I ruptured it comepletely. Everyone I talked to in the past told me that when you ruptured your achille, it hurt a lot. I had little pain. That’s why I thought I just pulled a muscle. As the matter of fact, I walked off the court and to the urgent care by myself. Limping of course. By the time I went to see the new OS, it had been 9 days out of work and boss was getting anxious. He thought I’d be back in a few days after surgery. He was not happy when I told him that I needed to be out for at least 4 weeks. I saw the OS on April 16 and he was able to do the surgery the same day(Someone canceled). Thank God. The OS put me in a splint for almost 5 weeks now. I will see him in 2 days to take off the splint and get the boot. I think he told me I can walk in the boot. I can’t wait. I have to go back to work next week.
    I bought a knee walker, and was able to go grocery shopping, cooking, and even cleaning the house. I have a question for you. I read that vball player has a tendency to injured the foot that is opposite their dominant hand. in my case, I’m right-handed so I injured my left foot. Are you left-handed?

  2. Hi tasha

    no, I am right handed. As I started my approach, I took one step backwards to plant my right foot and it snapped. A move I do hundreds of thousands of times over 25 years.

    If any, i would think it’s the right foot that gets stressed more in volleyball for right handed players b/c that is the plant foot to jump.

  3. I thought so too. I was surprised that my left foot was the one that got injured. I even ran around the court to warm up before the game. The captain of my vball team wanted me to play vball again in 6 months. My husband and brother said I need to give up vball and that I’m getting too old for it. For God’s sake, I’m 45, not 60. It’s been a real inconveniece, mostly because of work. Even thoug the OS said there is only 3-6% chance of re-injuring, I’m worry that my right foot migh go next. Are you planning on getting back to vball someday?

  4. I must admit, the thought crossed my mind the day it happened… but then I have resolve to come back because I’m not leaving on these terms… even if I only play 1 more year. I was training super hard to go to nationals and I am going to miss it this year so my goal is next year.

    isn’t that one of the main reasons to go under the knife?!

    I am not letting this define my exit terms if I can come back at the level I was at.

    now its a different story if I can no longer jump…

  5. You will not have any problem jumping again. You said that you should have played libero. Well, from what I read, that’s worst. Hitting = sprang ankle or shoulder injury. Libero= archilles tendon injury. It’s the charging toward the ball that causes the achilles injury. Research shows that people who play tennis, racquetball, basketball are more prone to achilles injury because they charge toward the ball fast. Vball players are prone to sprang ankle and shoulder injury, especially men. I have patients who injured themselves by chasing after the kids at the beach, Again, it’s the running really fast that did it to him. Another patient just left the gym, tripped on the sidewalk. One guy stretched himself too much during the night(Charlies’ Horse). When you have cold/cough/flu, taking medications, they weaken your immune system. As a result, you can’t hit as hard as you want or normally can. I work out 4-5 days a week and I work with patients all day so my immune system is great, but I still get injury. It’s tear and wear. Research shows that middle age sport players have more achilles tendon injury than anyone else :-(

  6. I, too, had to cancel work and personal trips due to a visit from Achilles, the summer killer.

    Very clever of you to try Tom Cruise shoes instead of Even Ups!

    Standing desks are great for the neck and back, but my calves would get fatigued (foreshadowing?). When able-bodied, I’ll probably try a backless chair or sit on an exercise ball to queue proper posture (with the desk in its lowest position, obviously).

    Interesting point about the corticosteroid contribution. I’ve had two cortisone shots in my elbow in the last year for medial epicondylitis. I’d be a little surprised if they compromised my Achilles, but you never know.

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