Surgery Day and the Two Weeks After

My surgery day was Tuesday, January 21.  I was the first surgery at 9am, so I had to be there at 7am to fill out all the paperwork.  They got me into the back to get ready very quickly, and I was all electroded up and everything by about 7:45.  I was really nervous, and my sister came back with me to keep me company while they prepared for the surgery.  Basically for the next 45 minutes, it was a stream of people coming to talk to me and sign papers.  Anesthesiologist, attending nurse, some other nurse, the Physician’s Assistant, the OR manager, some other type of anesthesiologist that was going to possibly give me a nerve block, the doctor, and maybe a couple of others all came by.  There was kind of a funny moment when one of them was telling me about all the obvious risks of surgery.  My sister said she was looking at the heart monitor, and as they were talking about the risk, my heart rate was just rising and rising until they were done.  It gave us a good laugh and helped me get my mind off of how nervous I was.

At about 8:30, they told me they were going to start a little early as the doctor had a meeting canceled.  I could feel the stuff coming through the IV into my arm and they wheeled me back.  Once I got back there, I remember being back there for about 30 seconds before the lights went out.  What seems like 10 seconds went by and I was waking up in the recovery area.  I had a wrap on my leg from my foot up to my knee with what felt like a splint under it on the outside and under my leg.

When I first woke up, I was in a tremendous amount of pain and requested the nerve block.  Basically the block is a shot into the side of the knee that numbed my leg from the knee down.  I went in and out of sleep for the next couple of hours, but was finally ready to leave about 3.  Because of the nerve block, they put my entire leg into a brace to keep it straight, and told me not to take it off until I got the feeling back in my leg.  They also told me to start taking the pain medication as soon as I got the prescription filled so that when the block wore off, I’d hopefully not be in any pain.

I started taking the pain pills every 6 hours once I got home, but my leg was still numb when I went to bed around 2am.  I was starting to get nervous, but my sister told me they told her the block could last as long as 24 hours.  I guess the block wore off in my sleep, because about 5:30am, I was in the worst pain I can remember in life.  The pain meds didn’t seem to work for the initial pain at all.  This pain lasted for most of the morning into the afternoon, but finally got a little better in the middle of the afternoon on Wednesday.

Basically the rest of the week was all about keeping it elevated and keeping pain down.  I took pain medicine regularly until Friday afternoon, but my pain was very little by then so I decided to stop taking it.  I kept taking the aspirin for blood clots though.

My follow up appointment was the following Monday.  They removed the wrap and looked at the incision.  It looks like the incision is only about 2 inches long with maybe about 6 stitches in it.  They told me it was healing really well and that there was no sign of infection or anything.  They didn’t remove the stitches and they put me in a boot with my foot angled down and told me to still not put any weight on my ankle and I was on my way.  It sucks having to keep using these crutches, but I’m trying to stay positive about it.  It’s nice to be able to take the boot off to shower and what not, but they still want me to sleep in it.  I’ve struggled with that because this thing is less comfortable to sleep in than the original wrap, so I normally take it off some time during the night as I’m tossing and turning.  My follow up is scheduled for next Wednesday, February 12th.  Hopefully by then I’ll be able to ditch the crutches.

Hello world! The Opening…

Hello Everyone!

I found this community a couple of weeks ago after tearing my Achilles and its been great being able to read everyone else’s stories of recovery and tremendously helpful to my overall mindset as I face this.  I thought it’d be cool to share my story and recovery, both as a way to help me through recovery and maybe help others!

A little background on me, I’m 27 and recently moved to Miami for work.  While I don’t consider myself a truly "active" person in the sense of working out several times a week, I’d consider myself pretty athletic.  I’ve never been a weight room person, but I played basketball several times a week for much of my life.  It’s been cut down to once or twice a week over the last couple of years, though.  Other than the occasional rolled ankle or jammed finger, I’ve never had an injury from playing a sport.  I most certainly have never had to go to the doctor for an injury.

Well, playing in a recreational basketball basketball league on Thursday, January 9, that changed.  It was a non-contact injury, as I guess most of these are. I was backpedaling on defense and tried to stop and go forward towards the guy I was guarding when I fell down.  I thought someone had stepped on the back of my foot and tripped me, possibly trying to set a screen, but play didn’t stop.  When I went to get up, I immediately knew something was wrong.  I tried to walk, my right foot just wouldn’t behave properly.  I can’t really explain how it felt at the time, but I know now that I couldn’t walk in a heel-to-toe normal fashion.  It was weird to me because there was no pain whatsoever.  I always imagined an injury like that would be much more painful

Initially I was pretty shocked and mildly freaking out.  When I felt my ankle, I knew it was an achilles injury.  I went to the ER and waited for 4 hours (Tip: Do not go to the ER at 8:30 at night.  It’s a zoo.).  They took an x-ray, which didn’t reveal any breaks and did the Achilles test where they squeeze my calf.  ER doctor told me he thought I tore it, which I already was pretty sure I did, and that I need to go see an Orthopedic Surgeon.  I’m not sure how helpful going to the ER was, as they couldn’t tell me much.  But they gave me crutches and pain killers, although my ankle really wasn’t in a tremendous amount of pain.

So Friday morning, January 10, I called the Orthopedic Surgeon to set up an appointment as was able to get my initial one on Wednesday, January 15.  In the meantime, I just tried to ice my ankle and keep it elevated, but a tremendous amount of bruising developed.  My 1st appointment was basically him asking what happened.  I explained and he referred me to get an MRI that day with a follow up on Friday. He kind of gave me the run down of my options if it was torn as far as surgical repair vs. non surgical and I was on my way.  The Orthopedic Surgeon is a doctor at University of Miami hospital and does a lot of work with Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams, so that definitely gave me a little peace of mind that he knew what he was doing.

I went to get the MRI, which wasn’t terrible.  When the technician came in, he said "so you have the same injury as Kobe."  Not sure if he was asking me or telling me, but either way, I was pretty sure that I had the same injury as Kobe anyways.

Anyways, I have a friend who tore BOTH of his achilles tendons at different times when we were in college, and both while playing basketball.  One tear he had surgically repaired, and one he did not.  I got a call from him and he told me about his different recoveries.  He still plays basketball all the time, and he told me that his surgically repaired one definitely feels much stronger than the one he did not have surgically repaired, both while he’s playing and after.  At this point, I’m still trying to decide if I’ll ever play basketball again, but I know that at some point the desire will just get too much.  I love doing it and I don’t want to drastically change my lifestyle for fear of injuring myself again.

My follow up was Friday, January 17, and the orthopedic surgeon confirmed that I tore my achilles.  He said that the tear was not wide, so all options were available to me, and he was certain that either way would allow me a full recovery.  He was not pushing me in one way or another, but I had kind of already decided that I was going to get the surgery.  After talking to my friend about his achilles (even though all recoveries are different) and listening to pros and cons of both from the doctor, I thought surgery was the best option for me to get back to being able to be as active as I wanted to be, and also give me a bit more confidence in the ankle.  We scheduled my surgery for the following Tuesday, January 21, and I was on my way.