Winnipeg ATR

Figuring things out. Mental and physical recovery tips.

April 17, 2016 · 9 Comments

It has been exactly 5 weeks since I suffered my ATR, and about 4 weeks since my last post. You might be surprised to read this, but the time has actually gone by rather quickly. I know what you may be thinking - “Has this guy lost it? Isn’t the time supposed to be dragging with him hating every minute of it?!” I can answer that yes, I do hate it, but I tend to be a “glass-half-full” kind of guy, and have figured a few things out to help me cope, both physically and mentally.

First, the mental. For me, it was important to get back into my normal routine as soon as possible. What that meant was that I needed to start wearing regular clothes again. I needed to start going back into the office. I needed to drive again. I needed to help with my kids’ bedtime routine (as much as I could). It was important for me to start doing things around the house and to go back to work so that I didn’t feel so useless. So that I could feel like I was contributing again.

After about two weeks of missing work, I decided to start going back to the office. The first time I planned on going was a Thursday. My wife called her sister to come over and watch the kids once they went to bed so that the two of us could drive to my office and figure out how I was going to park, to get up to my floor and how I would sit at my desk. That was a great help. Then, on the day I first returned, I only went for about three hours. The next day I bumped it up to five hours. Then, the following Monday, I was (almost) back to normal. I think I went from 8:30 until about 5, which is shorter than I am used to be was probably the most I could push it at the time. I managed to figure out how to wear my suit pants underneath my air cast, as well as jeans (FYI, suit pants are easy because they are thin - jeans I did a lengthy roll so that the hem was brought up to my knee and then flipped back down so you can’t see that it’s rolled).

At home, I started helping the kids get their PJs on after the tub, helping with the teeth brushing routine and reading my daughter a story before bed. This helped a lot, actually, in that it made me feel like things were somewhat back to normal with my kids, even if they weren’t. I also made efforts to go outside for fresh air and, recently, to run errands with my wife and kids. Again, getting back to some normalcy is helping me cope with things being not so normal around the house.

Now, for the physical. Here are the things I have learned with how to cope with not bearing weight on this leg for six weeks, in no particular order:

  1. Get a knee scooter. You may feel ridiculous using one, I know I did. And you most certainly look ridiculous while using one, but who the hell cares. It is your freedom from those awful crutches! I use it to get up to my office from my parkade, around my office, and while out for lunch and running errands. It is my saviour. Click here to see what they look like.
  2. This may not be recommended by your physician, but I have taken my leg out of my air cast in the evenings, once the kids are gone to bed and let it air out while propped up on pillows. This has helped me assess my leg, let it feel some air and eased the pressure sore I was getting on my heel. Do this one at your own risk!
  3. Sleeping on my side with a pillow between my knees has been the most comfortable way to sleep with this boot on. Having the pillow between my knees relieves some of the pressure of having the boot rest on the other ankle (I like to sleep in my right side).
  4. A generous friend had an old wheelchair used by a family member. He dropped it off for me to use. This is most certainly something unique and something I wouldn’t expect everyone to have access to, however it has made huge difference around the house. I’m actually sitting in it right now as I type this. It’s very narrow and I barely fit in it, however its small size allows it to fit through all my doorways and to navigate the tight corners in our bungalow
  5. I bathe as opposed to shower. I keep my boot on, wrap it in a bag and get in the tub. I wash my body and get out, then dry off my body. After that, I take my leg out of the air cast and put it back in the tub water and scrub it down with soap and water. I think this has helped my skin beneath the cast. I towel dry my leg and then lotion it, letting it air dry a bit after that and then put it back into the boot. Hopefully this one wasn’t TMI for everyone!
  6. Lastly, and I am very fortunate for this - I have a loving, supportive family! In particular, my wife has helped me immensely through this, both physically and mentally. She has to do all the mundane things you tend to take for granted, like picking out clothes (all my suits are in the basement closet), getting food, grabbing things you leave in one room or another. She has to help me, a third child, in addition to picking up all the work to care for our two kids. I couldn’t be in as good a headspace as I am without her attentive care and support. Though I try not to complain too much, she listens to me when I do and reminds me that things will get better in time (and for her sake too - she’s exhausted). My daughter also enjoys being my little helper, grabbing me things when she can and taking my pillows from one room to the next as needed. She also has this tendency to always, and I mean always, ask “Are you okay?” with all the empathy that a 4 year old can muster.

Well, I think I am tapping out for this post. I hope it is informative for those who are just beginning to go through this injury. I found the lack of information on the day-to-day basics of living with ATR to be frustrating, so hope that this helps fill that void if just a little bit or for just a few people.

Take care, and I’ll update soon after my next ortho visit on April 25.

Categories: atr
Tagged: ,

9 responses so far ↓

  • Ariel // Apr 18th 2016 at 8:39 am

    Thanks, for sharing you story. You and I had our rupture at about the same time. I tore my Achilles March 10 had surgery on the 17th. But you are healing at a better pace. After surgery I was in a tight below knee splint for two weeks. On the two week after op appointment 3/31/16 I failed the Thompson test. And was put in a cast. Had an MRI which I don’t think was done right and was told that everything was OK. This OK has left a knot in my stomach. I’m on my third week out of four and feel worried that I might need another surgery. But glad to see someone with a similar timeline that I can compare to. Thanks, for sharing.

  • winnipegatr // Apr 20th 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Thanks Ariel. Best of luck with your recovery - the hardest part is trying not too think too much about it.

  • chinaexpat // Apr 20th 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Thx for sharing. Question, no problem with that the foot get swollen in afternoon? I’m about the same time as you only different is that I did surgery.

  • winnipegatr // Apr 20th 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Hi chinaexpat. I think I have been very lucky as I have had very little swelling, even with being at work 9-10 hours. I do rest it up on my desk while I review documents, dictate or talk on the phome, so perhaps that helps.

  • rossthegolfer // Apr 21st 2016 at 1:15 pm

    You and I had surgery on the same day. I just had my doc visit yesterday and was taken out of the cast and in to the boot.

    Were you told to wear the boot even at home when you’re relaxing or told to wear it 24/7? I’m not going back to work until Monday so I’m still hanging on the couch for the rest of the week. I haven’t been wearing the boot until I get up and move around bc I was told to use it when active. My doc said I could also take it off to sleep so I rigged a sock that I cut the toes out of to feel I have some protection on the incision. I don’t cover it either.

    Good to see you aren’t having a lot of pain either! It’s a stress that I’m glad I haven’t been experiencing. I’m also ready to get back to routine from work to helping my daughter throughout the morning and night.

    All the best

  • winnipegatr // Apr 21st 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Ross. I actually didn’t have surgery - was put in the air cast / walking boot on that day. My ATR was higher up, nearing the calf, so surgical repair wasn’t a great option even if I wanted to (according to my doc). I have been NWB since the injury occurred (March 13) and have had the air cast on since March 21.

    As for the boot, yes I was told to wear it 24/7 and to only take it off for changing clothes and cleaning. I have been taking it out in the evenings to let it “air out” though.

    Thanks for commenting and all the best on your recovery!

  • Hank G // Apr 26th 2016 at 3:13 pm

    I have been following comments since my ruptured tendon was surgically repaired with the Hallicus longus transfer from large toe. This is week six postop. I have had three casts and will transition into boot in 3 days. Still no NWB as the stitches are pretty extensive. On a lighter note, did anyone have the joy of returning to ER 30 hours post op due to lack of urine output ( from block or anesthesia-???? cannot get a straight answer!) I would love to hear from anyone/everyone.

  • mibball // Apr 27th 2016 at 8:07 am

    Hank,

    I was not allowed to leave after my surgery because I couldn’t get myself to go. It’s very normal with anesthesia. I opted for a straight cath about 4 hours after my surgery, as I didn’t want to be in the hospital all night. By the next morning I was back to normal, right on schedule.

  • Hank G // Apr 29th 2016 at 2:19 am

    Thanks mibball. Everyone was shocked that my surgeon discharged me so quickly after surgery. The 14 hours I endured at home before admitting that a visit to the ER was necessary was hellish. After four days with the catheter I was back to normal, permitting me to pay attention to the huge cast on my leg. In retrospect, the surgery and cast was a piece of cake!
    Hank

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