Long flights at Week 5-6

I had to cancel two long haul trips after the rupture and decided to keep a third trip that departed exactly 5 weeks post surgery. The surgeon indicated there was some risk but it was low and left the travel decision with me.

Signed up for special services (wheelchair request) with Delta and hoped to be escorted from check-in to the boarding gate. I am walking in shoes at home and in the boot for travel. My pants cover the top of the boot and I don’t think I looked impaired enough for Delta to provide the wheelchair that was noted in the reservation. In Detroit I took the boot off to go through security and in Spain I kept it on but they did swab it to check for whatever they check for. Although the wheelchair request didn’t succeed I did board early in Detroit (in Amsterdam and Spain I boarded with my section). Guessing if I spoke up for the requested wheelchair it would have been provided… I was feeling good and decided it wasn’t worth it to push for the assistance and walked through security and the airport on my own.

On the long flights (DTW to AMS and AMS to DTW) I took an aspirin at the start of the flight and after seated I removed the boot and got up and walked around without the boot more often than I usually get up. On the shorter flight - Amsterdam to Barcelona - I kept the boot on and got up about halfway through the flights. I wore compression socks for all of the flights.

I did a lot of walking in the boot for the week in Barcelona - conference attendance and meetings. The toughest part was the inability to ice the Achilles at night. The hotel didn’t have ice machines and sent us to the bar on another floor to request ice which we did 1 of the 7 days at the hotel. The bar provided ice in a champagne bucket which was transferred to a zip lock bag in the room.

Looked up symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and kept watch for pain in the calf or behind the knee. Thankfully, I didn’t experience DVT symptoms.

2nd Follow-up and the NYC Marathon

I watched the NYC marathon on Sunday. It was interesting to hear about the start and how the 1st mile is uphill heading over the bridge. I hope the tough 1st mile for our ATR recovery is the initial injury and repair decision and that we do not "hit the wall" at mile 20. The initial injury was tough, the 1st days after surgery were tough but not terrible… since surgery healing seems to have accelerated with function and strength starting to return. Today is Day 33 post surgery and my second follow-up visit with the surgeon. I was hoping for the ‘official’ go ahead to wean out of the AirCast boot. However, he prefers staying in the boot until week 6 (through Day 42). There were no concerns on the repair and he only had positive comments about range of motion and strength at this time point. He seemed to indicate the only way to damage the repair would be experiencing an event similar to the injury, which could come from a slip or fall. He gave the go ahead for seated heel raises (physically possible but not allowed last week) and more range of motion activities and wants PT to start anytime after week 6. The surgeon was previously a PT. He indicated as a PT he was more likely to (or saw others) follow a rigid recovery protocol which could advance some patients too quickly and others not quickly enough.  I am able to walk with a limp in two shoes (inside on hardwood floors) and as this activity is not sanctioned, I will try to stay in the boot more often than not for the next 10 days. The surgeon  said the earliest he has seen a full single leg heel raise was 6 months (there are a lot of examples of heel raises sooner on this site). Not sure if a single leg heel raise at 6 months is a reasonable goal but will use it as a target and reset goals based on the recovery journey.

Tentative Steps

Have been spending more and more time on the stationary bike. Low Resistance and wearing the boot. Feels good to have some exercise. Also tried single leg rowing for a short 500m. Planning to work on both biking and rowing over the next week. At the mid-point of week 4 I took a few tentative barefoot steps without the boot. Foot is stiff but without pain and will try to add a few steps over the next week. Trying to build up endurance in preparation for a trip to Barcelona with a transfer in Amsterdam. Requested ’special services’ for the flight and will wear the boot. 11 days until departure.

First PWB steps

After splint removal I was cleared to PWB in the boot with 2 heel lifts as much as tolerated ‘letting pain guide." The 1st day post splint I took 2-3 steps with crutches and experienced pain in the heel and ball of my foot, was discouraged, and decided that was enough for the day. The next day I was able to do a single lap with crutches around the kitchen, dinning room and living room - still with some pain in the heel and ball of the foot. The 3rd day post splint I was able to do several laps around the house. The pain was mostly gone by day 3 and progression from PWB to FWB occured on day 6 after splint removal (day 20 post surgery).

It begins

On a recent Wednesday (9/26/2018) I was playing ‘competitive’ tennis with a 20 something year old former/recent college player and then on Saturday (9/29/2018) I attended an ‘old guy’ morning tennis clinic and ruptured my Achilles tendon after 40 minutes of light hitting. Unfortunately, I knew what most likely happened shortly after I dropped to the ground. I contacted my primary care doc (general practitioner) and confirmed the likely rupture and decided not to go to urgent care and rather wait to see the orthopedic surgeon (OS). Arranged an appointment with the OS on Tuesday (10/2/2018) and had surgery on Wednesday (10/3/2018). Was in a non-weight bearing splint cast for 2 weeks and then transitioned to an Aircast boot. PWB two crutches from 2 weeks and 1 day post-op; PWB with a single crutch to FWB (in boot) 2 weeks 6 days. Self paid for everything in Southeast Michigan - Initial eval and imaging $300; surgery facility fee $2,200; OS surgery fee and follow-up visits $800; general anesthesia $500 (said no to the leg nerve block and no regrets); Vicodin $12 (used for the 1st 2-3 days post-op); Aircast boot, sock liners and level-up $95; knee scooter $150; crutches $45; shower bench $35; compression socks $35; PT TBD. I appreciate how much I’ve been able to learn from the group in a relatively short period of time and look forward to learning more as the journey to recovery continues.