The Bill Petrie Achilles Blog
Monday, January 26, 2015
It’s been two weeks since I blew out my Achilles by skipping – yes, skipping – to catch a cab in Las Vegas and I’m really restless (not the Bryan Adams multi-platinum album from 1984 - that was called Reckless). Since this is the first entry into this journal, let me catch you up:
January 12, 2015 – After skipping with a Jetline representative and hearing the “pop” in my left calf, I spent the evening (and a good portion of the next morning) in a Las Vegas trauma hospital having my flat tire diagnosed. For people watching, I highly recommend a visit. For any other reason, I don’t.
January 13, 2015 – I had a really interesting time hobbling back to my room at 4:00 AM, but I did finally make it. After about an hour of sleep I rented a Rascal scooter which, mentally, felt worse than my non-functioning foot. It was at that moment I just decided to have fun with the whole situation since I wouldn’t live it down anyway. I attended previously scheduled meetings throughout the day and was able to get on the show floor for a while as well. I was in bed at around 8:30 PM and slept pretty well. I recall thinking “while this is really inconvenient, it really doesn’t hurt" which I still find odd.
January 14, 2015 – It wasn’t much different than the previous day, save for the people I met with during the course of the show. Now that I think about it, the day started off VERY different. I rode my scooter to the only elevator I could use in an effort to get to an 8:30 AM meeting only to find that it wasn’t functioning. I ended up asking a hotel employee to navigate me outside so I could get to my destination, which he did with a smile. I really am looking at life in a way I never have had to before: through the eyes of someone truly disabled. What I would normally consider to be a minor inconvenience becomes a day-altering event for me right now.
January 15, 2015 – This was a travel day and I was fortunate enough to be upgraded the entire way. During the very brief layover in Dallas, there was a bit of a tense moment where the wheelchair valet ran at TOP SPEED to ensure I made my connection. That experience was far more harrowing than the Achilles snapping.
January 19, 2015 – I finally was able to see an orthopedic surgeon in Nashville who confirmed that my Achilles was fully torn. However, my foot was VERY swollen and bruised as evidenced by the pictures. He gave me some fancy crutches that I’m sure cost $910.00 and a boot to replace the bandages. He also scheduled an MRI for later in the week to see if the rupture was clean or if it was more shredded. Last, he scheduled the surgery for January 28 - nine days from today.
January 20, 2015 – I spent the entire day in bed with my leg elevated on two pillows which was very uncomfortable. Even so, it did the trick and my foot looked more human than before. I do find that my new sedintary lifestyle causes me aches and pains that I didn't expect. And my hands and right leg are feeling a little pain due to me compensating for the injury. For the record, not putting ANY weight on my left foot is damn near impossible, stairs are not an ally, and the toilet is the bane of my existence. Mentally, I think this is what is most difficult right now: things that I usually do without any thought at all now require careful planning and, in some cases, assistance. You should have seen the Mike Brady style blueprints my wife and I created so that I could bathe without causing additional pain or injury. Showering isn't really an option yet.
January 24, 2015 – Finally had the MRI which revealed that my Achilles was more shredded than torn. While that wasn’t the best news, the surgeon feels that there is plenty in there to make the normal repair. I just don't like the word "shredded" as it applies to my tendon at this point.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
I spent the day tying up some loose ends so that I can just focus on being hopped up on goofballs over the next few days. Candidly, it’s difficult to concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time as the upcoming “procedure” is weighing on me. Unlike many, I’ve never had an operation unless you count getting my wisdom teeth pulled – and I don’t. And yet, I’m not worried or nervous, but I am anxious. I did, however, make a tactial error by googling “Achilles Tendon Surgery” and saw things that only Trapper John, M.D. should see. Trust me, it’s not for the squeamish.
Maybe it’s not the surgery that’s on my mind – but the recovery process. All I have do to during surgery is sleep and I’m really good at that. But knowing that the recovery process will take around six months is a bit daunting. It’s not that I doubt that I can do it – I know I can and will – it’s just something I’ve never had to really face before.
In any event, I’m ready to get the surgery done as it means I can finally move forward and get on the road to recovery. I will say that I’ve been overwhelmed with support from family and friends alike over the past two weeks. Thanks to all of you who’ve made me laugh (mainly at myself for skipping) and expressed your concern – I really appreciate it. A special thanks to all of my industry friends who still made the PPAI Expo both fun and productive – I’m truly lucky to not just have “industry” friends, but real ones. There are WAY too many individuals to mention but hopefully you know who you are. Last, a super special thanks to my bride for putting up with me the past week and a half. It’s been a real eye opener being disabled and I can’t imagine having to do this alone. Now, if I can only talk her into getting me a scooter for home use…..or maybe a little bell for when I need something. I'm joking......I think.
I will try to write and post a little something tomorrow after the surgery, but that all depends on Mr. Demerol.
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
I’m glad that surgery day is finally here and I have a hard time believing that it’s been 16 days since the rupture. Having never had surgery before, I was more than a little nervous going into the procedure. Even so, the nurses, anesthesiologist, and doctor answered all my questions and made me as comfortable as I could be. Before going under, the anesthesiologist gave me a nerve block so that I couldn’t feel anything below my left knee. After that, I don’t remember anything until I woke up in recovery. Like I said going into the surgery, I had the easy part (sleeping) and I did it exceedingly well.
The doctor said everything went fine but that he did need to make a larger incision (from my heel to the middle of my calf) to repair the tendon. I didn’t have the stomach to ask how many staples it took to close the leg – I’ll just find out on the follow up visit on February, 9.
Sandy drove me home and I spent the remainder of the day hopped up on Demerol which really helped with the post-op pain. I didn’t care for the way it made my head feel all loopy, but it was a fair trade off as the pain was significant. I didn’t make it upstairs after surgery and just slept in the recliner with my foot raised above my head. While I didn’t sleep well, I did sleep so I am not complaining.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
This morning, the nerve block wore off so I really started to feel more pain. I kept up with the Demerol and whittled away the time with Sandy binging on Mad Men. I tried to eat a little more today but I just wasn’t hungry – a side effect from the drugs. We have been very fortunate to have so many neighbors bring some really great food; I just wish I was hungry for it.
Friday, January 30, 2015
I started feeling a little better this morning and began to back off the Demerol – not a great choice as the pain came back with a vengeance. I need to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint and take it a little easier. I still haven’t made it upstairs since the surgery – partly because I’m scared I’ll do something stupid like hit my wound and partly because I’m terrified I’ll get up there and not be able to stand up without help. Dumb, I know. I just want to be a little more independent before I start trying to be mobile.
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Another night in the chair, but I slept really well. I was able to stand up by myself today, mainly due to the fact I’ve cut back on the Demerol which makes me super dizzy and disoriented when standing. Nothing much to report today but I did feel a little better in the morning before getting tuckered out in the afternoon. I think this might be my last night in the chair.
Sunday, February 1, 2015
I woke up feeling better than I have since the surgery. I was able to not only get up and tinkle all by myself, but I was able to get dressed. When I have my leg below my heart, I can almost feel the blood coursing through it and that is a most strange and uncomfortable feeling. In fact, the amount of pressure my leg puts on the splint/bandages makes it feel as if it’s going to pop like some surgical balloon. I think that will subside in time and I’m just trying to figure out what my new normal will be, at least in the short term. And, I’ll have the Super Bowl to distract me today.
Monday, February 2, 2015
I was able to finally muster up the strength – and courage – to head upstairs and sleep in a bed. Not my bed, mind you, but a bed – specifically the bed in the guest bedroom. This was 100% my decision as I know Sandy won’t sleep with me flopping around trying to find a position of comfort. While it stinks, it really is for the best.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
It’s hard to believe that my surgery was only a week ago. It’s also hard to believe I inadvertently decided to celebrate the anniversary by slamming my exposed big toe against my desk and bending it upward, stretching my plantar tendon to the max. Candidly, it’s not something I would recommend as it hurt like nobody’s business and irritated the surgical site as well. I don’t think I reinjured anything but I really won’t know for a few more weeks.
Saturday, February, 5, 2015
Freedom. For the first time since surgery I was able to ride in a real car and go outside the house. It was a gorgeous 65 degree day in Middle Tennessee so we went out to eat as well. It’s a struggle being disabled but I have so much support from Sandy and the kids I really have nothing to complain about.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Post-op visit with the doctor. He took off the bandages and the splint and I was able to look at what’s left of my leg and foot. I was not thrilled to learn that I had 22 staples (gulp!) holding the incision together. I’ve never had staples before so I didn’t know quite what to expect upon extraction. It really wasn’t all that bad until they got to the thin skin between the heel and bottom of my leg – VERY SENSITIVE!!
The doctor came back, took a look, and said it was healing nicely. I asked about the severity of the rupture and he disclosed that it was quite severe and I would not be able to put any weight on it nor drive for the month of February. That was news I really didn’t want to hear.
As my foot had been pointed down since surgery, it was time to start stretching my newly fixed tendon and put my leg/foot in a full neutral position (90 degrees from my leg). I was able to get it to within about 70 degrees which seemed to please everyone – except me. Getting my foot in that position was the most painful thing I’ve done since the injury. In fact, it was more painful than the injury itself. While I held my foot in that position, they put a hard cast on it (to be known going forward as the “Black Cast of Death”) and gave me a little cast shoe so I won’t ruin the carpeting. I did insist on stopping at Target on the way home to get some silver and gold sharpies so the kids can draw all over it.
I keep this little get up on for a week and go back next Monday and we see if I can get into a full neutral position. While painful and uncomfortable, I know that it means progress so no complaints from me.
Week 4 (Tuesday, February 17, 2015)
The last week has been a long one and I’ve found myself a little more moody than I’d like to admit. It’s more exhausting that I ever imagined being on crutches and I hate that I really can’t help Sandy around the house. Going up and down the stairs, which I only do once each per day, exhausts me for about 30 minutes.
I don’t like being so dependent on others but I feel so fortunate to be supported by a great family. And, I have to keep reminding myself that so many others are not as fortunate as I am. My situation, however painful and inconvenient, is temporary. When I start getting a little frustrated with my injury and the slow road to recovery, this is what I think about to turn my frown upside down.
I was supposed to go to the orthopedist on Monday, February 16 to get my cast off and try to get my foot fully in a “neutral” position. Unfortunately, the Nashville metropolitan area was closed due to an ice storm, forcing me to wait.
Over the past week while I had my black cast on the swelling in my calf subsided, which is good news. The bad news is that my calf has begun to atrophy in earnest and by the time Sunday night rolled around, my cast was a little loose. This resulted in two things:
Fear that I could do something to compromise my newly repaired Achilles
A ton of discomfort on the top of my foot and ankles from the rubbing of the cast
Thankfully, I was able to get into the orthopedist first thing this morning, braving both the ice on the roads and the drivers in four-wheel drive vehicles who think that makes any difference on ice. Once there, my cast was removed which felt nothing short of delicious. My left calf is noticeably smaller than the right one, but not as much as I had feared. One bit of concern was my foot, which is still bloated and puffy. From what the doctor told me, I will likely deal with intermittent swelling for the better part of a year. Not the best news, but not much I can do about it.
Now the fun part: getting my foot into a full neutral position – neutral meaning that my foot is at a 90 degree angle to my leg. The purpose of this is to stretch out both my Achilles and the calf muscles which will help me regain range of motion. As I stated in an earlier update, this is FAR more painful than the injury itself. Both the tendon and the calf felt tighter than I can describe, feeling as if they would burst. I could feel the stretch and, given the short time from the injury and surgery, it was a painful and scary feeling. The tech worked with me as I slowly – and I mean S L O W L Y – pushed through the pain and got the foot where it needed to be. Seriously, it’s not a lot of fun.
Once in the neutral position, I held it there while the tech put on a new cast – this time in Dallas Cowboy’s blue. (Side note: Yes, I realize my toes look yellow and, frankly, they are. Not being able to take a shower and/or really wash my toes is part of the collateral damage of the surgery. Now that my toes are a little more exposed, I’m hoping I can be a little less jaundiced going forward.) The good news is that this should be my last cast as next week I should be in a boot. I still won’t be able to put weight on my foot for a few more weeks, but I feel like it is progress.
I’m looking forward to being cast free next week, even if I will be confined to a boot. My understanding is that I’ll be starting physical therapy soon where petite girls will cause me more pain than I can imagine. However, it’s good pain and will lead to a full recovery. Who knows, maybe I’ll invent some new swear words!
WEEK 5 (Tuesday, February 24, 2015)
Today was easily the best visit I’ve had with any doctor this year. The cast from last week had been really bothering me, so I was most eager to get it removed. As the tech was cutting the cast off, I was a little nervous: How did my incision/scar look? How much of my calf would be left? Would I be able to move my foot? As soon as the cast was removed, my questions were answered?
The incision/scar looks pretty nasty, but it is healing. Here is a picture
My calf has atrophied by about half, to the point my skin is loose around the shrunken muscle. It's funny to me that EVERY time I'm at the orthopedist, someone mentions how giant my calves are. You can’t really tell in this picture how much it has shrunk, but here it is
I was able to move my foot up and down – such a cool feeling after six weeks
The doctor came in and poked around my foot a bit and was very impressed with the healing. In fact, he was so impressed that he said I would go back into the boot and I could begin putting partial (up to 50%) weight on my foot, using the crutches to assist. He also said that he believes that in 10 days I should be able to put full weight on my foot with the boot on. Last, I can start driving again. As I said at the top, this was easily the best visit yet.
I begin physical therapy tomorrow with an evaluation that should take about 90 minutes. From there, I will go about three times a week. All in all, I’m making good progess and am ahead of schedule. However, there is a downside to my rapid improvement: I will never get to use the knee scooter I ordered last week. If you’re not familiar with a knee scooter, here is a picture of the one I was going to use.
Along with the scooter, I had ordered some flame decals and skull stickers to make it as bad ass as a knee scooter could be. But, with the excellent outcome of the appointment today, I won’t need one.
WEEK 6 (Friday, March 6, 2015)
I started physical therapy on Wednesday, February 25th and it has been an interesting experience to say the least. Over the past few sessions (I go every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – five times so far), I’ve seen dramatic improvement in my flexibility and range of motion. Some of the fun activities I get to do are as follows:
Towel scrunches – gripping a towel with my toes to loosen them up
Picking up marbles with my toes and place them in a cup – I couldn’t do it at all the first two sessions, but the past three I’ve been able to do it with no problem
Toe yoga – this was a new one for me. Apparently I’m supposed to be able to point my big toe to the sky while my four other toes stay on the ground and then alternate. I’m still not even close to doing it. Heck, I can’t even do it on my good foot
Moving my foot – I get to do this in all sorts of ways: spelling the alphabet, up and down, side to side, clockwise, counterclockwise, and side to side. Jealous yet?
Seated calf raises – this is fairly self-explanatory so I won’t bore you with some smarty-pants remark.
Stationary bike – I do this for 10 minutes to start each session. I don’t go very fast, but it does feel good to be slightly active again.
These activities have really helped me get my range of motion back far quicker than I thought. In fact, I started questioning everyone who told me physical therapy was tough. Yes, I’ve been a little sore and achy, but nothing that I felt warranted any serious complaining. Well, I felt that until Wednesday of this week when we added the following fun activities:
Stretching my newly repaired tendon – I get to do this by taking a nylon rope and placing it around the ball of my foot while holding on to the ends with my hands. Then, I get to pull…hard. I do this twice for 30 seconds. At times, it feels as if my calf will explode
Standing without my boot – holding on to a railing, I shift my weight left and right trying to get as much weight on my bum foot as possible. I wouldn’t describe it as painful, but the sensation is that of 1,000 needles on the bottom of my foot. Apparently that’s my nerves regenerating from the injury.
Standing on one leg (the bad one) – scary. Very, very scary. Part of it is the fact that I don’t really have any muscles in my leg, but a larger part is mental. Frankly, I’m scared to do it. I have pushed through that fear but I now really understand when athletes say the hardest part of coming back from an injury is mental. I get it.
Today was the most difficult day so far: transitioning from two crutches to one. Initially, I tried to walk in my boot without the assistance of crutches. As much as it pains me to say, I simply couldn’t do it. This was my choice and supported by the therapist. After a few attempts with the single crutch, I was able to get it down, but I still have that “needle” sensation in my left foot. Again, that will go away but it’s just a strange feeling.
So, I am progressing and everyone is happy with how I am doing. I am on track to lose the crutches next Friday should things continue on the current path. I tend to try not to get my hopes up, but that is my goal. I’m growing a little weary of my hands hurting from the crutches and am just ready to get full freedom back. However, I am able to drive, walk around with one crutch, and feel the improvement every day.
One fun aside of having my physical therapy here in suburban Nashville is that you never know who you might run into. On Wednesday of this week, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Chip Esten who was rehabbing a shoulder injury. Who is Chip Esten? Well, you might remember him from such fine entertainment vehicles as:
The Office – he played Josh Porter, regional manager of the Dunder Mifflin office in upper New York State
Nashville – he plays the role of Deacon Claybourne, dreamy – but tortured – guitar player
He was super cool and asked all about my injury as an Achilles tear is his biggest athletic fear. He somehow found it very funny that I tore it skipping in Las Vegas – go figure! And, yes ladies, he is just as dreamy and good looking in person.
Week 7 (Friday, March 13, 2015)
It’s been a very interesting week on the Achilles front. A mere 7 days ago, I transitioned awkwardly from two crutches to one and was hobbling along as I learned to walk with my boot. As of Monday, March 9th, I am crutch free when I’m in the boot. Frankly, both the physical therapists and I were both astonished at the rapid progress. There is still a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the ability to walk and hold things in my hands simultaneously.
The therapists added some new wrinkles this week to my therapeutic regimen, not the least of which was standing on my left foot only. Although it was has only been 8 weeks since “the incident”, it seems like a lifetime since I’ve been able to put that much weight on it – and it showed. I’m not sure if it was the cowardly whimpering or the beady-eyed stare I gave the therapist, but something in my subtle body language let them know that I was experiencing some discomfort. Even with the initial pain, I was able to work through it and by the end of the week I was able to do it 4 times for 30 seconds each.
What is interesting is that I seem to have lost my balance, mainly due to the lack of strength in my left foot/ankle/leg. Candidly, when standing only my left foot only, I quiver like a bowl of orange Jell-O – you know, the kind with the Mandarin oranges inside. That’s some damn tasty stuff, but I digress.
As I mentioned above, I’ve made some pretty good progress this week and today I did something that I haven’t done since Las Vegas: I walked without any protection on my foot. While it was a little scary, I wanted to do it. I have felt that my Achilles is fully healed for about a week now, but I just don’t have the balance, stamina, range of motion, or strength to support my new bionic tendon. And, the bottom line is that I wanted to test it. As I’ve mentioned before, I truly believe that my biggest challenge in overcoming this injury will be the mental aspect so the sooner I can work on that, the better.
So, I’m walking in a boot which is tremendous progress. I’m also able to stand in my bare feet (no balance issues when both of them) which makes doing daily tasks much easier. And, now that I no longer need to protect my foot, I have moved out of the guest bedroom and back in with Sandy. I know she has missed my snoring for far too long.
This week I go to the doctor for a checkup and I’m more excited than I should be about the progress I’ve made. Why? Because I know I have a long way to go. For example, I tried to stand on an uneven surface at therapy using only my bad wheel. Think of it as stepping in sand and how your foot conforms a bit to the granules. I couldn’t do it for more than a few seconds – just too much pain in my heel. However, it was the first time and I will work through the pain just like I have with everything else.
In any event, I hope to have a timeline to getting back into real boy shoes after seeing the doctor. All in all, there has been a ton of progress – especially considering I’ve only had 8 therapy sessions over two and a half weeks.
Week 8 (Friday, March 20, 2015)
As I mentioned last week, I went back to the doctor for the first time in three weeks and received an excellent report. Along with the physical therapists, the orthopedist feels that I am about 3 weeks ahead of schedule. In the house, I am able to walk around in my bare feet or in shoes, but I still need to be careful. Even so, the feeling of walking with both feet is most delicious. When going out on flat surfaces, I have graduated to a brace (more on this below). However, when going long distances and/or on uneven surfaces, I am still in the boot. Even so, I'm really pleased with the progress.
The deceptively strong ladies at physical therapy turned things up a notch this week as we work on rebuilding my strength, range of motion, and gait.
Squats with a big green ball behind me
Range of motion exercises with gradually increasing resistance (think of someone holding a strong rubber band as you move your foot all around)
Stair exercises (stepping up front, back, and side to side - the ones going up backwards REALLY hurt a lot)
Standing on my bad wheel alone both on the floor and on a mat that simulates sand/uneven ground. I'm amazed at how much balance I've lost and this is helping me regain it.
Walking in an anti-gravity treadmill. This is a really cool machine. Essentially you put on special shorts, zip yourself into a bubble, and the machine can hold up to 80% of your weight as you walk/run. I started today at 50% as I worked on my gait. The really strange thing is that your legs feel like they weigh about 804 pounds as you get out of the machine.
Standing calf raises. Right now I'm using both feet at the same time. We are going to work up to doing it solo on my left foot in the next week or so.
Different stretches that I really can't describe. Just think of moving your foot to the limit in every direction possible.
I do feel like I'm making really good progress, but therapy sessions like the one this morning (clocking in at a hair under 2 hours) make me realize that I have a long way to go. You'll hear no complaints from me, but I don't think I fully realized how difficult it would be to come back from this injury. Kobe Bryant I am not. There is just a lack of overall strength I notice as my flexibility and range of motion return. The most obvious place I can sense the lack of strength is the ball of my foot - I just can't push off yet. Again, something we are working on but it will take a while.
After consulting with both the doctor and the therapists, I've sort of ditched the aforementioned ankle brace. It's severe, Victorian, and causes me quite a bit of pain (not the "I'm getting better" kind). Plus, I really don't have any shoes that will fit over it. I mean, would YOU want to wear an ankle corset like this?
I didn't think so. Again, it's a piece of equipment that is designed to give me freedom, not to heal. So, I don't know how much you'll see me wearing this unless I'm at a restaurant.
The only thing about my progress that I find a little disappointing (and it is just a little bit - I promise) is how sensitive and painful the skin and scar tissue is around the incision. While I'm glad that the nerves have regenerated and clearly have the ability to communicate pain and discomfort, I'm not loving how overly sensitive it is. I know it will gradually diminish over the next year or sow, but it does make wearing socks and the occasional shoe a bit painful. As for the scar itself, it's healing quite nicely. I even got a compliment from another therapy patient this morning who remarked on how "nice and straight" my scar is. Some of you will want to see so here it is. It's not NEARLY as gross as the picture with the staples above.
All in all, progress is good and I'm thrilled that things are moving along in such a positive direction. Thanks again for all your support - more updates to follow as events warrant.
Week 10 (Friday, April 3, 2015)
It’s been two weeks since my last update, but there just simply hasn’t been that much to report from a progress perspective. As I mentioned in my last post, I have decided not use the very draconian ankle corset for a variety of reasons. As such, I’m simply going barefoot in the house and I generally wear the walking boot when heading out. The boot is, as you can imagine, heavy and tends to drain my energy quickly.
Over the past two weeks I’ve had to travel which adds a different wrinkle to the entire healing process. As neither trips allowed for a direct flight, connecting presented a bit of a challenge since two of my three least favorite airports (Charlotte and O’Hare) were involved. As you can guess, that meant many delays and one missed connection. Thankfully I am in the possession of some kick-ass knee-high compression socks which makes flying a lot more tolerable. All in all, the trips were excellent and getting there, while challenging, wasn’t as difficult as I had feared.
On the rehab front, they keep turning it up a notch and pushing me which makes me happy. Lately they have added the following to my other rehab exercises:
Walking forwards and backwards heel-to-toe while tossing a ball back and forth
Squats with 90 pounds of weight
Balancing on my left foot while standing on am air-filled flattened disc
Range of motion exercises on a “wobble board” (A circle of wood with a narrowing piece of plastic underneath).
Calf raises on stairs
Walking backwards up and down stairs
I can feel my leg, calf, ankle, and foot getting stronger, but the length of the rehab can be discouraging at times. Thankfully, I don’t experience any pain or discomfort so I “feel” like I’m healed. The downside of that is I “feel” like I should be able to do everything again and I’m just not there. My foot and ankle still swells up quite a bit, which is something I’ll likely experience for the remainder of the year as I continue to heal.
It may sound like I’m discouraged – I’m not. It’s just the reality of a very long rehabilitation process and, at times, it does grind you down a bit. It’s one of those things you really don’t think about until you have to live through it and I know I didn’t realize how long the healing process would be. Overall, I’m very pleased with my progress and eager to continue the path of healing. I think I’ll feel better when I’m allowed to wear big boy shoes out in public.
Thanks again for your support and kinds words – they mean a lot. More updates to follow as events warrant.
Week 15 (Friday, May 8, 2015)
It’s been about five weeks since my last update and thought it would be a good idea to at least document my continued recovery, if not share it. The long and the short of it is that I continue to improve and gain strength but I’m not able to run just yet. Here is a breakdown of the good and the bad (and, yes, the good FAR outweighs the bad):
Orthopedist – I went in for a check up on April 22nd and the doctor was most pleased with my progress. In fact, he was so pleased (no pain, able to walk and put full weight on my foot, etc.) that I was dismissed. I still go to physical therapy once a week for at least another two months or so, but this was definite progress.
Big Boy Shoes – Yes, that’s right, I can now wear big boy shoes on BOTH feet. The boot, which had become a little on the stinky side (I don’t recommend sweating in one), has been retired and now shares a place in the attic near the old school crutches, turbo crutches, and the brace. Good riddance.
Exercise – After four-plus months of being sedentary, I’m thrilled to be able to exercise again. Even though I’m limited to walking (and REALLY fast walking at therapy), it’s truly exhilarating to simply move again. I’m really looking forward to getting back into shape when I can really use the Achilles as it was intended.
Scar – Yes, I’ll put the scar (which you can see in the picture below) in the "good" category as it has become less pronounced and isn’t as raised as it was a month ago. I apply Vitamin E oil in the morning and some magic elixir called “Mederma” at night in an attempt to accelerate the healing. Maybe it’s worked, maybe it’s just time, but I’m pleased with the results.
Swelling – my ankle turns into a cankle quickly and often. This seems to lessen the more I use my foot (not during the course of a day, but the longer I am from the surgery), but it can still be an issue. From what the Doctor told me, I can expect to have “good and bad days” as it relates to swelling for about a year from the injury date. Not exactly ideal, but it’s not horrific either.
Shoe choice – Due to the above “good and bad days” situation described above, it’s difficult to know what shoes will fit all day long. As you can imagine, this can lead to some discomfort if my foot/ankle ends up swelling and I’m wearing restrictive shoes.
Disproportionate calves – I’ve always had Popeye-sized calves and, for the most part, they have served me well. As evidenced below, my left calf is about 70% the size of my right one. I don’t suppose this is really bad, but I am self-conscious about it. The good news is that since I’m predisposed to giant calves, I should be more symmetrical in no time.
One interesting side note: I didn’t believe the therapists when they told me I would need to learn to walk again and I was wrong. Once I fully got out of my boot, I walked very flat footed. I’ve had to remind myself to “push off” with the ball of my left foot on each and every step. Even now, I still find myself compensating for the injury and I have to fight against that. So, if you see me limping a bit, don’t be afraid to tell me to cut it out. I need to rebuild the strength in my calf and foot and the only way I can do that is to use my muscles and ligaments properly.
As always, thanks to all for the continued support!
Week 25 July 14, 2015 (THE FINAL UPDATE)
I’m happy to report that as of today, I am no longer under any sort of medical care for my ruptured Achilles. After yet another rigorous (and painful) therapy session, I was told that I don’t need to return. While it will still likely take another few months for my calf to return to pre-injury form and for the occasional swelling to disappear, I am fully healed. In fact, I have BETTER range of motion in my injured foot than I do in the “good” one.
It’s been an incredible journey and I’ve learned a ton about myself. I am so thankful for my family, my friends – especially the ones that kept asking how I was doing, and the people I work with who have provided more support than anyone could have expected. So, if I haven’t thanked you personally, I’m thanking you now.
As I said above, I will have the occasional swelling for a few more months and I have a wicked scar, but chicks dig scars, right? All in all, it’s been difficult work, but worth every effort to be able to walk, run, jump and maybe, JUST maybe, skip again!
Thanks again to all.