Achilles Recovery and Legoland

Legoland: My first challenge since my Achilles surgery is about to happen. We love to take short trips and being in Los Angeles, there is no shortage of wonderful places to visit. My kids have been wanting to go Legoland for a while but I dreaded the walking, standing, and waiting in line pretty much the whole day. This would also be the first true test of the strength and endurance of my Achilles. I already had a game plan and set the expectation for my kids. I told them that daddy will do his best to go through everything and participate on all the rides but daddy may not be able to line up with you and go on all rides. They understood. This made things easier and less pressure on me to perform. They were actually more behaved than previous trips too πŸ™‚

I stayed at the nearby hotel which had a shuttle so I didn’t have to drive to Legoland. The hotel also had its own entrance which was a quick walk away so I can go back after or even take a break back at the hotel if I wanted to.Β  I knew that wouldn’t be necessary. First, I went to the customer service and inquired about the wheelchair. It cost money to rent it so I passed. It wasn’t like I couldn’t walk but I was just curious. One mistake I made is that I should’ve brought my handicap placard. Had I brought my handicap placard, I would’ve been entitled to a ‘fastpass’ which would’ve allowed me to skip the lines. I actually did think about this but didn’t feel comfortable skipping the lines when I didn’t appear handicap. That’s why I went to inquire about the wheelchair πŸ™‚

The day went smooth. I did feel tight with all the waiting and walking around the hills. I pick and chose my rides and also spent a good time sitting where I could find a nice and shaded bench. My wife was superior. Anytime they wanted to stop to get a drink, she would take the kids. Same with the restroom. Overall, I think we spent the same amount of time at Legoland as we would have when I was fully capable. I was quite exhausted that evening and put some ice on my foot. I had no pain the following day which is a GREAT sign! Can’t wait for my next challenge!

Feb 4 – physical therapy

Starting this month, I changed the frequency to my physical therapy for my Achilles. Until now, I was doing twice a week and now changed to once a week. Several factors played into my decision. First, I still haven’t received a bill. I guess I could’ve asked to see how much I was paying but it never happened do there was an unknown. 2nd, I felt the exercise was becoming routine and I was able to do almost all the exercise at home – just needed discipline.

The good thing about going to the physical therapy center was being made accountable to make sure I was doing all the reps and doing the right. I could also ask the therapist to make sure I was doing it at the right form to avoid injury.

From here on, instead of going twice a week, I will attend therapy every Wed. So far so good!

Brandon Jennings recovery timeline

I was watching ESPN when I saw on the ticker that Brandon Jennings of Detroit Pistons likely suffered a torn Achilles during the game against Milwaukee Bucks. An MRI conducted today confirmed the rupture. I cringed as I knew exactly what he went through. I saw the actual footage of the rupture and it brought back flashbacks of when my left Achilles ruptured. I also sympathize with him as recovery will be slow and his season is officially over. The sequence went like this. The Bucks was trying to inbound the ball at the sideline. O.J. Mayo quickly gave him a push to gain some distance between himself and Brandon Jennings. As Jennings tried to close the gap, he overextends his left Achilles where the rupture occurs. He is then carried off the court by teammates and wheeled off into the locker toom for x-rays.

Here is the video. (Warning: may be graphic to some..)

Here is his projected recovery timeline:

Jan 26 – Surgery
Feb 9 – Start light rehab – non weight bearing
Feb 23 – Crutches and boot – 50% weight bearing
March 12 – Single crutch and boot – 50% weight bearing
March 26 – Lose the crutches but still with boot – 75% weight bearing
April 26 – 100% weight bearing with no restriction when walking
-gradually ease to non impact exercises like cycling, rowing, can be swimming already, anti gravity exercise machinese-
AugΒ  (6 months) – start jogging, running, jumping, shooting. Non contact.
OctΒ  (8 months) – Sprinting, contact sports.

If all goes as well, he should be ready for pre-season but may miss first few weeks of the 2015 – 2016 NBA season. I wish him smooth recovery.

Athletes who suffered Achilles rupture

I’m not exactly sure why but when I ruptured my Achilles I started to do research on professional athletes who suffered Achilles tear rupture. I didn’t pay much attention to it before but once it happens to you, you tend to see how you associate with them and observe their recovery. Most of the readers of this blog are likely not to be playing sports for a living but it is good to see how athletes recover knowing they have the best medical practitioners and recovery including physical therapists at their disposal. Here is the list I compiled.

Kobe-Bryant-achilles1) Kobe Bryant – probably the most famous world athlete who recently suffered an complete tear on his Achilles. As a Lakers fan, I remember vividly as I was watching this game live on TV. It was April 12, 2013, in the 3rd quarter against the Golden State Warriors. Lakers were making a push to the playoffs in the 2013 season. Kobe was playing a lot of minutes going into this game and you could tell he wanted to reach the playoffs. He spotted and got the basketball on the left wing and dribbled and fell. At first, it simply looked like he slipped and a foul was called. Harrison Barnes took a step back surprised at the foul call. Everyone noticed that Kobe wouldn’t get up. He couldn’t get up. His face grimaced as he led onto his left food with both hands. I recalled he asked Barnes a question. Later, we found out he asked if anyone kicked him. That feeling of being “kicked” when the Achilles snapped is consistent and how I felt exactly when I suffered my rupture playing basketball. What is amazing is that Kobe gathered himself, stood up, shot the 2 free throws and essentially hobbled his way off the court on his own.

Kobe’s recovery lasted a good 4-6 months. However, he made indication that he blew past any recovery timeline. It wasn’t until the following season some 9-10 months later did we see him in action and he was at 100%. He is still playing at a high level and needless to say, he made a 100% recovery.

2) David Beckham – On March 14, 2010, David Beckham suffered a torn Achilles during a game David-Beckham milanwhile on a loan from LA Galaxy to A.C. Milan. The actual event can be seen here on Youtube. What is amazing is that he didn’t fall or crumble to the ground when the injury happen. He remained standing and was able to pass the ball even rupturing his Achilles! Here is a video of him on the Late Night Show with David Lettermen where he details his injury in early May. He is already walking just shy of 2 months of his injury with a crutch. The rupture crushed his dream of participating in his 4th world up at South Africa that Summer. Don’t we wish we could explain our injury with a British accent eh?

David Beckham made a full recovery and returned to the pitch with LA Galaxy on Sept. 11, 2010 as a sub and palyed 20 min. It was just 3 days shy of 6 months since his rupture. He even won a few championships with LA Galaxy.

3) NFL – Robert Mathis, Derrick Johnson, and Mike DeVito – In a rare circumstance, three NFL players went down with ruptured Achilles after week one of the 2014 NFL season. The previous year, 10 players suffered Achilles injury (bleacherreport.com). Sean Weatherspoon suffered a torn Achilles during practice with the Atlanta Falcons. On the third week, DeAngelo Hall from the Washington Redskins suffered a torn Achilles tendon. A month after his surgery, Hall re-ruptured his Achilles when he was in his kitchen getting a pizza! He had to undergo surgery again to repair his Achilles. This story made me realize I need to be extremely careful not to re-rupture my just repaired Achilles.

4) Other notables – Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks. Dominique also known as the “Human Highlight Film” ruptured his Achilles but came back and played another 7 seasons in the NBA. Elton Brand suffered an Achilles injury when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007 during practice. He is still in the NBA today playing for the Atlanta Hawks. Isaiah Thomas ruptured his Achilles in April 1994 which ended his career and never played another NBA game.

other notables, Al Gore, Brad Pitt, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson,

 

Dec 29 2014 – physical therapy – no boots

I achieved another milestone! I no longer have to wear my boots! It was very difficult to get around with the boots and felt my leg being weighted down. I can now go about without the boots but will use a small heel pad similar to these Dr. Scholl pads. The ones I got was from Dr. J. who had them in his office. It helps with my calf as they were not strong enough to help me push off from my daily travels. It’s so good to be back in my own shoes! I still had issues with fatigue when wearing dress shoes which had less support. If I wore jogging shoes or basketball shoes with the heel pad, I was fine. However, I still could not stand or walk at long distance. I had to be mindful that I had to find a place to sit once I start feeling pain.

Nutrition post Achilles surgery

I’m fortunate to know a friend who is a Nutritionist. Upon finding out of my injury and that I just undergone Achilles surgery, she came by to help me understand what I had to do to maximize my healing.

1) Protein

From WebMD – “Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.” Simply, protein aids your body to repair the Achilles and the surrounding tissues. During this time I made extra effort to eat things such as eggs, meats such as chicken, steak, fish, edamame beans, peanut butter, and took on protein shake every night before I went to sleep. The protein shake I started using is available from Trader Joes.

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2) Omega-3 and DHA

I was recommended to take food high in Omega-3 such as salmon but can also take supplements such as fish oil. According to WebMD, “the human body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we have to get them from our diet.” Omega-3 will help lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels which will aid in increased blood flow and help prevent inflammation.

Food that are rich in Omega-3 are cold water fish, soy beans, flaxseeds, and tofu. For this, I took in supplements and bought Chia seeds, which are high in Omega 3, protein, and fiber and added it to my oatmeal which I usually take at least 3 times a week. The DHA supplement, I bought from Amazon.

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3) Multi vitamin

I was also recommended to take in a multivitamin. The type was not important as long as the major vitamins and minerals were covered. I took a typical multivitamin for men. Sometimes, I would cheat and take on

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4) Lastly, avoid alcohol

This wasn’t explicit but I have been avoiding alcohol throughout my recovery. I think I had 2 glasses of wine during Christmas which was 2 months removed from surgery. I have long stopped taking pain medication. There should be no alcohol while taking the pain meds and as long as my Achilles was healing, I did not take any alcohol at all.

Post Op appt – No crutches!

Finally this day has come! I got the green light from my orthopedic surgeon that I no longer required crutches! I actually knew that I was quite comfortable without crutches but I wanted to be sure and waited for the ok from Dr. J. I did occasionally put full weight on my leg at extremely short intervals and didn’t have any issues. I can now walk around hands free without the iWalk. I did have to be careful and of course still use the boot.

Achilles physical therapy – 75% weight bearing

gamereadyNov. 24th. I’ve been to physical therapy several times now and know what to expect and am very comfortable. Due to improvements to my condition, I am now able to go 75% weight bearing which means I can use only one crutch on the opposite side of my foot with the Achilles rupture and walk. This is much more natural as I am able to swing my arms the way I would when walking. I always start with scar tissue treatment using the Granston method and deep tissue massage on my calf. Here is a list of exercises I do regularly at physical therapy and at home.

1) Ankle pumps to loosen up the Achilles – 20 times
2) Rotate my ankle – 20 times each direction
3) Write out the alphabet with my toe from A to Z – 2 times
4) Band exercises – various
-dorsiflexion and plantarflexion – 3 x 15
-45 degree plantarflexion inner and outerΒ  3 x 15
-90 degree plantarflexion inner and outer 3 x 15
-clams to work on hip both sides – 3 x 15
5) Picking up marbles with my toes onto a plastic jar
6) Seated calf raisers

I end each session icing my foot to decrease swelling. The physical therapy center uses a GameReady compression machine which really helps. It circulates ice water while compressing on your injury.

Hi, I ruptured my Achilles.

This is my personal journey to recovery from a full Achilles rupture on my left foot.

I am 35. male, 6″1′ and 208lbs and in relative good health. On October 13, I was playing basketball when I slipped and felt a pop on my left foot that resonated through my body. It was like a flash went through my entire body including my head. It was an awkward sensation. Something I have never felt before. I slowly manuevered as teammates came alongside me asking if I was ok. I was hoping for my ankle to swell up as it has many times when I sprained my ankle. No chance. My left foot kept shaking, that is when I knew something was really wrong.

I had surgery to repair the rupture on Oct. 23 which went well. I want to document my journey as a support for myself and others who are going through the same thing. I will share how I went through my decision process, Achilles recovery exercises, nutrition, and more.

Feel free to post on the forums section and interact with others alike.

 

Introduction and Timeline

On Oct 13, 2014, I ruptured my left Achilles. At the time of the rupture, I was a healthy 35 year old male, 6′ 2″ and about 210lbs. My physical fitness was semi-active. I work from home but try to manage cycling 1-2 times a week and play full court basketball at least once a week. So I wasn’t completely out of shape but I wasn’t in super great shape either.

In hindsight, I don’t think you can pinpoint the cause of the rupture. I played competitive sports throughout high school and lettered in volleyball, basketball, and soccer all 4 years. I put my body during those years very hard. I was young so I thought. Much of my problems came from my knees but never any foot or ankle problems.

About a year before the rupture, I did see the doctor to have my left Achilles checked out. I often would wake up in the morning with a very stiff left foot. The doctor indicated it there was some swelling on my Achilles and was diagnosed with tendonosis. I was given a few leg strengthening exercises and off I went. One more checkup and the pain went away. Laziness got the better of me and I stopped doing the exercises. At no point did the doctor say there was going to be a risk of a rupture. Thinking back, it was likely precursor to the full rupture.

Here is a timeline view of my blog posts of my recovery.

Oct 13 2014 – The Rupture
Oct 14 2014 – visit chiropractor, MRI
Oct 15 2014 – MRI confirm full rupture
Oct 16 2014 – Dr. L. No surgery date. Soft cast taken off
Oct 17 2014 – iwalk arrives
Oct 18 2014 – First Weekend
Oct 21 2014 – Dr. J. Surgery confirmed for Tuesday Oct 23
Oct 23 2014 – Surgery
Oct 23 2014 – Immense Pain Post Surgery
Oct 25 2014 – Side effects
Oct 29 2014 – Pain in Calf / Cast Removed
Oct 31 2014 – Nutrition post Achilles surgery
Nov 4 2014 – Post Op appt, stitches removed, limited exercises
Nov 14 2014 – physical therapy
Nov 18 2014 – Post Op appt – 50% weight bearing
Nov 21 2014 – physical therapy
Nov 24 2014 – physical therapy – 75% weight bearing
Dec 1 2014 – physical therapy
Dec 3 2014 – physical therapy
Dec 8 2014- physical therapy
Dec 10 2014 – physical therapy
Dec 15 2014 – physical therapy
Dec 16 2014 – Post Op appt – No crutches!
Dec 17 2014 – physical therapy – 50-50 Boots
Dec 22 2014 – physical therapy –
Dec 29 2014 – physical therapy – no boots
Jan 13 2015 – Post Op appt
Jan 21 2015 – physical therapy
Jan 23 2015 – 3 months post op update!
Jan 28 2015 – physical therapy
Feb 4 2015 – physical therapy
Feb 12 2015 – Legoland Trip!
Mar 11 2015 – 4 months post op
March 26 2015 – 5 months post op and end of physical therapy
May 2 2015 – Business Trip
June 29 2015 – 8 months post op
Oct 2 2015 – Jogging
Dec 18 2015 – one year and 2 months post op
Jan 4 2016 – Back to basketball!
March 25, 2016 – Visiting New York City after Achilles Rupture
Nov13, 2016- Two years update