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Nov 21 Achilles Physical Therapy

Just shy of one month since surgery to repair my Achilles, I had my 2nd physical therapy session. I’m still in the boot most of the time but it is nice that I can now take a bath without any concern. Being that this was the 2nd session, I was less nervous. The session started with more observation of the scar and swelling. It still swells especially if I move it a lot of put it down. I have occasional throbbing pain but not as bad as when the first two weeks out of surgery. Steve worked with me using the grastron technique to settle the swelling and scraping the scar tissue. He also helped massage my calf which is actually more painful then my Achilles and worked on my actual surgery scar. He encouraged me to use my fingers to break the tissue around the scar so it won’t heal firm.

Now finally to some exercises. This is the menu I was given which has a list of exercises, movement, and icing.

  • foot pumps x 30
  • Write alphabet with my toes x 2
  • Seated toe raisers
  • Band exercises
  • Clam (for my hip)
  • Ice

I’ll upload a video that is probably easier to explain.

I couldn’t find the video that was taken at this time so I just made a new one. Disclaimer, I am not 11 months removed from my surgery so the range of motion will be much more than someone who just had surgery a month back.


Day 2 – MRI and diagnosis

Despite the trauma I somehow manage to fall asleep. After all, there wasn’t much I could do and I didn’t have much pain. The ER doctor told me that if it was a full rupture I wasn’t going to have much pain. I kept mum at the time as I thought it was a partial tear. I wrote a quick e-mail to my boss and fell asleep.

The following morning, my wife helped me look for available in network orthopedic surgeons in the neighborhood that were part of UnitedHealthCare. That’s one thing good about having PPO is that I can directly go to any in-network surgeon without going through my primary care physician (PCP). I first attempted to call a referral from the same physician’s assistant friend. However, they outright did not take my insurance. I was a bit disappointed but nothing much I could do. My wife then found another doctor nearby who was available the afternoon. I hesitated. I’m not sure I want to see an “unknown” orthopedic surgeon with no reviews available that is so available.

I then recalled my chiropractor who helped me previously with some aches and pains. I called him. His admin explained that he normally does paperwork on Tuesdays but after giving her my name, he came on the phone. I explained I likely have a partially torn Achilles and he told me to come in right away.

I showed up at his office in about an hour. He also did the Thompson test and confirmed an Achilles injury. Below is a picture my wife took. You can see a well defined Achilles on my right foot but my left Achilles has no definition. It is rounded out and blunt. If you run your finger over it, you will feel an obvious gap.

His administrator helped me call an MRI center down the block and I headed over there.

I soon realize this was the first time I have been in an MRI machine. I laid down on the bare table with a huge ‘Siemens’ machine which we see on TV but I like to think of it as a time machine. A time machine to when I am fully recovered (wishful thinking…). The technician asked if I wanted a blanket and handed me earplugs. He said it was going to be cold, loud, and would take about 30 min. I accepted his offer and was glad I did. The buzzing and whirling as well as the sub 70 degree temperature was somewhat bearable with the blanket and earplug. I tried to take a nap but found it futile.

30 min passed and I head on home, waiting for the result.


The Rupture

ad9c12243ddb11e2968922000a1fbe74_7I hesitated a bit before I left to play basketball at an open gym hosted by my friends every Monday evening. The day before, I ran pretty hard at my son’s parent and child game time. My feet and legs were a tiny bit sore because I didn’t do much stretch or warm up as we did relay races around a game circle. Some of the relays I had to carry my 50lb son and run around the circuit twice. Hindsight, this may have contributed to the rupture the following day.

After dinner, I looked at the clock and had the typical, “dont’ want to work out” thought that often creeps into your mind. I squeezed every bit of motivation out of myself and started to put on my contacts and find my gear for basketball.

“Don’t get hurt!”, yelled my 5 year old. I always ache of pain when I play basketball and a few months ago I flipped my toe nail and was out of commission for a while. Little did I know I was going to suffer a more serious injury just an hour later.

I drove to the nearby private school where we rent the indoor gym. I enter with not much fanfare. We all know each other with the exception of a few friends or visitor. I proceed to fist bump people who are sitting on the side waiting for the next game while a game was ongoing. I put on my indoor game shoes and proceed to warm up and stretch. Growing up playing varsity basketball, volleyball, and soccer, I knew how important it was to warm up and stretch before exercising. I don’t think any amount of stretching would’ve prevented my injury. It was bound to happen.

I started off with a few games where I couldn’t contribute much. At this age and my shape, I don’t go all out competing as I just want to get some exercise playing the game that I love. In the 3rd game, I started feeling it and made a few layups. On the next possession, I got the ball on the right wing and I dribbled to my left and launched a left hand hook shot. Everything happened so fast. The defender didn’t jump to block the shot and as I elevated and released the shot, I watch the ball bounce off the glass and went in. I landed on my right foot and the moment I planted my left foot, I felt a hard POP-SNAP on my left foot. It was nothing like I’ve felt before. It felt like someone kicked my left foot and my entire body ricochet through my neck with a flash. I fell hard and grimaced as I held onto my foot. I was trying to find a culprit as I wrapped both hands around ankle waiting for it to swell. However, no one came to apologize. Then someone confirmed that no one was near me when I fell.

“I swear someone kicked me!”, I protested.

“You must’ve torn your Achilles dude…”, jokedĀ  another as people started to gather to see if I was ok.

As I waited and hoped for my ankle to swell, it didn’t happen. Then the sudden realization that I may have an Achilles rupture crept into my mind. My ankle didn’t swell. The pain wasn’t great. Something wasn’t right.

I couldn’t move my foot.

Thoughts of long recovery and how inconvenient things were going to be sunk into my mind. I thought about my family and my business trip I was supposed to go on the following month. No more playing catch or playing soccer with my son for months. I gave a big sigh as I was helped off the court and proceeded to call my wife.