It’s been a bit over a year since my Achilles surgery and it is time for a quick update. To sum it up, no major issues which is a good thing. On the other hand, no major advancement either. Part of it is because of my own schedule and the season change. The weather has really turned in Los Angeles and with daylight savings, it is really hard to get out after work to do a quick bike and run. One thing you don’t want to do is to go out exercising without the proper warm up. Not warming up while exercising will lead to injuries. In general, my Achilles feels strong and I am able to sprint, jog, jump without any challenge. There are still significant scar tissue which is inevitable and not sure how much of it will go away. You really don’t notice unless you are moving your fingers directly along the Achilles. There are instances where it feels tight but nothing like what I had earlier months immediately after surgery. I haven’t played any basketball but have been shooting hoops with my son which is nice.
It’s been 8 months since my Achilles surgery on Oct 23rd. Well the journey has entered it’s last spurt. I recalled Dr. J telling me that by 8 months I should be back to 100% all sports activities. It hasn’t happened but I am not dissapointed. I haven’t visited Dr. J since my month 6 appointment and in all honestly, there hasn’t been too much major improvement since then. I think from here on the progress would be less apparent. Currently, I am experiencing the following:
- Minor tightness when I wake up in the morning or from sitting too long in one position
- I am able to jog in good form with very little pain up to 10 min. Pain starts to come after with minimal swelling
- Sprint very short distance
- Bike with no pain or swelling
- Jump with no issues. Not much vertical though
- Less scar tissue and Achilles more defined although not as much as my right foot
- No pain whatsoever even walking at long periods (mall, amusement park, beach)
It has been a challenge to do all the exercises I should continue to do. Occasionally, I take out the band and do some foot pumpts and diagonal pumps. During shower, I would do some heel lifts. I can do 10 single leg toe raisers but still find it difficult to do them unsupported. It is interesting how even putting one finger against the wall helps with the balance and is less load on my calf while doing calf raisers.
Even with professional athelets with a great training staff, it takes 8 months to get into full recovery for fitness. I know I need to be much more patient.
Currently, I am trying to lose weight before I attempt any streneous exercising. One major issue I notice is the weight I have been putting on my legs, back. The extra weight strains my body and my heart. I do not think I am in any ways obese but at 6’1″, I should weight around 190. I was around 210-212lbs when I ruptured my Achilles and being lethargic didn’t help. I have since lost 13 pounds and weight 198lbs. My target is to drop to 180-185lbs then start working out aiming to be able to play basketball and soccer again.
I know I haven’t done a good job but I will work to fill in previous blog posts and create an exercise video to help everyone!
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
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.
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.
I 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…”, joked 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.