Tag Archives: achilles recovery

8 month in my Achilles recovery

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!

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.

 

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.

Update:
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.

 

Post Op appt, stitches removed, limited exercises

Nov 4 – Day 11 post Achilles operation first appointment. This was the day I was originally supposed to have my cast removed but I had it removed earlier in the week as I thought it was causing my calf pain. I have been in my boot have been zero weight bearing. To get around, I have been using my iWalk 2.0 but for the most part I stay at home hunkered on my couch with my leg elevated. I cleaned myself by submerging myself in my bathtub which is more like a soaker. I elevate my left foot and tie a garbage bag over it to ensure I do not get it wet. I continued to take both the morphine and the oxycodone. Good news is that I was getting sensation back to my foot and toes. I can actually feel them when I move.

2014-11-03 10.51.39The dr. appointment went smooth. It was a challenge to make my way to the doctor’s office but I just took my time. I initially thought that the stitches would melt away but apparently it had to be removed. Just a nip on one end and tweezers on the other end to pry out the sutures did the trick. It did hurt. Surprisingly, there were two total which had to be removed. I thought there were several but that was it. He then used surgical tape to seal the wound just in case.

Next, the doctor cleared me to begin physical therapy. He asked if I had a place in mind and 2014-11-06 16.47.27that they had one right next door which I can try out. I honestly didn’t and it was convenient to be able to check out a place right next door so I went ahead and made an appointment. My first physical therapy session was going to be Nov. 14th. One month after the rupture and 20 days post op. Meanwhile, I continue to move my toes to encourage blood circulation and elevate my foot above my heart to minimize swelling.

Oct 23 – Achilles Surgery

The time has finally come for my Achilles surgery. I was so anxious to get the surgery done that I didn’t think much about the pain or have time to be scared. I suppose one can worry about issues and risks associated with surgery. I don’t remember the last time I was under general anesthesia. Maybe when I was in college for a colonoscopy. I digress. I just wanted to hurry and get the surgery done and start the recovery and get back on my feet.

The day started at 4:30am. We already dropped off the kids last night at the in laws who agreed to help drop off the kiddos at their schools. Hindsight, it was good the surgery was this early as I didn’t have to worry about any traffic or fasting throughout the day. It took about 45 min to arrive at the surgery center near LAX. We parked our car at the empty lot and got to the registration window a bit before and spent another 30-40 min doing paperwork. I was led into the prep room and gave my wife a kiss. She went to the car to take a nap lol.

In the prep room, I had to strip to my underwear and wear a patient gown. The one where only your front is covered. There were about 3 nurses who prepped me and 2 other patients in neighboring beds who were getting operated at the same time as well. IV was put in and several checks to ensure the right foot get operated. My ID band was to be worn on my wrist opposite of my injury. I was also asked to put an arrow using a washable marker where the injury was on my calf. Another nurse shaved my leg with a disposable razor without any soap. That didn’t go well at all. The nurses did a great job ensuring I was comfortable and chatted among themselves most of the time. The anesthesiologist came in to introduce himself. Asked about my surgery and if I had any allergies. He mentioned that he will put a mild dose of anesthesia into my IV and I should start getting sleepy soon. He explained the nerve block that will be put on my entire leg and that it should last up to 12-48 hours.

Shortly after I was wheeled into the surgical room. I took a quick glance and it was typical, sterile environment. Just a few seconds later, I blacked out.

Next thing I noticed I was in the recovery room with a huge cast on my left foot. I was extremely drowsy from the drugs and my head was spinning. It was just passed 10am and my surgery was a success. Just in time, I see my wife walk in. It was a bit of an odd feeling as I felt almost half asleep but can hear the other two patients in the room seem to have less side effects and ready to check out to go home. I took in some water and spent about 45 min in the recovery room. My bladder was also really full and had to get wheeled to the restroom. As I slowly recovered, the nurse tried to small talk asking about our kids and where we lived. She reminded us to make sure I take my pain meds.

Once I felt ok to be upright, I was wheeled to my car.

Day 3 – MRI Result

Day 3 of my Achilles rupture was uneventful which I imagined. I just needed to get the result of the MRI and proceed to find an orthopedic surgeon which was in itself a challenge. I had never shopped for a surgeon before. The previous surgery I had was through a medical group where I was not afforded to select my surgeon. Everything worked out and it wasn’t a major surgery so I wasn’t too particularly concerned. This time it was different. I received a call from my chiropractor who notified me that I had a FULL rupture, not a partial tear. My mindset changed a bit. He reminded me that I am now a candidate for surgery. Whatever hope of conservative recovery option of non-surgery was likely off the table. I was planning on having surgery anyway but now the question is when. Most information I read regarding Achilles surgery indicated that the best time to have surgery was within 2 weeks. Below is not my MRI but this is similar to what I saw. I’m unable to extract my MRI without the proper software / device.

webmd

My chiropractor gave me a three names who he highly recommends and I went ahead and called them. Out of the 3, I was only able to reach the office of one of them located about 15 miles away. A bit further away than I would like but nonetheless I didn’t have much of a choice. They proceed to tell me that the next available appointment was the following Thursday. I dropped my chiropractor’s name and they fit me in the same Thursday. The first orthopedic appointment is booked.

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.

IMG-20141014-WA0004
His administrator helped me call an MRI center down the block and I headed over there.

The MRI
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.

 

Day 1 Emergency Room – Achilles

emergencyI wasn’t sure what to do exactly. Someone suggested that I call the ambulance but I thought that was an overkill. I thought back at my only other reference of an Achilles injury and that was Kobe Bryant. I remember quite vividly watching the game on TV when he ruptured his Achilles. Despite having a full rupture, he used crutches and answered questions from reporters. The following day he had surgery. It’s not necessarily apples and apples comparison but I also had left Achilles injured while playing basketball. But I knew I didn’t need an ambulance as my foot was not swelling and I didn’t see any major life threatening condition that would warrant an ambulance.

I had one friend drive my car and another friend drive me back to my house. My wife greeted me at the door with a concerned face. I sat down and called a friend who was a practicing physician’s assistant. He told me the best way to tell if I had an Achilles rupture was to perform the Thompson test. I laid down prone while my friends and wife tried to squeeze my calf. The result was inconclusive. It looked like my plantar didn’t flex but couldn’t tell if it was because of the rupture or because it was stiff from the injury. He suggested I go to the ER which I hesitantly obliged.

Before heading to the ER, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me so I took a shower. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be admitted, undergo emergency surgery, or be put into a cast. I also wasn’t sure how long I was going to be there. I didn’t want to further trouble my friends so I arranged my mother in law to watch our kids so my wife could pick me up when I was done.

By the time I arrived at the ER, it was just after 10pm. Luckily, it wasn’t a busy evening and there was maybe two people ahead of me. I actually brought a survival pack with my work mobile, some water, and an energy bar. I really wasn’t sure if I would be there for hours and hours considering I was probably a low priority on their list. To my surprise, just 15 min of waiting, an ER doctor personally called me in. Apparently, the x-ray technician was about to leave for the evening and he wanted to get me in beforehand. He took a look at me and did the Thompson test and told me that he was pretty certain it was a partial rupture. This gave me a bit of relief. (I found out the following day through an MRI that it was actually a full rupture.)

Shortly after, a nurse put me in a soft splint which molded to the shape of my foot. I was checked for blood pressure, temperature and given some pain medication. I was in and out in a record 20 min! As I thanked my friends for driving me, I silently looked out the night lights and thought what my next plan was going to be.

The only thing I can do to help my injury is R.I.C.E – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. I was recommended to keep my foot elevated when I went to sleep.