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.
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
Clam (for my hip)
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.
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.
The appointment was early at 9:15am. It wasn’t the best time as my wife had to take the kids to school so it was the first time I drove myself since the injury. This wasn’t an issue as my injury is on my left foot and both of our cars are automatics. However, I won’t have the convenience of being dropped off the curb. It was also the first time I had to go at distance with the crutches. I actually had a handicap placard lent to me by a friend as I waited for mine to come from DMV so I thought I could at least park at the handicap spaces near the office. I arrived on time due to unusual traffic and to my dismay, all the handicap parking was taken. I guess it wasn’t that big of a surprise considering it was a relatively large medical office. I parked to the far end of the first floor parking. Hindsight, I should’ve went up another level and parked near the elevator. I gingerly made my way off the car and onto the crutches.
I struggled. I was out of breath and my armpit was tired from making my way from the parking lot to the medical building. As I entered the medical building, I realize the medical office was across the building! I then made my way for probably another 120-150 feet. Combine that with the parking, I probably traveled an industrial block on my crutches.
I signed into an office decked out with sports memorabilia such as signed jerseys and team photos of college and scattered professional sports players. Seems like this place had a high profile clientele. After about 20 min wait, I was called in by an intern probably from USC or UCLA. There were actually a number of interns staged in the back reviewing the patients for the day. I was asked basic questions about the injury, my current pain level, age, and general health questions. After about 10 min, the orthopedic doctor came in. He was a young Asian doctor who was probably the same age as myself. Maybe a bit more. Hard to tell with Asians. He was very emphatic and walked me through the available options. He was very honest about the conservative options to the most progressive treatment available at the moment. Conservative treatment was to not have surgery but set my foot at a steep angle so the tendon will fuse together. He said even for full ruptures, it can heal by itself although it will not be as strong. He also explained the most progressive option which was a new treatment where he opens a small incision to tie the tendons back together. However, it came with a comparatively high risk of nerve damage. The benefit would be a short recovery time. The most common treatment would be to make a large incision and tie the tendons back together. Without any pressure, he said he performs this operation the most and considers it very low risk with a high success rate. I agreed. I had to work with his surgery scheduler to see when I could be fit in. He led me to an in house x-ray room to ensure I didn’t have any structural damage. After x-rays, I was fitted into an adjustable Max Trax walking boot and off I went another city block back to my car.
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.
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.