You will be in an altered state for many moons...

If your Achilles tendon is ruptured, torn, or even simply inflamed with tendonitis, your life is about to change. Mine sure has - so I decided to chronicle these events, and create a place for others to share their experiences, advice, resources and emotions during our journey toward recovery.

Nothing in this blog is meant to take the place of the medical advice of your physician. Follow the instructions of your medical professionals, not me.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there IS life after surgery!

Well, it's been a few months since I posted here - and the good news is that's because I've been so ACTIVE that I haven't had time!  I finished my physical therapy in March, and continued to stretch and walk and do some of the exercises I learned there at home.  (It's July now and I still do the stretching and walking part.) 

Here's the good part - and I will post a photo which pretty much says it all:

At the Eagle's Nest summit in Germany, June 2011
We just returned from two weeks in Europe, and we walked an average of 4 hours a day - up and down mountain trails, on rocks, on cobblestones, you name it.  Not only did my ankle hold up well - it actually felt BETTER the more walking I did.  Absolutely no swelling, and very little stiffness (though it does still feel stiff and slightly sore when I get up each morning). 

Nine months out, here's my status:
  • The scar looks OK.  I mean, it's not pretty, but I wouldn't call it disfiguring.  It's obvious I've had surgery if you get to looking at it, but it's not something anyone would notice right away.
  • My left ankle (the one with drama) is 1/2 inch thicker than my right ankle.  But since the thickness is around the back, it's not noticeable from the front.
  • Due to this thickness, I have to be a little more careful about the style of shoes I wear.  For instance, those cute "Roman-style" sandals with the strappy ankle and back?  No way! But stilletos?  ABSOLUTELY!
  • My left leg is still weaker than my right, but I see slight improvement as each month goes by.  The left calf muscle is nearly back to it's original size, but it simply isn't firmed up like the right side. I can really tell a difference when I squat down and then try to stand back up without using my arms.  I mean, I can do it - but it ain't pretty. 
  • The worst thing about this whole ordeal is that I've gained about 15 pounds over the course of the year I've been dealing with this injury.  I expect to be able to walk this off, but considering that it's July in Texas, and the outside temps are over 100 every day, and start out in the muggy 80's even at 6 am - I'm probably going to put off that hot and heavy morning walk for a few more weeks.  I am confident though that I can get this weight back off.
One trick that seems to work well as I walk around - and something I did which really helped get me ready for all that vacation walking - is that instead of defaulting to that limp which seems to shorten each step (hard to explain, but it seems like my left foot's range of motion is inhibited), I make a conscious effort to push through each step from heel to toe on that foot.  Hope that makes sense.  I mean, my left foot WANTS to stiffen up and create a shortened step and consequent limp, but I make myself "roll" through the entire step - and this has really helped me overcome a noticeable limp.  Ask your physical therapist about this - don't just take my word for it.

Keep the faith!  Keep your physical therapy appointments!  And KEEP WALKING!