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.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Everybody sing along - "Feelin' stronger every day!"

OK, so you would have to be a certain age to really know most of the words to that Chicago song - or to have even heard it - but since so many baby boomers are ripping off into their 50 year old  Achilles tendons while playing at life like they were still 25, I figured it was an appropriate title.

Update - things are working out OK with this ankle bidness.  I'll tell you about how things progress through a pretty typical day for me and my tendon.

6:00 am - my two idiot dogs hear something  - probably a rabbit - in the back yard.  "ALERT ALERT ALERT!  MASTER, PLEASE JUMP OUT OF BED IMMEDIATELY AND LET US OUT SO WE CAN PROTECT YOU!  Yay, she's up, she's up, life is grand, let's see if we can hurl ourselves and her and knock her to the ground!"

The first five minutes or so that I am up walking around, well I have to admit that my leg is stiff and sore.  It doesn't help that I'm having to fight my way forward with each step because two seventy pound dogs are leaping at me.  But hey, it's good exercise.

While I am drinking coffee and net surfing before the day starts, I rather absentmindedly do some ankle stretches, rotations, that sort of thing.  Not because I am so disciplined, but because, ladies and gentlemen, this ankle hurts enough to make me WANT to stretch it out - and the stretching really does help.

As the morning progresses, my ankle and leg get to feeling fine - I mean great really.  I don't even think about tendons for hours on end.  The only time the thought crosses my mind is if I've been sitting awhile in one position and then get up without doing an ankle stretch or two.

The thing is, as my doctor explained to me, when we're lying down or sitting for a long time, our tendon draws up, due at least in part to the scarring.  That's why it's so important to stretch this baby out as often as possible, and it's also why exercising makes it feel better, not worse.

Anyway, I try to walk three miles a day.  During this walk, I'm not thinking about my ankle at all - until it sort of makes me think about it.  Usually on my walk, I will have some minor twinges and little protestations from my leg - nothing that impedes me in any way, but I know I'm working something that doesn't want to be worked.  And by that I mean, my whole leg - it's still weaker than the other one.  But - to put it in perspective, I am able to walk at 4.5 mph for three miles so life's not so bad.

During the evening after my walk, my ankle is OK, just a throb or two here and there.  It doesn't bother me at all at night.  I have noticed that when I get down on my knees or whatever, like when I'm digging around in my tupperware cabinet looking for a matching lid (usually to no avail), I have to remind myself to use the weaker leg to get back up - because now I default to the stronger leg, and I want to change that.  It's a matter of being aware of opportunities to strengthen that leg, and to give you an idea of how long you may have to think about this - it's been nearly a year and a half since my surgery and it still ain't right.

But it's better - and stronger every day!


  1. Thank you for your story. I am wondering if it's worth going through the surgery or just keep favoring my tendon problem. I feel that after reading your blog that the recovery time is long and not 100%. I really do appreciate your updates. :D

  2. Hi, I'm really enjoying reading your blog, and I'm wondering if perhaps you could advise me on something. I take 6 professional-level dance classes a week, and last Thursday I was doing a jump when I heard a popping noise from my ankle. My Achilles tendon has been killing me ever since (it's Sunday), and is very swollen and starting to get bruised. I originally thought it was just a minor sprain or something, as I've sprained my ankle before, but it feels way worse than last time and after reading your blog I'm not sure anymore. Did you know immediately what had happened when you hurt yours? I don't want to go to the orthopedist again, as all they ever do is take x-rays and I have my boot thing left over from last time... What do you think? Does this sound similar to your injury?

    1. Hmmmm, if you haven't already gone to the doctor, get thee there quickly! I am no doctor but my bet is that snapping sound you heard was your achilles tendon poppy loose. If that's the case, you simply will not "get better" without professional help and, I hate to tell this to you, immobilization, surgery (most likely), and months of physical therapy. PLEASE go immediately to the doctor or hospital! Let us know what you find out. Good luck!

    2. Sheeze did I say "poppy loose?" I haven't had my morning coffee yet. POPPING loose!

  3. Hi again, thanks for your advice. I'm going to the doctor this afternoon, so we'll see what he has to say. Fingers crossed that it hasn't popped loose-- or "poppy loose" either ;)

  4. Oh now you HAVE to tell me what the doctor says! I am very curious, because that popping (poppy) sound is pretty ominous. I forgot to tell you that I never did hear a popping sound when I tore mine - but it could have been drowned out by the noise of a ladder falling (and me falling with it) and things crashing down all around me! Seriously though - the classic popping sound is usually an achilles tendon snapping right away from the bone - and then, sister (or brother), you are JACKED UP. So please, let me know what the diagnosis is. Sounds almost certainly like at least a tear. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  5. Turns out the Achilles has a bad tear (but didn't rupture, for which I'm thankful) and I have a dislocated fibula. I'm going to have to be off my feet for a long time, which will be horrible. I have too much energy to enjoy resting. The doctor says that the popping noise was either the fibula going out or the Achilles tearing. I'm just thankful that I don't need surgery. Thanks so much for your advice, I'm very glad I went to the doctor. I'm a sister, by the way ;)

    1. Oh my. Please go back to the start of my blog and read what happened to me. Turns out I had a two inch lateral tear and no amount of booting and icing and compressing and rest did one iota of any good. The doctor told me that even if it had healed in the FOUR MONTHS I wore a heavy, hot boot instead of having surgery, it would have been forever weak and at a much higher risk of complete rupture. Finally, I opted for surgery. I think they are probably going to have to try the boot for one month before doing surgery, but if it drags on, please press them as to WHY you're not healing up quickly and what their contingency plan is. Cumulatively, I spent nearly a year in a boot or a cast (I had surgery about 6 mos after the initial injury, if my memory serves me correctly) and it was THAT constraint and the lack of usage of the muscles that I feel was at least as much of a detriment long term as the tear itself. My left leg is STILL considerably weaker than the right leg -and a bit smaller still, though it's not noticeable to the average person. But if you feel the two calves, it's immediately obvious that the left calf is a bit flaccid while the right calf is firm.

      When one leg is significantly weaker (atrophied) than the other, it shifts all sorts of things out of balance - ankles, knees, hips, back, even neck. I speak as one who knows this from long and arduous experience.

      I guess my advice is DO NOT LET IT DRAG OUT MONTH AFTER MONTH. I got a second opinion - actually switched doctors - and as soon as the second doctor did an MRI, he said, "This is never going to heal on it's own - it's been given way too much time to do so without improvement." So I ended up with surgery.

      I'm not saying rush to surgery or that it's impossible for it to heal on it's own - just know that you walk a thin line between healing and detrimental muscular atrophy.

      By the way, the tendon I had surgery on is strong and flexible - it has great range of motion. What I deal with a lot more than the tendon is the subsequent muscle weakness.

      Hope this helps as you make this painful and frustrating journey - and I wish you all the best of luck. Please keep us all posted on this blog!

  6. New to this Blog My name is Dwayne i am 29yrs old ruptured my Achilles Sunday night 04/14/13 Playing basketball sheduled for surgery this fri3 pm any pre opt device