It’s now 180 days since my Achilles’ tendon repair surgery. Life is sort of back to normal, though my leg is still not back to 100%. I can’t do a single-leg raise on my bad leg, and running isn’t something I want to try, but most of the pain is gone. Physical therapy has helped a lot but I am winding that down now as well. Anyway, just wanted to give an update for anyone facing this surgery.
As 2018 draws to a close and I look back on it I can’t help but think it has been the worst year of my life. Obviously I’m in a very privileged position but the problems started early on and kept on coming.
First of all, I had resolved at the end of 2017 that this would be the year I “took care of” the ruptured disc in my neck that was impinging on the nerve root. So I spent the first couple months obsessing about whether to have ACDF surgery ( vertebrae fusion) or CDR (replace bad disc with artificial one). So I was already pretty anxious as the year started. Regarding the disc, I ended up with another MRI and a doctor informing me that surgery was only 50% effective in fixing numbness in the fingers, and was really only recommended for cases of extreme pain. So I guess it was good news – doing nothing is the right course of action.
Then in March we had to put our dog Chloe to sleep. I wrote a couple posts about this already, but when it happened it sent me into a depression unlike any I had experienced before.
On Easter, I was playing football at my brother in law’s house and the next day I started feeling a strange pain in my chest. It bounced all around and was very faint. I kept it to myself for a couple weeks because we had a vacation coming up and I didn’t want to ruin that with a bunch of health stuff looming, but it was on my mind the entire trip. When we got home I told my wife about it and went to my doctor. He couldn’t find anything wrong but sent me for a cardio stress test and an EKG. those didn’t find anything wrong either. I went to a cardiologist and had two more stress tests (treadmill) and none found anything wrong.
At some point around April/May I also developed a weird twitch. I’d be sitting at my desk with my hands on my keyboard or mouse and my finger would press a button even though I hadn’t meant to. It wasn’t just my fingers, sometimes it was my arm, or leg (I was awakened a couple times when my leg twitched overnight). I sent back to the doctor who said I should cut out caffeine, but that had no effect. He said it was most likely Benign Fasciculation Syndrome and I should just try to ignore it.
Things started turning around when we got our new dog Maisy, though the day we got her I happened to develop an abscess on my back and ended up having to have a surgeon drain it, and that took a couple weeks to heal., during which time it was very painful to sit down.
Then of course, over July 4th weekend I ruptured my Achilles’ tendon. It’s now over 5 months later and while I can mostly walk normally, it’s far from back to normal and I have rather significant pain when walking. I’ve been going to physical therapy twice a week since September and it’s helped a lot but it’s not magic. On my PT days I work from home, which also lets my leg rest, but the decrease in my exercise has led to gaining a bunch of weight.
Of course, there have been a lot of positive things this year. Mostly seeing my son grow from a little boy to a young man and seeing him succeed on school. But overall this has been a terrible year and I will be glad to put it behind me.
Today is 16 weeks since my Achilles’ tendon repair surgery. I spent the weekend mostly resting and am back at work today. Every step I take now is pretty painful in the ankle area. I’m not sure if it’s inside or just the scar being stretched when I walk but I’m starting to develop a limp because it hurts pretty badly when I walk. Still been doing PT 2 days a week, and it’s helped with flexibility and strength but the pain the past 10 days or so has actually been getting worse. Also my calf and ankle seem a lot more swollen now. Definitely a bummer since I thought my recovery was going pretty well.
106 days since surgery. Pain is starting to come back now, maybe as nerves are coming back. Had to get some new shoes with lower backs that don’t run against the scar.
This Monday, October 1st, marked eleven weeks since I had surgery to repair my ruptured Achilles tendon. At my follow up visit with the surgeon, he looked at the incision scar and seemed impressed at how well it’s healed. He said this is how it usually looks for patients after a year of healing. I guess there’s no way to know how much of that is just how my body heals and how much is due to my physical therapist working the scar tissue with his IASTM torture device (joking).
This past Monday, Sept 17th, I finally returned to the office, after almost 11 weeks being out. I was on long weekend (July 4th) when the injury occurred, and worked from home the following week. I then had the repair surgery on July 16th, and spent about two weeks just sitting on the couch recovering – WFH wasn’t really an option for that, since I had to keep my leg elevated above my heart. Since then I’ve been working from my home office.
First of all, let me say how amazingly lucky I am to have a job and a manager that allow me to work from home. I am extremely grateful for that. However, while there are definitely advantages to working from home, it’s not ideal, so I got clearance from my doctor and went back in this past Monday.
I live on Long Island and my office is in Manhattan, which means commuting involves driving to the local train station, parking there, taking a train into Manhattan, and then taking the subway to get to my office. Competition at the LIRR parking lot is fierce, and if you’re not there by 7 AM you likely won’t get a parking spot. I left the house at my previously usual time of 6:25 and managed to get one of the last spots in the “good” parking lot. There are no handicapped spots in this lot so I ended up just taking a regular spot, which was about 1000 feet from the stairs. The stairs weren’t too much of a problem, though I am definitely slower climbing them, and double-timing was not an option. I got a seat and the train ride was unremarkable.
I got off at Penn Station and took the escalator up to the concourse. I took another escalator up, and then decided to take the stairs up to street level. Again, no problem, just slow. I walked over to 6th Avenue and entered the NRQ station at 6th & 32nd. This was the first time all day I had to go down stairs, and it was definitely more challenging than going up. The main problem was that the boot was too big for the steps. I took the subway to 5th Ave & 59th Street, just to take a peek at Central Park before work. One thing I noticed walking on the sidewalk was that the slight grade of the sidewalk is very noticeable when wearing the boot. The sidewalks are all slightly slanted downwards, from the building to the street, so rain will run into the street. Normally I don’t notice this, but having the massive flat-bottomed boot bolted on, unable to use my ankle, it was awkward and uncomfortable. I found walking on the right side of the street was easier than the left, so that the boot was lower than my good foot. Not sure if I’m explaining it well, but it was a noticeable issue.
When I got to the office I took the elevator to the 17th floor, where the coffee is, and then walked down stairs to 16, where my desk is. I managed to get special handicapped elevator privileges with a doctor’s note, so I can at least take the elevator to my floor in the future without having to walk down.
For lunch I walked to a burrito place about 5 blocks away and brought it back to the office to eat. That was also a relatively unremarkable experience.
At the end of the day, I left a bit early, since there’s no way I can run if I need to catch my train. Descending the stairs into the subway station near the office I started to feel sharp pains in my right ankle – my non-injured one. By the time I got off the LIRR and got back to my car the pain was becoming more frequent. My immediate guess was that all the walking down stairs had caused Achilles tendinitis in my right leg. I had a physical therapy session right after work and I told my therapist what happened and he massaged the right leg as well as the left, using his roller thing. He said the right calf was extremely tight, and I need to make sure to stretch the calf out before doing anything, to avoid future injury.
The pain in the ankle continued intermittently throughout the evening, and when I woke up Tuesday, laying in bed, I felt it continue. It felt like someone had slashed the very bottom of the back of my ankle with a razor. I decided to work from home rather than exacerbate whatever the issue was. By Tuesday afternoon it was fine, but I chose to work from home for the remainder of the week. There are just too many steps involved in getting to & from the office. I plan to go back in either tomorrow (Friday) or Monday, and see if I can take a different subway route that has escalators or elevators the entire way.
Had my first physical therapy session today. The doctor’s prescription said nothing past 0 degrees planar flexion so there wasn’t a lot they could do, but they did a pretty good massage on the calf and worked the scar tissue a bit, and gave me some basic stretching and exercises to do. Rocking the foot front to back, side to side, and around in an orbital motion, as well as scrunching up the toes. Nothing really special, but I guess it’s progress.