June 7, 2012
One of the toughest parts of recovering from my torn Achilles is learning to walk again. The original injury happened on April 25. After surgery on April 30, my cast was removed on June 1st – a full month later. As you can imagine, a month of inactivity is not good on the leg. There are some obvious size differences between my calf muscles, and when I hold my leg up, the calf area hangs off the bone like you’d expect with a 90 year old man (no offense to any 90 year old men reading this). Sorry if I grossed you out!
Aside from the visual differences, there were some obvious physical differences. Mainly, I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot. I don’t think it had as much to do with the Achilles tendon as it did with the inability to bare weight on my foot and ankle. They’d been without weight or much movement for over 5 weeks. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a long time, but when it comes to your body, it must be an eternity. The tendon is very strong now, but it’s also very tight because the way it was sewn back together. To accommodate this, my walking boot has inserts that raise the heel approximately 3/4 of an inch.
As I continue rehabilitating, I’ll work more and more to get gain the original range of motion back in the tendon. However, one of the most important things to do right now is to learn to walk again. When I started out, I didn’t put any weight on my left foot; I just barely put it on the ground. However, as the days have gone by, I’ve started to add some additional weight. When I do this, I experience sharp pains in my foot and stiffness in my ankle thanks to the inactivity of the last 5 weeks.
The doctor told me I could start bearing weight about one week after the cast was removed. After that, he said I could start working my way down to one crutch, and within another week get down to no crutches. As expected, I’m a little ahead of schedule due to my impatience. I’ve started adding weight, and now I’m trying to learn to walk with one crutch. At first, I attempted to use the single crutch on my left side so I could support my body weight as I step. However, this hasn’t proven to work real well, and it’s making me hop a little more to try and get back on my good foot.
Next, I tried using the single crutch on my right side (opposite side of the injury). Believe it or not, this made all of the difference! Now when I step on my left side, I lean to the right and use the crutch to bear some of the weight. This has allowed me to walk in a more fluid motion instead of hopping. There’s gotta me some kind of important life lesson in that idea, but for now I’m just focused on walking ;).
Soon, I’ll once again walk independently, even though I’ll still be in the boot. I can’t tell you how sweet this will be. After six weeks of wheelchairs, knee scooters, and crutches, this will be such a welcome reprieve. Six weeks of limitations that prevent me from enjoying walks around the neighborhood with my wife and our dog Lucy, six weeks of forcing my wife to do everything because getting out of the house is too hard, and six week of fearing walking up the three steps into our kitchen. My wife will welcome it just as much as I will.
Even with my single crutch, I’m already starting to gain some independence. As some of you may know, I work from home which is a double-edged sword. It’s great because it’s allowed me to stay productive with work even through this injury. However, it’s been tough because my wife works and is gone most of the day, and I don’t have anyone to talk to besides my dog! I’m definitely a social creature, and I’ve learned that I need social interaction to stay energized. To celebrate yesterday and break free of my isolation, I drove myself to Wendy’s to get a burger.
I’m glad I’ve gained some valuable perspective from my injury, but I can’t until I can start walking on my own again!