Sunday, 26 January 2014

Update 2013-14

You may be interested to know that last August (2013) I started DanceJourney with a friend and have been enjoying whizzing around, running, jumping (carefully) and whatever else I feel like doing to the wide variety of music we play.

I'm still careful not to leap too high or to leap repeatedly, but that's the only limitation I'm experiencing from my Achilles tendon injury nearly five years ago.

I wanted to start dancing again as I hadn't been exercising as regularly as I used to, and had been experiencing a certain muscle weakness in my legs and a sense of weakness in my knees. It certainly helped, although weekly rather than fortnightly would be preferable for me. We're taking a break for winter, and resuming in March.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but since 2002 I've used a Body Sculpture Total Trainer in my conservatory at least 3 times a week until a year ago. It's a very versatile and inexpensive piece of kit which has been great for my knees and calf muscles as well as upper body muscles.

However, it's now falling apart after having been rewelded about three times, so whilst I look for a replacement I'm aiming to do more walking each day.

If you're considering the conservative treatment route, i.e. not undergoing an operation after an Achilles tendon injury, I hope that reading about my experiences helps you come to a decision.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Update 2011

I thought I would post an update just to let others going through the same experience know about my situation, now 21 months after the original injury, and to give a brief synopsis of my recovery.

I believe I was very lucky, in that I was in a cast for only around 6 weeks, after which I walked with a limp for a couple of months and was back on the dancefloor within 6 months. According to my physiotherapist I could have done so a couple of months before that, if I had wanted. So for me, luckily, the injury healed very quickly.

21 months on I am still very wary of jumping/leaping explosively, but in other ways am not affected by the injury. My left (injured) tendon is noticeably thicker than the right one, perhaps because I did not massage it as often as I should have done, but apart from that there are no noticeable differences.

I am glad I opted not to have surgery. I didn't want to risk post-operative infection. I also have a friend who received less than good treatment from my local hospital (and in fact died last year, partly through neglect). I also don't like the rather chaotic atmosphere there - it hardly inspires confidence.

Maybe if I had private medical insurance I might have opted to have had the surgery, but as a believer in the body's amazing capacity for self-healing, I also wanted to put it to the test.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Final consultation

Last Monday I had my final consultation with the consultant-I-have-still-yet-to-meet, although for the first time I saw someone I'd seen previously. He was very pleased with the leg, and told me to massage the tendon daily in order to reduce the internal scar tissue, which makes the tendon seem thicker (almost double the width) of my now weedy-seeming good tendon.

The previous Friday I had the penultimate physio session and this time was told to raise up on both heels and let myself down slowly on the injured heel, 3 x 15 daily. Difficult.

At the moment I have a virus, so have had little exercise for 5 days now.

In about 4 months time I'm going to build up slowly to dancing again, but I shall be very careful and will not attempt to do any Masai jumping again. I must remember I'm 48!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Week 12 - Walking (almost) Normally

My visit to the consultant (who I wasn't there, as predicted) went as expected, and I was advised that I could dispense with the Aircast boot and crutches. I was told that I'm half way to complete healing, which would make the process from injury to complete healing about 5 months.

One dark cloud was that on Thursday evening I noticed that my leg, and in particularl my ankle, had become very swollen.

On Friday I had a second visit to the Physio. A very different experience, in a different wing of the hospital. A small, pleasant waiting room, and a wait of no more than 5 minutes. The physio is a nice young Chinese man who is cheerful, encouraging and obviously knows his stuff. He got me to walk around the gym in bare feet so he could observe how I walked, then got me to do a lunge to see how far I could stretch the tendon in comparison with the uninjured foot. Then standing on tiptoes. My homework is to do 3 rounds of 15 tiptoes, a lunge, and to remember to consciously push off with the heel when walking. All of which is helping, and the limp seems to be disappearing quite quickly.

Re the swelling, the physio said that exercise will help prevent it, but if swollen, I need to lie down with my feet against a wall. He said that it should be higher than the head, although this is the first time I had been told that. So in the evening, whilst watching tv, I've been lying on the sofa with my left foot up against the wall. Quite comfortable really!

Apparently the swelling may come and go for up to another nine months, and I will be seeing the physio once or twice a month for the next six.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Week 11 - Crutches Away!

The leg has been feeling stronger each week since my last post. Last week I started doing workouts in bare feet, and can feel the tendon stretching. I don't push too far it of course and if there's any pain I stop immediately. I saw a physiotherapist for the first time(!) on Friday and I think he was surprised at my progress. He got me to walk in bare feet and could see how I was limping, which also exacerbated my flat-footedness. He laughed when I told him I had cycled to the appointment, wearing my surgical boot. He told me I could dispense with the boot so I have been walking without it and the crutches outside since then. I kept it on at a party on Saturday night though, as I knew I wouldn't be able to resist dancing. It was a great ice-breaker too and got me lots of attention!

I'm seeing (or more likely not seeing) the consultant today, hopefully for the last time, and I expect he will corroborate what the physio said. I have to wear the boot to the consultation though in case he thinks the physio has overstepped his authority :-)

I asked the physio what the hospital did with the aircast boot and crutches. They clean and reuse the crutches, but due to fears of cross-infection, you get to keep the boot - or it gets dumped. What a waste. Surely they could be sterilised and used again? Hospitals in poorer countries would be grateful of them too I'm sure. Maybe I'll try and find a charity that accepts them and ships them out.

Or maybe I'll keep and wear it at parties.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Week 9 - Feet on the Ground

It's now just over 8 weeks since I ruptured my Achilles Tendon whilst dancing. As of last weekend I have decided to walk without the boot, i.e. in bare feet or shoes, when indoors. I can feel the tendon getting stronger and can do heel raises (but not on the injured leg only). I'm being very careful of course and I am limping/walking oddly but I feel that it's the right strategy, in order to build up the calf muscle and stretch the tendon slightly. Fortunately I don't have any stairs to negotiate, just a single step. I'm looking forward to giving back the crutches and boot, but I'm not seeing the consultant (if I ever get to meet him anyway, see below) and physio for the first time on September 1st.

On a different note, I hope the NHS cleans up and reuses the crutches/boot, or passes them on to a country that can't afford new ones. I'm going to ask them what they do with them when I next visit the hospital.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Not Unicycling


As of yesterday, I can now bicycle again - Yay! I cycled the 3 miles through town to my mother's home and felt fine. Had to remember to put my right foot down instead of my left when stopping at junctions though, but even then it didn't really hurt. I even clumped round Lidl (supermarket) on the way back. So am feeling a lot more mobile, though I wouldn't want to walk too far outside without my crutches - it's too slow. However, for going to see friends/relatives it's a great solution. I couldn't afford another taxi anyway the last bus back is too early in the evening.