Sunday, 26 July 2009

Bed Without the Boot

In order to keep the foot in the pointed-down position whilst asleep, after removing the boot at night I wrap a scarf around my lower leg and foot, which I then secure using tape. I then pull a thick bandage sock (the same type as that given to me to wear with the boot) over it. I also make sure the over-sheet is fairly loose at the bottom of the bed, in order to allow the feet room to move around. I don't use just a duvet but a combination of sheet and duvet, as I hate getting wrapped up in them or having them slide off me when I sleep.

Natural remedies

Since week 1 I have been taking twice-daily doses of Ruta Graveolens (Rue)., a homeopathic treatment for tendon problems, and Celadrin. Hopefully (it's difficult to tell), these are supporting the body's natural healing function. The latter is pretty amazing when you think about it - that the two ends of the tendon are (hopefully) knitting themselves together is a bit of a miracle. But then the human body is just that.

Given The Boot

Last Tuesday I had my third outpatient visit to the local general hospital. After waiting for 45 minutes in the corridor (a swine-flu avoidance measure, since the waiting room is always packed with people) I was called in. The fibreglass cast I had been wearing for the previous two weeks was cut away to reveal my leg, which looked pretty much as it has always looked, except for some slight puffiness around the foot and some minor bruising on the side of the arch of the foot.

I was then given an aircast boot, fitted with 5 wedges in the heel to ensure the foot is positioned at 45 degrees. The boot comes in two parts, held together with velcros straps, and includes four inflatable cushions to provide compression and a snug fit.

The benefit of the boot over the cast is that I am able to walk (clump!) slowly around the house without crutches, and can thus carry stuff for the first time in several weeks. I can also remove the boot in bed and in the shower - although I still have to sit down on a chair in the shower with my foot sticking out, resting on a small camping stool.

Walking with the boot and crutches is now much less tiring, since my weight is now not exclusively supported on my good leg. Indeed earlier today I have just walked down to the local shops and bought a cake, something I couldn't have done a week ago.

The registrar (for some reason I have still yet to see the named consultant I have had appointments with) said that I need to come back after two weeks and have a couple of wedges removed and to start physiotherapy. When I asked how he knew whether the tendon was healing or not, he gently felt it and thought he could feel a 'gap' where he said it had joined, but I'm not sure I found that concincing. Maybe I'll ask for a scan next time. He also said that within 4-5 weeks I'll be walking without crutches and boot. I hope that's the case.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Surgery - or Not?

After reading about the pros and cons of surgery to bring the two ends of the ruptured tendon together, I opted for the 'conservative' approach, i.e. to let the tendon heal naturally. There were many factors in my decision, such as wishing to avoid infection, surgical complications, post-surgical pain (wimpy of me I know) and general anasthesia. The words of astrologer and herbalist Graeme Tobyn rang in my ears - 'never have surgery if you can avoid it'. This blog is going to record the progress towards healing, given that I have opted for the less common, conservative route.

How It Happened

On June 27th 2009 I organised a dance for invited friends. It was the first time I had danced since the autumn of 2006. In the middle of some particularly energetic Irish dancing, it 'snapped' with a bang loud enough for my friend James to hear it. I thought I had been kicked in the back of the leg and was surprised when I couldn't put any weight on it. I was helped outside to get some air as I was in shock, feeling faint and nauseous. After having it bandaged and ice-packed by a friend who knew the R.I.C.E. principle (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), and having been given a cup of hot, sweet tea, I felt better and wasn't in any great pain. Later on my partner took me to the Accident & Emergency and a full rupture was diagnosed by a nurse who did The Thompson Test.

After a long period of waiting around in cubicles it was put into a full Equinas plaster cast, my knee bent at 45 degrees and the foot pointing down, ballerina style. Once it had set I was given a pair of crutches and told I could go home.