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The Orthopedic Boot(y) Call - (Achilles Tendon Rupture Part 6)

Posted September 08, 2009 6:00 AM by ShakespeareTheEngineer

It had been five weeks to the day since I'd ruptured my Achilles tendon. Now I crutched into the doctor's office to have my cast removed, and to get an assessment about how I was healing.

Shrek vs. The Mummy

Being in a cast for three weeks in July had been a mildly unpleasant experience. The back of my leg caused very little pain, but I did experience mass inflammation from the trauma and from sitting with my feet under a desk for ten-hour shifts. At the end of the day, my sister dubbed my massively swollen toes "Shrek toes". (I will save you all the horror of that picture.)

Because of the inflammation, I spent many nights in the recliner with my foot elevated. The fiberglass cast kept me from being able to ice the area much; however, if it was elevated above my heart for four or five hours, a great decrease in inflammation and pain in my foot became noticeable. In the morning, I often had "mummy toes" because the swelling had gone down so much (my foot looked withered and wrinkled). The inflammation also caused chafing along the left edge of my foot, which has probably been the most painful part of this whole process (besides the curb trip).

Cast Away or Recast?

I was hoping to be on my feet in regular shoes by the week before Labor Day so that I could have a whole week of unimpeded summer. If I had to be put back in a cast, it would mean that I'd be orthopedic booting it back into the school year.

I ended up with mixed news.

Dr. O'Connor was very happy with how everything looked. I passed the Thompson Test again, and he called for what is known as a Cam Walking Boot. This sounded promising. Usually, with an injury like this, the physician inserts wedges under the foot for support and gradually removes them. I had enough flexibility in my foot and calf (I credit this to a steady regimen of flexing my toes upwards and downwards while watching TV, but this may have nothing to do with it), so that wedges were not needed and I could start in the neutral position (90°) immediately.

The Cam Walking Boot is like a ski boot with a slightly curved bottom. It has two cloth sleeves that Velcro over the lower leg, ankle, and foot, and then five straps that seal the hard plastic shell around the leg. Finally, to ensure that the fit is tailored to the owner, there is an air pump and valve in the front, making it reminiscent of the early 1990s Reebok Pump basketball shoes. (This can be seen at the top of the boot in the form of the gray circle.) Once I understood the ins and outs of the boot, it was time for the less than desirable news.

Not So Fast, There, Gimpy McGee

Furiously, I worked out the math in my head to determine when in August I would be free of everything. But to no avail. Dr. O'Connor stressed that we weren't out of the woods yet. Then he described the next seven weeks of my life:

  • Week 1: 10% body weight with two crutches
  • Week 2: 25% body weight with two crutches
  • Week 3: 50% body weight with two crutches
  • Week 4: 75% body weight with one crutch
  • Weeks 5 -7: 100% body weight with just the boot

In other predictable but disappointing news, there was the report that I was still at least two months away from riding my motorcycle. On the bonus front, however, Dr. O'Connor seemed to think that I would be able to run in this year's Breast Cancer Run, which is scheduled for early October, as long as I was diligent about my rehab schedule.

This race is especially important to me since my mother is recovering from breast cancer this summer. The event is only a 5k but it will be interesting to see how I can do since I will have gone three straight months without even being able to walk, much less run. Plus, I'll only have about three weeks to get in running shape.

I'm Going to Rehab

I've always been a goal-oriented person, so making the Breast Cancer Run as a target is necessary for me. My rehabilitation schedule would be rigorous. I was to be in physical therapy three times per week for eight weeks to start. I was also to be in the pool five to six times per week, walking in chest-deep water for fifteen to twenty minutes and progressing as I could tolerate it. Setting up nine workouts a week will be more regular training than my body has had since I was training for a triathlon in 2002.

Maybe this gets me back in the swing for general fitness, as well. Can a traumatic injury actually improve your health? With the Breast Cancer Run firmly in my sights, it looks like we'll find out!




Related Readings (
please note that hyperlinks will not work until future blogs are posted):

Part 1 - My Achilles Heel - Achilles Tendon Rupture
Part 2 - To Cut or Not To Cut? Not Even a Question!
Part 3 - Sew Happy Together
Part 4 - Casting Call
Part 5 - The Process of Getting a Handicapped Parking Permit
Part 6 - The Orthopedic Boot(y) Call
Part 7 - I'm Going to Rehab
Part 8 - Preparing for the Breast Cancer Run
Part 9 - Results from the Breast Cancer Run

Resources:

http://www.dme-direct.com/cam-walker-boots-boot-orthopedic-medical-fracture-walkers/

http://www.komenneny.org/details.html

http://www.rankopedia.com/CandidatePix/538.gif

http://blogs.mysanantonio.com/weblogs/timewasters/shrek.jpg

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#1

Re: The Orthopedic Boot(y) Call - (Achilles Tendon Rupture Part 6)

09/09/2009 12:41 PM

I would definitely avoid the Amy Winehouse rehab that you have pictured. No way you'll make any goals using that method.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: The Orthopedic Boot(y) Call - (Achilles Tendon Rupture Part 6)

09/10/2009 7:46 AM

Agreed. Anything Amy Winehouse is probably not the way to achieve goals.

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