Posts Tagged ‘Achilles tendon’

Achilles surgery + 4 weeks

August 5, 2012

My ambition this weekend is to hike from the flatlands to Skyline, probably the short loop at Windy Hill: up Spring Ridge trail, down Hamm’s Gulch trail. I’ll do the hike Saturday; if it goes really well, I will also try a modest bike ride on Sunday.

The hike: only 7.2 miles, but 1500 vertical feet. From the parking lot at the bottom to the parking lot at the top is usually just a bit more than an hour, a bit less if I push it (but without running). This time it was about 1:15. Taking it easy, not risking injury.

Cold and windy up there; fog blowing hard across the ridgetop. If I had had a jacket, I would have worn it. No jacket, no problem. The downhill goes through the forest, and the trail was wetter than I would have expected for August. I guess the fog and the consequent condensation has been a fact of life up here this summer.

Stopped at Sausal pond, just before the parking lot on the way down. Nine people out of eight would probably have said there was nothing interesting here, certainly no animals around. Dave, of course, pokes around to see what might be lurking just out of sight.

Even the vegetable matter is not completely devoid of interest.

As to small animals, we first discover the empty husk of a dragonfly nymph.

But the real story here today is the proliferation of small frogs. They’re about 2 cm long, and shy. Dozens of them within three or four meters of my vantage point in the reeds at the shore.

And if reptiles aren’t enough, there are even a few unusual insects around.

When I got home, I filled a bucket with water, dumped in lots of ice and plunged both feet in. Yow! Fifteen minutes of that, and I’m happy. My first impression is that it went very well today. Will I change my tune when I wake up tomorrow morning?

Sunday morning: a little pain, but not bad. Let’s see whether I can do a bike ride.

The Portola Valley loop is less than 20 miles, less than 1000 feet of climb, and I can extend it if I feel good. If I take the physical therapist’s advice, I need to change many years of habit, and the way to do that is to put in the time, reminding myself constantly to adjust my pedaling stroke and riding position.

Felt good; I extended the ride to 35 miles, 1300 vertical feet, down Foothill expressway and back through the Baylands. Another fifteen minutes of ice water when I got home, just as a precaution, but I am very optimistic about progress. I don’t think I”m yet up for 20 mile hikes with 5000 feet of gain, but maybe it won’t be all that long.

Achilles surgery — progress

July 29, 2012

Friday: Three weeks since surgery. My second physical therapy session. I rode the bike over, and the therapist put it up on a trainer and suggested a few things about my riding style, including not flexing my ankle so much as I came through the pedal stroke. Ok, that’s worth a try. He has also given me several stretches and exercises. From the viewpoint of stress on the ankle, I think the hardest is to rise up onto both toes, then let down only on the wounded leg.

He agrees with my general approach: do as much as I can and try not to do too much.

There is enough discomfort that I decided not to bicycle in to work (15 miles). I did the prescribed stretches and exercises, though, and by Saturday, the ankle was sore enough that I took a day off. Worked around the house, no stretches and no exercises.

Sunday, and I feel considerably better. Elmar is here from Sweden; with Jacky, we went to the Arastradero preserve for a short hike (4.7 miles, 600 vertical feet). Nice to get out, very nice indeed. It has been far too long! And by the time we got back to the car, I was beginning to feel a bit of pain in the ankle, so it was probably about the right distance for today. Elmar went on to do a real hike (Monument peak); I only wish I could go along. Next time!

Achilles + 2 weeks: Saturday

July 21, 2012

Within the last two or three days, I have taken off the boot, abandoned the crutches, and driven the car. I am still using the boot, cinched tight, for my half-hour stints on the stationary bicycle, and although I am taking stairs two at a time (as usual), I am not running up. Being cautious and careful. I hope Dr Saxena would agree, but ultimately of course, it is my own responsbility. I see him Monday to have the stitches removed.

Today (Saturday) I walked to a nearby park, about three blocks away. Without boot or crutches, that may be enough for now, and besides, it’s a really hot day, not that much fun to be out.

And as always, a certain amount of careful inspection is rewarded by finding interesting things to photograph.

Achilles — the second Wednesday

July 18, 2012

For the first time this morning, I took a shower. Bathtub water is gray after the first round of soap and shampoo, and I don’t feel like I’m really getting clean; a shower is much better. Some improvising — sitting on the floor of the shower stall to wash the strong foot — but it feels good. The doctor wanted me to keep the wound dry until the stitches are removed, but it’s hard to believe that it’s still noticeably vulnerable to contamination. Let it be wet!

I have been working up my time on the bicycle, 5 minutes per day. Today I did 30 minutes, for the first time. The bike has toe clips; I released the strap and fit the toe of my boot into it, but it tends to twist my foot enough that the heel bangs into the chainstay, so I reverted to just using the flat side of the pedal.

How much exercise am I getting? Well, not very much, but at the end of my bicycle time, my clothes are soaking wet, water is running down my face and over my glasses, and there’s a liberal surround of water (not raindrops!) on the floor around the bike. Better than nothing.

What I learned is that I can do more if I cinch the boot up tight, to minimize the flexure of my ankle.

This afternoon I walked to the downtown library, about a mile in each direction, the longest walk yet. I’m embarrassingly slow, but it’s better than nothing.

Slowly, slowly…

Achilles surgery III, Thursday

July 12, 2012

The first day I tried the bike (Tuesday), I put in five minutes, enough to give it a try and see whether it was going to work out. Some pain, but not too bad. The ankle swelled, and there is probably some fresh bleeding under the skin. Ice makes a difference.

Yesterday, I put in ten minutes on the bike. I want to do as much as I can, but not more. I’m also getting more comfortable with the crutches, willing to go up and down steps and stairs now. My shoulders are not yet strong enough for any great distance, but certainly better than the first day or two (it also helps that I can offload a small amount of weight onto the booted foot).

Today, fifteen minutes on the bike, spinning as fast as I can, against not much resistance. About 80 rpm is the max I can sustain with my booted foot just sitting atop the pedal. If I could clip in, it would be higher than that. And I would work harder and flex the ankle and damage myself… oh well.

Then ice while I lunched on a peanut butter, onion and cheese sandwich.

And it’s a good opportunity for study of some technical topics that I have had on my list for a while, but never found time to learn about. All in all, I’m managing okay, but it will indeed be good to be able to get out and start doing real things again.

Later: I walked around the block. All the way around. First time, quite an achievement. How embarrassing, that walking around the block would represent a milestone!

Achilles surgery, Tuesday

July 10, 2012

Everything feels great, and if not for Dr Saxena’s words of caution, I would undoubtedly be out there overdoing it. As it is, I am trying to be cautious, as cautious as possible. The stitches come out in two weeks (believe it or not!), and I’m supposed to wear a boot until then, and not put weight on the foot.

At least I can take off the boot for much of the time, especially to wash! You never appreciate how good it feels to wash until you can’t! Here we see the doctor’s signature and an arrow, from the pre-op inspection.

This is the wound itself, a few strands from the cotton dressing still adhering. It is not oozing, and I will omit the cotton and the pad in future.

Though still wearing the boot to walk, I am putting my foot down with each crutch-assisted step, trying not to put too much weight on the foot. Still, it’s a great relief to my sore shoulders to have some of the weight offloaded. And of course, I have to work on yet one more gait. When I forget and put my full weight on the bad leg, there is enough pain to remind me.

Dr Saxena said it was okay to ride an exercycle as long as I didn’t flex the ankle. So I rigged Jacky’s bike in the trackstand — her bike has flat pedals — set up a stepladder nearby as a way to assist the clumsy climb on and off the bike, and got in a few minutes of exercise. Yet another new experience, not being able to clip into the pedal. Whenever I forget, my booted foot skids off the pedal, and the freely rotating pedal bangs me in the back of the leg.

Only about five minutes today; I could feel some pain in the wound, and I really don’t want a setback. I’ll do more later, maybe today, or at least on subsequent days.