On Dec. 2, I ruptured my Achilles tendon while playing tennis. At the time, and still to this day, I considered it a lucky break. That may seem strange but I had been in pretty much constant pain since last July due to a series of partial tears. (See previous post “Every 30 years” on the subject).
Almost from the day the cast came off on Jan.15, I have had excellent function of my Achilles and have been able to walk pain free, thank God! The other results of my surgery were not so good. The biggest problem was that the surgical wound had not healed properly and I was left with a silver dollar sized hole in the back of my leg.
Gross out warning: If you have a weak stomach you might want to skip this paragraph! Still here? The hole was quite deep, right down to the tendon. In fact you could see one of the sutures that had been placed to tie the tendon back together. There is not a lot of flesh in that part of your body. Just a thin layer of skin and then the tendon. Apparently not much blood circulation either, because it is a notoriously slow healing area.
A week later my doctor got his first look at the hole and wanted to put me back in a cast, but I refused. A month rolling around on a knee walker had been more than enough, plus I was afraid that it would get infected inside the cast and I wouldn’t be able to see what was going on or treat it.
He relented and sent me to a specialist to see if i needed a skin transplant. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary and luckily I also avoided infection of the wound. The healing process, however was to drag on at a glacial pace for two more months.
During that time I was basically immobile. Although I had a special boot I could wear that would ease the pressure on the wound, any step I took outside the boot would tug on the wound and re-open it. Consequently I spent most of the time from Jan. 15 -March 15 laying on a couch watching TV and browsing the Internet.
That might not sound so bad, but for a normally active person like me, it was torture! I have to confess that it started to effect my mental state. Only now that I have been able to get back outside and start my spring farm chores do I realize how kooky I had been! I became obsessed with the national political situation and read blogs constantly and studied each new poll.
I became irritable at everything. Fox News was too liberal for me and I had to mute all the opinions of the increasing number of people I didn’t agree with. I listened to conservative talk radio from early morning to all hours of the night.
I barked at a bank teller and told off an insurance office receptionist. I berated my loving girlfriend, who changed my dressing twice a day, and fought to the death of our relationship over her lack of desire to continue participating in my farm dreams.
Adding to my injuries, I believe I was mishandled while under the general anesthesia. Shortly after I got out of the hospital I realized that I had somehow acquired severe tennis elbow in my right arm and a rotator cuff injury to my right shoulder, injuries I had not had pre-op. While there is no way to prove it, it seems obvious that someone must have yanked on my right arm when they turned me over after the operation.
Two cortisone shots and 3 months later I still have to wear an elbow brace to work, although my shoulder seems almost back to normal. For the first couple months, however, I was in extreme pain whenever I tried to use my right arm or tried to roll over in bed.
So it hasn’t been a great winter. The only bright spots are that I decided to go on a diet on Jan. 1 and have lost over 20 pounds and I am now walking pain free for the first time in 9 months and can officially start re-hab tomorrow– and, not so happily, for the first time in 35 years I am truly single again! But that’s the subject of a future column.