Achilles repair...back to square one

After surgery

My leg was in a plaster cast for two weeks. When it came off my ankle was incredibly stiff. I could barely move it and my heal wouldn't touch the ground. I wondered if I would I ever get my foot flat on the ground again? The orthotist fitted me with a boot. My heal had to be chocked up about 5cm because it was so stiff. Gradually I would learn to move my ankle and remove the chunks of foam from under my heal, stretching it back to the ground.

The boot stayed on all the time. With the exception of three times a day when I did flexibility exercises. The boot had to be strapped on as tight as it would go. This was to assist in stretching my achilles back to normal. Because I couldn’t move my ankle, circulation to my foot was poor. I would often would suffer from pins and needles. The straps on the boot were so tight it put pressure on a nerve in my foot. My second toe lost feeling.

Sleeping with the boot on was awful. As the rest of my body would relax, my foot was stuck in the flexed position. Every night I would drift off to sleep, only to wake 2 or 3 hours later. I would be in incredible discomfort and pain that was indescribable. The type of pain that felt a knife was cutting into the back of my ankle. The type of pain that made my eyes water. But I would not take off the boot. Instead I would hit my leg with my hand. This would move the pain somewhere else. Sometimes I took painkillers. Other times I would cry until I was too tired to stay awake any longer. The feeling was unbearable.

My summer was spent on the deck at the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club. I couldn’t go swimming. Being in the sun wasn’t good either. Sometimes I would go to training sessions just so I could hang out with my running squad. Not wanting to miss out, I went to as many surf carnivals as I could. I took up photography. Capturing countless photos of my teammates competing.

Three times a day I was relieved from the boot. I had to flex my foot as far as it would go. Then point my toe back and forth, back and forth. I was nervous about the wound and I didn’t look at it much. After some time, the wound began to weep and started to smell funny. I thought this was happening because I was moving it so much and didn’t get to wash it for so long.

After six weeks off work, I was able to return. Not to my normal role but to carry out modified duties. Work would keep me occupied. Going to work wore me out. On the third day I had a doctors appointment scheduled. I was looking forward to this, thinking I would be able to start walking in the boot.

The bad news...

Unfortunately not, the news was much worse. The doctor examined my wound and after some time he said “its not looking good.” I sat in silence, anxious, confused and upset. What could possibly be wrong? I had done everything he’d instructed. He didn’t seem happy and kept saying, “This doesn’t look good.” Finally I asked exactly what he meant by “this is not looking good.” In a round about way he told me I had an infection. I would have to go back into hospital. Tonight. I’d have to have surgery again to clean out the infection. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, wishing I was anywhere but here. Did this mean I was back to square one?

On the way home I sat dumbfounded on the tram. The afternoon was hot. Tears welled in my eyes and my hair blew everywhere. A lump started to build in my throat. The reality of this injury started to become clear. The emotions I had been fighting for so long began to take over. I couldn’t put on a brave face anymore. When I got home I cried for a long time. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. I felt drained. At the end of the day I had to move on. Somehow I pushed the emotions aside. I had to.



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