Monthly Archives: April 2012

Time The Greatest Healer!

I haven’t posted for a few days, mainly because I’ve had nothing to post about. I’ve been watching quite a bit of TV (which for anyone who knows me isn’t what I usually get up to – I don’t actually know what I do usually).

A good friend of mine, Mick, has borrowed me a lot of DVDs as my film knowledge isn’t what it should be for someone who worked in a cinema for 5 years, and he’s a geek with nigh on 500 DVDs in his ever expanding collection. I’ve watched 10 films in the last 2 and a half days, which is some going I reckon! The best one so far has been ‘Annie Hall’ (Woody Allen) which I am pretty ashamed I haven’t seen before, but then I hadn’t seen ‘Back to the Future’ until a couple of years ago – that’s the level of film knowledge we’re talking. The strangest one I’ve seen so far was also a Woody Allen film called ‘Sleeper’, and I’ve also taken in ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Wild at Heart’, ‘Hugo’ and ‘Rear Window’ amongst others.

‘Rear Window’ is a Hitchcock film about a guy with a broken leg (in a cast up to his waist and beyond!) who thinks he has seen a murder from his Manhattan apartment window. I’m far from NYC, but it made me chuckle anyway. It’s worth watching if you have a couple of hours – which if you’re reading this you must have!

Plans for the rest of the week include more films (and some football tonight), a relaxed weekend ready for my next hospital appointment on Monday to change the cast and check the wounds. On that subject, I had another letter from the hospital today from my original consultant (that I saw on the day after I did my Achilles) inviting me for my ultrasound scan on Friday May 4th. This would have been 4 weeks after, and so my operation wouldn’t have been until about 6 weeks post accident. Another example of the hospital not talking to each other, even within the same department. I think I’ll stick with the consultant who did my op… and this is how long it would have taken to get a scan had I not chased it – by then the whole thing would have been a mess.

Right, I’m thinking ‘Midnight Cowboy’…

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David Beckham after rupturing his Achilles playing for AC Milan

I’ve been reading up on famous people who have ruptured their Achilles, and it makes for quite a good list of both sporting and non-sporting A-listers. Here are some of them, with a separate list of footballers due to my better knowledge of the game…

 

Non-sporting

George Clooney

Brad Pitt (ironically whilst playing the part of Achilles in the film Troy)

Al Gore (trivially the same initials and surname as me, Mr A A Gore!)

Dwayne Johnson/The Rock (apparently an actor/wrestler)

Missy Elliott (rapper/producer)

Judi Dench

Russell Crowe

 

Sporting

Boris Becker (ex-Wimbledon champion)

Kelly Holmes (2 Olympic golds in Athens 2004 & BBC Sports Personality of the Year)

Darren Campbell (British former 100m and 200m sprinter)

Lewis Moody (England rugby player)

Simon Katich (Australian cricketer)

Mark Lewis-Francis (Team GB sprinter)

Alistair Brownlee (British triathlete and one of Britain’s best gold medal hopes in 2012)

Tiger Woods has also suffered with Achilles tendonitis, a sometimes precursor to a rupture, on a number of occasions.

Footballers

David Beckham (you know who he is)

John Barnes (ex-Liverpool winger)

Yakubu (Blackburn striker)

Steven Taylor (Newcastle defender, ruptured his Achilles earlier this season: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/16116940)

Curtis Davies (Birmingham City centre-half)

Jermaine Jenas (Tottenham midfielder, was on loan at Aston Villa and suffered injury in his first start)

Valeri Bojinov (ex-Manchester City striker now playing in Serie A, who had also previously suffered a knee ligament injury – quite an unlucky player)

Willy Sagnol (ex-France full-back who had to retire following his injury, suffering nerve damage during the surgery – glad I didn’t know this before my op!)

Fabio Aurelio (Liverpool defender)

 

I’m sure there are many more too. Some of these celebs and sports stars were admittedly older than me when they got their injury, but it’s good to know that it can happen to proper athletes as well as to amateurs, and it’s not just as a result of my poor fitness!

There are some devilishly handsome men in there too, so I’m in good company. The ratio of ruptures of men to women is somewhere between 5:1 and 20:1 depending on where you read. I haven’t read into this enough to know why, but maybe it’s due to men generally being heavier and therefore putting more pressure on the Achilles when pushing through? Not sure, this is just me speculating. In the case of David Beckham, I imagine his rupture was due to the way in which he takes a freekick or corner – planting his left foot next to the ball quite heavily before whipping it with his right foot, for 20 years plus, must have had an adverse effect.

Image credit: http://houstonrunningblog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/what-soccer-star-david-beckhams.html

Famous Achilles Injuries

Keep Right On To The End Of The Road

Keep Right On To The End Of The Road

This is my nice new blue cast that I had changed today in about 2 minutes – good work UHB! Don’t need to go back now until 30th April…

Get In Touch

It’s good to see that people have been reading this blog – makes it even more worthwhile.

If anyone wants to get in touch to chat further or to ask any questions, you can comment on the posts or alternatively get in touch with me on Twitter:

www.twitter.com/adamgore

Back at the hospital tomorrow for a cast change, so if there’s any news I will update again tomorrow. I’ve just had my 2-week hospital appointment through too to check the wounds and check my progress, that’s scheduled for 30th April. I’ve noticed a few visits to the site from Norway, so welcome to you guys from there! I’ve always had an affinity with your country despite never having been, as there is a good-sized Norwegian supporters club for my football team, Birmingham City. I’d be interested to hear of your own progress – is there a national healthcare system similar to the UK in Norway? I’ve also noticed some visits from the US – again, I’d be interested to hear about your own progress and how fast things are moving.

See It As A Fresh Start

Today has been an OK day. The pain from Friday’s operation is starting to wear off, although I’m feeling quite a bit of cramp in my calf due to the cast being restrictive on movement, for obvious reasons. Hopefully this will start to wear off when I get a shorter cast in 10 days time. I’ve been trying to move my toes as much as possible to keep the blood flowing. I have sore hands from using crutches but had a good tip from a guy in the hospital who saw I was struggling – pick up some weightlifting gloves and it will save your hands, as well as help you to have better grip on the crutches. They’re only cheap and could save 3 months of pain!

It’s been a day where I’ve been in a positive frame of mind actually. I’m starting to see it as a fresh start in exercise terms and a chance to try out things that I haven’t spent much time on in the past, and to experience new sports. All of the rehabilitation articles that I’ve been reading suggest cycling is a good form of exercise during rehab as it doesn’t put much strain on the tendons, so I’m looking forward to that part of it. It’s easy to get stuck into a routine, in exercise and in life in general, and sometimes to break from that routine will help to freshen your mind and think about new and different things. There are definitely better ways to do this than rupture your achilles, but once it’s happened you might as well use it in this way! Like I said in yesterday’s post, I think the majority of the battle with this injury is in your head – the physical aspects take care of themselves for the first couple of weeks certainly, and it’s amazing how good the body is at healing itself after surgery.

I’ve been reading today about exercise during the stages in which you’re in a cast and boot, and this article on achillesblog.com was quite useful:

http://achillesblog.com/tomtom/exercise/

At the same time, it’s important to let the body recover from surgery for at least the first 2-4 weeks, and eat the right things to encourage the natural healing process along. The obvious things like fruit, veg and plenty of water to keep hydrated. Having said that, I have just eaten quite a lot of Maoams…

Things To Look Forward To

It’s Monday morning now and I had the operation on Friday morning, so 3 days have passed.

The nerve blocker started to wear off on Saturday morning, and the painkillers were definitely needed at that point! I’m trying to keep it elevated as much as possible – it’s frustrating for anyone who doesn’t like sitting around doing nothing and isn’t used to doing that, but if it makes my recovery better then I will keep doing it. This particular cast needs re-enforcing at the end of the week, it’s very heavy but I’d rather everything was kept in place so it’s an inconvenience worth bearing.

In other news, had an email at work this morning to say my Cyclescheme voucher had arrived for my new bike. I ordered it a few days before the rupture, and was looking forward to riding to work over the summer as an added fitness boost. It might have to wait a few months before it makes its debut now (probably just in time for winter), but this is the one I went for on the recommendation of a friend:

http://www.evanscycles.com/products/specialized/sirrus-2012-hybrid-bike-ec030741

I’ll have to see if they can deliver it, but it’s something to look forward to anyway. Other than that, over the next week I’m going to try to relax (there must be a significant mental aspect to the body’s recovery in my opinion) and I need to design my own wedding stationery too. My girlfriend and I are getting married next March, so that’s the main end goal – to be walking and fit for our first dance. In the more immediate future, I’m having an early stag do at a festival called Kendal Calling at the end of July – so that’s around 13 weeks away, another date to work towards. It’s important to try and give yourself goals and things to look forward to, and to try to remain as positive as possible. There will always be people worse off, so I’m trying to see it as a fresh start and looking at other sports that I will be able to play when I’m recovered. I might not play football again, but I’m looking forward to cycling more and think I’ll enjoy it.

The Scan and the Op

Missed updating for a couple of days as I’ve been busy at the hospital, but the good news is I’ve now had the operation.

On Thursday I went back to the fracture clinic, and later on that day had the ultrasound scan which confirmed a 90% tear of just over an inch, which confirmed the need for an operation as the tendons wouldn’t be able to reattach themselves that far apart. I rang the fracture clinic and they confirmed that I was on the list for an operation for the next day. The staff from Ambulatory Care, which is where you go pre and post operation, called me later on in the evening to let me know what I needed to do.

On Friday 13th (!) I went in at 7.30am and was told I was on the rolling list, which meant it could be anytime that day that I have my operation, or it could get delayed, cancelled or moved if an emergency came in. Luckily, at 8.20am they were ready for me so I got changed and went down to the anaesthetic room. I won’t go into too much detail for those that are squeamish, but they knocked me out with general anaesthetic, and also put a nerve blocker on my leg (similar to an epidural) that meant I wouldn’t feel so much pain when I woke up. As I type the nerve blocker still hasn’t worn off, so later today I expect to be in a lot more pain than I currently am! I’d never been under general anaesthetic before so I was nervous, but it was only a few minutes before I was out.

The operation took around 2 hours, and I came out of the anaesthetic as I was being wheeled back to the recovery room. The consultant who performed the operation came and told me that the operation went very well, and the nurse gave me a quick pain relief tablet. He said that I’ll only have 3 small scars and that they’ll hardly be seen. The staff at UHB throughout the whole day were excellent, from the nurses on the ward, to the doctor, consultant and theatre staff – with the possible exception of the anaesthetist who was a bit of a butcher and hurt my hand a bit!

I was back on the ward for 11am, and was told I should be able to go home by 2pm. It was a bit later than that by the time the physio had been and checked I could use my crutches properly, but in and out within 8/9 hours seemed a good deal after being told there might be a chance I’d have to stay overnight originally.

I’ve been told I’ve now got to go back and have the plaster changed next week to reenforce the back slab that’s currently on it (it’s a very thick one to protect the stitches etc), and then go back the following week to have the plaster changed again and wounds checked. The risks after the operation are blood clots and the potential development of DVT, so it’s important to keep your leg elevated as much as possible. I’ll be in a cast and not be able to bear any weight on the leg for 6 weeks, followed by 6 weeks in a plastic boot at differing angles to start to strengthen the Achilles. After that there will be quite a bit of physio to build up strength in the Achilles and in the leg muscles, which will have pretty much wasted away in 12 weeks time! After the op I feel like I’m starting the road to recovery, which feels much better after the horrible couple of days thinking I was going to have to wait weeks just for a scan.

The Waiting Game

That brings us to today – Wednesday 11th April, the day I decided to start this blog.

Today has been the worst day so far – Tuesday was painful, and with keeping my leg elevated there is a build-up of blood that rushes down to my ankle and my foot every time I stand up on my crutches, which hurts. I’ve been taking Ibuprofen to kill some of the pain, which seems to work OK. Today, Wednesday, this pain has been exacerbated a bit further, and the boredom of daytime TV and Facebook has kicked in! I’ve had lots of well wishes from family and friends which is great, and just about keeping me going at the moment.

The reason today has been particularly bad is the ultrasound news. My partner works for the hospital and so went to ask how long I can expect to have to wait for an ultrasound scan. Having read about people’s experiences online I assumed this would be a couple of days, with most people having surgery within a couple of weeks. She was told there is currently a 6-week wait for scans!

This obviously led to a lot of stress, for both of us, so I decided to give the hospital a call. After ringing for 3 hours, to a variety of different numbers and being put through to various different people (all in the wrong departments, or in most cases ringing out/dead lines), I eventually got through to the nursing station at the fracture clinic where I was on Monday. The nurse who answered was very helpful and reassuring, and as soon as I mentioned the scan waiting list she said that for an achilles injury, scans should be within 48-72 hours. This was such a relief after thinking all day that it was going to be 8 weeks before an operation, by which point the tendons will be a right mess. I left my details and as I write am awaiting a call back to say when my ultrasound scan will be. After this I’m hoping that they will operate within a week or two, so that I can start the long road to recovery and physio. If I hadn’t have been able to get through to this nurse today, who knows where my record would have gone and how long I’d have been left to wait. Here’s hoping…

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Monday morning – Fracture Clinic

When at A&E they made me a morning appointment for the fracture clinic, also at University Hospital Birmingham. I was finding it difficult to use the crutches at this stage, having never used them before, and at 14 stone my right leg was struggling with the burden of supporting my whole body weight!

When I arrived at the fracture clinic I was seen pretty quickly, and was again impressed with the doctor’s personable nature. He asked me a few questions about smoking, steroids and various other things that may affect my recovery, and then performed the same test that was done at A&E to check the injury.

He said there were two options – surgical and non-surgical. With the non-surgical route, he said there was a greater risk of re-rupture at a later date, but with the surgical route there was the obvious threat of infection through surgery. The blood supply in the area of the achilles isn’t too great, so post-operation infections can occur. He said that for someone who is quite active (I play quite a bit of football and also do 2 spin classes a week most weeks) it is likely that the surgical route would be best, as there is less risk of re-rupturing. Before this decision is made, an ultrasound needed to be done to determine the length of the rupture. The doctor said that for tears of less than 10mm, the non-surgical route is standard.

He sent me away and said the hospital would be in touch with regards an ultrasound, and to book an appointment back at the fracture clinic for one week later to look at the results and choose the best route.

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The immediate aftermath

Straight from the pitch, I went to A&E at University Hospital Birmingham, and was seen within an hour by a good doctor. I told him what had happened and what I thought I’d done, and after a couple of tests he confirmed that I had ruptured my achilles tendon. I had an x-ray, put in a temporary plaster and was sent away with crutches. All in all, I was there for about 1 1/2 hours, and apart from the miserable service at reception I was mildly happy with the treatment so far.

It didn’t feel that painful at this stage as the natural adrenaline was keeping me going, and I didn’t take any painkillers at all on the Sunday evening. It was tough to sleep because of the adrenaline and the shock of the injury too.

Why?

On Sunday 8th April, at approximately 6.50pm, I felt like somebody had either shot me in the back of my left ankle, or thrown a hockey ball at me, whilst playing 6-a-side football. I turned around and there was no-one or nothing there. After a few seconds I realised I’d ruptured my achilles tendon. There’s a lot of online discussions around achilles ruptures, so I thought I’d blog mine from a UK perspective, including thoughts, treatment and recovery, partly as a way to keep myself sane but also to help anyone in the future who may get the same injury to get through their rehabilitation.