October 15, 2012

IMHO: Don't Tear Your Achilles Tendon

It isn't worth it.

Really, there's almost no upside that I've been able to see so far.

Day 1: Tues, Sept 25
I tore an Achilles tendon a couple weeks ago on a work trip to the SF Bay area.
As is apparently the norm for these injuries, I was playing basketball when it happened.

Funny thing is, I had a feeling beforehand that I shouldn't play.
Didn't have my basketball shoes or ankle braces that I'd normally wear, and it just didn't feel right.

Well, ten minutes into the game, I was playing well and then, when going after a rebound, I suddenly felt like someone had kicked me in the Achilles as hard as they could. Searing pain and an inability to put any pressure on the ball of my foot were what got me worried immediately about a ruptured Achilles, but I hoped it was just a really bad sprained ankle. I really, really, really hoped.
On the night of the injury;
yes, that's a McDonalds to-go bag filled with ice.
Day 2: Wed, Sept 26
The leg continued to hurt like crazy the next day, and I couldn't walk very well on it. However, since we were on the business trip, we still went to the client site and I just hobbled around.

Hobbling through the airport was not too fun, but I was happy to be getting home where I could rest easier and get it checked by a doctor if it didn't feel better after a few days.
Next evening, back in SLC
Day 3: Thurs, Sept 27
My family had a few Bledsoe boots laying around from high school injuries, so I used one of those to be able to get around and function semi-normally. Driving my car was impossible, since it's a manual transmission, but my dad was kind enough to lend me his auto transmission car for a little while.

Day 7: Mon, Oct 1
Unfortunately, my walking ability hadn't improved after a week of that, so I figured it was time to visit an orthopedic specialist.

The docs at TOSH were booked through November, but they referred me their colleague, Dr Spencer Richards, at Intermountain Healthcare's Sports Medicine Specialists Group up in Bountiful, UT.

Fortunately, he could fit me in for an appointment the next day.

Day 8: Tues, Oct 2
Dr Richards was very friendly and easy to talk with, and he used an ultrasound to see clearly that my Achilles tendon had fully ruptured.
Let's just say the big black gap in the middle is a bad thing
Since Dr Richards doesn't do too many reconstruction operations, he referred me to Dr Troy Gorman at LDS Hospital, who has lots of experience and could probably fit me into the operating schedule soon.

Day 9: Wed, Oct 3
Wearing my Bledsoe boot, I hobbled into Dr Gorman's office, and he was able to quickly agree with Dr Richards' conclusion. Just to be sure no bone fragment had been ripped from my heel when the tendon tore, he took some xrays of my ankle. Thankfully, my heel was perfectly intact.

Things seemed to be moving very quickly at this point, and Dr Gorman said he could fit me in for surgery the next day. Yikes. I was a little nervous, but I knew it needed to be done and that I'd rather do it sooner than later, so he added me to the operating schedule and I spread the word to family, friends, and work.

Day 10: Thurs, Oct 4
My mom gave me a ride to LDS hospital bright and early. I checked in, filled out the necessary paper work, and got into this super awesome patient get-up. One nicety is that they let you wear your own underoos plus those pants, so your derriere isn't open to the world in the back of the smock. It's all about the small victories, right?
I kept the other sock, too, so I'd have a matching pair after.
As for pain management during the operation, they used both a nerve blocker and a general anesthetic, so I didn't feel anything and I couldn't even move my leg to cause any complications. I'm glad they did, because it would have been weird to be awake for the 1-1.5 hr surgery.
I don't like needles, but this one was absolutely necessary.
Afterwards, I was in the post-anesthesia room for a bit, and then my mom and I got to hang out in a private recovery room for maybe 30-45 mins. When I felt ready, they wheeled me down to the front doors, put me in the car, and let my mom take me home.
Yes, I was groggy at this point, but aware enough to ask my mom to take a picture haha
I know I've still got a lot of healing and then rehab ahead, but I'm glad to be on my way to recovery. And I'm grateful to all who have helped so far as well as those who will help in the future.

You can bet there will be updates and further posts in this 4-6 month long road to full health.


  1. Eek. That definitely looks like a nightmare. I hope you have a speedy recovery!

  2. Oooouch! So sorry this happened to you! Hope it heals soon (and well)!

    1. Another 4-5 months, so I'm pacing myself as best I can!

  3. Ok, just looking at these pictures is enough to make me cringe in pain. I know your family is taking marvelous care of you, but my offer still stands. If you need anything just let me know. Meg has my number.

    1. Thanks, Kristen! Seeing you and Meg in your 'Marvelous Wonderettes' reprise was very helpful to making me feel better :D

  4. I've been wondering what the whole story was and how your recovery is going. This post is the perfect play-by-play (to stick with sports). You are so lucky to have family and friends around to help you out!

    1. I definitely am lucky to have been here by my family. They were so great to take care of me, especially while I was on the painkillers and pretty out of it!

  5. Poor guy! I'm definitely going to try my best to NOT do that. Ever.

    1. Good thinking; I fully support your staying healthy haha

  6. I had surgery on both of my Achilles' at different times over the course of a year. I feel your pain. Good luck with recovery!

    1. Wow, you had both in one year?!? That would be brutal! How did you tear them?

    2. It was part of total reconstructive foot surgery when I was 13. Part of the problem was tendinitis, so they surgically cut and lengthened each of my Achilles'. We spaced the surgeries, one foot at a time, 6 months apart for recovery. Good times!

    3. Wow, I don't envy you for that, though it does sound like it was necessary. And better at 13 than now, I suppose. Glad you're all fixed up; I'm hoping to get there soon!