Torn Achilles Update (Week 8)

I wanted to write a quick update on the status of my recovering. I expect a few of you are still following along on my journey and some of you have stumbled on this post through Google. For those catching up, I tore my Achilles tendon playing racquetball back on June 26, 2014. It's now September 2nd and I wanted to give an update but also exorcise some of the demons within.

I was in a cast for 6 weeks and have now been in an airwalk boot for 2 weeks. I've been told that I'll have up to another (who knows, maybe longer) 6 weeks to go in the boot. I go back for a check up next week. When I first was injured, people would wince when I told them that I tore my Achilles and they said things like:

  • Ouch, that's painful (wincing as they said it).
  • Made a "I'm so so sorry for you" noise and shook their head.
  • Told me a story about a friend of a friend who went through the same thing.

None of the above really helped me at all. For me, and this is just for me, the pain from the injury itself hurt but it wasn't incapacitating. When I pulled my back out running when I was 39 (right before my 40th birthday!), that was much more painful. I woke up in pain at night and couldn't find a means to sleep. And walking was really difficult to do.

The torn Achilles hurt, but it was pain that I could manage. The pain was the easiest part to deal with overall.

What to Expect When Healing

  • Increased frustration.
  • Tiredness
  • Swelling
  • Lack of mobility to do simple things.
  • A long, long time toward full recovery.

I'm 8+ weeks into my recovery and the summer months are gone. I lost out on beach days, swimming, running and having a good vacation with my family. Instead I was working, trying to get around on a knee crutch and dealing with pain, swelling and fatigue (walking on a knee crutch takes a lot out of you).

Frustration and depression start to set in since you're used to being able to do certain things: Going to the bathroom in the middle of the night using crutches sucks. Getting into a car, out of a car, trying to cook dinner, putting clothes away, and a whole host of other things is really challenging. Yes, I didn't give up and went to work, did wash, repainted my son's room and even cleaned bathrooms, but it was really hard to do. I'm extremely happy that I am now out of the cast.

However, I'm now dealing with pain with the boot (all the pressure in walking is now on my heel). I have weeks yet to go and was told that I have about six months of recovery yet before I'm walking and don't think about my injury. That's a lot of time. I've trained for marathons in less time than it's taking me to heal. That's really given me something to think about during my long days and nights of recovery.

What I used to be able to do, I cannot (at the moment). Acceptance and patience are two important words that are on my mind these days. Training for a marathon was mostly willpower. I could push my body within my limits and get stronger. Now I'm going through the opposite. I'm healing and learning to walk again. I'm focusing on using the same willpower that I built up while training for the marathon, but it's not the same thing.

There's a big difference between running 26.2 miles and saying: "I'm done. I completed my goal." and getting through weeks and weeks of trying to do your normal activities. Training is only a few hours several times a week. Recovery is a full-time activity. I think that's what makes it harder.

I wanted to share this so that others who are going through this injury can be prepared for the journey ahead. It's not easy. I've lots of time yet to go and that's where things stand. I'm trying to be easy on myself but it's hard. That's my update. If you're going through a similar bout of recovery, I wish you the best. Be easy on yourself. It'll help in the long run.