Whenever someone sees me now with my sleek black soft cast around my ankle, the first thing they ask me is, “What did you do? Drop a kettlebell on your foot?”
Well no, actually, it was not a kettlebell or a barbell plate that was the nemesis that day, but rather a casual game of touch football played barefoot on an uneven grassy field. A small step forward with a little hop, and down I went. Just a random freak accident without warning.
It’s been about three weeks since I fully ruptured my Achilles tendon and I’m becoming more and more relaxed about it as the time goes on. Right when it happened, all the worst-case-scenario thoughts flooded right into my head: You’ll never walk again. Now you can’t coach people. Looks like your yoga days are over. No more kettlebell swinging for you, young man. You’ve ruined your life over a game of touch football.
All injuries suck. But the ones with long recovery times suck even more. One day you’re pressing half your bodyweight overhead, the next day you’re hobbling around on crutches. And since Achilles tendon ruptures are fairly common in many athletic endeavors, I thought it would be fun to post my experience as I try to heal and rehab my foot.
What an Achilles Rupture Feels Like
If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of a fully ruptured Achilles tendon, here is more or less what you can expect:
- It feels like someone punched you really hard right on the tendon, just above your heel.
- I did not hear any “pop” or sound. Some people say there is a loud sound.
- Sit down immediately and look at your Achilles tendon. If the spot where it should be is now slightly indented and mushy, you have probably just ruptured your Achilles tendon.
- Do not put any weight on it.
- I went to the emergency room right away, but there was really nothing they could do. They gave me a make-shift temporary cast and wrapped it up in ACE bandages. So if you’re adventurous, you can potentially skip this step and go right to the radiologist, as long as you have something to immobilize your ankle.
- I got an ultrasound to confirm that it was a full rupture. (I went to RestorePDX, so if you’re in the Portland area, check them out.)
- I scheduled the first available appointment to see a specialist.
- I saw the specialist on a Wednesday, and surgery was scheduled for that Friday, thirteen days after the rupture.
- Pretty quick operation. I was in the hospital for around four hours total. Actual surgery only takes thirty to forty minutes from incision to stitched up.
- I went home and slept for twelve hours.
- You’ll be showering from a seated position for awhile, so if you don’t already have a detachable shower head and/or one of those shower seats, now is a good time to invest in them.
The usual disclaimer: I’m not a doctor and this is not a substitute for medical advice. This is just an account of how I experienced the whole process.
Here’s a video from five days after surgery, the first time I uncovered the incision point to see what it looked like:
And here is the first exercise I was given, which was one week after the surgery: