My grandmother, Karen Schreffler, passed away unexpectedly on December 11th. She was one of my biggest supporters, reading and rereading each of my blog posts and sending emails to ask when the next one was coming. I know she’s still keeping track of my progress up there in Heaven, so this one’s for her!
I had my stitches removed three weeks ago on December 1st, two weeks after my surgery. Because my doctor was out of town and I am visiting a teaching hospital, I was seen instead by a fellow from South Africa who has been studying under my surgeon for the past six months. He showed me a few snapshots taken from the MRI I had a few weeks before surgery, which was used to determine the severity of the atrophy to my left calf muscle. Because my Achilles tendon was not functional for so long, there was concern that my calf muscle would never be able to recover, even after a reparative surgery. However, though the difference in size is significant, it was determined that enough muscle remained to make surgery a good option. Here are the images, which are essentially horizontal slices of my lower legs.
At my request, the fellow assigned to my case also emailed me images that were taken during my surgery. They show every step of the surgical process, from removing scar tissue to inserting my new allograft Achilles. After some deliberation, I have decided to include these pictures here on my blog for those who are interested. I know not everyone has photos taken during their surgery, so I want to make these available to those who are or will someday go through this same procedure. The slideshow below contains all of the pictures I received along with their captions. Please note that the images are graphic and may not be for everyone!
I had my first physical therapy session two weeks ago on December 8th, about three weeks after my surgery. I was excited to be starting therapy so soon even though I realized my movements would be extremely limited. My therapist started me on simple plantar flexion exercises; pointing and then bringing my foot back to its resting position. Taking my boot off to do these exercises is honestly one of the highlights of my day. Not only do I get some relief from the stiffness of my boot, but my range of motion seems to get better every day. Already I have noticed great improvement in my flexibility and am so pleased with the progress. It almost makes up for the fact that my calf has dwindled down to the size of a raisin...
The appearance of my scar has also improved dramatically over the past five weeks. Since the day I had my stitches removed, I have been massaging it with a vitamin oil to reduce discoloration and break up the scar tissue. I don’t know if I should attribute this improvement to the magical properties of vitamin oil or the natural healing process, but whatever it is, it’s certainly working.
My next doctor appointment is next Monday, December 29th. I’ve scheduled a therapy session immediately following the appointment so that, if I’m given permission to introduce new exercises, I can get started right away. What I'm most looking forward to is sleeping without this dang boot. I can't wait!