I am officially three weeks post-op and so far all is well. My doctor said the surgery went smoothly enough, and while there were a few minor obstacles, the complications were minimal in comparison to my 2014 ordeal.
My surgeon performed what he refers to as a hamstring allograft procedure. After making the incision, my doctor removed a section of my Achilles allograft and replaced it with a hamstring tendon, which he looped through a hole drilled into my calcaneus and tightened to what is hopefully optimal resting tension. He then used a special type of stitching known as fiber tape to help prevent excessive stretching. He also removed the titanium screws in my heel from my previous surgery, as they are no longer necessary.
When my doctor began the surgery he discovered that not only was my Achilles allograft too long, but it was adhered to the other tissue in my leg. Perhaps the lengthy resting period at the beginning of my last rehabilitation is to blame, so I was instructed to perform plantar flexion exercises without resistance beginning at one week post-op this time around. Ideally, this will prevent any unnecessary tissue adherence while also lightly activating my muscles.
As is becoming customary, the first few days after surgery were the most unpleasant. I can’t seem to take Oxycodone without experiencing at least half of the listed side effects, and consequently ended up dialing the physician on-call at 3 a.m. the day after my surgery, worried that my breathing was becoming too shallow. I ended up reaching my own doctor, who advised that I take only 1 of the 1-3 tablets I was prescribed (I had taken 2) and also mentioned that another side effect was increased anxiety. So while I do believe my respiratory distress was a real concern, perhaps my fear was slightly exacerbated by the drug as well. Sorry, Mom…
I started easing off prescription pain medications two days after surgery and became aware of discomfort in my calf muscle. It felt as if I'd spent an entire workout performing weighted calf extensions, and yet my leg was encased in a bulky dressing, completely immobile. When I brought this to the attention of my doctor at my one-week checkup, he seemed pleased. This strain indicated newfound tension on my calf; perhaps optimal resting tension has finally been achieved.
I am completely non weight-bearing for the first four weeks of this rehabilitation. After returning to school in Michigan with my trusty pair of crutches, I realized I was not going to survive winter if I didn’t find a better alternative. If you’ve never tried crutching on ice before, it kind of feels like you're a newborn baby giraffe. Because we all know what that feels like.
My mom and I tracked down an equipment rental facility in town where I picked up this bad boy. Riding it feels about as ridiculous as it looks, so I decided to go all out and install all the bells and whistles/horns and streamers. It’s been pretty good for morale.
I’m stuck in a nasty walking boot for another three weeks or so, but I only have to sleep with it on for three more days! There are currently three heel lifts in my boot and I’m not sure I’ll be taking those out any time soon, but we’ll see. Also, this week I am allowed to start performing plantar flexion exercises with the lightest resistance band. I just have to be careful not to dorsiflex my foot beyond the position it rests in the boot, as this could damage the repair. So far, so good!
Lastly, I just want to thank my parents for putting up with me during that first week after surgery. You two really do deserve some sort of award after all that nonsense. ;)