Nearly a month ago, I ruptured the Achilles tendon on the back of my left foot. I play on a soccer team on Saturdays and it happened in the middle of a game. All of a sudden, while I was running down the field after a ball, there was a loud pop and intense pain. I asked the guy on the opposing team if he’d kicked me, but he said no, and the ball was still in front of us both, so I believe him. It just snapped.
Since then, December 1st, I’ve been in two splints, two casts, and had surgery by an expert surgeon. Dr. Gary Feldman of Rockville, Maryland, was recommended to me by my friend Ravi who had had the same injury a few years ago. Dr. Feldman gives you the impression that he repairs half-a-dozen Achilles tendons per month, but still takes the time to explain the painful process to his patients and answer their questions. That is a doctors most valuable trait to a person like me who can search for and find endless Achilles horror stories, do-s and don’t-s, and useless products on the internet.
Immediately after the injury, I went to the ER Howard University Hospital in DC. The front desk people are truly awful, and kept me waiting for what seemed like an hour. I was in a wheel chair and in so much pain that I was having trouble drinking my water. So naturally they just let me hang out. I had to beg for X-rays for about 15 minutes. By that time, the soleus muscles that are usually held taut along the back of your lower foot were cramping, spasming, and bunched up right below my calf. There was a gross, gelatinous mass there that just appeared after the SNAP. I had no idea what was wrong with my foot at that time.
Once HUH got me inside, they took X-Rays and got me into a comfortable chair where I could elevate my leg. Once you are past the Howard UH front desk, the rest of the staff is great. Then came the Percocet! Finally the pain eased up with two giant horse pills. My wife, Melissa, also arrived at that time. An orthopedic resident came down, and after a quick examination, he gave me the bad news: a fully ruptured Achilles that would need surgery within a week. Surgery would be followed by two months in a cast and then a boot, and then extensive physical therapy.
I found Dr Feldman on Sunday through Ravi, and got an appointment with him in his DC office on Tuesday. Sweet Melissa was able to take time off of work to take me to Dr. Feldmans. I was so loopy from Percocet that I forgot Dr. Feldman’s address and we ended up in front of a kebab joint in Dupont Circle. Dr. Feldman confirmed that my Achilles was likely totally ruptured. They do a 2-step pressure test to determine if any of the the tendon is intact.
Laying on your stomach with your foot extended, squeeze the calf muscle (Try it on your own). If the bottom of the foot points, then the tendon is at least partially intact. If there is no foot movement, it’s likely that the tendon is gone.
Sitting on your butt, try to point your toe, or push your toes away from your body. With a torn Achilles, you either get no pressure on the bottom of the foot, or no movement of the foot at all. Scary to have so little control.
My tendon was completely ruptured. If there was any left, Dr. Feldman would need to do an MRI to determine. But since I would need surgery regardless if the tendon had a few strands left or if it were totally gone, the Dr. decided to cut me open and have at it.
In my next post, I’ll write about the surgery. I have some pretty graphic pictures that I will post! It looks like a bomb went off inside of a pile of meat. Stay tuned!