Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Akillesjänne Leikaus ja Paraneminen {Achilles Surgery and Recovery}

I am reminded that I underwent achilles surgery last January 2014. I was uncertain of what I would undergo so I frantically searched the internet for this particular surgery and specifically for runners like myself. Would I be able to run again? Will I wear a cast? Or a shoe? Or both? Who will make dinner? Will the hubs manage without me? On and on the questions went.

So there we were unaware that I even ripped my achilles watching the Salanne movie. At the part where he shows all the parts of his body that he had broken and-or had surgery on, my hubs looks at me and says, ¨You need to see a sport doctor¨.

Next thing I know I am emailing my physical therapist for references. The closest doctor, Kallio Tapio (In Finland you refer the doctors last name then first name). I had no I idea how popular he was until after surgery. He is also apart of the Anti-doping league if I understand correctly. After I had announced my surgery to friends I received a hardy recommendation about him from a friend and ex-neighbor who saw him in her ballet days. The same practice does surgery on all the serious hockey players (you see the jerseys framed on the walls of their department). My ex-neighbor had surgery on her knee weeks before at the same place, different surgeon.

So on to my experience:

Things I learned about achilles surgery and recovery.

1. See a sport doctor if you hear a snap! I do not recommend jumping on a gym box not made for your height. I was with my husband (who is nearly two meters) at the the gym when he challenged me to join his alternating leg jumping activity. So there I was opposite side of the box and there we were jumping like crazy when all of the sudden I landed on my left heel and hear a SNAP! If you hear something like that, see a sport doctor or go to ER to get it in a boot so no more damage is done. I could not walk but yet there was no pain. It was very odd. I thought I was about to puke and my head was spinning. Still I thought the popping was from a screw I found under my shoe. Yes, it is true. A screw.

2. If you get spinal headache from an epidural ask for a blood patch.
Now, I am not sure if they do those in Finland. However, I got a headache and it lasted a week. My mother reminded me later she had a blood patch done after I was born via c-section. My doctor decided on an epidural because my nervousness with being put to sleep. I have birthed four children {two home births} and never got an epidural before, yes, it was my first. All I remember was laughing and them showing me my leg after surgery, ¨See, this is yours¨, I continued laughing, ¨Really?¨

3. Let your doctor know if you are sensitive to medications.
Seemed like I was given something for everything:
¨Here, take this for pain.¨
¨Take this sugar IV.¨
¨Take this salt IV.¨
¨Take this for swelling.¨
I was quite dizzy and felt like I could not settle down. I was scheduled to leave home that evening but because of my condition I had to stay the night. The night nurse was real sweet and quite talkative for being a Finn. The following morning I puked everything and felt much relieved. By that time I was moved to a private room away from the patients due to come in that day. Side note: If I could change the decor of that place it would be the curtains. Have you seen their children's room? I wanted to sleep there! :D No thank you to grey-blue drab. Who would want to stay there? Then again maybe that was their purpose, they want you IN and OUT.

4. Let other people help you.
I realized I had to let my ability to do daily routine go: Housecleaning, food prep {I nearly live in the kitchen}, playing with children, transporting children to and from school, etc. EVERYTHING. At that time I took a break from social media, so I had no idea what was going on. All I could do was sit with my bandaged leg and lovely black shoe. My darling hubs proved to be an expert at pancakes and if I remember correctly some yummy fried steak. We were fortunate to get house help with government aide and had my friend, Reetta clean and play with the kids. This began our six year old's ability to learn skills with Inken Aarre {a popular board game}. The children began to help more and the whole family began to blossom. I also got to read more with them due to my constant sitting position.

5. Be consistent with physical therapy. 
I had my boot and stitches on for about six weeks and had a follow-up with Kallio the day before our trip to Spain. Boot and staples were removed and I was on my way. My physical therapist, Tähkälä, Juha with Fysiosporttis gave a program that best fit my physical needs and abilities. The physical therapy also helped me improve my weight training and finding proper balance and appropriate techniques.

I bought a used stationary bike and used it consistently. We still use the bike to this day during Koiran Ilma ¨Dog air¨days. Sometimes we hang our laundry on it and makes a great door stop for our master bed room! ;) My last appointment with Tähkälä was before summer and I was off to running already by then.

I ran the yearly Naistenkymppi in an exhausted 51 minutes. {It was hot and the course had been changed drastically uphill. I know, excuses}. My best in that race has been 47 minutes, so really, not bad after surgery. My blind friend even beat me, which I passed her the year before. I ran a fall 10k in Leppävaara at 49 minutes, plus our traditional run in the countryside 17.8k at 1:36 {Hubs thinks it's my best}.

6. Wear Compression Socks.
My first pair cost more than I expected at a specialty shoe shop. Only to find out later that most the sport shops have them. They are cheaper and provide a plethora of color. I used them on my long runs to prevent swelling. It is also recommended to hand wash them so that they last longer. Not the most attractive things during summer, but hey, sporty!

7. Pride Comes before the fall.
The old proverb proved true. Before ripping my achilles I was running at a really nice speed. I was tearing up the tread mill at the gym and getting better times than in College Cross Country. FOR REAL. I was thinking I was hot stuff and could conquer the whole town by my awesome amazing running skills. NOT. Seemed like everywhere I went I saw other people taunting their crutches and wheel chairs. I started thinking about others who are lonely and without company, even the bed ridden. I really am well off and in good hands, and sometimes this happens for reasons unexplained and to be revealed in the last days when my dying body and or dead body will be restored to the likeness of God's Son. It actually, caused me to see the frailty of life and get my eyes off myself. THAT is a GOOD thing.

So when folks ask about my recovery I tell them, ¨En voi valittaa.¨ {I cannot complain}.

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