Monday, June 29, 2015

Returning after a long absence.....

Ok! I completely stopped posting here several years ago -- just dropped off the face of the earth, so I'm sure this is going to be a bit of a change. If anyone was actually checking for things here, I apologize profusely. (yes, yes, I know it's mostly family, but I suppose it's rather like one person in a conversation just walking away abruptly without a word.)

I'm not much of a facebook poster, really, so I thought I'd document my Achilles tendinitis/tendinosis and Haglund's removal surgery here. It's a bit more flexible.

So, for the last three years I've been struggling with heel pain and stiffness. It started after I took up walking on the treadmill for exercise (and started walking uphill on it), but I just figured it was stiffness or a slight strain and usually "walked through" the initial pain. I know now that is a common pattern for tedinosis -- hurts when you first start out, then as things swell up a bit, the pain goes away. But after a month of mornings where I couldn't do anything but shuffle from the bed, I finally went in to the orthopedist. That was almost two years ago.

An almost immediate diagnosis of insertional tendinitis of the Achilles, bone-spurs, and a decent sized haglund's deformity on both heels -- go home, ice, stretch gently, and cease activity until it feels better. Absolutely no treadmill.  Well, it did for a few weeks while I basically sat on my butt and didn't do anything more strenuous than walking to the kitchen. But even a short walk around the block meant that I was stiff and sore a few hours later, and the next morning, I waddled like a penguin because pushing off with my toes to walk normally hurt like h--ll until I was up and around a bit. Stairs became an issue -- up is fine, but walking down was a bad idea.

Back to the orthopod...and into The Boot. Well, really The BootS. Both feet in what is basically a walking cast, immobilizing my ankle and heel for two months. This helped some, but once again, as soon as I returned to anything remotely resembling 'normal' activity, things hurt.An elliptical machine had been ok'd for exercise, but even that was difficult after awhile. Exercise bike is ok, but I balked at having to spend two or more hours on the damn thing to equal the other exercise options. And, regardless of which option I picked, I felt so much better when I didn't do either. (with the unfortunate side effect of gaining back weight which added to the frustration). The limp was getting worse -- sort of a hop-step-flat-footed gait as I tried to avoid pulling on my Achilles, and I started doing stairs one at a time both up and down. Which one was worse, left or right, changed from week to week. I'd limp on one and it would stress the other heel and then that one would hurt more. Add in arthritis in my left foot and I never knew when a step was going to be painful or not. Mostly it was tolerable, just annoying. Mostly.

The doc suggested surgery back in November last year and I refused. Recovery is 6-12 months, and we had two vacations planned and while I knew it was going to hurt to walk, that at least was a known quantity. But the plan was to schedule when we got back from Germany. In the meantime, I kept activity to a minimum, and just sort of bulled through things. Mostly, it's not painful so much as achy and stiff. But the bone spurs and heel bumps got bigger. I kept telling myself that it would be fine, and I wouldn't need to have surgery. Look! It's fine today! No limp! Hahahaha. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Which brings me down to the present. Three weeks stomping about in Germany went okay (although seriously, it's hard to find ICE anywhere in Germany--once the Adorable Husband had to beg ice from the fishmonger in the local market). We walked all over, and tried to avoid stairs and we had a fabulous time. But once we were home, it was time.

Here's a pick of my left heel -- you can see the big bump and swelling around the tendon insertion point. I have calcification of the tendon insertion point and a really good-sized bone spur.

Nice, eh? The other one looks worse, to be honest.  

So, I'm scheduled for surgery on my left heel on Tuesday, June 30.  I've spent the last week collecting everything I can think of that I might need for recovery (crutches, a knee scooter, shower chair, etc) and now I'm just stewing in a low-level panic about having orthopedic surgery. More details on the surgery in the next post. 

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