I've been driving into New York once a week for physical therapy. This involves ultrasound (a high-tech foot massage that delivers 1 watt of power to the tendon), a low-tech massage of the tendons with artificial beeswax, and the usual array of bizarre exercises and toys designed to improve the strength of the muscle and tendon.
I've also had daily exercises at home. One involves a large color-coded rubber band (I have green, a fairly weak one) so popular with the PT folks. I do a cross-legged ankle exercise while watching TV. It's not hard, but the foot can get quite sore during a long session with Seinfeld. I also have to practice balancing on one foot. At the start I could do about 10 ten seconds on my right ("good") foot, and about 3 on the left. Today I hit nearly half a minute on the left. One minute is the goal: I don't believe I have ever been able to balance nearly that long.
I also practice going up on tippie toe. As you may recall, this was the test that clinched the surgery about a year ago: I could do only three on the left foot. Right now I can do about 0.8. Well, actually none, without a little assist from either the right foot or my arms. It may take another year before I can do one, and they say that's Ok. It's not especially painful when I try, it's just that nothing happens. ("I'm trying to think, but nuttin' happens!")
Everything is right on schedule. The foot has healed nicely, the incision is slowly fading to what they tell me will be a fine white line. The incision on the outside of my heel has a bit of scar tissue: ugly, but completely functional. This was the area that supported the weight of my foot, leg, and cast for a couple of months, and was even a little sore back when the casts were exchanged. It feels like the kind of raised scar you might buy as part of a Halloween costume.
My stride is almost as long and fast as it was, a the stride is almost symmetric. If I concentrate, there is no limp at all. I think the loss of the two tendons on the toes next to the big toe reduced my ability to push off when I walk. It's a small price to pay for a working foot, and I have no complaints. I am using the stairs again, though not yet two at a time.
I have no pain, normally. A long wait at the grocery still is still a little of a problem, but it is less than my occasional recurring back problems from a slipped disk several years ago.
Skiing is out for this year, even with the cast-like support of a ski boot. Thanks to the weather, I haven't missed much anyway. It's probably best to avoid uneven ground for a while, and especially the rocky Delaware river for spring canoeing.
I gained about 15 pounds and ten cholesterol points from the inactivity of this experience. Walking is my solution. I am to work up to it slowly.
You've been so patient, reading this long discussion. I'll leave you with one piece of trivia. People comment that my two long screws are likely to set off metal detectors. They never had, so I had the Secret Service run the wand right next to the heel to see if anything registered. It didn't. Since I was going into a room containing the President, I figure the wand must have been up to spec for sure, and at a highly-sensitive setting.
Fourteen Months, and All is Well.
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