It has been 4 weeks since I had the operation to shave off the bone spur on my right heel, known in the medical world as Calcaneoplasty and Achilles decompression. I wrote about the operation and the reason for it in this blog.
I am constantly meeting people who have had Haglunds or are suffering from Haglunds (a bone spur in the heel that jabs at the Achilles) and so I thought I would write a bit about last 4 weeks, post operation and the rehab journey.
Recovery has been helped along with bouncy castles, weddings, hen do celebration, race supporting, the boot is highly versatile.
Dr Adam Budgen operated on my foot on Wed 24th May at Nuffield Hospital in York. This is what has happened since.
* Even at 30 years old, it's still good to have your mum around to help. Thankfully by co-incidence by Mum was up visiting us in Leeds, so she became taxi driver, grocery shopper, cleaner, cook, did our laundry and most importantly helped me change my undies so I could leave hospital feeling all fresh. Thanks Mum.
* After the operation, I was under instructions not to put any weight on my foot for 2 weeks. The first week I was in a cast, then the 2nd week an air-boot. Both worn 24 hours a day and I couldn't get the wound wet.
* Those first 2 weeks were tricky, trying to sleep with a cast/ air boot on, hopping around the house, trying to balance on my crutches while making a cuppa, then realising I couldn't carry the cup of tea and hop, massive spillage/ burn potential,
* Carrying a backpack everywhere and putting in water bottles, flasks and lunch boxes with food became by answer. Also listening to podcasts kept me entertained, I discovered Finding Mastery by Michael Gervais, well worth checking out. I really enjoyed listening to this conversation with Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff
* Trying to wash/ shower without getting water on the wound was also a challenge, especially when you have one leg to stand on. I tried a variety of methods, to varying degrees of success. If you want to create a massive mess, then throwing water over yourself sat on a stool in the middle of the bathroom is ideal. If you don't want to flood the bathroom floor, then the method of getting someone to lift you into the bath and spray you with the shower while lying in the bath is better. Though remember to wash all the shower gel off before getting lifted out, otherwise its a slippy task. Thank you Adam.
The deck chair became my number one accessory. Thanks Adam for driving me and the deck chair around. Here we are supporting the pink and black Alba Rosa Cycle Club racing at the Brownlee Cycle track in Leeds one Saturday, can't walk but can cheer and ring a cowbell!
*After 2 weeks I was back to see Dr Adam Budgen. He said I could now weight bear on the operated foot and the wound was fully healed so it could get wet. Hurrah my left leg yelled, I think it was done with 2 weeks of being the sole leg to bear all my weight. So I walked out of hospital, still in the air boot, I had the boots company for 4 more weeks. Unfortunately still for 24 hours a day, but I could now put weight on my foot and wash it.
* I met up with Sarah Pitts from MostMotion to create a rehab plan. I have worked with Sarah for several years and have written about our work in numerous blog posts such as this one. She told me to chill out, as rest was the priority and to let the bone and tissues heal. As I have ants in my pants to be doing something pro active, she gave me a few different ways of walking to try, toes in and out, looking over my shoulder leaning to the side and swinging the hips like a race walker. The aim was to get the feet and legs moving in different ways, without top much stress.
* Week 3, if I can weight bear on my foot does that mean I can cycle? Dr Budgen has operated on a number of athletes and a few triathletes in Leeds, so despite rolling his eyes, he had experienced the mad mentality of triathletes. Riding a stationary bike without much force through the pedals and still wearing the boot wold be OK. He knew there were air-boots out there with cleats drilled into the bottom, typical triathletes! If I can get it wet, can I swim? Dr Budgen was keen for my ankle not to flex or move side to side, so as long as i didn't move my feet when swimming, a tentative OK came back.
Spinning on the turbo, one big flat pedal for my boot, one cycle cleat and look pedal. Nice to spin the legs.
* I could try and swim, the issue was getting to the pool, no driving and cycling on the road was out of the question. I have had one go, in the pool, on Friday evening at the Leeds Bradford Triathlon session, thanks sally for giving me a lift. I was heading there anyway as I had organised for Precision Hydration to give a talk and conduct some sweat tests. I have written about that here. I 'swam' loose term for floating around with my feet and ankles tied with a band so i couldn't move them, 2 pull bouys in between by legs to help me float, a snorkel on to help my breath and off i went. It was great just to be back in the water, i never knew 30 minutes of catch drills, could be so enjoyable.
* I realised after my attempted swim and a spin on the turbo, that actually the priority in these 6 weeks when I was wearing the air-boot, was recovery. 30- 45 minutes on the turbo/ in the water will do little for my fitness, but it could set the healing back. Though for my own mental well being I knew i needed to do something otherwise i would go stir crazy. So i removed the thought of 'exercising/ training' from my mind and instead thought of things as an 'activity' to keep sane. I wasn't going on the turbo to 'train' it was to spin my legs and do something different for 30 minutes. Swimming, i will try going to the pool, once a week if i can get a lift, but i'm not too bothered. 6 weeks out the water, feels a lot but in the big scheme of things it is not.
* I have been helped in my above thinking, by focusing on other things. I am lucky, i can work from home and the sofa. My interest in Yoga and meditation has been growing over the last few years. With my foot in a cast, I have taken the time to practice more mediation and experiment with Pranayama (breathing exercises) sitting on the sofa. I was inspired by Pete's blog. You should definitely check it out here. (It is very witty, he shares his experience of getting horny when meditating and other funny tales) And I have been helped by Collette, one of my yoga teachers at Yoga Hero in Leeds who is off travelling with Pete, who has generously sent me Pranayama tips and advice via cyberspace. Well worth checking out her "What is self care" blog post
* I have 2 more weeks with my foot in the air-boot. Hopefully, then I can walk around in trainers. It will not be until September that I will be running, so between getting the boot off and September the focus will be on rehabbing, swimming, cycling , wiggling, enjoying more Pranayama and time with friends.
A big shout out and thank you to everyone who has come over to say hello, bring me supplies and for a chin wag. It has been much appreciated. Thank you to Tony and Rob my British Triathlon level 2 coach assessors who allowed me to do my final coaching assessment, sat in a deck chair (I passed, so am enjoying learning and coaching triathlon right now as my own training takes a rest) and to everyone who has given me a lift somewhere or helped carry the deck chair.
Enjoy your own training, resting and adventures. Suzie x