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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

Oh, My Ankle!

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 4/17/2021
Posted: 2/25/2021
Topics/Keywords: #AchillesTendon #Coronavirus #Maui Page Views: 140
And then I blew my Achilles tendon.

I've been maintaining this section of my website as a blog, a journal of this pandemic from the ground, from the point of view of a guy (hopefully) living through it. Now, since this has beem occuring in Paradise, much of it has been a photojournal without a lot of commentary on my part. And that's too bad, because otherwise I'd be able to go back and figure out the exact day (and possibly even the circumstances) that caused me to blow out my left Achilles tendon. I do know I first complained about it to my doctor in October.

Actually, it started in my left Achilles tendon, but soon began troubling my right Achilles tendon as well.

The Achilles tendon runs from the heel of the foot deep into the calf, where it anchors three distinct muscles and therefore gives those muscles something to push or pull against. If overused, especially without prior stretching, it can become inflamed. We seniors are even more prone to this, as the body loses elasticity as it ages.

In my time on the property my ankles have been exposed to unusual stresses even for a long-time hiker such as myself. And I regret to have to admit that I never stretch before hiking, or even walking the land here, ground that is deceptive because the cover of lush, evenly-cropped grass hides the irregular, rock-strewn, hoofprint-filled surface beneath.

I saw a foot doctor in Kahului a few weeks ago. Because of the scarring of my left leg due to my bout with flesh-eating bacteria a decade ago, the doctor was unable to feel the tendon through the skin as he would normally do. And an X-ray didn't show anything (but he didn't really expect it to). That meant I would have to go elsewhere for an ultrasound image, and before I could do that, he had to get the okay from my insurance company.

Meanwhile, life goes on. As part of my treatment, my doctor had gotten a referral to a physical therapist. He insisted I change the way I walk and refused to listen to me when I told him the way he wanted me to walk was making my Achilles tendon hurt worse.

But I tried to be a good patient, in accordance with the motto on the wall of my foot doctor'S office:

I continued to Doordash (which involves long periods of sitting in the car and then jumping out to fetch or deliver an order) and to walk the property and do chores, all the while holding my feet the way my physical therapist wanted me to ("the way Michael Jordan points his feet!"). To be sure, the pain in my right ankle did lessen. But the left kept getting worse.

And then, a trip today to Koki beach finished the job.

I love swimming but only in warm weather. It's been too cool and cloudy for me to be tempted for some time. But one day the sun was out and warm and I decided to go for a little swim. However, the sand at Koki Beach is very unstable; it shifts beneath one's foot. And as a small breaker hit me, the sand beneath me shift, my foot twisted, and I felt a freaking pop in my ankle.

Oddly, it didn't hurt. But my foot now flopped like a dead fish and wouldn't support me at all. I had to crawl back to the beach. Once there I managed to get upright, but I had to treat my left leg like it was made of wood, because my foot wouldn't work at all.

Somehow I made it back to the car. And, at that point, I got a call: the ultrasound imaging had been approved, and I could get my ankle imaged as soon as I could get there. (In Kahului, an almost 2-hour drive away.)

But you know I went.

Of course, it was then several days more before the foot doctor's office called to say they had the results and I should come in. As soon as possible. (The dramatic pause was theirs.)

So we all drove in again, even the dogs who don't seem to care where we're going; they just seem to like being with us.

"You have torn your Achilles tendon to the point that there are just three or four fibers or threads left. Think of it as a fraying rope. Except, in the case of living tissue, it can, with time and proper care, repair itself." He turned to his nurse. "Can we dispense him a boot?"

The nurse inspected her tablet."Not without prior authorization,"she responded after a moment.

"Oh." He looked completely blank. "Well, I guess we'll have to call you when we get the authorization."

"And…in the meantime, I…?"

He shrugged,

So now I'm hobbling around like a one-legged pirate, having to hold my left foot rigid as I walk as if it were a peg leg, waiting for my greedy insurance company to agree to give me something that will cost them far more in the long run if they don't.