I have been walking in normal shoes for a week now. At times I forget that anything is wrong with my Achilles. I have glimpses of normalcy. But then I make a certain move and feel a quick tightness in my calf that reminds me that I still have a long way to go.
Physical therapy has ramped up. Now my sessions include more exercises (squats, small calf raises, etc.) and six minutes on a Biodex Gait Trainer.
The Gait Trainer is pretty cool. It is a treadmill with a large computer screen. The therapist enters my age and the length of my legs and then starts the treadmill. The computer screen then monitors my steps, showing me a box where my foot should land each time. It sort of reminds me of Dance Dance Revolution…but without the music…and without the dancing. As I walk, the computer screen essentially yells at me… “Step Longer”… “Left Go Longer”… “Both Go Longer”… and every once in awhile to keep me from getting discouraged… “Good Job!”
The first day on the Gait Trainer the tightness in my left calf hurt when I tried to keep up. The therapist coached me to keep making longer strides but I politely protested, “I thought I was supposed to avoid pain when I stretched my Achilles.” The therapist indicated that that day had passed. Uh oh…
I finished the six minutes with only two or three “Good Job” steps. I suggested to the therapist that if they designed the Trainer to give out a high score and spit out some game tickets at the end then it might make for better motivation. Sort of like Chuck E. Cheese. After collecting enough tickets, I could go up to the front desk and get a stuffed animal or a plastic ball or some multi-colored wrist bands. I don’t think she took my suggestion too seriously.
The next day on the Gait Trainer I did better. My walking is definitely improving…especially after the Achilles is loosened up with heat, massage, and exercises. Unfortunately during the day it tightens up more and my walking becomes a little more stilted.
I still look at my left foot and wonder if it will ever look normal. The area around my Achilles is swollen and it just plain feels weird. I don’t know if it is scar tissue, swelling, a thicker Achilles, or a combination of all three.
I also notice that I can flex my right foot and tighten my calf muscle but I still can’t do that with my left. The flex creates more tightness in my Achilles than in my calf. I am not sure when that will change.
But life is slowly returning to normal. I am getting around better. I am more stable when I stand. And I am even able to help my wife with cleaning up the kitchen and with shoveling a little snow…and even for that I am thankful.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)