RISE Again series. Rehab: Achilles rupture
As I drove home from the surgeons office reality set in. 2 weeks on full bed rest, 8-12 weeks on crutches and not being able to drive and likely 12 months before I can play any sport or sprint around playing with my kids. Being an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and the Manager of Exercise Services at Rise Health Group, the rehab was the least of my worries.
On Saturday the 23rd of June, while playing basketball in Geelong, I went to push off to run towards our basket and felt someone boot me in the back of the leg. However, as I fell over, I realised there was in fact no one around me. I knew instantly what had happened. They stopped the game and my coach came out to me. He said “are you alright mate?” to which I said “I’m pretty sure I’ve snapped my Achilles”.
I calmed down quickly and was fortunate enough to be assessed by one of our colleagues from Corio Bay Health Group who was there for the opposing team. He confirmed what I thought and it was off to the hospital to be put in a cast before heading home.
The next couple of days I was mostly just thinking about how confident I am in the team I had around me. I was incredibly confident in my surgeon Otis Wang from having worked with him and knowing the person he is. Stuart Imer, the Director of Foot and Ankle Rehab Australia had been an amazing support to me when I first did the injury. He is possibly the best foot and ankle physiotherapist in Australia and he would be taking me through the next phase of my rehab after surgery. I couldn’t have been in better hands.
However, until I left Otis’ office I hadn’t really thought about the full spectrum of what I was in for. With surgery on Wednesday morning, what have I got to do to organise my work schedule for this week? Who’s going to cover everything and take care of my patients and clients for the next few weeks? What about the projects/business development I’ve been working on? The conference I have this weekend? Can I get a refund for those flights and accommodation at least? Do I have enough sick leave? Then there’s all the personal side of it. How is Sam (my son) going to get to school? Is Nicole (my wife) going to be able to look after me as well with all she already does for our family? Are the kids going to understand? Why can’t daddy chase them around like he normally does? I’m generally not a fan of uncertainty and this was no exception.
It really had me appreciating what it must be like for our patients. Having never had a serious injury before, I didn’t fully appreciate the uncertainty that comes with it. My mind was all over the place, and at least I knew what my rehab would look like and fully trust the team around me. I imagine that must be even more concerning for people without the experience I have with the rehab process. It reinforces the need for us as health professionals, to clearly outline and display the treatment pathway for our patients and to help provide some certainty in a time where they desperately need that.
So on Wednesday morning, I checked in to Waverley Private Hospital to have my Achilles repaired. The surgery all went well and I was able to head home that afternoon. The one thing that has continued to blow my mind over the past week though is how much support and care I have had from the people around me. From my team mates on Saturday night after my injury, to my coach coming to the hospital to drive my wife and I home from Geelong afterwards, the offers to run a fundraiser on my behalf, my work colleagues that reassured me that I needed to focus on taking care of myself and making sure I did so, my surgeon calling Nicole personally to inform her that the surgery went well and I was in recovery as well as messaging me from his holiday the next day to check in on me, my friends and family and particularly my incredible wife Nicole, for everything from just messaging me support, to dropping in with coffee to have a chat. I have been amazed at how lucky I am to have the incredible people I have in my life.
Now it’s a matter of literally putting my feet up for the next 2 weeks to let the wound heal. I’ve timed it perfectly so I’ll get to spend some extra time with my children while my eldest son is off school and will no doubt find plenty of ways to keep myself busy. I may have a long road of rehab in front of me but I couldn’t be more lucky to have the support around me that I do.