Thursday, January 22, 2009

My status

The leg is still sore, but healing. Now that the swelling is gone you can see the beautiful iridescent purple bruise that formed when a band of the calf muscle snapped at the tendon. This is the second week, so I'm doing mild ROM (Range Of Motion) exercises, heating the muscle up with a bag of warm water then lightly stretching it just to the point where I feel just the teensiest pull in the muscle. Massage helps too. Between all that, I already have about 3/4ths of the lost ROM back, there's still plenty of time to get the last back.

I can't actually use the muscle yet. I've accidentally tensed it when off balance and it *hurt*. Time to go find out when I'll want to start using it a bit. I'll be following the program that I used 25 years ago the last time I had to rehab that calf muscle after a serious motorcycle accident -- the bicycle. Starting out with the heel on the pedal, then slowly sliding the foot backward slightly to put the slightest bit of pressure with the muscle. Over the course of several weeks slowly move the foot back to put more pressure on the calf. Eventually the calf gets back to near-norm strength and regular exercise can recommence. The only question is the timing. I think I'm supposed to do another week of ROM, then start the exercises, because the connection between tendon and muscle is way too fragile right now and it would be way too easy to re-injure / re-tear it. But I need to find out.

Meanwhile, I now know exactly how important the calf muscle is for forward locomotion. While my range of motion is almost normal, I still mostly lurch when walking, because once the leg gets back, I can't push off with it -- it just kinda sits there, and I gotta topple forward then sweep it around. But it'll come. Six weeks from now, I'll be walking normal again. Three months from now, it'll actually be usable again. But I'll never really trust my body again. Sigh. Getting old sucks. The only problem is, the alternative is worse.

- Badtux the Gimpy Penguin


  1. Of course, if you lived in a civilised country, there would be a national health program that would provide physical therapists to help you get better, faster, and in the right way. Not just because it would get you back to being a productive worker faster, but because as a citizen of that country, your life and comfort are presumed to have some value just because you're human. Or penguin. Or something.

    "Physios" as they're called here, are practically a religion, the respect they get. In America, you are your own physical therapist, like you are your own grocery bagger, airline ticket agent, etc. "On your ownership" society indeed. Do you reckon that mindset will change under Hopey? One can only hope...

  2. Yikes! Once I injured both of my ankles & literally could not walk for days. That was truly frightening. I have never felt so helpless in my life. I'll never take my mobility for granted again.

    Yeah, getting old does suck. I don't know if i'll ever reconcile myself to it.

    This old lady I used to know was always saying, "I don't know why they call them the golden years, there is nothing golden about getting old."

  3. Bukko, unlike 25 years ago, I actually have access to physical therapists. I just need to make the appointment through my PCP to get to them (the find out part). I'm not fond of physical therapists for some reason so I've been delaying it. BTW what I've been doing ROM-wise is the right way for a minor calf strain like this, they don't pull out the heavy artillery (ultrasound and etc.) unless there's something special.

    Rita: Yeah, I'm not feeling so happy about getting old. The only upside is that I finally have an excuse for being a crotchety old penguin. I'm aspiring to be a truly *terrible* old man :-).

    - Badtux the Crotchety Penguin

  4. since my left ankle is no longer there (subtalur fusion) my calf muscle is also gone. the pain when it manages to get stretched is sharp and exquisite.

    your regime sounds very valid. something i did for ROM buildup was to get myself into the pool and walk back and forth. i also did tiptoe stuff while in the water.

    when i walked out of my last physical therapy appointment i told them "after a month i can do all your exercises, i still can't walk. and PT's should not wear white, black leather would give a better visual clue as to what's about to happen."

  5. One step at a time. Impatience will only re-injure it.

    And yes, getting old sucks. I had to have the eye doc explain to me how to get used to bi-focals. The only thing I'm looking forward to on that one is being able to see my food and my kid across the table when I have lunch with her.

  6. MB, at least my gimpiness will heal, so I am certainly thankful for that. As for PT and black leather, well. The deal with my particular situation is that the purpose of the ROM exercises right now is not to improve range of motion as such, but to make sure that the muscle fibers re-attach in pretty much the places they're supposed to re-attach. So it's supposed to be *gentle* right now, just enough to coax muscle fibers along, not enough to re-tear the healing muscle. And I trust myself to be gentle with myself more than I trust the PT folks :-).

    Nunya, yeppers, things down there are tender and healing right now and don't want to re-injure it. Thus I need to get back with the docs to have things evaluated and find out from them when I'm supposed to be doing the next step (the muscle rehab).

    As for the getting old things, I adjusted quickly to bifocals (once I had the right prescription). I intend to be the crankiest, most crotchety old man ever, I'll make BBC look like a bundle of sunshine by the time I'm thru, heh!

    - Badtux the Gimpy Penguin

  7. Well, you had to bring up BBC. Our relationship is over.

  8. Jesus Christ, I turn my back on you for ONE LOUSY FUCKING MONTH and this is what I get. What the fuck didja DO to yourself, dude? Couldn't you wait till after I de-gimped? Isn't there some kinda rule about how only out out of the jingbang (as my Auntie Rosie used to say) gets to gimp at any one time? Sheesh.



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