The strongest and largest tendon in our body, the calcaneal tendon, was named after the Greek god Achilles. I have not yet determined if this was because Achilles was defeated in battle because of his harmed leg or if it was because he was the strongest and largest fighter on the battlefield. I know for a fact, as well as from experience, that if my calcaneal tendon was disabled mid-battle I would be rendered almost utterly useless and immobile. Mine was ruptured clean through during an ultimate frisbee pickup game, not a Greek and Trojan war, and I could barely hobble to my car to drive home. If you have just suffered of a similar series of events, or you plan on rupturing your calcaneal tendon in the future, here are the warning signals of which you should be attentive.
I was going up for a defensive deflection. (Playing the “deep deep” position of our matchup zone, for you Ultimate players.) There was a cherry picker named Chuck that I was attempting a chase down block on. I backpedaled with my eyes on the disc then I wound up for the leap of glory. Except it never came. As I began to leave the ground I collapsed in pain. I was sure I had just felt Chuck’s toe contacting the back of my heel. After the fact, I found out that anyone who suffers from a rupture says the same thing. They all were kicked in their tendon too, even when there wasn’t another soul around. It is the first sign.
I laid on the ground slightly holding my left ankle. It is not unbearable pain and I did not cry, but it was by far the biggest injury I have suffered in my athletic career. For this reason, all my buddies came over and asked if I was okay but none of them seemed too concerned. They had just come to assume I would get back up and shake it off. That’s how it usually goes. I sat for an extended period and then was helped up, but something was wrong. I could not apply pressure to any of my toes on my left foot. That is the second sign.
After explaining it to my parents when I returned home I was then scheduled for an appointment at Peak Sport and Spine three days later. My foot swelled up and developed a bruise in the side of my heel. It was dark purple and blue. I still could not use my left toes to any capacity. That is the third sign.
Arriving for my appointment, I noticed the therapist and her assistant were not very hopeful looking. The therapist tried to keep me somewhat hopeful but I sensed a feeling from the student intern that this was a serious situation. She said she had never seen someone as young as me have a complete rupture. She scheduled an appointment at an Orthopedic Group for me. She said if I was not in pain then it meant that the tendon was clean tore apart. My pain had already disappeared. That is the fourth sign
I went to the orthopedic doctor. He squeezed my calves and my left foot did not react properly. He began reassuring me that it would be completely possible for me to return to full activity after rehab, that it would not end my athletic career. He tried to put me at ease, but I failed all his tests and he scheduled an MRI for me the next day. That is the fifth sign.
On my way to the MRI that day I received a call. I was informed that my MRI had been canceled. The doctors at the group had consulted and decided that it was obvious enough how badly I had hurt myself. They would not need an MRI to confirm it. Instead I was scheduled for an appointment with the surgeon to discuss different ways of fixing the tendon. That is the sixth sign.
Long story short, once you reach this point in your injury timeline, you have most definitely torn your Achilles tendon. I am sorry that you too must share this unique experience. Do not fear, surgery is not painful and you will most likely wake up from whatever sleep they put you in. You will be unable to walk on your left foot for four weeks, and even then, you’ll have to walk in a boot. If you have low pain tolerance you might be unable to walk in the boot for close to a week before it is comfortable. That puts it at five weeks.
With all this sitting time you will be doing you might as well purchase a gaming system, or convince your mother to buy you one. Happy healing!