I, Angela Jackson have Decided to Start to Blog on my Journey of my Injury. It’s Blunt, Real Life and exactly my feelings of what i am dealing with. This will interest those who know me, Athletes suffering injuries, Other People going thru Achilles Rupture, also those interested in How i have managed to so far not blow out like a fat blubber. You can follow my Blog on this Injury from hell and As a Top 10 Paddle League Elite Female Stand up Paddler Racer l will never give up on returning towards mid 2019. Caution there may be a few Swear Words…
Injury - Full Achilles Tendon Calcaneus Avulsion. In Layman's Terms, i ripped my Achilles Tendon so hard from my Heel Bone i took bits of Bone with it and the achilles retracted over 8cm back up towards my Calf Muscle. FUN! well not so much
Fix - Surgery 100%, i had no other choice as Tendons can’t just attach to your heel bone without Anchors. 20cm Cut from Heel bone up towards Calf muscle and 4 Anchors inserted now holding my Tendon back on.
This is my First Blog from start of Injury to 4 month point….
My Full Achilles Tendon Calcaneus Avulsion
17th September 2018 - Injury Occurred (In Japan at the Japan Cup SUP Race)
This wasn’t my best day but i do remember it every clearly, well actually the racing was fun, good sized surf and great racing was going down. Managed to keep my cool in the final to hit the Beach in 2nd place. Eyes looking ahead i knew i had to Sprint and Run hard to keep 2nd place. Come down from the waves riding it nice all the way in, Hit the Beach and BANG!!!! OUCH F**K!! My damn board smashed me in the back of my Leg!!! I fell over, got rolled around in the tiny rocky beach sand. Got up tried to Sprint again, NOPE Fell flat on my face!! WTF is going on. Little did i realise but my Board was actually NO where near me, the bang was the Achilles Tendon letting go!
It was at this exact moment i thought HELL i have broken my leg or foot, something is wrong. I tried to stand up a number of times, finally realising that SHIT!! I yelled for help!! Meanwhile most of the other Elite girls have already Run past me thru the finish line. Now my focused had shifted to more of a Fight to Survive mode. I was Yelling HELP!!! People came from everywhere like Flies!!! In all the confusion all i remember is fellow Aussie Racers and my good friend Fiona Wydle lifting me up and carrying me to a table. I was starting to panic but luckily i could hear my friends telling me to control my breathing. The questions started getting fired at me!!!
Where does it hurt? Can you move your foot? Is it your calf muscle? Is it a cramp?
Hahaha at this point i really had no idea on what was going on, it hurt but then the pain slowly just went away. I thing i did know was that just by looking at it my Foot was floppy and i could see a big ball of something near my calf muscle. Could i walk? HELL NO! So something was very wrong.
Ambulance is called and off to the Japanese ER i was with 2 good friends and an event translator. No pain relief given the whole time. Scans done and they confirmed in half english, My achilles tendon was Broke! Hmmm ok that’s not good. They were excellent, then put me in a Half Cast as my only option really was this and fly home the next day but to Australia.
all fun until Snap
My 2 amazing Nurses
18th September 2018 - A fun 9 Hour Flight Home to Australia in a Half Cast, All Confirmed with Jetstar
With help from Japanese friends and my good mates we managed to get everything sorted for my flight home and thanks to Jetstar Australia for also looking after me with a Whole row of seats so my leg could go up the whole home as i don’t think i could’ve done this flight with my leg down. My good friends Matt Nottage and Michaela helped me the whole way home as they flew home with me (I couldn’t have done this without these 2 legends) I can tell you my leg was the size of a balloon after 9 hours of flying!!!
Which brings me to landing at home YEW!! It felt like a safety net just caught me. My awesome mother in law was waiting for me for pickup and straight to the ER Hospital near by. I was admitted for the day whilst they did all necessary tests and checks. All confirmed with Full Achilles Avulsion from Hell bone. So all paperwork done. Full cast put on and now it was a waiting game for swelling from flight to go down and surgery booking time. 4 days past and i got the call that tomorrow was the day 24th September. Did i really know at that stage what was to come NO Way. Here was me thinking oh yeh i should be ok in 8 weeks for one of my favourite downwind races of the year The King of the Cut, i race i hold the record time for and have Won countless times.
24th September 2018 - Surgery and enjoyed the drugs for a few days. New Cast for 2 weeks.
I should tell you all now this is the first major surgery i have ever had in my life! Yep i have been pretty lucky up until now with Sporting injuries as an athlete and years of High Sporting Activity. Some Fun chit Chat with Doctors and Nurses before they put me under, i can’t even remember counting down from 10, i was out!!!! Woke up about 6 hours later in my Room and completely out of it, it was kind of cool feeling hahaha. Soon as i woke up i was back asleep, this went on for awhile hahaha. Pain? Nope had none but i knew that was the pain meds talking. Soon as i was wake good enough i was surrounded by so many Doctors and Nurses asking do you have pain? Me nope i am good. They explained my op took bit longer than they thought, 2 Hours it took. Mostly because of the Heel Bone fragments caught in the tendon they had to pick out. I stayed in hospital and got waited on hand and foot. I couldn’t see my leg, it was all covered up and nice and snug up high.
Got collected and home i went with my drugs. By this stage there was Pain and huge rushes of Blood every time my leg moved. All good leg raised and in bed with TV on. REST Time! Pretty much the same story for 7 days, on my back leg up and pain killers. This continued for 2 weeks at home…
9th October 2018 - Back to Hospital for Cast removal and stitches out. (First time seeing the handy work)
To say i was excited about going and getting this cast removed was an understatement!!! It was only really 2 weeks and i was over it, little did i know what laid ahead for months. Cast got cut off and stitches out! OUCH that did not tickle but i was excited. It looked good clean and tidy. Cast gone and i got Black Boot with 3 angle wedges! I was stoked with this. Still no weight bearing for another 4 weeks but hey at least i could take the boot off to shower now! BOUNS! I could also start some upper body activity in my gym, did some lite weight lifting with dumbells. Great to get the body moving even if it was small stuff. Got a knee scooter and got used to that thing pretty fast, i had a tiny sense of freedom again and could help hubby at supermarket etc… Scooter everywhere. Had my 1st Physio sessions, didn’t really do much was more tiny movements to get things moving again.
The Free Black Boot they give you here in Australia is very kind but boy oh boy it’s really shitty boot, i hated it. So i figured to do some research and found the Vacoped Achilles Boot online! Just a whopping $600!!! We figured that i was going to be sending so much time in the boot i would try to find a used Vacoped boot locally. I did!!! Turned out even in Small size and $200 Later and 2 days i had it. WOW it was so awesome!!! Set it at 30o angle and got an even up for the other shoe! I was in heaven and thinking WOW this boot is really going to make difference for me. Weeks pass, physio 1 once a week movements getting better and better each time.
Cos i had broken Bone i was not allowed any weight bearing until week 6. The time finally came and i was allowed to lower my angle to move between 20o to 30o on Boot and take Tiny Steps with both crutches to help. It was working YEW!! Don’t get me wrong i was Stoked!!! But some days, well most days it felt like this was never going to happen and it really was like learning to walk all over again. I hated it!!!! I would get frustrated, sad and throw awesome temper tantrums. I just couldn’t do it and couldn’t see how this was going to get any better, i had no control and huge pains every time i tried to even weight bear a tiny bit!
6 Weeks to 10 week point was what i thought at the time the most Frustrating, Confusing point so far (Little did i know was yet was to come) I was still in the boot all the time but at 8 weeks i was allowed to take it off to sleep! Do you know how amazing it feels to have your Foot feel the Sheets!!! OMG Heaven. This made me so nervous cos i had read about so many achilles re rupture happen cos people have gotten their foot caught in the sheets or pushed to cover away in their sleep. So i slept with my leg surrounded by pillows and didn’t move it haha. I felt lucky to be now sleeping without the boot. Physio by week 6 to 10 also started getting harder, a lot more exercises to work on with Bands and very painful massaging but this is all part of the process and i was excited to finally see movement. Towards the end of Week 10 (that’s 2 and ½ months now!!) my boot was at Neutral movement to 30o. This means it was almost like normal movement when you walk, a huge milestone then came when i actually started Prone Paddling back in the Water again!! OMG i was back in Ocean. So i got some normality back at 5am training sessions, whilst the other SUP Paddle trained around me i would just go Prone paddle around. I was so stoked! It was a mission to get to the Water itself, crutches and hubby carrying my board up and down all the time hahaha (thanks jacko for everything). Finally getting my heart rate back up, well trying! F**K i had become Unfit and put on 4kg up to this point! I needed to take care of this asap otherwise i was going to lose it all. My Fitness had gone, i was feeling the floppiest i have ever felt in a long time. It was hard mentally, so hard cos i really was trying to eat so well and Paddle and swim most i could but i was struggling. It is almost like your body is in a Fix up mode and all it’s focus is on recovery the injury and as a result my overall body makeup and fitness was suffering big time.
Headed over to Perth for the Big race King of the Cut but just a spectator and cheer squad! This was not FUN nor easy to watch as they had amazing conditions all week and race day was epic again.
There were days i would think i don’t think i am ever going to come back from this stupid injury, I’m DONE!!! My SUP racing time is DONE!!! I really do think this injury is one a person would really struggle with if you had a hard labour job or single parent, i really don’t know how you could do it. The struggles are so real.
Next day about 12 week mark, i am told i can try to Stand up paddle for a very short distance! HELLO!!! YES BABY, all is not lost. So that afternoon i am down there making Hubby (Jacko) carry everything and i am trying to stand up on my race board in the flat and paddle around. Was it easy? HELL NO! I think for about 10 sec when trying to balance i had in my head that wanker voice telling me ‘ your done mate you can’t even stand up on a 26” wide board’ then i keep paddling along HAHA, i was stand up and paddling along. It was not pretty my leg has NO knee bend at all. Lasted about 2km distance but it was something to be stoked with.
So now at 3 months Post op and i can Stand Up Paddle every second day max 6km at a time and Swim and Bike! Stoked! This was all going very well apart from the fact that my Fitness was Gone, really gone and i had no paddle strength at all. I was so far behind and still so far behind now! As a competitive person there is nothing more frustrating than having people you normally beat in a race just paddle past you like your standing still. I couldn’t stand it! I HATE it!!! Even at the supermarket really old (really OLD) people walk faster than me, even look better than me. Makes me sad.
So i got to the point of feeling ok about 3 and ½ months and thought i am going to try and keep up with the SUP training group this morning in the flat Water. YEW! I was pumped, still can’t bend my knee but hey i was feeling ok and wanted to try and push myself to paddle harder and keep up with them. Well for the first 4km out of a 9km training paddle i was doing just that!!! WHAT i was spent but i was hanging on!! HELL YEH i am Back baby!!! I can do this. In my head i am already thinking so Carolina Cup is in like 9 weeks, i can do this!! Will send my coach Boothy a message and tell him when i get back in from this training run. I am back!!!
THEN!! cos i was sweaty as (and loving this fact) my hand slipped in the sweat and came off the top of my paddle. I fell Forward on my board and without even thinking i put my crap foot forward to catch myself and stop myself falling into the water. OOPPPSSSSS! OUCH!! That hurt!!! But then i stopped for a few minutes and lost the group. It hurt but was ok, so turned around with my tail in between my legs and paddled slowly back home. I was devastated in the fact i did this! I was like a lost puppy dog again heading home, head down and sooking. DAMN IT! I am not Back! F**K! Here i am just over 3 months and i still can’t paddle or keep up! Tears are shed yet again but i paddle home just waiting for the others to catch back up and over take me. As they do…
This is where things go wrong… the next day i can’t even put my Foot down!! WTF have i done! It’s so sore. My head hurts! I call my Physio (Josh he is frekin awesome) he said put boot back on asap and take weight off it please, oh and also let’s stop SUP Paddling again hey! WHAT NO!!! But i knew this had to be done. This was like my fellow injured friend and athlete (Annabel Anderson) says to me, we go forwards and backwards with these injuries, its apart of the journey. Annabel herself is also in the naughty corner with serious injury recovery mode. Boot came off 1 week later and back in shoes but i was struggling. Go to Physio and not even Josh can budge this foot, it’s almost Stuck in a lock position. I can’t walk on it, it’s like my recovery went backwards 4 weeks. I don’t like going backwards.
Don’t get me wrong by this time i am Ocean Swimming 2 - 3km / 3 times per week and also getting my fitness back on my stationary bike sessions 3 times per week. I got serious and changed my Diet and watched every single Marcos i put in my mouth. So since 3 Month mark to 4 month mark i lost 2 kg and actually started feeling really good with my fitness level. As an athlete i pretty much got to the point of i don’t care this is what i know i can do and this is what i have to do.
Back to Hospital for Surgeon check up and meet at 4 month mark. Walked into check up with shoes on and 1 crutch, limping of course. HMMMMM lots of chit chat but then i get rushed into new Scans cos i the concern it’s so tight, it is Sore and i slipped. 5 hours later done and i get told to come back in 1 week for results. Meanwhile Physio keeps getting done.
Finally D day at 4 months and 2 weeks now, this takes me to 30th January 2019! Yep over 4 months and still walking with limp (I can at times Walk pretty good by the way) or Stand Up paddling good enough to even get my Heart Rate above Zone 2. LAME!!! Appointment time. I get results and get to talk face to face to the Best foot surgeon on the Gold Coast! Did i get to hear what i want to hear? YES and NO.
So this is now where i am at 18 weeks post op. My Anchor points are great and strong! YEW good news you say. My Calf muscle is tiny and has shrunk, not so good. My Achilles tendon itself looks Weak and very Fibrous, this is not good news. My surgeon tells me i have a catch 22 situation, i have to really stretch the Calf muscle out but my tendon is weak looking! So what to do you ask? Well i have no idea really either. My Surgeon has given me and my Physio another 4 weeks to try and get it fixed. D - day 27th February. (takes me just over 5 months)
There have been moments were i have wanted to Punch people in the Face, i know they are only trying to help but i don’t care about the time you had a boot on for 6 weeks mate or that time you injured for 1 month. Talk to me after 4 months and see how your going! Selfish maybe but it’s real. In all this i still thank my lucky stars as i do see other people worse off than me, i still have 2 legs. Or i had an older lovely gentleman talk to me the other day whilst i had to sit down and have a rest walking into the bank, he proceeded to tell me about when he had a Foot ulcer and he couldn’t walk for 2 weeks and how he was so hard done by (That was my i wanna punch you in the face moment)
My journey with this Stupid injury continues. What will happen? I don’t know. There are more surgeries? I don’t know that either, possible. Will i even make 1 Elite SUP race this race? I don’t know.
One thing i do know, is that i am not giving up! My Diet is Good, i am feeling semi fit again, so i am giving myself the best opportunity to get on top of this. I am also an adventure Girl and know that my Favourite time Running and Hiking spent each year in Hood River Oregon and Squamish BC may not happen at a fast pace for 2019, more like a woddle or shuffle but l do not want to give up on the fact l will be there.
You can follow my journey along by keeping in touch with my Blog here on this.
So many people to thank so far, they know who they are. Especially Hubby Jacko and Mother in Law Sandra, they are both like my personal Bitches
Avulsion Achilles Rupture is not something you can go thru by yourself, you need a Team around you and for this a am forever grateful to have. Well they are still hanging around me for now hahaha
Will i be back? HELL YES i will be! Will i run again? Probably not this year. This year hmmm maybe not but a competitor never dies. As a Top 10 Paddle League Elite Female SUP racer l have a drive and that will never die. This is just all apart of Life’s journey. So stay tuned for my Updated on the 27th February….
So stay tuned for next Blog update soon….
TAKE 2 - It’s time for Blog 2
Well where do l start. I will try and take off from where l left after Blog 1 that l wrote on 31st January 2019.
Talk about Long Term Recovery, it’s NO Frekin Joke! To put it bluntly l feel like there will never be an end with this injury. Even thinking long term, Years ahead i feel like l am always going to be babying this achilles.
As l write this Blog 2 it’s April 26th 2019, so pretty much 7 months post 1st Achilles BOOM!
Is it better? NO
Am l frustrated with it all? YES
Will l give up on racing again? HELL NO
Am l learning to go with the Flow? YEP
After spending the Last 4 months since January myself, my Physio (Josh at SurfLife Physio) and my Surgeon have been trying so hard to allow me to get this Achilles Tendon Sorted out without another surgery. The Last thing l wanted i do was go through this whole damn surgery and recovery again but to no fault of our own the damn F**Kin Tendon won’t budge and it’s angry.
7 Months post 1st OP, l can’t walk without bad limp, No chance of Running and can’t Stand up Paddle more then 12km MAX. I have no agility in my bad foot at all and it Hurts all the time. I have attempted to Run / Jog HAHAHA Epic fail!!! It is impossible the way it is now.
Yep my broken Achilles healed way to short. They say it’s mainly because the bad trauma to suffered with my first snap. With this injury it seems everyone is different in some way, some are running and back to full activity by 6 months (this amazes me!!) and congratulations to them. Others are like myself looking at OP 2 whilst some others are heading into OP 5!!! FIVE DAMN times NO THANKS!!!!
Mentally this is a battle with the mind especially going into OP 2 but then l think of those going thru this 5 times over and say to myself, Harden the F##K up angie. Or those people way worse off then me, i mean don’t get me wrong, i’m healthy and living a life most would love to have and i am thankful for that but when you take something away from someone that they LOVE doing so much, it’s f**Kin hard to deal with.
So why has my Achilles healed short and nasty, well mostly because i was set at a 30c angle for 6 weeks because of my screws into my heel bone. Once any bone and tendon is involved you are in a shitty situation. It’s not just a snapped Tendon but also got broken bone involved. So being casted and in a boot at a 30c angle for 6 weeks to relax the tendon and let the bone heal can have a catch 22 effect as you can’t stretch the tendon out or fully weight bear. Then slowly every few weeks taking the angle back to 20c and then 10c and then finally 0c by week 12. We did so much stretching and physio to help it stretch out but after more scans we found the bad tendon way thicker and shorter then my good side. We tried and tried and it frekin hurt like crazy but it is stuck at pretty much 0c and i can not flex up at all.
I am paddling again and training with my Stand up paddle crew and there are moments that l actually feel ok and seem to get my speed back and feel pretty good, well in the Flat water anyways. I have tried to catch small waves but it’s fear of re-rupture and no agility in that leg that get’s to me!! I am so scared of re-rupturing it again before my 2nd OP. I am far from Top 10 racer in the world and no where near my former ISA World Champion Speed or Fitness but l am determined to get back to this level.
I have done 1 baby Downwind Paddle with my good paddle friend Kate Baker and my hubby following me with drone and checking in on me along the way. I made it and boy oh boy was it amazing!!! It truely gave me the FIRE to come back, whilst my fitness is shot to bit’s i could still read the bumps and manage to shuffle my way around on the board but l was far from having any Speed and felt so slow ( l am on the Green board in little Vid below)
So l am booked in for OP number 2 on the 9th May!! and l can’t wait! WHY you ask? Well because finally there is hope that l can get back to my high level of activity, Professional SUP Paddling, Running and doing everything at 100%. There is a higher risk of re rupture 2nd time around but l have to take the risk as i can’t live my life half arsed. I am someone that goes 100% in at everything.
It’s like going backwards to go Forwards and my surgeon is very confident that this will come good with the Z Lengthening surgery.
Yep l am looking at 2 to 4 weeks cast again and then up to 3 months in a Boot again and l don’t care really as l am so focused and excited at the thought of coming into Summer 2019 here at home in Australia and i will be at 100% Paddling Fitness again, training and aiming for a big Downwind race in Perth for November (King of the Cut)
If you had asked me back in 2018 when l came out of my first “Snapp” repair if l would be in the spot l am now l would’ve said NO way. I am about to miss the First major Stand Up Paddle race of the 2019 season, Carolina Cup and this was going to be my first race back. And just WOW really how faraway l really man from getting back to my top level now 7 months after my 1st OP.
I HATE THIS injury!!! It’s the pitts!! I have learned to simply go with the Flow and l also now have a good understanding of what to expect the 2nd time around, even small things like having my bed side table at home ready with all my things needed (Chargers, books etc…) even a Bell to ring for my hubby (hahah Jacko loves it) No driving again for 3 months as we have a manual Ford Transit Van.
I already had booked my Flight for the usual Major race in August at Hood river OR, will l make it there, I Don’t think so considering i will have just come out of my Boot by 1 week before and just the thought of Flying for 24 hrs makes my foot swell up and sore already. I most 100% defiantly won’t be racing at Hood river this year, which makes me very sad as this race is pretty much my favourite every year and the most competitive female race of the year.
Z Lengthening is basically just that, a Z cut of the Achilles Tendon and then they put it back together but with more length. This time around they Set it a 0c in the Cast. The Stitches stay in forever as that is what holds the tendon ends back together. I will also have some front ankle Scar tissue removed at the same time.
I know after the 2nd OP l have a great plan to get fit and Paddle ready for Summer here at home in Australia. I plan and will be racing at King of the Cut in Perth November.
So l am excited!!! Wish me luck and check in a few weeks after my next surgery. I have my Boot washed and Ready to GO :)