Scott Douglas’ Terse Bloviation

Archive for April, 2013

Peroneal Tendon Surgery #4: Effects of Inactivity

With two more weeks to endure of no weight bearing, here are some things I would like to do:


Have need for toilet paper.

Not be depressed.

Have my hands free.

Be hungry.

Sleep normally.

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Peroneal Tendon Surgery, #3: Excess Work is Welcome

I’m still not up for the long back story to how I got to this point. So here are some random first-week-after-surgery observations that might help others who will go through this.

Assuming you don’t have complications, try to get back as soon as possible to your normal non-exercise routine. I did only token work the two days after surgery, but was back at it Thursday (three days after) and even more so Friday. With the Boston Marathon tomorrow, I’ve been busy with work this weekend, which has been welcome. I’m fortunate to be able to work from home as my default, so doing so with my legs elevated while lying on the sofa isn’t terribly different than usual.

I downloaded a chime app for my iPhone and have it set to go off every hour between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. This reminds me to put my foot on the ground for a few minutes (as gently as possible, natch, given the orders against bearing weight).

My friends have been great about visiting. I hope I’ve convinced them I’ll be that much more in need two weeks from now. I’ve basically never been idle this long and anticipate being quite emotionally miserable by the end of the month.

That said, so far I’ve had surprisingly few wallowing moments. And those have stemmed more out of frustration of living life on crutches (as in, “Ugh, I left my pillow on the sofa, now I have to go through the laborious process of getting it because I’ve already asked Stacey for too many favors today”) than existential angst about whether this injury and surgery are life changers. (As Bane said in The Dark Knight Rises, “Calm down, doctor. Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.”)

I had a prescription for 40 oxycondone, but put the bottle away yesterday with maybe 15 left. I don’t have a lot of pain, and figure I’d like to save them for if something happens and I have more use for them. Yesterday also marked the end of the Naproxen and Tylenol, which I hope also means the end of not needing toilet paper. It’s been odd to go from someone who can make two pit stops during a run to someone for whom that’s a week tally.

I haven’t really done anything in terms of activity, and am not yet miserable. Yet. I checked out a friend’s rowing machine yesterday and decided that wasn’t going to work while I have the splint on. So far I’ve done just daily crunches/ab stuff with my legs on the sofa, stretching for my shoulders and neck, and today I crutched around the block (maybe a quarter-mile). A few leg exercises of the Myrtl sort are possible, but not ideal, and I’m still in the period where I’m supposed to keep the leg elevated as much as possible.

I rented a knee scooter for a month. This has been helpful to move around the house when I have fragile or liquid things to transport. I haven’t taken it outside yet, because that would mean exiting the house on crutches, then having it waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe next weekend I’ll have Stacey drive me somewhere so that I can scoot around on a quiet road and feel the breeze on my face.

I finally found a use for all those mini-backpacks races and shoe companies hoist on you these days. They’re perfect for toting small items like books and napkins when you’re on crutches.

Sleeping has been a challenge. I slept on the sofa the first four nights. I started in bed Friday and Saturday nights, but eventually made my way to the sofa because I couldn’t get comfortable and didn’t want to wake Stacey doing my ailing-landed-fish routine. Last night was the first time I woke up and found myself sleeping on my right side, which is a no-no, and led to being up for awhile with some significant discomfort.

I’m not yet bored with consciously restricting how much I eat, but I imagine I will be well before I’m active enough to justify eating my normal amount.

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Peroneal Tendon Surgery, #2

So, uh, things were worse in there than suspected. Both peroneal tendons were torn. The peroneus brevis was only about 20 percent intact, while the peroneus longus was 40 percent intact. The MRI reading had indicated “only” severe tendonosis in the longus. Whatever. The surgeon repaired them as best able via stitching, and shaved down part of a bone, the peroneal tubercle, that was irritating the tendons.

I’ve had “extra stuff” forever (like 20 years) in the area where I think the peroneal tubercle lives. So I wonder if that bone spur he shaved down was a, if not the, prime instigator for the downward spiral that led to having surgery.

For those interested in learning more about the background of and surgery for this injury, I’ll get to that eventually. I’m still fairly out of it and it’s hard to concentrate on one thing for a long time, so I’ll leave you with a picture of splint and day nurse. I’ll be in the splint for four weeks, with no weight bearing on the right leg during that time.

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Peroneal Tendon Surgery, #1

Later this afternoon I’m going to have surgery to repair my right peroneus brevis tendon. I had hoped to avoid ever being cut open for running-related reasons, but oh well. Once every 34 years and 100,000 miles seems acceptable.

I’ll try to document this experience in the hope that others who might be having similar issues can learn. As with most health-related Internet searches, especially for relatively obscure running injuries, I encountered more confusion than clarity.

Later I’ll describe at length the symptoms, probable causes and concatenation of bad decisions I made that led to having surgery. For now I’ll keep it to a few pre-surgery photos that show some of what’s been going on.

The other day I took photos of my lateral right and left ankles. These are far from the most illustrative images, but you should get the idea. Notice the swelling and general “extra stuff” around the right ankle compared to the left. (Both look a little weirder than usual because I’d just gotten off the bike when I took these.)

First is the asymptomatic (but hardly beautiful!) left ankle.

Here’s the right ankle.

The other at-a-glance noticeable difference is left and right lower leg diameter. Here the right one is smaller, because favoring the damaged tendon for months led to atrophy of the muscles on that side. In this photo the difference is most noticeable toward the top of the lateral lower leg, where the relevant tendons and muscles start. There’s also a significant difference in calf diameter that I wasn’t able to capture using my iPhone.

Hmm, seems I need to start getting ready to leave for surgery. The next post will probably be immediate post-surgery stuff, then I’ll get more into the back story.