Complete Rupture of My Right Achilles Tendon on 8-March-2012

 

Sports have always been a big part of my life.  I started walking at 9 months old and my father had me playing a wide variety of sports in the backyard shortly thereafter.  My first competitive sport was ice hockey, starting when I was 5 years old and playing that sport right up until I left Michigan at the age of 21.  By the age of 6, I discovered that I loved running and my dad signed me up for competitive soccer.  I played some form of competitive soccer just about every year since, until my injury in March of 2012.  The highlight of my “soccer career” was scoring the winning goal in the Michigan High School State Championship game in November of 1985 and being elected as an All-State center midfielder that season.  I played some sort of central position on every soccer team ever since, always striving to help my team win another championship--anyone who plays soccer knows this is the most physically demanding position, especially if you play it to win.  Besides soccer, I trained heavily as a middle distance runner while in high school and have kept a fairly high level of aerobic endurance my whole life.  All of this “pounding the pavement” probably also took a toll on my joints and tendons.  Finally, I played a wide variety of just about every other sport in the USA throughout my life although mostly at a recreational level—among these, probably pick-up basketball games on the asphalt did the most damage to my Achilles.  I also did a decent amount of weightlifting and consistently just about 6’0” and a pretty lean 185 pounds over all these years, so not exactly a small soccer player.  Despite all the years of competitive sports, I felt blessed that my joints and tendons held up without serious injury.  Prior to March of 2012, my worst ever injury was a broken collar bone (collision with a goalie, in a soccer match) at age 35.  I also had some Achilles tendonitis in my 30s attributed to too much year-round soccer and running on the beach in San Diego County, but this didn’t slow me down much.  A MRI in 2008 showed a slightly torn meniscus in my left knee, so I took 6 months off from soccer and then felt almost 100% (even today).  I tore my right hamstring pretty good in 2009 (soccer tournament) that kept me sidelined for about a year.  I made a “comeback” in 2010/2011 but started to develop a bad case of Morton’s Neuroma in my left foot, and with all these injuries mounting, I decided to finally “hang up the soccer boots” and just stick to running and upper body workouts.  However, after one year of “basic fitness”, I was feeling like a 20 year old again and felt the uncontrollable urge to get back out on the soccer field and help win another league championship “against the odds”.  Turns out that dominating a soccer league takes more than excellent fitness and years of skills, it also takes “soccer-ready” joints and tendons….

 

On March 8th, I joined a winless (0-6) last place team and played against the 2nd place team in an 8v8 league.  Aaahhh, my favorite kind of situation—nothing to lose and everything to gain!!  Better yet, this opponent was my old team and I had something to prove!   I chose to play defense but ran all over the field, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists, and we were up 6:1 (and counting) with 10 minutes to go in the game.  About 5 minutes earlier, I did a move where I jumped in the air and swerved around their defender who was facing his goalie, landed on my right foot and poked the ball away to my left wing who made it 6:1.  This athletic move felt awesome, just like the old days!  However, I did feel a sharp pain in my right Achilles when I landed (in hindsight, probably a slight tear).  No biggie, right?  I felt this kind of pain several previous times in my life and so just kept on playing, although with a little less intensity since we were already up 6:1 and the win firmly in hand.  Once again their best player got a hold of the ball and I jumped in his face to defend….I stepped back with my right foot on this rubbery “Mondo Turf” (no give) and felt like someone kicked me hard in my right Achilles!  I turned and yelled “What the f***?”, but nobody was there!!  I barely managed to hop off the field and lay down behind my own goal, still thinking someone kicked me.  I felt a pain in my Achilles area that I never felt before and realized I had at least a partial tear.  Meanwhile, I watched the other team score 7 goals in 10 minutes and win 8:6!!!  I hobbled back to my SUV, careful not to put too much pressure on the right foot and somehow managed to drive home.  The pain I was feeling by the time I arrived home was the worst pain I ever felt, much worse than my broken collarbone!  I took a few Advil and that helped a lot, enough so that I could search the internet using my laptop while lying in bed.  After surfing the net, I had my fiancé do a Thompson test and she said the result perfectly matches the YouTube video for a completely torn Achilles tendon.   However, I could still move my foot, so held hope that it was “only a partial tear”.  The next day, I went to the doctor and he said he could feel a slight gap in my right Achilles and ordered an MRI.  The MRI very clearly showed that I had a completely ruptured right Achilles, with about a 0.5cm separation.  Here is an image of my MRI.  The rest of my story can be viewed at the Achilles Blog….