ChatForum – Achilles tendon
This is a new ChatForum, and as long as there is no serious content yet, let’s start it off with some fun.
Oh, That’s GROSS!
The idea of one’s Achilles tendon snapping is one of those mental images that makes us shudder. So central is this tendon to our ability to walk that the idea of its rupture is truly a horror to imagine, rather like something from a horror movie where a pscyho creeps up on the ground up behind someone with one of those tools — the one with the long handles and short, steel cutting beak that is used to snip thick branches or electrical cables — puts the open beak to the victim’s Achilles tendon and…Snip! But it does happen — not the psycho snipping, but the tendon snapping. In one NFL game, the quarterback placed his foot behind him preparing to pass and felt – and heard an audible – SNAP! Tennis players snap it on the back-step, and sometimes think the impact is that of a ball that has hit them in the back of the foot. And the reality IS gross.
As detailed in our Web page, Achilles Tendon (Bad Heel Day): “Typically they go down like somebody’s shot them in the leg,” says a pro sports athletic trainer. “There can be an audible pop, like the sound of a small-gauge weapon being discharged. There’s nothing pretty about it. The tendon is composed of fibers, and when it ruptures it looks like a plate of spaghetti that just exploded, a wet mop, a plate of worms, ends and tissues going everywhere.” A doctor says, “If you see them right away, before it swells, you can stick your finger in there. There’s a gap of about an inch.” Most active patients or athletes with a rupture need to have surgery right away, within 10 days. “I’ve had some people come in six months later,” says one doctor, “and the tendon shortens. It just rolls up into the leg like a window shade.”
That last bit about rolling up into the leg like a window shade just about does it for me. I can just feel that, and it makes me sick. It had even a more powerful effect on another guy when I used a graphic description very much like that for an Achilles-snapping story some years back for my medical column in Delta Airlines’ in-flight magazine, at the time with an estimated readership of 4 million. One of the editors called up and said, “Bob, you have to hear this.”
He and other editorial staff were on a trip, on a Delta flight in the Atlanta airport that was pulling back from the gate ready to go. Suddenly there was a big commotion, the plane rolled back to the gate, the doors were thrown open, and a medical team came storming in with a gurney. A guy had passed out in his seat and, reviving, was in some kind of physical distress. The stewards and the EMTs hovered over him, trying to elicit some explanation of what had happened, then helped him to the front of the plane and onto the gurney and wheeled him away, after which the doors closed and the plane went on ITS way.
According to conversation overheard by the editors while airline and medical staff were attending the guy on the plane, trying to assess his condition, he did not have any medical condition and had no idea what had happened to him, but he did say that he wasn’t feeling well. All he could think of that might have triggered his episode, he told them, was that he had been reading an article in the magazine and it was so sickening that he fainted. An article about the Achilles tendon.
“Bob,” the editor told me with a chuckle on the phone. “I just wanted to let you know that your writing was so powerful that it stopped a jet plane.”
I could not have been more proud.