Hole in my Heel

Posted Jan 27, 2005
Last Updated Nov 8, 2011

The kids in my neighborhood used to call me Huckleberry after the famed Twain character. I never really belonged to any of the local urban cliques, especially before I reached high school. Instead of getting into scuffles or such, I was always off in the nearby woods chasing critters.

And I was always barefoot. That further reinforced my nickname.

At the age of eight or nine I came home not long before sundown (my family observed the Judeo-Christian Sabbath and always insisted I was in and clean before it began each Friday night). My chore that night was to take out the trash.

I picked up the large plastic trash bag and swung it over my shoulder. In an instant, an event happened that would have killed or maimed humans throughout history; the legendary Achilles (whom Brad Pitt played well in the recent blockbuster Troy) was killed by what happened to me.

I didn’t even feel it happen. All I felt was a sudden hot-cold flash through my body. When I stepped forward, my leg collapsed.

Gaining my balance, I didn’t understand what was wrong. But I began to quickly notice a frigid feeling inside my heel. I turned back and looked down, and to my horror there was a gaping bloody hole there.

Now I felt it!

I started screaming and jumping (on my good right foot). Mom and Dad converged. Immediately Mom gasped. Dad told me to settle down and inspected it.

Mom said, "You need to get him to the hospital.”

Dad, who grew up far away from hospitals in the remote ranches of western North Dakota, stubbornly said, "Ah… get a band aide.”

Mom’s eyes squinted seriously and her voice suddenly got low. "Don, you’re going to take him to the hospital.”

At first the wound did not bleed much… but when they wrapped a towel around my foot, it quickly saturated with crimson.

So Dad finally rushed me off to Doctors West Hospital.

There I was sat in a waiting room for a lot longer then seemed appropriate. At least I felt that the nurses and doctors were a lot calmer than seemed fitting for the occasion!

They put me on a bed finally and asked me to roll over onto my belly. Normally the task is so simple… and you wouldn’t think that a severed Achilles tendon would cause you to be unable to roll over; well… it did—every time I leaned my body my foot started to dangle. The sensation was very sickening, and it took me a couple minutes to get pushed over onto my belly.

They wrapped me up a little and put a temporary cast onto me (no doctors would be in to operate until Monday, it seemed). I had to trudge myself to the bathroom with the help of a couple nurses—which was practically as traumatizing as the major wound.

Now you are probably wondering how in the world I got that wound! I will tell you. Jelly. Yes, earlier that day my sister had dropped a glass jar of jelly onto the kitchen floor. We cleaned it up and threw it into the trash bag. And I think you can deduce the rest.

The glass punctured my heel and sliced my Achilles tendon in two. The top half whipped up into my leg like a rubber band. When the doctors operated on me, they had to cut up a couple inches so that they could reach the wayward tendon and pull it back down. They then sewed it back together… and I was soon one whole, happy little boy. Of course, I spent the next couple of months in a cast and crutches… but it ended well.

The scar is still there, but that’s really about all that’s left except the memories. I still can, however, feel a tinge of apprehension and uneasiness when I see an episode of violence (such as in Troy) when a heel is wounded.

I guess the moral is this—don’t throw glass into plastic trash bags! And also, it kind of makes me feel good that I survived a wound that even a legendary warrior failed to survive. Thanks doctors!

Growing Up

These are stories about moments in my life as I grew up.

  1. The knock at the door
  2. Hole in my Heel


No HTML Tags are permitted.

David Lawson

Jun 24, 2009

Hi Shawn,

Like Hi Long below, I too came across your story by accident and have really only found stories around tendonitis or an animal that has had a ruptured achilles.

Like you and Hi Long, my achilles was severed. I had a plate travel straight and true through my heel. At first it was the strangest sensation, everything was numb. When I looked behind me a I a sizeable hole just above my heel. At this stage I had no blood. I knew that I had to get to hospital because, whilst I was still in no pain, I knew something was definitely amiss. As I started to hop to get a taxi to hospital all the blood finally began to flow through the hole. I guess I was lucky the cab driver took me with the blood I was spilling everywhere. At hospital I was rushed straight through to the docs.

I had my foot repaired and spent 8 weeks in plaster. Once the plaster was removed I was tentatively walking around and had inserts in my shoes. On an interstate business trip one week after my plaster came off I stood, incorrectly, on a step and I felt my newly repaired achilles snap again. I think my body had saved up all the pain from the first time and added it to the pain I felt standing on the stairs in a crowded train station. I began to cry, partly due to the excruciating pain, but moreso at the fact I was resigned to another operation, another stretch in plaster (7 months this time), followed the most incredible pyhsiotherapy - that hurt too.

That accident took me from Feb - December 2004 (with physio) and a while after to feel confident being mobile again. I play sports regularly now but still, sometimes, have an issue with confidence around my achilles. I wouldnt wish that injury upon anyone, but I will thank you for your email, having people able to relate to this type of injury helps.

Hi Long

Jun 12, 2008

I came across your site totally by accident. I had actually given up looking for "severed Achille's tendon" on the internet because all I could find was articles related to tendonitis. I was beginning to think I was the only person in the world with a severed Achille's. It happened to me in 2004, when a mirror fell on me and lodged in my shoe. the doctor tried to repair it, but I got a staph infection in the hospital, and they had to take out the damaged tissue. To this day I still have a leg brace and crutches. I'm just glad to know that there are other people out there that can relate to me. Thanks for your story.

julie parker

Oct 10, 2008

I too had a similar incident happen to me this year 2008, I had a bottle of salsa fall out of my fridge and as my back was turned I felt a bone chilling pain threw the back of my ankle, the jar had fallen out and the bottom of the jar broke out and split in two and severed my achilled tendon, it was awfull and very painfull I just had surgery about 2 weeks ago and am in recovery and have to go threw pyhsical theropy!!! I guess I will see how I manage from here on in!

Patricia Vito

Oct 5, 2006

That story brings back memories of when i was 8 yrs old. I also had my achilles tendon severed except it was from a pocket knife that a boy had thrown at me. So many people have experienced the same thing, more than what I thought. I admire those who have overcame something so tramatic because it's a hard opsticle that isn't to overcome.


Patricia Vito
Wall Worm plugins and scripts for 3ds Max