• Cindy

Why The Achilles Tendon Is My Favorite Tendon

The bulk of this post was written by my friend and long time cast community contributor JayCaster. He translated this story from an autobiography by a German talk show hostess named Arabella Kirschbauer. The gorgeous woman tore her Achilles tendon in the 1990's.

Newspaper clipping highlighting Arabella 's full leg cast

Here is the excerpt:

"The only thing I let touch my skin is water and – in the most extreme of emergencies – a doctor. Basically, I'm the absolute opposite of a hypochondriac, a real “medical monster”. In Munich in particular, the “Gods in white” had some pretty bad experiences with me. Before I enter a practice, I read the first symptoms in the medical dictionary, known in the trade as the “Pschyrembel”. The 69 marks and 80 pfennigs I paid was worth it to get my hands on this reference book, because there are hundreds of diagnoses for hundreds of symptoms.

Unfortunately, one time things didn't go to plan. I met a few friends in a sports hall in Munich to play badminton. Because we didn’t finish the recording of the show on time, I was late and didn’t have a chance to warm up. I jumped around the court with full commitment until I noticed something was wrong with my leg. It felt like it was getting longer and longer. I heard a "plop" and then fell over.

Everyone immediately rushed up to me and asked what was wrong. I looked at my foot and it felt like it wasn’t connected to my leg. Tears rolled down my face and I didn't have the strength to get up. The others helped me to my feet, I hobbled under the shower and told myself: "It’s just a sprained ankle, no need for a doctor!" To recover from the ordeal, we all met up afterwards at the bar for a fruit juice.

Arabella sunning herself. Impressive body! In 1995, she was on the cover of German Playboy magazine

Shortly before midnight, I hobbled to my car, buckled up, and was about to drive off. But the clutch pedal didn't respond because I couldn't push it down with my injured foot. I tried over and over again, without success. I got out in a rage, took a taxi and hoped things would be better tomorrow. That night, I read the Pschyrembel and was sure that my foot was sprained. Another symptom: my ankle became really swollen.

I hobbled through the show for three days and was looking forward to the weekend as I was expecting a visit from my friend Hans. He saw my leg and immediately said: "You have to go to the doctor. You don't mess around with things like that and you’re far too sloppy with your health anyway!" I countered with the Pschyrembel, saying you don't have to go to the doctor with a sprain. Hans was certain that my aversion to doctors was inherited, which was true. My grandma and mother only went to see a doctor when it looked like your leg was about to fall off.

Hans was right. So I gave in to his nagging and drove with him to the hospital in Schwabing that night. The attending doctor looked at me skeptically and all I said was: "I just need some ointment for the sprain." The doctor frowned and went to his doctor's consultation room and came back ten minutes later: "Ms. Kiesbauer, you have ruptured your Achilles tendon. The tendon is completely detached and at an advanced stage. You’ll stay here overnight, I will make the necessary arrangements and will operate on you tomorrow at eight in the morning!" I was speechless. I looked at Hans and didn't believe what the person in front of me was saying. The doctor continued: "You will stay in hospital for four weeks, then will be put in a cast and in two months you can work again if everything goes smoothly." I replied almost automatically: "Is this a joke?" Slightly annoyed, the doctor explained to me that he doesn’t joke in health matters, and certainly not in such a case. I whispered in my friend's ear: "He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I'll go to another doctor!" Hans remained silent and I signed the doctor’s form that I was leaving the hospital at my own risk. Reluctantly he let me go and we went straight to the next restaurant, because I was hungry from all the stress at the hospital.

Out of love for Hans, who was on his way back to Vienna, I visited two other health specialists at the beginning of the next week, after all I was still certain that my foot was sprained. However, they told me the same thing as the first doctor and were ready to operate straight away. I didn't trust them either and therefore drove to the office. The editors also put their hands on their heads, after all, they didn't want a limping moderator. Behind my back, they contacted one of the most famous sports doctors in Germany, whom I already knew well as his wife is a fashion designer and his daughter was on my talk show as a model.

A taxi was called and in no time I was sitting in the practice of the celebrity doctor Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt. I patiently sat in the waiting room and hoped to see a real celebrity such as Boris Becker or Mehmet Scholl. A nurse called me up and took me to the doctor's room. The doctor looked briefly at my left foot and said the following: "Pull yourself together! If you want to be a cripple all your life, then leave my practice immediately! If not, I will refer you to a clinic right away, because you have to be operated on. There is no way around it." Apparently he had learned about my various consultations from my office and was making his point in no uncertain terms.

In order not end up looking so stupid, I tried to talk myself out of the horror of getting a cast. When I was seven years old, I ran onto the street without looking and was hit by a car. I was thrown over the hood and had my right arm in a cast. Things got much worse three years later. I always liked to fight with the boys at school. There was always jostling everyone because they wanted kisses from the girls. Once, they got me as well…I fought hard, fell stupidly and broke both my arms. From my shoulders to fingers on both arms, all in plaster. For two months. I couldn't eat on my own, I couldn't dress myself and on top of that my grandma had to wipe my bottom.

Arabella with cast and crutches

While I was describing my suffering, the doctor was already on the phone with a doctor from the clinic in Bogenhausen. Shortly afterwards, I was lying in a bed with three nurses around me preparing me for the operation. In the middle of all this I called the most important people in my life: my grandmother, my mother, my manager and my editor-in-chief. My grandma said what will be, will be! She wasn't easily shocked, she had been through a lot in her life after all. She informed my friend Hans, who apparently was happy about me finally seeing sense and immediately sent a bouquet of white lilies. My mother started crying immediately. She was more anxious than I was, so I had to keep calming her down during our phone call. My editor-in-chief was not at all happy. He immediately wondered what he could broadcast instead of new “Arabella” shows in the next two months. His magic words: "repeats" and "rescheduling" – probably the most important thing if a moderator is out of action. For the first time, I was afraid of the viewing figures as my show was still a newcomer among the talk shows. When a newcomer suddenly disappears from the scene, all the others suddenly appear better. Against all our fears, the repeats had good figures and when I left the clinic after a week with my leg in a cast from my toes to my thigh, I was happy to take interviews. The show went well, so what was the worst that could happen?

My mother looked after me at her house in Schliersee and the press were very kind: "The most beautiful casted leg in German TV", they said. After three weeks, I was put in a walking cast and was finally able to stand in front of the camera again. However, what should have been good news made the stress worse than ever. For one, the production workload increased … after all, we had to make up for what was lost in the past four weeks. On the other hand, getting around on crutches was pretty exhausting. I got a car with automatic transmission from ProSieben, so I was mobile, independent and was looked after by a physiotherapist for six weeks. I had to learn to walk again properly. I was also annoyed with myself. I had to pay dearly for my inattentiveness and my distrust of doctors, my left leg never became as muscular and strong as before the operation. And I can no longer wear high heels. By shortening the Achilles tendon you walk like a clumsy bird. We had one month (mid-November to mid-December 1994) of “Arabella” shows with me in plaster. Afterwards you are always smarter with the benefit of hindsight, of course.

Excerpt from the autobiography "Nobody is Perfect" by talk show host Arabella Kiesbauer

Lübbe publishing house, 2001, 157 pages, ISBN 3-404-14246-2


Achilles injuries are fairly common however they normally are suffered by athletes. Here are a few of my favorite Achilles tendon injury victims

Karen Smyers - Triathlete.

Karen in the 1990's with her full leg cast. She tore her Achilles while running

Current day version of Karen. She is a successful author and public speaker

Breana Stewart - Basketball Player WNBA

Breeana being helped from the court in 2019 after tearing her Achilles

Breanna after surgery in her walking boot. Breanna may be the only WNBA player who is not a lesbian

Misty May Treanor - Beach Volleyball

In 2008, Misty ruptured her Achilles while practicing for an episode of 'Dancing With The Stars'

Current day Misty recently retired from the sport

Tiffany Van Dyke - Fitness Guru and Author

Tiffany in 2016 writhing in pain on her den floor after rupturing her Achilles and tearing a calf muscle during at home workout

Tiffany back on the work out circuit

For those of you who have a bit of a sadistic streak as I do, here is the video of Tiffany snapping her Achilles.

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