How to heal quickly as you get older
Image: Fingers after cleaning
Last month, I had the painful experience of sliding off my mountain bike and slicing my finger on the brake rotor as I fell. Gosh, it was painful and the bleeding was profuse. I was in the middle of nowhere at the time with the best part of two hours to get out and I had foolishly forgotten to bring even as much as a sticking plaster!
After a quick check that the tendons were working and a few quick words with my two companions I was back onto my bike and on our way. While it was very painful to operate my front brakes and the bleeding continued, smothering my hand and dripping onto the bike frame, it looked worse than it was. A little blood goes a long way and I played it up to my mates that I was dying from blood-loss. They did not seem to really care.
Once I got to the car I carefully changed clothing the covered my wounded hand with a clean sock (very handy things when you forget any first aid stuff) which allowed me to drive back to Wellington.
Once home I made a big, hot bath which I soaked in for about an hour with a cold beer to hydrate. I had a few other scrapes on the hips and elbow that needed attention as well. The bath included thoroughly cleaning the fingers with soap. Scrubbing one's soapy hair with the wounded fingers is a good wound-cleaning strategy. By the way, the most painful part of the cleaning process is the first moments of immersing in a hot bath.
The decision was made that the need for stitches was marginal so not to be bothered with.
Because one wound in particular was deep, it was essential that there was no re-opening of the wounds so that healing is clean and uninterrupted.
After thorough cleaning and drying out the wound was covered with a silver-lined, anti-bacterial band-aid from the supermarket. To ensure the sterility of the wounds I added a couple of drops of full-strength Lugols Iodine to the dressings while being careful to not have direct contact of the iodine with the raw tissue.
I also needed to get on with work and play and the right index finger is rather important for this. So, I cut a plastic pot to create two moulded finger-protectors which were then taped over the wound dressing. This allowed me to get straight back into activities such as typing (badly).
Image above: the wounds cleaned and dressed with a touch of iodine added and protective caps taped over the top for added protection.
Image above: Once a day, the dressings were removed and the skin cleaned with soap and water taking care not to open the wound.
Image above: the wounds after four days. There is no sign of infection and the deepest cut is filling with new tissue.
Image above: Six days after the injury. Healing is proceeding wonderfully!
Image above: Band aids, protective plastic caps, full-fingered gloves and more tape to splint the fingers
Image above: Back on my bike after just three days. However, just for easy riding around the Bays. No hard braking just yet!
Image above: Fingers ten days after the injury.
Image above: Fingers two weeks after the injury.
Nine days after the injury I contested the Wellington Mountain Biking Championships, then a 50 kilometre race one week later, the Karapoti a week later then the New Zealand Mountain Biking Championships last weekend all with no problems at all. While there still is some tenderness of the scar tissue and braking was never quite perfect, my recovery has been excellent to say the least.
Additional zinc, B vitamins, Vitamin C and calcium phosphate monobasic was taken, along with Serrapeptase to assist healing.
What I am most happy with is that I managed to avoid any downtime from training and competition, while minimising the risk of further damage to the injured fingers.
Image above: Negotiating the most fearsome drop within the Rock Garden of the Karapoti Classic race. Note the extra protective glove on the injured right hand. I managed to reduce my age group record by one minute.