A referral to the wound nurse - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

April 20, 2020

A referral to the wound nurse

When I went in for suture removal two weeks ago, I was told to expect 6-8 weeks for recovery, and was given a procedure for treating the wound in the meantime: dress it twice daily by cleaning it with soap and water, coat it with vaseline, apply a nonstick pad, and rewrap it.  This is different than the first procedure I was given by the initial ER doctor: keep it open to the air, uncovered and dry.

It’s been two weeks since suture removal now and I still haven’t seen any great signs of healing so I went back to the ER today for a review.  It’s well I did.  The entire flap of torn skin has now died, and needs removal so that the healthy underlying tissue will be exposed and can heal.  Pretty amazing - the doctor just got out the scissors and scalpel and started cutting pieces of me away, but I didn’t feel a thing since it was all dead tissue.  

So now I have a 4x4 centimeter patch of exposed me adorning my calf, looking more or less like raw hamburger.  Bleeding slightly, as it should be.  No signs of infection, and she didn’t seem alarmed.  She did seem to question a bit why the flap was stitched back in the first place.  Three different doctors now, and it looks like three different opinions on the best response.  Interesting.

And, three different approaches to ongoing treatment.  This time I’m instructed to use the wet-to-dry method, a rather complicated technique of applying layers of saline-soaked gauze to the wound, topping that with a few more layers of dry gauze, and then rewrapping it.  And, she gave me a referral to see a ‘wound nurse’ down at the home health care center for ongoing follow-up while I heal.  After she left the room, the assisting nurse (a tattooed, shorn-headed man who coincidentally owns 19 dogs) confided that he expects the wound nurse won’t like this wet-to-dry hokum.  They hate that, he says without explaining why.

So, down the hill to the wound nurse, who is great.  I’ve forgotten her name already, but I’ll see her again in two days so I’ll pick it up then and maybe see if she’ll let me take her photo.  She checks me out, thinks I should heal well in about 2-3 weeks, and likes what she hears about me: I’m a non-smoker, I exercise regularly, and I’m not a vegetarian.  It takes a lot of protein to build up the missing body mass, so she prescribes a diet heavy in my guilty pleasures: sausage and egg breakfasts, an occasional hamburger, cheese, milk, peanut butter.  I like this nurse!

She warns me that unless I want to opt for a skin graft I should expect a scar; and I should also expect this spot to be susceptible to sunburn.  Other than that though, she thinks I’ll be fine.  And, sure enough, she nixes the wet-to-dry technique.  Instead, I’m given a different set of wraps, which will only be changed every day or two.

Still under wraps, but maybe in a few weeks we’ll give you a peek to satisfy your morbid curiosity.
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I’m not home again until after noon, and even though it’s a beautiful day out I don’t really feel motivated to hop on the bike.  It doesn’t seem like a bad time to throw my feet up on the coffee table and be a slug for awhile.  Since I’m playing hooky for the day, Rachael decides to go off on a brisk walk, and comes back 11 miles later with tales of a deer-sighting but happily still no dogs on Dog Creek Road.

Well-dressed, color-coordinated, pepper spray at hand, her play list ready to roll, Rachael makes a more ambitious use of the day than I will.
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Danger! Entering the war zone. No man’s land?
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Looking ahead

So, a no news day bike-wise.  Might as well use the space for an update on our plans.  We’ve now scrapped three tours this year already: first we gave up on the Texas Hill Country, then the Utah to New Mexico ride, and now British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.  That leaves a lot of calendar to backfill with stays in places we can get to by car, will hopefully feel fairly safe and healthy, and will permit us to get out and ride our bikes a bit.  

Our month in John Day was the first component of this 2020 redesign, but being the advance-planners that we are we’ve blocked out a few more months into the future now:

  • Come May we’ll drive up to Pullman in southeast Washington for another month-long AirBnB stay.  We’ve been talking for a long time about making space in our lives to visit the Palouse, so we’re really looking forward to it.  In its own way we expect this to be as rewarding as our stay here in John Day has been.  And, since Pullman is quite a bit larger and a college town (it’s the home of Washington State University) we’re hopeful that we might get better WiFi and som more interesting variety in our diet.
  • In June we’ll be back in Portland, staying up on the 23rd floor of that condo we just left last month.  This is a place we’ve had booked for over half a year.  It was the spot we planned to return to after our Utah-to-New Mexico ride.
  • We’ll spend July in Bellingham, at another AirBnB we just recently booked to replace our time in Canada.  This promises to be a fine stay also, especially at this time of year.  A moderate marine climate, lots of good roads to explore.
  • At the start of August we’re back in Portland again, which takes us up to the date of our planned three month ride from Copenhagen to Rome.  We still have our flight booked, but don’t really hold out much hope for it.  It seems much more likely that we’ll be spending the autumn close to home also, but for now we’ll just wait, watch, and make the best of the situation.
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Jen GrumbyYour plans sound great! Can't wait to see what you see and read about the next set of adventures.

Glad you were referred to wound care for your leg and hope that it is healed enough to manage on your own by the time you leave for Pullman.

Enjoy the extra protein and we'll be sending healing energy, which should also help!
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3 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltReminds me of a song back in my college days...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0kiqmpA0ew

Go for it! :-)
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltYuk! I don’t know if I’ve ever heard this, but the sentiment’s right.
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3 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThanks for the healing energy! I’ll mention it to the wet nurse tomorrow and ask if she can see the difference.
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3 months ago
Suzanne GibsonThose sounds like good plans. I look forward to your pictures from the Palouse - said to be a photographer's paradise. Sorry that you won't in all probability be doing the Copenhagen-Rome tour. I'm sure we would have been able to meet up somewhere along the route. :(
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3 months ago