Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Heal Thyself

Graeme Wood describes how not to treat a puncture wound while in India.

I kicked a spike of coral with my bare right foot, puncturing my instep and sending what looked (underwater) like a little puff of brown smoke streaming out of the wound. I swore, swam back to shore, and hopped around while searching for toilet paper to staunch the bleeding.......a week later I returned to mainland India, barely concerned that the little gash had not yet scabbed over and had already gone through two distinct shades of yellow.

......I discovered that I would have to cross the river by foot.......As I took my foot out of its hiking boot, it started to throb, and I worried that if it wasn't infected already, it would be soon, after I dunked it in the mud and effectively let millions of Indians poop on it.

It finally caught up to him at a monastery.

The gash, initially smaller than a dime, now larger than a quarter, had turned green; its expanding fringes looked gray and brown, headed toward black.

Time for some self-doctoring.

I started by irrigating it again with squirts of water, this time while using the forceps to lift the edges of the wound to free up dirt and dead skin that had penetrated surprisingly far into the wound. I drizzled peroxide into it.......I took the forceps, lifted up the skirt of skin around the wound, and cut it all away with a few short and painful strokes, taking care to slice a millimeter or so into the live, healthily vasculated flesh so that no dead skin would remain to trap filth.

It worked.

What's now on my foot is a dark scar with uneven borders.

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