…Or maybe a lack thereof.
Last weekend, I went on a friend’s bachelor party canoe/camping trip. We left for Harper’s Ferry Saturday morning, got bused up the Shenandoah River, and dropped of 30 miles upstream from where they would pick us up the next day. The trip was going great. We were having a lot of fun navigating the class five rapids (ok, they were maybe class one), laughing at each other as we all got stuck on the rocks over and over again. And then disaster struck. Ok, not really disaster. My boat was stuck on some rocks, and I got out to dislodge it. I guess I got out of the boat too fast or wasn’t careful where I put my feet, but I lost my balance and fell on the rock and gashed my shin open. Bummer. My first thought was, “oh crap that looks pretty bad…(I look around)…oh crap, I’m in the middle of freaking nowhere. Ok…It’s not bleeding that bad, I should be able to make it somewhere to get help.” So I got the boat off the rocks, got back in the boat, and we paddled over to the rest of the group and explained what had happend. Thankfully, several people had brought first aid kits (first thing I’m going to buy on my next visit to REI!) and so I threw a pad on it, wrapped my leg in tape, and continued on down the river to find camp.
When we finally found a place to camp, I unwrapped the dressing to survey the damage. It looked pretty gruesome. I’ve never had stitches before, and everyone assured me that it wasn’t that bad and I might need stitches, or maybe just some butterfly (steri-strip) closures. So I cleaned it as best I could, wrapped it up again, and began worrying if I was going to be able to do Savageman in two weeks with this gash on my leg. I was pretty nervous about it.
We camped that night on the side of the river, woke up the next day and had breakfast and then set out to finish the last 16 miles of our trip. For those of you (like me) who don’t know, 30 miles is a long freaking way to canoe. We left camp around 9:30 and we arrived at the pull out around 3:30. We moved a lot faster than they day before and did a lot more paddling. The river didn’t seem to have as much current, and so we seemed to be doing more of the work. I guess I had expected the river to do most of the work.
I finally got home around 5:30 or so, unloaded my camping gear, and tried to sort through all my wet stuff. I told Kim that I thought I needed to go to urgent care, maybe for some stitches. I took a quick shower and put on some non-stinky clothes and we set off to urgent care. The nurses and doctor were all super nice, but all of them couldn’t understand why I had waited 24 hours to come in. Because they can’t do stitches more than 8 hours after the laceration, they had to try to close the wound with steri-strips. But first, the nurse had to clean all the dirt and rocks out with A LOT of betadine and a Q-TIP. Kim tells me that she thinks that hurt more than the stitches would have. I also got an X-Ray to make sure there were no rocks in the wound, a tetanus shot, and two different antibiotics since they weren’t sure what had gotten in there while I was in the river.
So the moral of the story is, when you’re on a bachelor party canoe/camping trip, and you gash your leg on a rock, call your wife and have her come pick you up to take you to get stitches.
Or don’t, cause either way, your training schedule will be messed up. I was supposed to run 12 miles with Kim on Monday (Labor Day and my Sister’s B-Day). That didn’t happen. I still didn’t feel like riding with the messed up leg on Tuesday, but it was raining cats and dogs, so I skipped Tuesday too. I should have been in the pool on Wednesday, but are they really going to want some dude with an open wound in the pool. Probably not and I was supposed to keep the steri-strips dry for a few days, so I didn’t swim either. Thursday it rained more cats and dogs. So finally on Friday, I got on my cycling trainer, and rode for an hour while watching a movie. It felt good. No pain. Didn’t notice the gash other than the annoyance of having gauze wrapped around my leg. It did bleed some, but not too bad. The big test came on Saturday. Kim and I woke up and went for an 8 mile run. The leg felt good. I ran pretty much the whole 8 miles with only a walk break every mile to drink some water. And it had bled some during the run, but overall, it was in good shape.
But I don’t know if it will be enough. I’m still hopeful that my body will kick it in to overdrive and build some new skin cells fast so that I don’t have such a big scab on Sunday. It’s going to be tricky deciding what do do with it for the race. Do I bandage it up? Do I leave it bare? I dunno. I think the wet suit will hold a band aid on while I’m in the water, but once I pull that off, will the band aid come off with the suit? Or will if fall off my leg as I’m (trying) to fly down the hills towards Western Port and “The Wall“? I dunno.
I guess we’ll find out in one week. That’s all I have left until the big race. The whole summer of training, all for one race. Terrified? Yes. Excited? Yes.
For those of you who like gory pictures, here are a few showing the healing progress over the week. If you don’t want to see these, please skip down to the end of this post…
The first picture is from Sunday, while at the urgent care. As many people have pointed out, yes, I have some wicked sunburn on my ankles. Yes, I put sunscreen on, just not on my ankles. If you are really worried about this, please see the end of this post…
Monday, starting to heal up.
One week later…
Still not pretty 🙁
The SavageMan Triathlon Festival takes place each year not only to challenge triathletes on one of the most difficult triathlon courses in the country, but also to raise awareness for Melanoma Cancer. The event raises money for the Joanna M Nicolay Melanoma Foundation. Please visit my fundraising page to learn more. If you can, please consider donating (especially if you’re worried about the sunburn on my ankle!) I would really appreciate your support!