Well, I'm about a month into my first case of road rash that actually required medical attention. This occurred in a low speed crash - starting out from a dead stop, transitioning from a sidewalk to the street through a driveway curb cut, looking over my shoulder to check for traffic, and my front tire dropped off of an uneven place on the pavement, causing loss of control. I went down hard on to the concrete, landing on my left knee.
A spot just below the kneecap and about the size of a credit card got ALL of the skin abraded off, right down to the muscle. I untangled myself from the bike, got back up, checked everything out for damage or injury, and finding mainly the abraded knee, I got back on the bike and rode another 20 miles.
When I got back home, I got in the shower, cleaned the wound, picked and brushed the rest of the gravel and debris out of it, applied Neosporin and a large-size Band-Aid, and went about my business.
This was all on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, August 30.
On Tuesday, September 2 I left for a three-week business trip to New Jersey.
For the next three weeks, whenever wearing long pants, I kept a 4x4 gauze pad on it and kept it wrapped. In the evenings I let it air out and dry while wearing shorts. After the first few days I stopped the Neosporin and Hydrogen Peroxide. It looked to me like it was healing pretty good and had pretty well scabbed over. Last weekend I came home for a couple of days, before returning to the job site in New Jersey.
On Friday when I got home, my wife looked at it and noticed that it appeared to be swelled below the actual injury, and when you pushed on the swelled area it appeared to be full of some sort of fluid. We decided that I had better see a doctor (She decided. I went along with the decision because otherwise I would have had no peace the entire weekend.)
Our doctors' group runs an after-hours clinic on weekday nights from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. We went over there, and after about an hour wait got in to see the doctor on duty. She looked at it and kind of freaked out, and said she thought it might be infected, and have a big cyst forming, and that the infection could get into the joint or into the bone, progress to Osteomylitis or Gingivitis or Erectile Dysfunction and my leg could fall off and I could die and that I should go see my regular doctor on Monday and he would have me admitted to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics and surgery to drain it, etc.
I said that, no, I was going to be on a plane to Newark, NJ on Monday at 7:30 AM, and that if anything was to be done, she was going to have to do it now. Why not just take a scalpel and mike a tiny incision, and see what was in there. If it was puss from an infection, fine, we'd deal with it then. If it was just fluid from bruising, lets just drain it and be done with it.
The good doctor didn't like that, and said it was beyond the ability of the after-hours clinic. No guts, I guess. She did allow, perhaps, if I went to the hospital emergency room, maybe the doctor in the ER would be willing to try something.
So, after waisting and hour and a half at the after hours clinic, we drove over to the ER. I registered, and waited for the Triage Nurse to classify me.
Now, in this whole experience, things start to look up!
In my prior career I spent 37 years in the fire service, and retired as chief of the department. As it happened, I was wearing one of my old fire department tee-shirts.
The Triage Nurse called me in, and took my information, and gave a look at the knee. I explained my position about having to catch a plane on Monday AM, and was hoping that someone could just look at it, maybe drain the fluid, and possible prescribe some antibiotics or something. Then she asked if I was a firefighter. It turns out that her dad is fire chief in Hylton Head, and that one of her uncles is a captain in Cincinnati, so she was from a fire department family! So, at this point, the Fire Department Mafia kicks in! She says she can fast-track me through the ER, and the doctor on duty would check me out. I asked her how long she thought the wait would be, this beeing a Friday Night and all. She said I would be the next one called! Yes!
Sure enough, a few minutes later, they called me back and put me on a cot in one of their examining rooms. A nurse came in, gave me a Tetanus shot, and a doctor showed up and examined the area. He allowed that it just looked like a little fluid got trapped in there when it started to heal, and that he would drain it and see what the deal was. A quick shot of a local anesthetic, and a little incision with a scalpel, and he drained about maybe a half of a shot glass of a clear, bloody fluid. Slapped a band-aid on the incision, told me to try to keep it draining for the next couple of days, gave me a prescription for an antibiotic just in case, and cut me loose. I was in the ER for less than an hour!
Wow! All of this for a scraped knee, and a low-speed crash at that!
I guess I can't imagine what a high-speed crash will be like!
I really owe that Triage Nurse a debt of gratitude, though.
Does anybody make fire department cycling jerseys?