Pedal Bite, Rest and Recovery

It’s been a long road to recovery but I’m now back and better than ever! Today’s track session consisted of 6x 1200m intervals with an average time of 3:57 (3:55, 3:56, 3:57, 3:59, 3:58, 3:57)! There was a 400m / 3 minute rest between each interval. This is a solid workout for me.

Six weeks ago I tried mountain biking for the first time. What’s the worst that could happen? As my confidence grew on the beginner tracks so did my ego. Sure enough I was now on an intermediate track, hurtling down it with gusto! I approached a sharp right-handed turn with a steep descent. But just before the turn, my right pedal snagged a tree root, putting me off balance. You can guess what happened next!

Life was now played in slow motion. I recall bailing all but my left leg; the bike and all its pointy bits lands on my leg! Embarrassed and brought down to earth, I got back on my bike and gingerly rode the rest of the track.

Aided with the help of my friends I assessed the damage. My leg was covered in blood but had clotted. Unfortunately, the bike’s metal pedal made quite an “impression” on my lower leg! It made a large and deep gouge that would require stitches!

I’ve just received a “Pedal Bite”!

We rode back to the front office and my leg received Steri-Strips and a temporary dressing. We then head back and complete more trails. I even went for a run afterwards!

Late Saturday afternoon. I turn up to the A&E but its full of people. Lesson #1: pick a better time to be injured! The A&E was full of sick infants and people with sports and alcohol related “injuries”.

Shell shocked from the cacophony of whining children, I eventually see a doctor. He numbs the wound, vigorously scrubs it then sews fives stitches. Luckily the lacerations do not expose the dermis and are on an area that only has flesh and bone! I collect my medication (antibiotics and pain relief) and head home.

Sunday and Monday I’m bedridden. Was this my body’s immune system working overtime to mend the wound? Was I experiencing side effects from the antibiotics?

True to the doctor’s orders I skipped a week of running. And just as well. I’d been as sick as a dog with a slight fever and a nasty cough.

I head back to A&E for my fourth dressing change. The nurse took one look at the wound then ordered a swab test. The wound was warm, puffy and was still weeping. It’s infected, she said!

The swab results come back and it was indeed infected with a “heavy growth of Aeromonas species”, also known as flesh eating bacteria!

What’s more unsettling than the Google images of “Aeromonas leg infection” is the knowledge that the bacteria was resistant to the Penicillin-based antibiotics (Flucloxacillin) I had been on for the last two weeks! I’m immediately prescribed Co-Trimoxazole which is effective against the bacteria.

I make regular trips to the A&E to get my dressing changed and request a doctor to monitor the wound. My dressing has now been changed by three different nurses and they all apply completely different types of dressing! Lesson #2: there is no standard way to treat a lower leg wound!

One of the nurses also managed to unsettle me. He states it could take four months for the wound to heal. Four months! That’s because lower leg wounds take a long time to heal, and in some cases, don’t heal! Yikes!

I was three days into the Co-Trimoxazole and the wound already looked markedly better. It was no longer puffy or weeping and was mending well.

Four weeks after the “Pedal Bite” a doctor was concerned that the wound had become “lazy” and was taking too long to heal. He referred me to a plastic surgeon who later scrapped the newly formed skin off my wound to promote faster healing. It bled a bit and felt like a step backwards. Fortunately, the doctor was right. Lesson #3: removing the scab off a wound can help it heal faster!

It’s now six weeks since the ordeal. I no longer require dressings and my wound is a fraction of its original size. It is going to leave a large scar. What I thought was a minor injury turned out to be a major inconvenience. I’ve only regained my fitness in the last week. Two weeks ago I barely could do 3x 1200m intervals (with times of 3:59, 4:03, 4:10).

I suspect most of the damage was not from the “Pedal Bite” but from the nasty cough I caught from the two and a half hour wait at A&E. This cough lasted for about four weeks and from my own diagnosis of the symptoms I had, it could have been a mild form of hospital acquired pneumonia! However, the “Pedal Bite” could have ended up much, much worse. Thank goodness for modern medicine!

Onwards and upwards!