Lessons Learned from a Bicycle Accident
Last week i wiped out on my usual bicycle ride home from work. Nothing hospital-serious, but i did sustain three nasty abrasions on my arm and leg, red badges of negligence as i will explain.
During my recovery i learned several important lessons that i pass on here as advice in hopes that it may help you and my future self.
If you want to take tight turns on a bicycle, check that the tires have enough air, e.g. have pressures within the suggested ranges printed on the sidewalls. Through carelessness i let my front tire deflate so much that it collapsed on a tight turn, pulling the bike out from under me and throwing me to the ground. Additionally, if you want to corner at high speeds, you should look through the turn, brake before entering, lean the bike in a separate phase, and exit with speed and confidence.
If you have an abrasion, burn, or laceration, practice moist wound care to speed up healing, reduce pain, and reduce scarring compared to other wound care practices. More details from a hospital unit in Japan that practices the method.
Moist wound care can be cheap and natural, according to various traditional practices, case studies, and clinical trials i read about on the internet.
- To clean the wound, you can use clean water with a pinch of salt. Avoid strong antiseptics, such as iodine or hydrogen peroxide, because they are toxic to all cells, including the ones needed for healing.
- To help prevent infection and keep the wound moist, you can apply virgin coconut oil to the wound topically several times a day, or maybe some other traditional ointments, such as turmeric paste, aloe vera, or honey. I found many historical and anectdotal reports and a little clinical research suggesting that these ointments help. For the first 48 hours of treatment, i applied UMF 15+ manuka honey to my wound, but after near continuous intense burning and little sleep, i stopped. The pain disappeared immediately and never returned. A few days later and for the rest of my treatment i used coconut oil. In the future i will avoid strongly antibacterial honeys.
- To further keep the wound moist and protect it from dirt and scratches, you can use banana leaves or potato skins held fast to the wound with cloth bandages and secured by a clip. Be sure to sterilize the leaves or skins by boiling them for at least 20 minutes or steaming them in a pressure cooker for at least 15 minutes. You can also sterilize the cloth wrap by the same methods and then dry it out in the oven or sun; video instructions here. While you are hunting for banana leaves or potato skins, you can wrap the wound with plastic cling film, which is sterile and non-adherent. I would not use plastic wrap as a long-term solution, though, lest the plastic leech some toxic chemicals into the wound. I used banana leaves foraged from trees in my neighborhood and vouch for their merciful non-adherence. Here is some research on banana leaf dressing.
Take internal medicine while healing. Zinc (from food or supplements) for boosting the immune system, vitamin C (from food or supplements) to help your body make new skin, and anti-inflamatories, such as fresh turmeric and ginger infusion, in case your immune response gets out of hand.
Look out for signs of infection: extreme wound swelling, extreme pain, swollen lymph nodes, fever. The treatment above will help your immune system battle infection, but if it appears to be losing after the first few days of care, then you might need to enlist the help of strong antibiotics. In that case, seek trained medical assistance.