Greetings from the jungle
It has been so good being back, I have now had 7 days of the best ground hog day in the world: eat, surf, eat, surf, eat, repeat! The waves have been consistently good, a couple of bigger days, but nothing massive and the crowd factor low and friendly. In essence I’ve been stoked!
Things have been quiet on the medical side of things. So quite in fact, I took matters into my own hands and decided to drum up some business for myself. To start things off, on my second day in Indo I pulled into a tiny barrel at low tide Uluwatu and was kindly given a tour of a very sharp bit of reef approximately the size of my back, give or take a few square inches. However with the miracle dressing that is hyperfix (a roll of sticky, breathable dressing that stays on for 6-12 sessions!) covering most of my back, these wounds weren’t really an issue. In fact the dressing I put on my arm stayed put during 7 days of surfing twice a day, and I removed it to find perfect new skin, no sea ulcers or infection in sight!
4 days into my G land stint I took off on a wave and didn’t make the section. As I got tumbled I felt a fin pushing against my bootie and when I came up I found my middle fin had been snapped off! I was pretty gutted since it was only my second wave of the session. However a guy from Bobby’s camp who I had never met before saw what happened and offered me his board as he was going in!?! So all was good and I surfed for another couple of hours with my ankle feeling a bit bruised but nothing too bad. When I got out and started walking my ankle started giving me a bit more jip, and it was only when I took off my bootie that a deep 4 cm gash just below my lat malleolous was revealed…shit!
So back to the infirmary with my newly appointed, not so beautiful (sorry mate) assistant, Gus. It was a interesting experience suturing myself, although I strained my back a bit with the yoga style pose it required! The next day it was quite swollen and I was a bit worried it might have been infected since despite giving it a good wash out, I had essentially soaked the wound in tropical seawater for 2 hours! I had a day out the water with my leg up, all the swelling went down and by the following day things were looking good. Since now I was sure it wasn’t infected I glued the wound to provide more strength and to seal it. However the glue becomes brittle and although I provided strength I didn’t think it was sealing it, so I used some ‘new skin’, a liquid that is painted on and is designed to seal small grazes. It is more flexible and when reapplied before each session it seals the wound well. I have to warn non medics reading this that this is not a recommended form of treatment since that is a very real risk of sealing an infection in the wound and meaning that you would have to make a further incision to drain it.
Apart from a few urchin and small reef rashes the only other interesting case was of an 8 year old girl who had come with her family to G Land (father was obviously a master of negotiations!). They came to see me because she had a nasty looking vesicular/bullous rash under her arm pit. After a bit of research and consultations with the locals, I think it was Paederus dermatitis or ‘tomcat’ to the locals. A contact dermatitis caused by a very toxic little bug. Apparently it secretes a toxin that is 10 times more potent then cobra venom (I have no idea how they came up with that fact or which cobra, but it sounds impressive so I thought I would uses it!). Apparently it responds well to mild-mod potent steroid cream. There is very little research available on it, but a study from Africa suggested that the lesions area often super infected with pseudomonas and that co-treatment with cipro can speed recovery. However I wasn’t keen to start the girl on cipro and if anything, the healing blisters had the golden crust of staph, which the girl had had several times before. Therefore I treated her with a hydrocortisone/ frusdic acid cream and the lesions quickly healed over the next few days.
Unfortunately Raymond hasn’t been at the camp this trip and without the fast talking barman with large stories, encouraging things, life in the camp has been mellow, although we have had a super cool crew here the whole time.
New swell hitting today so I will let you know of any more carnage.