I had arranged for one of the podiatry team - Victoria - to look at my toe and tell me why it wasn't healing up as it was supposed to. Where was I going wrong, with my daily ministrations at home?
She took off the latest dressing and assured me straight away that it wasn't infected. It was a healthy wound. That was very good news. But a proper scab had formed only in the front corners of the old nail bed. The rest was soft and pink and still weeping.
She asked me about the saline baths I ought to be giving the foot before each redressing. I told her that I had stuck to the printed notes: ten minutes every time. Every day for the last five weeks. Ah! That was the reason for the delayed healing - at this stage, the wound now needed to be kept as dry as possible, so that a protective scab - or better, the new protective hard skin - had a chance to develop, finally stopping the constant weeping.
So, the saline baths need not be daily any more. And in case they shouldn't be more than a quick dip, just enough to clean the foot. And when showering, I must devise a method of keeping the foot, or at least the toe, completely dry. I promised to comply at once.
So it was as simple as letting the wound dry out, not just for a few hours at a time, but all the time. This wasn't made clear in the printed notes I'd been given. I felt now that those notes ought to include a sentence like 'After the first few days, keep the nail bed as dry as possible - make the saline baths brief, just sufficient to clean the foot, and not in any way a prolonged soak.' Because of not doing that I was probably two or three weeks behind in the normal healing process.
Victoria didn't think that I would have compromised healing capabilities, simply because I was in my sixties. Gratifying.
Well, that was all two days ago. Any immediate effects? Yes indeed. The toe looks different. It is still weeping a clear fluid, but a kind of crust has formed over the former nail bed, and it's dark red, not pink. Surely a good sign of progress.
But - again contrary to the printed notes - I may not get full healing for a long time to come. Victoria explained that the timescales in the notes were average, and, regardless of their age, people varied very widely in the time it took to heal up. In my case, I should not be surprised if it took as much as twelve weeks. On that basis, it was still early days. Provided I kept the wound sterile and dry, and didn't stress it with unsuitable footwear or too much activity, I would eventually have a great outcome. But I had to give it time.
There you are. It looks as if I will be going down to the West Country in March with the toe still bandaged up! And there won't be any dipping my feet in the sea at Bude or Woolacombe, Exmouth or Sidmouth, sunny day or not. But a careful walk on Dartmoor or Exmoor may be all right. A short one, anyway.