Saturday, 10 February 2018

Frustratingly slow healing

Well, here I am, thirty-three days after my toe surgery, and the nail bed has still not healed up. I have daily given it the prescribed saline bath, and redressed it in these fancy dressings, which cost 20p each at Boots:

The dressing seals the wound in, and prevents infection. (I've taken on board that avoiding infection is vital)

But thirty-three days - over four weeks - without a definite sign that the wound is approaching the end of its healing period! Long enough, surely?

To help things along, I was asked to let the wound dry out a bit, with my foot up and the dressing off, to encourage the formation of a scab. I spent many an afternoon doing just that, in a recliner, next to a radiator, with a garden view to contemplate. Many an afternoon when I could have been doing something else (one reason for the lack of recent posts). But even if the wound did seem to dry up, as in this picture, taken only yesterday... would eventually start to weep a clear fluid at the edges. And once encased again in a fresh dressing, the red crust you can see in the picture would tend to soften up and dissolve into a kind of mush - as I would discover when it was time to take off the dressing next day, and give the wound another saline bath.

The dressing was clearly keeping the wound in a moist state. The printed NHS notes given to me didn't mention that.

This is what the notes said about what should happen:

For each person the time it takes for the wound to heal following the procedure is different. On average it takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal completely. To aid healing avoid tight socks, shoes and heavy bedclothes. Avoid sport and strenuous activity. The toe may appear slightly red and puffy for about 10 days. This is normal. The wound may weep slightly but will begin to dry out after 2-4 weeks and a scab will form. Do not remove the scab.

It's now past the four-week mark. Why is the wound still leaking fluid, and why is a hard scab not forming?

I have lately studied what Wikipedia (and other sources) have to say about wounds and their treatment. The current consensus is that the best way of ensuring really rapid healing of wounds is to keep them continually moist. But this must also mean that a hard scab cannot form. That's not what the printed notes tell me. Nevertheless, the existing daily routine appears to be the right one, and I just have to be patient.

It would be nice to make sure of all this. I am minded to make another appointment at the Haywards Heath Health Centre, with the lady who took the nail off, and ask her to check that all is well. Am I being too fussy? I just don't know. I am not used to getting wounded and watching flesh heal. 

One thing I read on the Internet was that in the case of older people - and I am sixty-six in July - healing can be slow. That may then be an important factor here - although I would have thought that a retired person on a nourishing, well-balanced diet - whose domestic situation is restful, warm, comfortable and unstressful - would enjoy the healing capabilities of someone rather younger.


  1. Despite all we do to maintain a healthy lifestyle, our bodies do take longer to recover as we grow older. However, since the healing is clearly going to take longer than the anticipated 6-8 weeks, you would be well advised to seek advice. That would be much better that staying home and worrying about it... and there just might be something they can do to speed your recovery.

    Angie x

  2. Just what I was thinking! Thanks for the nudge, Angie! But it will have to wait a few days...I think I've got a cold coming on.



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