In my race this past weekend, I managed to cut my knee with a better than average gash. On one of the last long wet grass-soup descents, my front wheel got hooked in a mud rut and I went down hitting my knee. I didn’t think much of it at the time. About a mile or so down the road I noticed that my leg was bleeding. After I finished the race, I hosed off my knee along with my bike only to discover that I had a pretty decent flesh wound. It looked deep. Really deep. I got some help cleaning it out and then hung around for the awards and stuff.
On the way home, I stopped at the emergency room at the hospital in Morrisville. After waiting around for so long that the DMV looks like a fast food service, I eventually got taken back to a room. After even more waiting, a real, live doctor came in to look at the thing. He agreed that I’d need some stitches. No shock there. I’ve had numerous cuts that I probably should have had stitched in and this was way worse than those were.
Now, up to this point the knee really hadn’t hurt at all. One of the first things the doctor did was to come at me with a needle full of novocaine. I get not just one or two pokes with the needle, but at least six. At least. I can suffer pretty well on the race course, but I’m borderline phobic about needles. I don’t know why. Surprisingly, I didn’t pass out, but I did need my leg held down. Once everything around the cut had numbed up for a minute, he started in with a soapy sponge – scrub, scrub, scrub. This made me flinch just knowing that it should hurt, even though it could have been someone else’s knee for all I could feel.
Once he was done with the sponge it was time to turn the thing over and use the bristle side of the scrubber. Unbelievable! He goes to town with that brush scrubbing the cut like he’s trying to remove paint. This was starting to bother me purely for psychological reasons. Once the scrubbing was complete, he whipped out this big syringe-looking thing and starts irrigating the wound. By irrigating, I mean he filled the thing up with water and some kind of cleaner and flushed jets of water directly into the depths of the gash. This step got repeated over and over. Now my leg was both raw and soaking wet.
After assessing the now very clean wound, he retrieved some heavy dental floss to replace the lightweight thread he was originally planning on using. He tied more knots than you’d find at a Boy Scout convention before declaring the job done. Since the cut was so deep, he recommended I wear a knee immobilizer. Joy. I guess it was down pretty close to patella tendon, and it will pretty easily pull open again if I work the knee very much. The worst part? On his discharge notes, he wrote down “No mountain biking for 10 days.” Ugh. It doesn’t get much more specific than that. I guess I won’t be racing at Moody Park next weekend.
On a more serious note, everyone at the hospital was great to deal with. The place was unusually busy for a Sunday afternoon so there were some delays. Since I wasn’t in pain or in any kind of crisis, waiting wasn’t a big deal, merely a minor inconvenience. The doctor was excellent and is also a mountain biker, so we had a good discussion while he worked on removing all the grit from deep inside my leg. He even was patient with me when I acted like a big baby about the local anesthetic. A big thank you goes out to them for taking care of me.
In the end, a week or so off the bike probably won’t hurt me too much.