Arms, wrist, elbow, knee: Notes on my healing process

September 27, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 27, 2014

About six weeks ago, I fell off my bicycle. I visited some doctors and applied many bandages.

Marks from the fall linger on my arms; although they may continue fading, I expect that some of the blemishes will be permanent.

There are also two spots on my arms that haven’t quite healed. One is on my right wrist; I accidentally banged this against a chair and reopened it at the beginning of September. There’s currently a little scab there.

The other is near my right elbow. At the start of the week, this site broke out in blistering, as if the skin had brushed against poison ivy. I wasn’t sure why this happened, but I thought it might have something to do with my frequently resting on my right elbow.

I made a conscious effort to stop leaning on that arm while reading in bed. The blister collapsed, and it seems to be healing.

Then there’s my left knee, which hit the pavement harder than any other part of my body. In the weeks since the accident, it’s swollen up a few times, rather alarmingly. Doctors tell me that this is normal.

I seem to have minor ligament damage, which should heal in time. Although I’m using the knee normally, I’ve been doing a few exercises recommended by an orthopedist in order to keep the muscles in tune.

So the last real worry for me, injury-wise, remains the knee — not the interior but the exterior. The fall took off a fairly big patch of skin, and the healing process has taken quite a bit of time.

In early September, a doctor applied an adhesive 3M product called a Steri-Strip to an open area of my knee. She told me to trim the edges of the strip as they curled up from the skin and detached. I should clean the wound with soap and water, the physician said; the central part of the strip would fall off over time.

She gave me a few extra strips. Last week, I put a small second strip alongside one that had been on the knee for several days in order to help the skin close up.

I typically have covered the Steri-Strip with a Band-Aid every day, removing it in the morning before my shower and replacing it after my ablutions. Also, because the weather has tended to be warm, I’ve usually been wearing shorts. But that changed last week.

Not only did the weather cool very suddenly at the start of fall, I absent-mindedly put on a pair of jeans without placing a Band-Aid over the Steri-Strip. At the end of the day, when I removed my pants, I noticed that the jeans had rubbed off my strip segments. I gazed, for the first time since the accident, upon a thin, unbroken, purplish layer of new skin.

Good, I thought. The wound has healed! I stopped covering it.

Only it hasn’t been quite that simple. Yesterday, I noticed that the new skin had broken. I covered it with a Band-Aid before bed.

And today, after I showered, I decided to apply another Steri-Strip to the knee. Then I covered the strip with a new Band-Aid.

Yes, my knee has been making progress. Still, my body is continuing to work on repairing the damage from that very nasty scrape.

It’ll be OK in the end — not perfect, not like it was before, but OK. But the knee isn’t there yet, and it won’t be for a few more weeks.

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