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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Piet, but no Repeat

Continuation from Enter. Do not Enter.
After a swift yet blurry walk down the hill to the Clinic on-site, my bloody arm was carefully cleaned and wrapped by the Vet Tech on staff.  It was noted that the bite had torn through the epidermal fat layer and just grazed the muscle tissue.  OWW!  Of course, Murphy’s Law would apply next… The truck to town would not start.  It was over 45 minute drive to town to the doctor… walking was not an option.  The battery, the water pump, who knows what was broken…

My arm and knee continued to pulse.  Badly.  I sat in a state of bewilderment for what seemed like hours and what seemed like only fleeting moments.

Finally an hour later, the truck powered up the hill and we were off 15 miles to town (45 minutes!) to a doctor whose name we didn’t know how to spell, a number that we didn’t know, and an office location that was partially known.  After a brief moment of bad news that the doctor’s schedule was too full to see me, 15 minutes later he had me on the surgery table injecting local anesthesia, cleaning the wound (moving around so much flesh that I tried not to look due to nausea, but couldn’t resist!), and eventually suturing me together again.  I walked out stitched, bandaged, and calm.

The doctor was by far the kindest individual I have met in South Africa, oozing with sympathy, gentleness, and in general, excellent bedside manner.  He calmed me hundreds of times more than anyone, or I, could have done.  I walked out without repeated visions of being trapped in that cage, without feeling as if I was going to die, but instead knowing my arm wasn’t horrendous and that it would heal.  I would survive just fine.  

The next couple of days passed mostly uneventfully.  My arm continued to swell, my wrist doubling in size while redness and inflammation moved nearly up to my elbow.  My knee developed a multi-colored bruise reminiscent of layers of a rainbow.  The doctor explained to me that animal bites are rarely sutured, but my widely ripped flesh would have resulted in an enormous scar.  He sent me home with two 5-day antibiotic courses and a few instructions.  Unfortunately, by Day 4 our new C.A.R.E. veterinarian noted I had a nasty infection and needed to see the (human) doctor again.

Three weeks post-bite
On my return visit to him with a badly infected arm (which was partially expected), he gave me 3 options: a) amputate my arm, b) remove the sutures to reopen the wound, irrigate, and clean the tissue, or c) continue with 5 more days of 2 antibiotics.  Hmm… Which would you pick?

In due (10-day antibiotic) course, i.e., option c), I was finally infection-free and sutures removed.  The biggest concerns by this point were the wound pulling open after suture removal and the residual knotty tissue under the skin.  Now I can happily report that the wound stayed snuggly together and the knotty fibroplasia is slowly fragmenting.

Perhaps what helped me the most mentally and physically in those days that followed, beyond rest and 2 antibiotics, was that I was in the process of reading The Hunger Games 3-book series.  I was wholly immersed in each of those books, supposing that I had been reaped a tribute and this was part of the obstacles.  If Katniss and Peeta could survive muttations and jabberjays, surely I could recover easily from a gashing baboon bite wound.  I am making jokes, but my conscious was seriously calmed reading of much more severe forms of attack.  If only a silver parachute with miracle healing cream would have appeared!  It seems like instead I’ll have one helluva story to accompany a new scar.  Good thing I think scars are sexy!

Piet's NEW sign that stands lone to the other (enter-able) UCT cages

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