Fellow Canoe/Kayak enthusiasts,
I wanted to share a recent episode I had over New Year that, after reading this post, I hope you never have to experience. I don’t want to alarm you, but felt if you could learn from my experience then we can enjoy the waters all the more.
On Tuesday 29th December 2015 I went paddling on the Thames river with a fellow MCC member. Little did I know that three days later (on NY day) I would be on the operating table under general anaesthetic in Stoke Mandeville hospital.
What happened, you ask? I managed to pick up cellulitis (infection of the soft tissue) in my right index finger. The infection became so severe that it tracked up my right arm, to my elbow and right up to the back of my shoulder blade. My index finger swelled to twice its size and was (it felt) ready to burst! I needed intravenous antibiotics followed by an incision in the finger to drain the infection. I am unable to drive, have been booked off sick for two weeks, and will not return to normal use of the finger for four!
As I said, I don’t want to alarm you but if you can learn from my experience then we can all enjoy the waters safely. I am generally fit and well – so this can happen to anyone.
The infection managed to enter and spread through my body from just a small pinprick on the tip of my finger. I always treat scrapes and wounds with care and generally have no affliction from minor wounds. My GP warned me that one can lose a digit or even a hand, foot, leg or arm if not treated correctly. My advice would be to always your wash hands and treat any symptoms ASAP. The NHS website states,
Rowers and canoeists should cover all cuts and abrasions; avoid splashing themselves, or swallowing potentially contaminated water; wash their hands carefully and if possible shower afterwards; and wash all equipment and clothing regularly. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms after contact with fresh water should see their doctor immediately.
Don’t be like me and wait 24 hours to see if swelling the goes down. Protect yourselves and if you do get a scrape, make sure you clean it and be vigilant to any infection. Treat ASAP if you feel feverish or significantly ill after the incident.
Hope this helps my fellow canoe enthusiasts!