Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Klutz's Head Wound, or Frozen Peas, I Love You!!!

I have a new found love of peas.

Remember those old movies and TV shows where a child is injured, so the child's mother brings out a giant steak for him (it's always a boy) to place over the wounded area so that he doesn't have a bump the size of a pregnant woman's belly on his head?

While I wouldn't recommend a steak, doing that same thing with a bag of frozen peas is a great idea.  A really great idea.

A few nights ago, I made a rather poor judgement call.  

I was feeling lazy, so I decided to take both dogs out at the same time.  This wouldn't have been a problem, except that I elected to take them up the treacherous trail that leads to the fenced in area of the back yard.

Again, this wouldn't have been a problem, but after the last freeze that covered everything with ice, I didn't reapply sand to the trail.  Then, a few inches of snow covered the yard, so the ice was covered.

Naturally, I forgot about it.  Well, not entirely... I knew it was still slick, but I also knew where to step in order to avoid the worst of the ice.

Funny how knowledge and reality are sometimes totally different, right?

As luck would have it, while the dogs and I were walking back down the trail, someone walked by our house.  This caused the small dog to begin barking, which caused the large dog to become interested.  He moved to get a better look, brushing past me on the trail.  My foot came down - in the wrong spot - and I slid.

Over four feet.

Down the treacherous trail.

Thankfully, I finally landed on my butt.  This would have been the end of the story, but my butt then slid down one extra step to the bottom, throwing my head forward...  into a rock within the retaining wall.


Aside from a sharp pain from, you know, thwacking my temple into a wall, I was ok: no dizziness, no confusion (aside from the basic, "How'd that happen?"), nothing.  So I got back up (still holding both leashes, I might add.  Go, me!") and walked to the house.

As I walked back, I felt water on my face, above my left eye.

"Dang!" I thought. "The stress raised my body temperature so much that 
the snow that fell on my head is melting!"

As I leaned forward to open the door, red drops fell onto my glove.

Oops.  Not melted snow, then...

As soon as I got inside, I went into the bathroom and examined my head.  Yeah... either I hit myself on that rock way too hard, or I was growing horns that were poking through the skin causing me to bleed out.  I figured it was probably the former.

Cleaned head gouge just above the temple.
Although... it's in the correct spot for horn growth, I think.

Not wanting to panic anyone, I decided to be as quiet about this as possible.  I found a baby washcloth - super soft - and I was good to go.  Unfortunately, I wasn't as quiet as I meant to be.  It turns out that blood is a little harder to wipe off of your face than I thought, which caused me to really notice the extent of the damage, so I said things like,

"Nifty.  I did a good job with this."


"Wow.  I look pretty good in red eye shadow."

Being a little louder than I thought I was, my words kind of attracted attention.  From the next room, my husband asked if everything was ok, which I naturally replied with a "yes" to, and then my daughter came in and looked at me.

"Mommy has a big boo-boo!!!"

Ugh.  That brought him into the bathroom pretty quickly. He wasn't as fascinated as I was, either.  Indeed, the blood drained from his face, and I began to wonder if he was going to hyperventilate.

The good news?  

When I asked him for a bag of frozen peas, he brought it to me in 2 seconds flat.  I wrapped it in an old flannel baby bib - because it's oh-so-soft - and rested it on top of the wound.

Why peas?

Well, you want something that will conform to the shape of your head in order to increase comfort.  Hence, the steak from 50s TV.  Ice cubes just won't do it - even the smaller ones will end up pressing into the wound and causing more pain, or not touch the area at all, doing very little to help.

Frozen peas - or corn -  work every time.  

They touch the area without adding undue pressure.  They're cheap, and you'll use them eventually, anyway, so it's a smart idea to always have one extra bag of peas in the freezer for situations like this.

It's also an environmentally friendly solution, since you're not using something that's been chemically formulated to stay cold or hot, and the waste involved is non-existent - not even any packaging waste, since it simply gets placed right back into the freezer in its original packaging.

The bag of frozen peas not only helps with the pain, it also helps reduce swelling.

Cold basically reduces your metabolic rate, which in turn reduces blood flow to the area.

Increased blood flow to a damaged area is what causes swelling, so using cold to slow that blood flow is important.  The faster you get that bag of frozen peas to to area, the better your chances of not swelling to the point that you look like you're growing an extra head.

Don't let this happen!  Seriously... sentient wounds are not cool,
regardless of what sci-fi TV may claim.

Once I finished clean-up, the flannel wrapped peas went onto my head and stayed there for around 20 minutes.  I then removed it to discover a small amount of blood still flowing.

I continued this process for a while, until I finally gave up and placed a band-aid on my head.  Naturally, the band-aid got changed a couple of times, as well, while my husband chewed his nails to nubs.

"Are you sure you don't need stitches?!"

I really didn't.  Head wounds always look worse than they really are.  Bleeding was minute, and not enough to cause problems... beyond my nervous husband's quickly roughened nails, that is.

At one point, I rubbed some arnica cream around the outside of the area, in order to help reduce inflammation.  I made sure not to touch the open wound at all, because arnica should only be used on unbroken skin. 

The next morning I removed the Candyland band-aid - yes, Candyland.  I have a four year old, remember? - from my head, and examined the wound.

Not bad... not bad, at all.

It had continued to bleed enough to fill the lower half of the band-aid while I slept, which is why it appears to have blood around the area, but there was absolutely no increase in swelling and only a slight hint of bruising.  Not bad!

Frozen Peas, I love you!!!

So, in re-cap:

  1. Clean the area.
  2. Hold frozen peas onto the area for a while.
  3. Remove, then apply arnica cream around the edges of any swelling, making sure to avoid open areas.
  4. Put those peas back onto your head again.
  5. Remove the peas from time to time, until at last covering your wound with a bandage.
  6. Sleep well, knowing that you'll have far less swelling and bruising than people who don't follow these instructions will have!

Put frozen peas on your shopping list.  You won't regret it!

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