So yesterday was another milestone day for me in my no-shoes-healthier-stronger-feet experiment.
I went jogging barefoot with the pit bull in the Mission/Excelsior neighborhoods of San Francisco. I had only walked before, and gingerly at that. I was ready for a little more pressure.
And I got my first piece of glass lodged in my foot.
I felt it for about 3-4 steps before it bothered me enough to stop. That was about 2-3 steps too many apparently! Usually, when I feel something in my foot, it hasn’t yet totally penetrated the skin. This happens pretty often. It kind of warps into the skin and I have to reach down and brush it off or rub my foot on my leg or top of the other foot.
When I realized this piece of glass (about a quarter of the size of my pinky finger nail) was stuck in the foot my heart dropped. I wiggled it out and a big bead of blood immediately formed where I pulled it out.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a bandaid, I was on a bridge where there was a LOT of broken glass pieces and small rocks, etc. And I had about 3 blocks left to walk home. From earlier experiences I had already learned that having an open “wound” on the bottom of the foot, as long as it wasn’t bleeding out, wasn’t a concern for infection. In previous weeks, the foot skin sometimes needed to break open and create a new bridge of skin across the opening to expand the available surface area. I found it was actually healthier to leave the bandaid off than to put a bandaid on for a few reasons. Sometimes the bandaid would trap dirt against the wound, and it would cause the skin around the wound to turn white and die.
But this one was bleeding and I didn’t know when it would stop. Something sharp had penetrated a few layers down, and it hurt to walk on it. I tried not to think about the small amount of blood I might be leaving with each step, and how “unhygenic” that would be.
A few steps into it, I got a small rock stuck in the same hole. It was very painful. I flicked it out. A few steps later, another small rock lodged in the same hole. Very painful, flicked it out. Stopped walking on the ball of the foot and walked on the outside edge of the foot for about 100 feet, to give the bottom of the foot a break. Once I reached the stoplight, I began walking on the whole foot again, and the pain was much reduced. It felt tender, but not sharp anymore. I looked at it after crossing the street and it was not bleeding at all. I walked the remaining 2 blocks home normally and went inside to the bathroom to clean the bottom of the foot.
I used a washcloth but no soap (avoiding anti-microbial soap and that was all that was at this house), to wash off the whole bottom of the foot. By that point, the hole had closed to a slit about as deep as it was wide. It had a little dirt on the inside so I rubbed the washcloth across it and it was a little cleaner. I considered peroxide or something harsh to totally clean it out, but decided it wasn’t needed. It wasn’t sensitive to the touch at all or red at all. It was just fine :-)
I remembered back to the time I snapped an ankle in the dark running back to my car after Coachella one year and got rocks lodged in my hand as the skin tore up during the fall onto asphalt. How I tried to clean out the wound in my hand and it started turning red and the red started creeping down my arm, indicating infection. How I went to the emergency room and I was told it would be a 5-7 hour wait, and how I decided I would take my chances and go home and sleep. And my body fought off the infection and won.
There was no apparent infection in this small wound, everything was fine. The wound had sealed up in less than 2 minutes. The human body really is amazing, and can handle much more than we think it can.
Guess my feet will need to toughen up a bit more before tackling glassy sidewalks. Perhaps some beach running would do the trick. Maybe I”ll work on that more first before going back to sidewalk jogging. But maybe not :-)