Saving Your Hide

Saving Your Hide

1. A Sad Story about a Sore Rump

The sailboat skimmed along at great speed, parting the waves and joyfully jumping through troughs and crests. Invigorated by the air and the wind, Patrick, the skipper, sailed on in total abandon, enjoying the excitement of the moment as the boat sped on. What an extraordinary sensation of freedom! Patrick had been waiting for a long time for this outing and the reality was well beyond his greatest expectations. It was an excellent start to his vacation.

The sport filled afternoon was exhilarating, but Patrick had an appointment with a friend in Saint-Sauveur later in the day. The time moved on, but Patrick decided to prolong the pleasure, even though the sun was dipping towards the horizon. He finally surrendered to reality, but still had to bring the boat back to shore, transfer (Movement of the body from one surface to another, for example from the bed to a wheelchair. ) to the wheelchair, dress, and prepare for the evening… when you have a spinal cord injury (Refers to damage to the spinal medulla. ), ordinary activities take more time. It was already six o’clock! Patrick had to hurry, take a quick shower, pull on his pants and jump in the car. He spent a wonderful evening, reminiscing about the memories and events that had taken two old friends on different paths in life. After returning to the inn, Patrick was still quite thrilled.

However, his joy quickly faded and worry set in as he attended to his personal hygiene: two “fresh” wounds were visible on his buttocks. He quickly reviewed his dream day: boating on the water, wet skin, his rear end on a hard bench all afternoon, the quick shower (barely taking the time to towel dry!), the evening spent immobile in the wheelchair (over-absorbed in the joys of the moment, of course he forgot to transfer (Movement of the body from one surface to another, for example from the bed to a wheelchair. ) his weight!), the humidity in the air... All the ingredients needed for the skin of his buttocks to give way to the sustained aggression of pressure, friction, and humidity. The only elements lacking were sunburn and sea salt!

Although usually very disciplined, Patrick remembers the event: “It was not a pretty sight. It was the first day of my vacation and I totally forgot to pay attention to my skin. Complete recklessness! Unfortunately, my skin does not do well on vacation. I have lost all sensitivity and motor skills in my lower limbs. The depleted muscular mass and the immobility in a wheelchair create pressure on the skin of the buttocks.

And remember, I don’t feel anything. In persons whose sensitivity is intact, the sensory nerves (Whitish cord, generally cylindrical in shape, which connects a nervous centre (medulla, brain) to an organ or to an organic structure. Motor nerves control musical activity; sensory nerves transmit stimuli to a nervous centre related to general sensation. ) trigger the alarm whenever the pressure becomes too excessive. Nobody can remain immobile for a long time without feeling the need to get up and move around. Movement is essential in order to maintain good blood flow in the areas of the skin that bear the weight of the body.

I am a tetraplegic; since my spinal cord injury (Refers to damage to the spinal medulla. ), the alarm signals no longer reach the brain. Other people feel the pain, but I feel nothing. My skin is very fragile, because I have lost so much muscle mass in the buttocks area. If I don’t pay attention to the daily exercises of shifting my weight, the risk of wound becomes critical.

This is the conundrum. Vacation often means a break with daily routine. You need to be doubly vigilant, while the whole idea of a vacation usually implies being thoughtless and carefree. 

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