Another day, another use for duct tape.
As we concluded our sand boarding session in South Africa, we made one final run down the “Dragon Dune” lying flat on our stomach clinging to a plastic belly board. The guide instructed us that it was best to use bare feet to steer and slow down. So we proceeded to take off our shoes and socks in preparation for the ride down the 240 meter run.
The steep course combined with ideal sand conditions allowed us to pick up ample speed as we torpedoed down the hill. Our guide cautioned us about the bend in the course about two-thirds of the way down the hill. He instructed us to drag our right foot to help steer through the bend and then added that we had to dig both feet into the sand to slow ourselves down at least 10 meters before reaching the end of the course. If we didn’t stop, we’d have an unfortunate encounter with rocks.
Based upon our sand boarding experience in New Zealand, I knew exactly how to drag my feet and legs to control my speed. So, I laid down on my board and the guide gave me a little push to get started. The slope was steep and the curve was approaching so I almost immediately started to drag my feet to slow down. I made it easily through the bend and remembered the advice from our guide to apply breaks early. So, I started to dig by feet in even more. I did not feel my pace slowing, so I instinctively dug in even deeper and, of course, managed to stop with plenty of room to spare. Relieved that I had completed the run safely, I jumped up and celebrated!
Barefoot Was a Bad Idea
As I started to make the long, steep climb back up the hill, I felt a burning and stinging sensation on the top of my feet. I looked down to identify the source. Not only were my feet covered in sand, but the nail polish was missing from my big toes. That is when I also noticed the blood soaked sand on the top of my left foot and on a toe from my right foot. It appeared as though I may have applied my brakes a little too liberally and lost a few layers of skin in the process. Ouch!
I gingerly climbed my way to the top of the dune where our guide offered us another ride down The Dragon. Clearly, one would be enough for me. I showed him my battle scars … something that he said he had never seen before. He didn’t appear too concerned though. After all we did sign the standard indemnity form (found nearly everywhere in South Africa). I, on the other hand, was a bit more concerned. With the sand, it was difficult to see just how badly I was injured. Regardless, it was time to call it a day as the rain began to move in and started to drop at a faster pace.
Assessing the Damages
It was not until we reached town nearly a half hour later that I was able to fully assess the damages. I took a shower and the task of scrubbing the sand off my wounds was not fun, nor was the process that followed that included an additional cleaning and the application of cream and bandages. When all was said and done, I had incurred a pretty significant “sand burn” on the top of my left foot as well as on the second toe of my right foot. I also had picked up a couple of minor skin abrasions on two additional toes, one on each foot.
Unfortunately, due to the location, size and awkward angles of the wounded areas, we quickly found that our stash of bandages from a make-shift first aid kit were less than ideal for covering some of the wounds. The stores were all closed so it was time for a creative solution, one that no doubt involved duct tape!
Is duct tape sterile?
I am sure that your initial reaction is probably close to mine: no way! I thought, “If my flesh wounds hurt now, I can’t imagine how they will feel after peeling off the duct tape? And is duct tape sterile and sanitary anyway?”
Needless to say, after about a half hour of tender care, Kevin devised a first aid concoction out of duct tape to ensure my wounds were protected and sealed for the evening. It seems to have worked for the near term although only time will tell whether the combination of antiseptic, kleenex and duct tape will aid in the healing of an open flesh wound. I’m hopeful!