26 January 2021

Cold Splits

Last year I named a snowflake after the dry, sore skin on my thumb after freezing weather, gardening and hand sanitizer took a toll on my crocheting.

I've carried bag balm with me on my bicycle rides for 18 years now. It helps with saddle sores. I've learned via experience to always have a good supply on hand. I didn't have to go shopping to get some when I needed it for my hands, and I don't have to worry about shortages, at least for a while.

I used bag balm on my cold splits two or three times a day last year, and eventually, I was able to crochet again.

Back then, I just happened to come across a recipe for removing dead skin. The Sisters of the Snowflake and I had gotten into a discussion about how to best treat cold splits, and I asked if anyone had ever heard of success using vinegar and Listerine. A couple had heard of the mixture, but no one knew if it works. A couple of people worried it might sting quite a bit if wounds were open.

I'd pretty much healed by that time so didn't need to try the homemade remedy. The concoction was tucked neatly away in my memory banks, and the rest of 2020 unfolded.

Lizard has always had dry skin on his heels. Always. He used to run around barefoot in the desert as a child, and he never really outgrew that. After we married, he often wore, in good weather and in safe conditions, what he call Jerusalem cruisers on our mountain excursions. He would carry them along during our Ride the Rockies tours and wear them every evening. He's just not a shoes and socks type of guy!

Among the hideous symptoms of Parkinson's for some victims is dry skin. Lizard's dry skin was getting worse, but he wasn't able to vocalize what was happening prior to his back surgery last August. I'd been horrified just prior to and after his knee surgery in December of 2019 to find he had been unable to cut his toenails in quite some time. He had no idea how long his nails had become. He hadn't been able to sleep in years, so I had no idea either. Now he's more aware of his feet, but he isn't quite able to reach his toes yet and often still needs help putting on socks. So I've been taking care of his toenails for a little more than a year.

Now that he's becoming more aware of his feet (and everything around him), he's beginning to realize his heels had cracked and often bleed. I'd noticed in the hospital in August that one heel in particular was pretty bad, and so did his physical therapist. But we've been trying to work on everything else the physical therapist, speech therapist and occupational therapist recommended since we got home from acute rehab in September, and I'd kind of forgotten about Lizard's heels.

I aghast to see how quickly his feet had become even worse. Out came the bag balm, and I massaged his heels two and three times a day every single day. It took more than a month for the coarseness to show any improvement. Once the wounds healed, I began using a pumice stone on the roughest edges, fully expecting his Parkinson's alarmist sensitivity to make the task impossible. To my delight and surprise, the biggest complaint he gives is that my handling of his feet tickles. His ticklishness has gone up quite a few notches with the Parkinson's, too.

I actually had to look up the amounts of the Listerine and vinegar, and for that, I'm grateful because I learned so much more about the process. I learned the soaks need to be about 45 minutes; I'd thought five minutes would work. Lizard has a really tough time sitting still that long during his carbidopa levodopa downtimes (four times a day), so I have to schedule very precisely in order to get 45 minutes twice a day.

I also learned the combination takes care of any bacteria or fungus on the feet, and I learned some new (to me) techniques for dead skin removal. Sometimes wiping with a dry washcloth or even the balls of my hands is just as effective as a pumice stone.

I also learned about different kinds of moisturizing exfoliants and decided this case warranted checking out one or more. Ultimately, I selected one with 42% urea as well as salicylic and hyaluronic acid because it had many positive reviews and all the reviews said it smelled the least like the main ingredient. And no, I do not receive any commission for any of the products I ever talk about on my blog. I share information because I hope it will help others.

I never used anything that might sting or cause discomfort while Lizard still had open wounds. Only once so far during this entire process did he ever say his heel was a little tender, and that was while I was using the pumice stone. (I stopped immediately!)

I also santize the pumice stone after every single use.

It has taken more than six weeks so far of daily soaks and overnight exfoliant applications, but we are finally beginning to see progress. This was a pretty thick build-up, so it's going to take some time. But we're getting there, and Lizard's feet are not bleeding anymore.

Best part of this whole process has been the night we shed much more dead skin than the others, and the mess on the floor required more of a clean-up than we'd seen in a while. Lizard hugged me when I was finished and thanked me for taking care of him. He wasn't able to verbalize for so long last year, this was one of the most beautiful moments in the last two and a half years!

1 comment :

  1. When temperetures fall under zero degrees Celsius, I have cold splints. We call them "Chleck". All the best with yours and Lizard's feet.


Dusty words lying under carpets,
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