Fitness for wounded bodies

My sister wrote to me again yesterday – she is a nurse and like you is following Wai’s recovery closely.  She trained to be a nurse in a period before modern computer based diagnostics and many of their procedures were based on common sense coupled with sound medical knowledge learned in the lecture hall and on the floor.  This way of nursing was very tactile – using fingers to take the pulse and visually looking for signs of health and recovery, making beds with nursing corners and cleaning and reusing things like bedpans and towels. So this down to earth nursing knowledge is very useful to a little farmer working with a wounded pig in the corner of her barn.

And  as my sister explained it often these good nursing practices are common sense. We all have a good helping of this knowledge if we listen to our instincts.  This, coupled with listening to the more knowledgeable, allows us to trust our instincts.  But yesterday I was feeling quite at sea.

With this new stage of the pig ripping off his skin by scratching along the walls  revealing swathes of naked bubbling  flesh I am running way past my confidence level. The risk of infection is much higher now.  John’s words have made me afraid. They felt like a curse.  Yet Wai continues to heal very slowly  inside his wreck of a body.  

Yesterday my sister wrote something very interesting. Real healing comes from below – the blood. Blood moving through tissue is imperative to health. After all people who take a walk every day are generally healthier and fitter – stands to reason you should add walking when you are sick or injured to get that blood moving. Many burns victims are kept prone in their beds. Often slightly or wholly sedated. They lie there quite still while the nurses work diligently to keep them alive and sterile. Often they struggle with some pretty evil infections.  And this is exacerbated by their lack of movement. Some cannot move of course but she believed that getting them moving  as soon as possible (like they do with knee replacements) would actually help their recover. (I am paraphrasing of course).

Wai walks every day. Since he got here exercise went straight to the top of the list. My gut feeling right from the beginning was that he needed movement from his body to move his bowels, develop an appetite  and kick start his metabolism again. He had not moved in almost three weeks that I know of by the time he arrived. So we began to walk. First he needed encouragement with a broom but now he comes when I call him. (He thinks about it for a minute but he does come). And often leads me on his walks – usually over to see Poppy and Sheila. (They just stare at him – he really does not smell like a pig – he smells like a rank rubbish bin that needs emptying).  Gradually over the course of his short time here our evening walks have become further and longer and his health has become better. He talks as he moves about now, a very pig-like attribute. So she is right – exercise is helping enormously.

Of course a diet of raw vegetables and fruit is another important factor.  Diet is another huge component in recovery. Ignore a good diet at your peril really. Just imagine if all the burns units were supplied with tons of raw fruits and vegetables and some tread mills.

However as Alissa said yesterday he looks way worse but he sounds much better.

I have added an early morning brisk walk and yesterday and today was and is   cloudy, so we are able to go out in the day time too,   yesterday he increased the speed of the blood running through his body four times.

So, even more exercise is in his future. I am not set up to do many of the procedures a person with this pigs injuries would receive in my sisters burns unit, but we can walk. I have all the antiseptic cream, the bag balm and the veterycin, my home made saline wipes  and good nursing scissors.  And so we proceed. 

My sister said that burnt bodies take a long time to recover. So although there are daily physical changes (often for the worse) I should judge his recovery changes in weeks not days. This will literally take months. But his eyes are there. And he is lying out in the corner of his field at this very moment, under heavy storm clouds, covered in a sack.

The internet was down this morning so this page is up late.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi


The wild flower field. 

Love celi

48 Comments on “Fitness for wounded bodies

  1. Celi, he does seem so much better to me. And spirit is as important as anything, so visiting friends and having attention in addition to good diet and medical care is essential. He’s getting there. And I do see a hint of eyes!

  2. Wondering…if he’s wanting the dead skin off enough that he’s rubbing it off, would it be better for you to remove it more safely for him? Maybe soaking the skin with a wet towel under his jacket to soften it all up so it separates off without as much ripping off? Just a thought. You are doing a great job with him!

    • Yes i am removing it as soon as it is safe – good to remember that these are chunks of flesh some of them a good 1/4 inch thick – leaving holes in his body so i am careful not to do too much at one time and send the poor boy into shock. But, yes it is dead skin from very deep burns.. c

  3. So, I am reading this and thinking. My father is a veterinarian and the common sense and experience is defiantly a large part of medicine. Depending on your relationship with your vet, I would maybe suggest keeping careful notes of what you do (as if you need one more thing to do) and giving them to your vet when this is all over. The experience you provide might just help in treating future animals with sever skin issues.

  4. I know you are still worrying about Wai. But in today’s photos of him, he looks so much better than he did when he first arrived.

  5. Finally! Whenever I don’t see the kitchens garden in my email, I get antsy. Naturally, I think something bad has happened either to you or Wai or someone else on the farm. It never occurs to me the internet was down.
    I was thinking of contacting the burn unit at Loyola University here, but really wouldn’t know what to say. I’m glad your sister is in the front lines and has offered her experienced help.
    We all know it is the mind that controls everything. As bad as his body may look, it is Wai’s will to live that counts. If he was healthy but lost the will to live, there would be absolutely nothing you could do for him. This little guy has demonstrated he’s willin’ if you are!

  6. Well if he’s walking, eating and seems happier, then I think you are doing really well. You seem to me to have an abundance of common sense, so I think he’s in the best possible hands and so has the best chance to make a full recovery. 👍😀

  7. I am so impressed by the way this pig has responded to you, he really knows that you are helping him. Your sister’s advice has come at a good time. I was thinking of Wai the other day, in relation to burn victims (what a coincidence) and that I have heard of silver (yes, the metal) being used in fabric to help aid the skin healing. I’m not sure how accessible it is but I thought I’d mention it.
    The rains that passed through your area are expected this afternoon in Toronto, I sure hope they are not as bad as they were before they hit you, in Wisconsin, they have had enormous flooding near our friend’s summer home. The Toronto Islands are scheduled to be open at the end of this month, I sure hope this rain will not add to the unfortunate flooding the people on the islands have had to endure, businesses as well as residents.

  8. Also, so far as we know, animals don’t look into the future–and thus learn to dread. (I’m thinking of Wendall Berry’s poem “Wild Things”) This is a big plus for Wai. He knows he’s feeling a whole lot better–maybe not great–but a whole lot better.

  9. When skin starts healing it often feels itchy – think of people scratching a scab. If it were a person I’d suggest Eurax to reduce the itchiness but I don’t think they sell it by the gallon for Wai.

    • Yes, there you have it – everything I am treating him with has to be purchased in enormous quantities – this is not a little scab this is probably a third of his body in distress. Maybe a quarter now but a LOT.. c

      • SO glad to hear about your Sister’s invaluable experience and advise!: ) and, speaking of the old(intelligent/innate) ways of nursing – and now that he’s literally at the “Wanting to rip my skin off, I’m SO ITCHY!!” stage – I keep wondering how expensive it would be to be able to give him a saline “wallow” for soaking? Nothing else I can think of will literally “get under his (already-loosening damaged) skin” but, comparatively speaking, salt by the 50lb bag would be fairly reasonable compared to all the fancy, complicated ointments and unguents, yeah? And “colloidal silver” for healing and “colloidal oatmeal” for itch keep popping into my head as well… So, just how complicated is it to make something into a “colloidal” version…? These are very old treatments, so it can’t be that deep, dark and mysterious, can it? Just more ramblings, C. HUGS!

  10. Perhaps some people carry hope more than others. Sound like my husband was. Hope and sincere prayer works. I am going thru paypal and ran into techy issues. I suffer from an abundance of lack when it comes to computer
    tunnels in my brain. I will be sending donation. I use bag balm too sometimes for my feet.

    It occurred to me this is a book and this process is invaluable. Reminds me of a quote from my Faith’s Writings: “O my servants,my calamity is My providence. Outwardly it is fire and vengeance; inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten ye thereunto it”. Not sure that’s exact. I find this a favorite of mind and as i am aging insee the beauty of all the calamities in my life. Hugs. Esther

  11. I haven’t check in here in a while, and I think the improvement is startling! Wei looks so so so much better! It is amazing how much better he looks. He has areas of real pig skin and some hair. And eyes! And he’s so much trimmer! He doesn’t look like an armadillo anymore. His ears are perky. And yes! Exercise through increased blood flow pushes nutrients into every cells and carries away waste product so much faster – and it gets the whole lymph system moving, and that’s an infection fighter! So keep moving Wei! Good job Ms C!

  12. I think he looks better too and as cazinatutu said above, scabs feel itchy, which I think is an indication that the skin underneath is healing. You are doing a great job 🙂

    • If we are able to continue with the healing without getting infected we might make it but the flies are terrible at the moment – I hope his little fly coats come soon – that will help a lot

  13. Miss C., do not listen to John. You and I have worked with many animals, some healthier than others. You and I know what a dying animal looks like. A dying animal does not fight back against discomfort. A dying animal does not seek out experiences. A dying animal doesn’t have the energy to express a personality. And when you go back to the pictures from the day he came in you can see places where his skin was plates that have now healed and are turning black like hey ought to. It’s slow but he IS healing. Incidentally, his skin will probably all shed long before he is well-healed and will probably scab over again. It may be best to try to let those area dry out and form scabs to protect the healing tissue. You will be at this for some time. My burns took 2 months to heal up and I am not a pig, nor was I burned so badly.
    As long as he is cared for well, kept clean, kept moving, and monitored for infection, I fully believe Wai will live.

    I wonder if you ever said what happened to Tane, your little boar who was having trouble walking? I seem to recall he improved but we have been so focused on the new pig, I wonder about him. He honestly seemed in much worse shape than this pig does.

    • Tane is walking all over the place – he is very thin though after having such a winter but all and all he is so much better and not the least bit worried about the new pig through the fence.
      AND Wai ran away from me when I was tending his wounds today – a very good sign – i do agree.. c

  14. His expression is quite sweet and his whole demeanour is a lot less distressed for sure. His skin is healing, although those raw patches must be upsetting for you. Laura

  15. The greatest thing you have given this pig is saying Yes, when asked to help him. He now has the will to forge ahead and help himself, and the determination the pair of you show is more than enough, I’d say. He’s woken up to his surroundings again, you’re giving him TLC, tasty food, somewhere lovely to take his walks, and piggy ladies to go and sniff and converse with. In a well pig, that would be heaven, in a sick pig, that’s perfect getting-well conditions…

  16. I felt the scabs where shrinking til I saw that massive ulcer on his rump. *shudders*
    And the third picture of Wai made me cry…I just want to hug him. That picture could make him a poster pig for animal abuse… the look on his face says so much.
    I am so glad for an update.

  17. I think writing about this must be a kind of release for you. It’s a very stressful time. I’m glad that you have your sister to talk and listen to. But keep writing also. It does us good too.

    • Yes it is good to share these kinds of things for a number of reasons really and it IS stressful – sometimes i feel sick when cleaning the nastiness out of the wounds and redressing them. i know it has to be done but it is painful for him now. Though the pain is a good thing too – however! .. c

  18. Besides what you do locally for him, you have brought positive energy, prayers and a fan club from around the world to him. That in itself is meaningful for this dear pig’s recovery.

  19. I echo what everyone else has said. Looking back from here to day one, I see tons of improvement. Miles to go, sure, but he’s already come so very far. Burn unit work is not for the faint of heart – plenty of nurses cannot cut it there. I don’t discount how very tough taking care of our armadillo friend is on you. You’re doing well. You really are. So is he.

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    ah wise words from sister… if Wai survives it will be a credit to you and if it all collapses then you will have done your cannot do more than your best and this you are doing now.Bless you Miss C you are in my prayers xxx

  21. I’m no vet but Wai looks better. I’m studying Natural Medicine and believe in holistic care. You are not just providing medical care; you’re giving him security and a loving environment. All this, along with the medical care will help heal this pig.

  22. Lovely Wai! I think you we are all agreed he is so much better and that’s due to the care he’s receiving at your hand. Bravo!

  23. Can’t help but think that All of the lovely Wild Things he’s finding to eat while taking the air with you are healing him from the inside out and the very best kinds of self-medication. Hang in there, things are definitely looking better overall (from this distance; )

  24. Hello Cecilia,
    I found your blog today while reading through the comments in Lois Roelofs Write Along With Me. I’ve spent the better part of this rainy summer afternoon reading about your farm, your animals, Wai and, of course, YOU! I love your writing and your love of life. I’ve needed some inspiration these last few days and I think I’ve found it. I have been trying too hard to understand the big picture of my writing project. I need to look more closely at some simple words and how they can grow into one and then two and finally three good sentences!
    Greetings from New Hampshire…

    • How wonderful Nancy and thank you so much for your kind words. I do tend to focus down on the little stuff – after all – every one of our big projects are compiled of little ones. Have a lovely evening.. c

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