The Inland Paddler: Roads to Recovery

Waterproofing the Surf Injury

Waterproofing the Surf Injury

I’ll tell you what. No one likes to be on the Injured/Disabled List, but I’ll take a laceration, like the one my sup surfboard fin gave me almost three weeks ago, over a soft tissue injury any day. You get almost instant gratification of seeing your body heal, almost on a daily basis, or quick confirmation that it’s not, since you can see infection early and take appropriate action. There are distinct milestones to pass on the way to recovery, like getting stitches out, and it’s pretty easy to understand and accept that there is really an end in sight and you can see yourself progressing there.  With a soft tissue injury, you don’t get as many overt signs of improvement.  Things seem more tentative, you have to have more hope and faith.  At least that seems to me the way it’s been when ever I have had something like a torn ligament (MCL) or a torn intercostal muscle.

Maybe that’s why I am dealing with this fin cut just about better than any other injury I have ever had.  Or…maybe I am, as they say, just older and wiser.  Maybe all of the above. The fact that the pain has been minimal also is a factor, I am sure.

That said, I am ready to get back in the water. And the doc says I can, as long as I don’t put full standing force on the leg – the internal healing needs another week or so before it’s good for a paddle surf session or a sup workout. Can’t climb or mountain bike yet either.  But…she’s cleared me to paddle OC and prone, as long as the wound is waterproofed!

Whoo hoo!

Since Chattajack is mere days away, that’s good news!!

Sure, there are other ways to “train” but not for CJ. Oh, I suppose I could go do intervals on the elliptical.  The doctor said that would be something I could do.

Let me just say that again: intervals on the elliptical.

Okay. No.

Likewise the stationary bike, which makes a bit more sense.

But nothing helps assuage the mental demons that swirl aloft like Deatheaters from the Harry Potter books preceding Chattajack like time on the water.

And let’s face it, a very big chunk of Chattajack is mental.

So, telling me to go train inside, when I’ve been told it is also okay to get in my canoe, is not going to wash.


So, a PA friend of my suggested Tegaderm film – which is an ultra waterproof dressing that covers the wound and keeps the water out.  Then wrapping that with like a whole role of saran wrap and securing with gorilla tape.  I am not opposed to doing that.  But in this modern age we live in, certainly there is something reusable that will also do the trick, with perhaps a little less preparation.

The good folks at DryCase, a Wilmington, NC company that makes awesome dry bags and such,  has a medical unit called Dry Pro. They make covers for casts and other wounds that need to be kept dry.  It’s actually a pretty cool idea: it’s a latex “sock” that fits snug at the top, with a bulb pump attached which allows you to pump all the air out, creating a vaccum seal to keep water out. The bottom of the “sock” is extra thick and texturized to provide a non-skip grip.

Waterproofing the Surf Injury

I followed the sizing instructions and ordered the size that would fit over my beefy calf. The seal is perfectly created, but below my calf muscle, the sock is not fitted well, and there’s a lot of excess latex. I am not sure how that would do in the event of a huli, or even launching the canoe.

On the prone board, I think it would be great because all I would have to do to steer is drop the leg in the water and voila! Instand rudder system!

Waterproofing the Surf Injury


It absolutely would get in the way of footwork if I were to use it once my doc says I can bear full weight on the leg and resume sup paddling.

Make no mistake, it is a great product and a great idea – for casts, I think this would be amazing. But in my situation, I need a more custom fit.

Plan B

I lamented to my PA friend, who is also a paddler, that what I needed was something like a gasket from a dry suit that I could pump the air out of and seal.

Well, lo and behold, Dry Pro makes something sort of like that – a PICC line cover.

Waterproofing the Surf Injury

If you are not familiar with it, a PICC line is a catheter that is used for long term intravenous medications or nutrition.  Many folks have to live with those, so Dry Pro has a device that allows them to swim and do water activities without risk of the PICC line port getting wet and possibly infected.  The cover is open on both ends, so it it’s not like a sock. It fits snuggly and then the excess air can be pumped out to create that vacuum seal. The bulb pump, like on the cast cover, can then be removed so it’s out of the way.  I measured to make sure they had one that would go around my calf, and sure enough, they do. Hopefully, just the calf will be covered, (it can be trimmed if necessary, just like a dry suit gasket can!) there won’t be excess rubber on my foot, which does not need it, and I can paddle and not feel as encumbered by all the latex.

It arrives tomorrow. Stay tuned!!

If it doesn’t work, then we’ll be making a Target run for a case of Saran Wrap!!

I will still use the Tegaderm, and as noted in the Surfing Survival handbook,I will take some precautions after my workouts, just to be sure, water quality being what it is these days.  The docs who authored this extremely helpful book recommend this protocol after surfing with a wound, and my doc concurs.

Immediately after getting out of the water do the following;

  • Peel off the dressing.
  • Rinse wound with fresh water (I will have bottled spring water in the car for this)
  • Pat dry with a clean towel.
  • Apply a small layer of antibiotic ointment.
  • Re-dress the wound and cover with cohesive tape or compression bandage.


Re-entry back into the water will be easy, measured and you can bet I will be listening to my leg.  No full on interval sessions to start, but even just a casual, Level 1 or 2 paddle around the lake will do wonders for my state of mind, more so than any session on an elliptical or otherwise indoor training session ever would.

So, paddle on, y’all!


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