Report from Richard Adcock - Unknown bug

Over the years I’ve done a range of events from Parkrun to Marathons, Ultra-marathons, Multi-day races at home and abroad and I’m never happier than wallowing about in mud and drinking from streams but what happened during our local XC race at West Park opened my eyes….

It was a muddy race which I love and during an overtake I slipped, took a tumble and caught some brambles - it was a non-event, tumble, up, continue, losing just a couple of seconds...

At the end of the race there was a bit of blood but it was just a superficial injury:

After the race it stung in the shower but nice and clean and nothing to worry about, or so I thought:

On Tuesday (2 days after the race) a bit of pus had started to form at the bottom of the wound:

By Wednesday this had grown a bit but due to its location the swelling caused me pain walking so I went to the minor injuries clinic in Otley hospital where they dressed it and sent me away with antibiotics and said come back on Friday.

During the next two days my leg hurt when I started to walk but once moving it was ok, the only concern I had during this time was that it had started to hurt in my groin, but when I went back to the clinic on Friday lunchtime to change my dressing I got rather a shock….

Something had been quite happily ignoring the antibiotics and munching away at my leg!

The reaction of the nurse was ‘eurggh…, you need to go to A&E NOW, expect to have intravenous antibiotics and expect to be admitted…do not stop on the way to get an overnight bag…I will draw round the area of swelling for them [A&E] to see how much it spreads in the time it takes to get there….'

I could only think ‘It’s only 15 mins there, how far can it spread in that time???’

When I arrived at Harrogate A&E they wasted no time in rushing me through and I had a succession of visits from nurses, registrars to the consultant, they took swabs, blood tests, X-rayed me to see if it had infected the bone, inserted a cannula and the consultant explained that if the intravenous antibiotics did not take effect overnight they would have to operate on me in morning to stop the spread of necrotic tissue and then I would need a skin graft!!

I've survived the Marathon des Sables and this was after the PECO XC race at West Park - you don’t think this can happen at a local race!

For me the most worrying part of this experience was although the injury was on my shin, my groin area was very painful due to an inflamed lymph gland fighting the infection and all I could think was I am going to lose my leg, but no-body would reassure me this wasn’t going to happen!

The cannula tissued (I think thats the term they used where it breaks the vein and feeds into the surrounding tissue) which hurts like hell, so they stuck another one in, and after an interrupted nights sleep the registrars and consultant came round and confirmed good news, it had started to respond to the antibiotics - it was a great relief to hear that :)

Now it was a question of continuing the antibiotics and monitoring it until they felt it healed enough to let me leave.

The next 4 days consisted of being jabbed, having my blood pressure and heart rate taken (usually 2 minutes after I had managed to fall asleep!), eating or just lying in bed - it was mind numbingly boring.

The cannula tissued again so I had a third one and by the forth day it had improved enough to be released, just in time for Christmas :)

At the time of writing it’s three weeks since it happened, it has almost fully healed and I am back running :)

I do not know what the bug was or exactly where it came from, but the conclusion was it was most likely a bit of infected material (mud, dog pooh, stagnant water) landed on the broken skin and it was just bad luck and washing my leg at the end of the race might not have made any difference as the bug was already in my system.

The NHS generally receive more negative press than praise but they did an awesome job and got a box of Quality Street for their efforts:) .

So take care out there as this can happen to anybody, anywhere, at any time, and it doesn't always happen to someone else.


And if you do cut yourself during a race, use your common sense, clean it up and if it does become infected get yourself to the doctor ASAP as the consequences could be a lot worse than you think…