Overview This document is intended only as a guide to Dragonhealing. The aim is to standardize some of the techniques in an easy to use format. However, each situation requires a different diagnosis and therefore treatment, which should always be taken into consideration when healing Dragonkind. This summary has been prepared with Dragons in mind. However, it will only take a little imagination to alter the notes for Firelizards and/or Whers. It is by no means extensive, information is being added as the need, and time, arises.
- Get a gold Dragon to control the Dragon if necessary, they can ease pain and still movement of an injured Dragon. Other colours can also aid somewhat, although this is to a much lesser extent.
- Take control of the situation, but never forget to ask the Rider of the injured Dragon for permission to start work on their lifemate.
- Wash all instruments in Redwort solution.
- Wash your hands and those of helpers in Redwort solution, then coat liberally in oil if you will be using Numbweed. Through a major injury, i.e.. wingsail damage, you will need to protect your hands more than this once. If you do not, you are putting the injured Dragon at risk through your hands being too numb to work. Remember your hands may become scratched and nicked after healing, therefore re-coat your hands to protect them on going between.
- Dragons may need to be convinced that the pain of a Threadscore will dissipate, since Numbweed will take a few seconds to penetrate the epidermis of the hide.
- Stitching should be performed so as not to pucker the hide but still provide a barrier to infection (i.e. not too tight and not too loose).
- Remember Dragons are large! To work on most of their injuries you will need some kind of height advantage, i.e. a table or a ladder.
- Afterwards, you will need to get the Dragon to the infirmary or ground Weyr. Other Dragons can be used to support the injured one.
- Make sure plenty of water is available for the Dragon to enable dehydration to be held at bay.
- In cases of emergency, a Beastcrafter or Healer can be called upon to assist a Dragonhealer.
- Wherever Aloe grows, it is well-known as everybody's favorite remedy for burns and rashes. Aloe can be characterized by its rosette of long, tapering, fleshy leaves that exude a thick sap when broken, Aloe rarely grows more than 60 cm tall. There is no true stem or branches; the main body of the plant is merely the place from which all the leaves grow. Although it only grows in warm, dry regions, it also exists in pots throughout Pern. On the rare occasions that if flowers, it will grow a long flower stalk anywhere from one to six meters long, with yellow to red flowers that are quite pretty.
- Unfortunately, Aloe gel does not keep, extract, or dry very well, and is best used fresh. Any place that can grow it is strongly recommended to do so. To use, a leaf should be removed from the base of the plant with a sharp knife, and the fleshy part squeezed.
- Aloe's uses include burns and rashes. It can help to reduce scarring, and soothe itching. It can also be used as a laxative, and may, if grown in sufficient resources, be used for constipated dragons.
- Fellis grows as a small, branchy tree easily recognized by its star-shaped yellow blossoms. The juice made from the leaves and stems is a powerful narcotic painkiller, with addictive tendencies. It is widely used in the Healing profession, but is always used with caution, and never where a lesser remedy will suffice.
- Fellis juice is extremely bitter, and as such is rarely given undiluted, although this can be done in an emergency. It is most often given in wine, as this best disguises the taste, although it may be diluted in juice, klah, or any other liquid. It has sedative properties, and is occasionally used in cases of severe emotional trauma; it is also used in cases where it is desirable for the patient to be unconscious or extremely unaware of his surroundings, such as surgery or the re-opening and cleansing of an infected wound. Fellis juice is extremely addictive, and its chronic use should be limited to terminally-ill patients. All Healers keep a careful eye on their supply of distilled Fellis, and report any unexplained shortages to their Holder or Weyrwoman, as appropriate. Most importantly, to the dragonhealer, it is imperative to note that all dragon kin have a fatal reaction to the juice and so it should never be used on their kind.
- Needlethorns are the spines of a succulent bush which grows in the tropical regions of Pern. During the growing season, the plant will shoot the toxic spines at anything that disturbs it, but when the flowers of the ging trees which grow nearby open in the autumn, the plant is dormant and the spines can be safely gathered. The hollow needles are strong enough to be used for giving injections or for drawing ichor. When the Ging trees are flowering, Needlethorns should be gathered from the bushes and either placed in a basket or wrapped in the leaves of the Ging tree.
- Needlethorns should always be carefully sterilized with Redwort before use, and rinsed with boiling water. They can be stored for long periods of time wrapped in thick, sterile cloth, or kept in a sterile box, but should never be re-used; to do so introduces an unacceptable risk of infection. Likewise, the syringes used for giving injections or drawing blood should be carefully sterilized in boiling water and Redwort; however, because they are made of glass, they can be acceptably sterilized for re-use. Fit the Needlethorn carefully to the end of the syringe, assuring that there are no gaps in the fit, and seal the connection with soft wax to prevent leakage. Before giving an injection, prepare the skin carefully by cleaning with water and Redwort. Applying a small amount of Numbweed and then carefully wiping the area clean will lessen the patient's discomfort without interfering with treatment. Injections are most easily made under the skin covering the arm or the hip, while blood is most easily drawn from the large veins running through the curve of the elbow.
- Numbweed is a succulent plant which grows in greatest profusion in the semi-tropical and tropical regions of Pern, although it can be found in all areas. It produces a sap which deadens all feeling on contact; this can blister the skin in its raw form. Numbweed leaves are gathered, crushed and placed into a huge vat. They are then boiled until the Numbweed turns a pale yellow color. The leaves are strained and the resulting liquid decanted. This is an extremely malodorous process, and a face scarf is highly recommended. The fact that Numbweed boiling is undertaken regularly at all human habitations on Pern attests to the great effectiveness and necessity of the result.
- Numbweed is always used in its salve form by Dragonhealers. It is non-addictive, and in its salve form presents no danger of overdosing. Oil should be used to protect the hands when working with Numbweed for a long time. Redwort can be used when the contact will be for a short period of time. All Healers carry it with them, and therefore no occasion should arise where a Healer would need to use the raw form of the plant. It is an external medicine only, and should only be given internally by a qualified Healer and never in its natural state. There is only one excuse for the existence of this malodorous plant, and that is the deadening of pain; therefore, its liberal use for this reason is encouraged. It takes approximately 3 secs for Numbweed to penetrate the outer layer of dragon hide and slightly longer to go through to the germative layer.
- Redwort is a small, shrublike plant which may be recognized by the reddish veins in its stem and its flat-topped reddish-purple flowers. Redwort leaves are gathered, and boiled until the tincture has been removed from the leaves, basically when the leaves turn colourless, or dull, from their normal reddish-purple hue. Leaves are strained and the resultant Redwort stored. The Redwort, in this form, is extremely concentrated and will need to be diluted with pre-boiled water before use.
- Redwort has two main uses: an antiseptic wash to prevent infection, and as a defense against the effects of Numbweed. The use of Redwort leaves a red stain on the skin which resembles a very localized sunburn. All tools should be washed after use in very hot water with plenty of sweetsand, and then rinsed in Redwort before storage in a sealed container. A tool whose sterility one is not certain of should be rinsed in Redwort before use. A healer should wash his or her hands well and then apply Redwort before touching a wound. Open wounds should be rinsed well with water, bathed with Redwort, and rinsed again to remove the Redwort before Numbweed is applied, as its protective effects are undesirable in that case. Healers should take care to apply Redwort and a light coat of oil to their hands before performing arduous work, such as stitches, on a wound coated with Numbweed, and to re-apply frequently to avoid losing feeling in their hands.
Wounds and IchoringEdit
Any abnormal disruption of Dragon hide or surrounding the body surfaces is known as a wound. Most wounds can be classified as open: with a break in the hide through which ichor and other body fluids may escape. This also permits the subsequent entry of germs, which may in turn cause infection. A closed wound allows ichor to escape from the circulatory system, but not the body and is known as internal ichoring. The nature of the force creating the wound determines the type of wound and influences the treatment given.
Types of Wounds:Edit
- Incisions - are made by a clean cut from a sharp edge, such as a knife. There may be profuse ichoring because the edges of ichor vessels are cut straight across. Generally, this type of wound is rare in a Dragon, and is usually the result of some surgery on the part of the Dragonhealer.
- Lacerations - are rough tears caused by crushing or ripping forces, generally from another object or Dragon. Lacerations may ichor less profusely than clean cut wounds; though there is more tissue damage. Contamination risk from the germs and subsequent risk of infection is high. These may happen during a mating flight when talons may shred the hide of an opponent.
- Abrasions - are superficial wounds in which the top layers of the hide are scraped off, leaving a raw tender area, and are caused predominantly by a sliding fall or a friction burn. They often contain foreign particles that may cause infection. In Dragons these can occur from brushing against rock, bad landings on hard dirt, etc., especially during Weyrlinghood.
- Punctures - are caused by the entry of a sharp foreign body into the hide, such as stepping on a Needlethorn. They are characterised by having a small site of entry but a deep track of internal damage. As dirt and germs can be carried far into the body risk of infection is high. Generally, because Dragon hide is so thick, these injuries are extremely rare, but may occur in the frenzy of blooding with sharp bone fragments from the Herdbeasts and Wherries, or as the result of re-using a Needlethorn.
- Threadscores - are similar to an incision wound in tissue damage, but with the complication of a burn. Depending on the resultant damage, Threadscored wounds may ichor profusely or ooze slowly. These are discussed in a further section (see Threadscore and Complications).
Several of these wound types can cause serious ichoring, and it is imperative that a Dragonhealer learn to recognize the various types of ichoring from the various types of vessels. When the ichor vessels are severed or torn, their damaged ends constrict and retract in order to minimize ichor loss. At the same time, the ichor that escapes from damaged vessels begins to clot. However, the physical condition of the Dragon will deteriorate exponentially to the amount of ichor lost. At first, the heartbeats will increase in tempo, the gradually the skin will grow grey, as the hearts divert ichor to the major organs. Eventually shock will become evident, which will be followed by the Dragon becoming unconscious and life eventually failing. It is important, therefore, that the type of ichoring is recognised.
Types of IchoringEdit
- Arterial - the ichor is under pressure from the pumping hearts. Therefore, ichor is spurted from the wound in time with the hearts beat. A severed artery may produce a jet of ichor several feet high and can rapidly empty the circulation of ichor.
- Venous - the ichor is under less pressure than arterial ichor, but since the vein walls are capable of great distention, ichor may pool. Thus, ichor from a severed major vein may gush profusely.
- Capillary - can be characterised as oozing and occurs at the site of all wounds. Although capillary ichoring may at first be brisk, ichor loss is generally negligible.
- Slight - not a danger and will eventually stop on its own, the flow of ichor helping to cleanse the wound.
- Moderate - often stopped by the sealing action of Numbweed once applied to the wound. If the ichoring still does not stop, a pressure bandage should be applied. A pad of bandaging material should be applied to the wound and held tightly in place. If this soaks through, it should not be removed; instead, a second bandage should be applied on top of the first. In most cases, this will be enough to stop ichoring.
- Severe - if it does not respond to a pressure bandage, or if ichor is spurting from a wound, stronger measures are needed. Apply pressure to the artery feeding ichor to the area. The easiest way on a Dragon to do this is to find the severed vessel and clamp it. Stitches then need to be used to repair the damaged vessel. If pieces have to be cut away from the vessel do not worry, the vessels are flexible and will adjust.
Dragonhealing © 1998-2001 H. Schappell