I have often heard “Time heals all wounds”. But does it really? Is it time or something more that heals wounds? I have become fascinated with how our body heals since cancer and especially since my accident in the lab 10 days ago. As this physical wound heals, I can see many parallels to the process of healing emotional wounds. But, no, time does not heal wounds. Allowing time for the “healing process” to take place is what heals wounds. These might look like the same thing on the outside but are very different in practice.
I am normally more of a physics girl and only tolerated the biological sciences when they were necessary for my degree. Recently, I have been more curious about what is happening “behind the scenes” in my body. Cancer was a wake up call that our physiology doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to and natural processes in our body can go haywire. Our bodies are extremely complex and the more I learn the more I am surprised that things don’t go wrong more often.
When we are physically wounded (wound: an injury to living tissue caused by a cut, blow or other impact – typically where the skin is broken) it kicks off a chain reaction of healing processes as our body’s defense systems turn on. I’m not going to go into it deeply but will give a brief description of each stage. If you are more interested this was a very straightforward explanation…plus a
boring and informative helpful Youtube video here. There are 4 primary phases of wound healing:
- Hemostasis: (within minutes of the initial injury) Constricts blood vessels and stimulates clotting to stop the bleeding
- Inflammation: (typically up to 4 days) Redness, swelling, warmth, and pain are typical symptoms as the first responding white blood cells clean out debris and stop infection
- Proliferative/Granulation: (4-21 days) Establishes the frame work for new tissue and repairing the various damage (skin layers, other tissue, blood vessels, and capillaries)
- Remodeling/Maturation: (up to 2 years) Increasing the strength of the new tissue
2 years!! This is longer than I expected when I started researching. It has only been 10 days and the cut on my wrist is dramatically improved. It blows my mind that my body will keep working on the fragile new tissue to make it stronger for the months to come.
My body is not passively allowing time to pass but is moving through the healing stages by actively fighting bacteria, rebuilding new tissue and repairing damage. Healing starts with the first 2 intense and painful stages…follows with creating something new but fragile…and finishes with a strengthening stage. I believe we go through similar stages with emotional wounds and time does help in reducing the pain…but without some work in cleaning and removing bacteria we are at risk of an infection and will never be able to build something new and strong.
I will leave my rambling Monday thoughts there but will write more in the days to come.