Days of my Life #54

Pre-pandemic pedicure requires podiatrist.

Bet you know where this one’s going, but anywho, this is my story for today. You’ve probably heard of the perils of pedicures. You know, when the unwitting customer sits in her reclining, variable massage chair, relaxing with a bit of complementary bubbly while listening to international chitchat by others (mostly women) who pick out polish colors ranging from peach to periwinkle to puce, and in the meantime the foot “specialist” smiles and asks how you how long to clip your toe nails and you reply. “Not too short please.” And as you sit back, she is trimming, again you say “not so much” but still they look short, after which you go home and stare at your toes and wonder how long it will take before your feet look less like they were trimmed by an anal retentive four year old. That was me.

And then the pandemic forced those of us who trust the world’s responsible leaders and scientists to self isolate. So I did. And the months passed and still the great toe’s nail on my left foot refused to grow, or so I thought, until I realized, to my chagrin and later horror, it might instead be growing widthwise while the length remained the same. Yikes! The pain, though not excruciating was present, not when I walked, as one might suppose, but when I rested. What?

Now, one would think, or at least I did, that I could wait til the city opened up, so I waited, until two days ago when I decided to visit my doc for a script refill for my blood pressure meds. In passing I mentioned: “By the way, doc, should I see a podiatrist?” I then showed him my toe and he responded, “Yes! Now! Here’s a referral, call her today.” And so I did.

My appointment was for 1:45pm, yesterday. By 2:30 I was still waiting in the exam room, getting slightly agitated until I remembered I’d spent the past few months doing fuckall about the aforementioned toe, so a bit more time was cool. It was about the time of my epiphany about waiting that the doctor arrived, examined my foot and gave me two options, though now I can only remember the second one, which was to anesthetize my toe, cut the sides of the toe nail down, apply some sort of acid to stop it from growing widthwise, cleanse, debride, apply antibiotics and bandages and limp to my car. All of this occurred.

It was maybe twenty minutes after I got home, went to the bathroom, got my iPad and a humongous glass of ice water, and sat down with my leg elevated, that the anesthesia began to wear off, rapidly. Then it was a swift descent into nonstop pain-hell which continued until about 11am today which was roughly thirty minutes ago. Semi-relief, aaaah. Now the throbbing pain is intermittent, which is a good thing. Now I might be able to catch a few winks because sleep was not an option last night, nor this morning, save the stupor and exhaustion between 3 and 5 am when I crawled to the toilet, peed, then curled up on the bathroom floor, moaning, immobile and slightly nauseated. Did I mention I’m allergic to pain meds? I took none except arnica and hypericum homeopathics but only when I extricated my exhausted body off the floor.

Before I close this and hopefully nap, I thought I’d announce, as you are my witness, my decision to never, ever, without equivocation, step one foot in another nail salon, because no matter how much I like to have someone massage my hands and feet then make them look somewhat presentable, I’m unwilling to risk it. I’m going on YouTube after my some serious shuteye to learn about diy mani-pedis.

Tune in.

2 thoughts on “Days of my Life #54

  1. My sympathy, my sympathy!!! I am so glad you (1) got this addressed professionally, & (2) are beyond the worst of the pain! I hope your full recovery comes very quickly.

    According to my mother, I was born with ALL my nails (yes, fingernails AND toenails) ingrown. She repeated & stressed this when I was suffering with a most uncomfortable ingrown nail on that exact same toe you describe as the source of your difficulty. I was about 7, & kept trying to deal with it, using various clippers, but time went on & eventually it became infected. Uncomfortable before, it progressed to painful. My mother cut an area of cloth away from the top of a tennis shoe “toe” so that I might have foot protection to wear while the oozing horror that had begun to the left of that toenail but seemed to be taking over the entire end of the toe at least had air getting to it (my mother was a great believer in fresh air curing most of what might ever ail one). There was no improvement. The poor toe kept getting worse, to the point that, obviously, something simply HAD to be done. I was taken to the doctor’s office. You should know that this, in & of itself, was remarkable; in my family, visiting the doctor simply was not done except in the rarest of circumstances. Through numerous cases of horrendous sore through, through measles, mumps, chicken pox, & what might well have been whooping cough, there hadn’t been the first mention of a possible trip to consult a doctor, so I was now not only miserable with pain but a bit alarmed.
    It seemed to me that the wait to see the doc was essentially interminable, but, barring an actual emergency coming in the door, it was basically a “1st come, 1st served” operation, so we sat & waited. Finally, I get the patient intake shuffle & am led to an exam room. A nurse comes in & examines & cleans & pokes & prods my toe until I’m pretty sure I can’t handle anything more except for fleeing the scene. Realizing that would be quite a painful escape for the very reason I am there in the 1st place, I bite my tongue & wait some more. Finally, doc comes in & does a deeper, slower, more probing job of everything the nurse has already done, before announcing his conclusion: “That’s a bad infection. The toenail needs to be surgically removed.”
    “What?!?! Wait a minute! You’re saying the entire toenail needs to be cut out from my toe???” I ask pleadingly while my mother sits by with a mock but apparently sincere serene look on her face as if this had been her expectation all along. “Can’t you prescribe something I can just put over the infected area that will clear that up?!?”
    The gist of doc’s reply was that as long the irritant that was causing the problem was not relieved, the infection might get a little bit better but would not go away.
    I can’t recall if it was me or my mother (who dearly loved pretty shoes) who tabled the whole topic with something like, “Okay, thank you, but NOT TODAY!”
    It seems like doc explained that procedure would have to be separately scheduled, but all I can remember after that was hobbling away down the sidewalk as quickly as possible.
    Back at home, I sneakily gathered together every pair of nail clippers, manicure scissors, & tweezers I could rustle up, a nail file, the alcohol, gauze, bandaids, & anything else of a “1st Aid” / wound tending nature I could find, plus, that being the era of the most popular TV shows consisting largely of “Westerns” in which bullet wounds were often tended by plain folks with zero medical training, a partial clothespin on which to bite while I did my very own surgery.
    I was more resolute than fearful, so, after drenching the toe in alcohol, I set about the task of removing the ingrown portion of that toenail. Mostly using my mother’s best manicure scissors (which, thereafter, had to be replaced for her normal use), I pressed their business end through the gross, bloody, oozing, very sensitive infected area, all the while restraining my inclination to cry out (tho’ not my tears, which came plentifully). It was the most painful experience I’d had to date, but I ultimately pressed, cut, gouged, jimmied (?), maneuvered, &, in the end, yanked desperately with tweezers, cumulatively managing the extraction of a fair sized bloody chunk of toenail. Its appearance told the story: My regular toenail cutting process had been cutting inside the width of the toenail, leaving most of the ingrown portion untouched. That “furrow” had been leaving a nicely shaped nail visible & had also been relieving most of the growth/sideways pressure against the ingrown portion which otherwise would have aggravated it & perhaps made the flesh at the outer edge raw & painful. For so long as that cut had been being made smoothly, there’d been no problem. (Admittedly, pressing down on the toenail across the toe had always made the ingrown part hurt, so I’d almost never worn sandals. But usually there was nothing that put pressure down onto & across that nail.) Somehow my normal toenail cutting process had at least once not been done smoothly on that nail, & it was that rough area that had remained, on the left side of the “furrow,” that had aggravated & eventually cut into the skin – & finally become infected.
    The wound bled a surprising amount, but having a bunch of gauze helped greatly. I did not “apply” but instead poured alcohol into & over that wound. As soon as the bleeding slowed, I taped over the clean gauze I’d just put down, & kept taping the toe until I hoped the bleeding would be stopped. After just a short time, the pain seemed no worse than it had been when I first started digging, so I hastily gathered together all my implements & other “stuff” & took it all back & put it away. No way did I want anyone knowing the extent of what I’d done. – & it worked!!! Relieved of the pressure gouging into the infected area, it began – & continued healing! Of course I was very lucky! I could just have easily made the problem much worse, I feel sure. At such a young age, & loving pretty shoes, I just did NOT want to end up with a disfigured toe!!!!!
    I hadn’t even thought about my own “toe surgery” in forever until I read your story, but those memories certainly came rushing back in surprising detail while I thought about what you’d just endured.
    Be very good to yourself!!!


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