Monday, March 10, 2014

Woe to the Toe

Remember that pinkie toe...the one I figured I probably broke after smashing it with a heavy object back on December 6th? (A day that shall live in infamy...of course, not grave and solemn in the same way as, you know, Pearl Harbor Day on December 7th, but nonetheless noteworthy in least to me...) Yeah, 13+ weeks later, it's still looking me. When it first happened (after I stopped gasping, yelling, and sniffling, that is) I optimistically (or delusionally--whatever) thought, "Maybe it's just bruised....reaaalllly badly..." But when time kept marching on (ha!) without noticeable improvement, I conceded that perhaps I had damaged it just a wee bit more. (Self-diagnosis is a wonderful thing, yeah?) However, I didn't feel the need to bother my doctor, because I was under the impression that they can't really do anything for a baby toe, except give it time to heal. So I bought that silly pair of fleece-lined Crocs--the only shoe-like-things I could tolerate touching my feet at all for 2 full months--and settled in to wait it out.

Of course, in the meantime I made as few concessions as possible to the injured member...I diligently continued accruing the recommended 10,000 steps a day (yes, in those blessed rubber slippers)...I attended my Jazz class (dancing in stockinged feet)..I rode the exercise bike (wearing Riley's Adidas slip-on sandals)...just about the only thing I refrained from doing was running, and with the Winter we were having, that wasn't going to happen anyway. Every few weeks or so, I tested actual footwear--and eventually I was able to don sneakers without wincing and/or limping. (Yaaayyyy!) And then, the Frost Monster that had been smothering us in his icy grip since approximately the Dawn of Time (or...November...) eased his stranglehold at long last, and I was able to try pounding the pavement...which went surprisingly well, considering. (Albeit slowly...and after a long hiatus, but alas, that can't be blamed on the toe...)

It's just that, whenever I remove my shoes (Every. Single. Instance.) the toe stares up at me accusingly. Red. Swollen. Misshapen. (Downright...bad-tempered...and frankly unattractive...) So finally, I'd had enough of wondering what the HECK is up with that, and I booked an appointment with my podiatrist to go discuss the little...problem. Now, he and I have known each other (in a "physician/patient with foot issues" kind of manner) for quite some time, and he's a super-friendly, personable guy. But I was afraid he was going to reprimand me, nonetheless...for not having it checked out until so much time had gone by...for reckless, non-toe-supportive behavior...etc. When he examined the digit, his eyebrows raised but he didn't comment. After I told him exactly when I'd experienced the trauma, his mouth dropped open. "Okay, then, X-rays it is!" was his only remark.

Then, with pictures in hand, he shook his head and stated with just a hint of wonder, "This looks more like a...compression injury." I stared at him, bemused, "You mean, like...crushed?" "Exactly!" he heartily agreed. "That's right, buddy, I don't do anything halfway: 'Go Big or Go Home' is my motto!" I replied. ( my head...while doing a....very gentle...trash-talk-dance) Outwardly, I nodded meekly and asked what I should--or should NOT--be doing at this point to help this sucker along. So first, he drew a diagram of what regular old toe bones generally look like...compared to how mine appear in photos right about now. (See below, where I have helpfully reproduced this for your viewing enjoyment...) He then demonstrated how to wrap it with some sticky gauze, to try to encourage the swelling to dissipate. And? "That's pretty much it," he shrugged, "Come back in 3 weeks and we'll see how it's doing."

His only other advice was to continue making comfortable footwear choices. (This pretty much goes without saying, for me--but he of course isn't familiar with my closet full of casual kicks.) Before I left, though, I wanted to pin him down on one or two topics, such as "Am I banned from any activities?" Negative head shake, "You can do anything that doesn't cause discomfort." "And it'll hopefully recover, given some more time?" Again with the slight lift of the shoulder, "Or, worst case scenario, it'll just be swollen." I gaped at him, "As in...forever?" Oh, JOY. So, we'll keep our fingers...and fellow toes...crossed that it's just being darn slow and stubborn in the whole "bone knitting process", but that it will come around on its own sweet schedule. On the other hand...if you read between the lines...I do believe my podiatrist just indicated that in his professional opinion, I really must wear nothing but the most cushy, cradling, non-toe-crunching footwear possible, for the REST OF MY LIFE. Whoo hoo! You know what that means: this might just call for a cute new pair of sneakers!

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