On Tuesday afternoon I came home from work, left my shoes at the door, prepared the dogs' supper with their pills carefully hidden in tiny dablets of butter on the side, made beds, mopped the floor, emptied the dishwasher, and went to the porch to load firewood into the wagon. I was tired, and feeling a little desperate to finish my chores. I had brought home some ready-made supper, so when I had brought in the firewood, I would allow myself to fill my glass with ice water and relax.
I had, perhaps, eight pieces of wood in the wagon when I hauled from the stack the crucial piece of wood that held the whole jigsaw puzzle together. Many . . . many . . . very well-dried, very hard and heavy chunks of wood rumbled out of the woodpile and dived for my feet. It happens often enough to be routine; I would wait until they had stopped moving, and resume my labor. At least one of those logs, however, landed on my foot. On my big toe, in fact. The impact caused me to make noises, some of them intelligible, few of those polite.
The wood stopped falling. Wounded Angry I recommenced, with renewed vigor, to chuck wood into the wagon. As I reached near my feet to pitch one of the offenders onto the load, I noticed a bright bulb of dense red at the corner of my toe. Hm. Broken skin then, not just the usual contusion. I pulled the wagon through the doorway, removed my knee-high stocking, took a quick look at the injury, wrapped a paper towel around my toe, and limped over to energetically transfer the wagonload of wood into the woodbox. Behind me, the dogs took up their habitual muttering at each other. Their noise shredded my last nerve, causing me to apprise them in stentorian tones of the facts that they were very lucky little dogs, had no problems about which to complain, and they needed to shut. up. now. Intelligent little canines that they are, they, in fact, did shut. up. which fact may have saved their fuzzy little lives.
I performed the dance routine that enabled me to keep the door open long enough to angle the emptied wagon properly and roll it back to the porch and added some of the freshly-gathered wood to the rekindling fire in the stove. I filled my glass with ice and water, took a long swallow. My toe throbbed and I had begun to shake with fear of what I might find when I unwrapped the paper towel, which was quickly absorbing (should I write an appreciative letter to the people who make Bounty paper towels?) an alarming quantity of blood.
We do what we have to do: I turned on some good bright lights and unwrapped my toe.
My toenail was broken. Not across, but diagonal, a third of an inch from the tip toward the cuticle. Horrifying sight, and extremely painful. The log had made a good dent in that poor toe.
That was about the time Husband arrived home and came through the front door to find me breathing heavily, gasping a little, replacing the paper towel as snugly as I could bear.
"What happened? Are you hurt?"
I explained to him.
"Do you want me to take you to the emergency room?"
Going to the hospital would require that I first walk all the way to the car and then sit in the vehicle without thrashing like a wounded bear for sixteen miles. I didn't think I could do all that. I hunched over the kitchen counter and growled, "Oh, what are they gonna do?"
I ingested a quantity of over-the-counter pain medication, and perhaps a few of the dog's Tramadol tablets, and settled on the couch with my foot on the coffee table. After a couple of hours my toe stopped paining me enough that I could breathe in regular in/out rhythm. I observed mournfully, "My poor feet."
Husband looked up from his reading. "You do have a lot of trouble with your extremities."
I laughed tremulously. "I have a lot of trouble with my whole body!"
Ascending the stairs to my bed was surprisingly painless, and I slept well for three hours. I got up and swallowed more Tylenol, and perhaps a couple more of Max's Tramadol tablets, and went back to sleep. At 6:45 yesterday morning I got out of bed and considered my options.
- I could call in sick, but the likelihood was that this particular difficulty would be painful for some time, and I would need a doctor's excuse to be absent from work for the two weeks I anticipated I would need to recover.
- I could go to the emergency room and call work from there.
- I could go to work and call the doctor's office and see how soon I could get in at the clinic.
I opted for the last: it seemed like the thing a normal person would choose.
Closed shoes of any description would be impossible: I wore sandals out into the 28-degree weather. At work, I moved haltingly up the stairway and into the Morning Job office. Morning Boss, who, upon my return to work two weeks after last summer's mastectomy, asked me, "Now, what was it you had done, June?" noticed nothing. I overheard her telling someone she would need to be out of the office for a short time. I asked her when she expected to be out and I said I needed to go to the doctor's office at some point during the day. I related the story as amusingly as I could, and called the clinic. My doctor would be in meetings until noon, and was booked up after that. He would call me back.
At 1:00pm, Afternoon Boss observed that I was getting a little raggedy and suggested I stop waiting for the doctor to call and just go to the emergency room. My whole leg had begun to twitch with pain, and medical attention for my toe had moved to the forefront of my mind. I hied myself off to the hospital. My greatest concern was that the exposed nail bed would get infected and I would grow, and forevermore sport, one of those oddly shaped toenails that you sometimes see on Old Women In Clunky Sandals.
As it happened, however, the doctor was less concerned about infection than he was the "distal undisplaced fracture of the great toe." There's really not much to be done with it, except wait for it to heal, and not go on long hikes while it's doing that.
In the end, undramatic.
...except for the eventual shedding of the toenail. It has grown increasingly ugly in color and shape since Tuesday afternoon. I shall avoid clunky sandals until it's back to normal. In the meantime, I circle the firewood carefully, aim for the dead centers of doorways, grip stair handrails tightly. I know from experience that I can handle only one of these minor disasters at a time.