Ponder this:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The toe of the stargazer is often stubbed. ~Russian proverb

I am not a stupid person, but I have always been clumsy. I have always stubbed toes, dropped things, maneuvered only half my body through doorways, smashing the other half into the jambs. I have dropped an industrial-grade mop bucket on my foot, missed stair steps and skidded to the bottom with an unnaturally angled, and therefore badly sprained, ankle, nearly removed the tip of an index finger in a Hobart commercial slicer. On my way back to bed in the middle of one night, in an astonishing feat of precision, I managed to snag an electric cord between my toes, trip, and fall, breaking my ankle. In my youth, a boyfriend and I had a conversation about why all this should be so. I contended that the cause was deeply psychological, that my body image and self-perception were unclear, that I didn't know what size I was on the outside. He said, "I think you just don't pay attention to what you're doing." In the years since that conversation I have had innumerable occasions to recall it, and I believe he was correct: I don't pay attention to what I'm doing.

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 hurried. 

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.


Olga said...

I laughed til tears came out my eyes. Not at you, WITH you. I'm keeping that quote. Maybe even embroidering on a pillow--the one I prop my foot on whenever I smash a toe.

Ellie said...

One time I spilled a cup of tea I had just made on the top of my foot. It blisted and all the skin came of the top. I had to buy a cheap pair of sneakers and cut the top off of it and tie it around my ankle to get around. I am right with you!!!!! Thanks for the smile :)

rachel said...

Oh horrors! Very painful, I'm sure. I'm glad you got to the hospital anyway. I once heard a doctor state that the major cause of amputations was a neglected cut to hand or foot.....

Tom said...

As one who has also stubbed toes, bruised feet, cut fingers and lacerated legs, I think I can say that your husband is probably right, "You just don't pay attention to what you're doing."

In our defense, I say, We have more important things to think about! (What they are, don't ask me; but I bet you, at least, are thinking profound thoughts, even though what I'm usually thinking about is ... what's for dinner?).

Anyway, take care and be well!

Val said...

As a fellow sufferer of the World of inanimate objects on the attack ..I do sympathize...your recounting of said tales was hilarious and has moved my face to broad grin.. as a fellow sufferer of boob gone awol I fell about at the description of your boss...you either have to laugh or cry and generally speaking laughing makes you feel better or at least less murderous.
My walking boot and crutches (I kid you not) are actually awaiting storage in the basement (before I fall over them) and I well remember somehow hitting my head on my car door while getting in once..it was so painful that I jumped and banged the other side of my head on the door frame which made me bounce it back to the door....enough said
So I do send you genuine sympathy for your poor toe and wish you better luck! (My young daughter who is reading over my shoulder also sends her sympathy ...she looks like following the tradition..ouch)

Linda Myers said...

Your story sounds familiar! About three years ago I fell in the parking lot at work - just tripped and fell. Six weeks later I tripped and fell while walking with my husband. So of course I started worrying I was developing a neurological disorder. I decided to pay attention to walks and when climbing stairs. I haven't fallen since. However, I have sprained an ankle when walking in the snow and run into numerous door jambs.

Hope your toe heals without too much further aggravation.

Rusty said...

All I can think of saying is a heartfelt - OWWWWwwwwwww! (The rest wouldot be printable). Thank good ness for painkillers... ATB!

Hilary said...

Oh that sounds so painful. I hope you heal quickly. Next time you're unloading wood.. steel-toed boots!

Barb said...

I believe I may actually have some disorder that effects how I monitor my body in space. Perhaps we share this malady, June. Since I was on blood thinners for awhile, you can imagine the horrible bruises from all the bumps and whacks I gave myself. I have also broken toes several times - mostly the pinky because it tends to catch itself on coffee table legs. I will tell you that your recuperation will be more than 2 weeks. Enclosed shoes will be torture chambers until summer when you will have to buy new sandals because the ones you have now will be worn out.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Toes are such awkwardly placed appendages it's not suprising we keep on injuring them . Those steel capped boots builders wear should be vamped up a bit by someone like Karl Lagerfeld .... they'd probably sell like hot cakes to all us accident-prone females. ( No , you're not alone !)
I hope it's not too painful and you get plenty of rest .

Carolynn Anctil said...

Oh my lord. I'm clumsy too, so I can totally relate. I'm never without at least one large and rather unsightly bruise somewhere on my body. That's brutal. Literally. And, yet, (I'm sorry) I couldn't help laughing my way through the retelling of your ordeal.

Cathy said...

Oh Honey! Nightmare!
I have a dear friend like you. She staples herself to trees while installing chicken wire to keep raccoons out of birdhouses.

Walks into shelves in stores and sports long gashes from the encounters.

The difference is that I am such a coward that I pay very close attention. No one hates pain like I do. Total chicken. So I rarely sport even a bruise.

But for those rare occasions, dog or people tramadol is very nice :0)

Sure hope you heal swiftly and that your nail rebounds aesthetically.

PS. Great story telling.

VM Sehy Photography said...

Ouch! I hope it heals up soon.

The Cranky Crone, she lives alone! said...

Oh! June...........
I can totally identify with this, especially the bit where you manage to just carry on thinking ah!it ill be alright, just hurts alot....then finally inspecting it realise the pain element was there for a reason, which mean stop and attend to it.
Your boss sounds like a real sweetie! NOT.
I hope it heals up nicely and swiftly as possible.

Rosanne said...

Oh lawdy! Ouch. I feel your pain. I have lost both toenails off my big toes in recent years thanks to a certain horse of mine that loves stepping on my feet. Broken toes are a bummer. I took to wearing those horribly ugly crocs because they were the only shoes my tootsies could bear. It took several months for my broken toes to heal.
btw-your boss sounds like a total dope!

June said...

Dear Boycott American Women:

Your blog blurb includes: "American women are the most likely to cheat on you, to divorce you, to get fat, to steal half of your money in the divorce courts, don’t know how to cook or clean, don’t want to have children, etc."

I think it's notable that you would choose to post your comment on a post in which I describe my post-workday activities of housekeeping chores including toting firewood.
I have never cheated on Husband, we have been married once, to each other, for thirty plus years. I would have had children had we been able to manage that, but despite efforts beyond the normal ones, it proved impossible.

You might want to peddle your POV elsewhere, Bud.

Morning Bray Farm said...

Jaysus, June. What the heck? Seriously? You're scaring me. We are too much alike. I can't remember if I've told you, but Don always tells me that he's positive that I'm going to "clumse" myself to death someday.

Just gotta say - I'm so sorry about Morning Boss - she sounds absolutely horrid.

And - no matter what you write about - you do it so well.

Sending you warm wishes and positive thoughts for feeling better soon. xoxo

Cathy said...


I was moved by your response to the unhappy gentleman.

He couldn't have read your post. Had he, he would never have left his screed on your blog.

It makes him look rather foolish.

June said...

Cathy, he looked foolish all by himself, and I'm sure it is a blanket comment that he's plastering all over.
He annoyed me, though . . . more because of the generalizations than because I, personally, took offense.
I really dislike generalizations about any group.

Blipfillypicklepoo said...

June: Your post made me laugh out loud. Based on my now-legendary (at least in my family) clumsiness, my dad frequently refers me to The Psychopathology of Everyday Life - Freud. I must admit that I haven't found it particularly helpful... the book isn't big enough to cushion my falls. Good luck with your recovery.

Joey said...

You're a witty, wonderful writer.

I sympathize with you. I've broken more toes than I can count and both feet.

I'm so glad you went to get it looked at.

Oh... and the women with the horrible looking toes in clunky shoes? I am one of them! lol

Great blog!

Lucille said...

I do hope your toe is healing well. What a great attitude you have to life. I have become more accident prone since needing glasses. They are fancy variofocals and I blame them. They distort my peripheral vision.
P.S That American woman spam is turning up everywhere. I don't know how. I just deleted it so no one else had to read it.

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