My big toe and I have a history of losing nails that goes back to when I was nine. One cold, wintery Winnipeg morning, my five year old brother accidently dropped a skate on my toe. I spent months watching the toenail change colour, fall off and slowly, slowly grow back to a bumpier, thicker one.
Jump forward to 2008. Even with many races and 5 marathons, that toenail lasted and lasted – until last summer when I got home from a 10 mile run and my 90 pound dog stepped on that same toe. I shrieked and spent two years – yes, two – nursing the toenail while it slowly fell off and grew back. By this spring, it almost looked normal again, just in time for me to decide on running a marathon and put it through the test of long distance running.
Last Sunday afternoon, after my thirteen mile run, Little Ironman sat on my lap, slid off, and landed on it again. I screamed, and he apologized for a good five minutes. We iced my foot, looked after my toe and everthing seemed fine – until Thursday night.
After the Sunset Shuffle race, Little Ironman sat on my lap, slid down, and, yes, he landed on it again. My eyes exploded (after all, I was in public), and he apologized. At this point, I knew that nail was going to go.
Tuesday night – one race, one long run and a quick 4 mile recovery run later – I took off my socks to discover the nail was starting to lift. Out came Mom’s bowl, a bowl of hot salt water,a towel and several clean face clothes. I soaked my foot, put the slightest bit of pressure on the nail and a geyser of blood spouted onto the kitchen floor. Skipper, who was observing the process, vacated the room instantly. The nail moved back into the foot but my toe was definitely infected.
Yesterday, my attempts to get medical help began with the chiropodist, but she wouldn’t touch it because it was infected. I then tried my family doctor, but he was off on holiday. Just give me a pad and I’ll write my own prescription! I had no choice but to visit the walk-in clinic; at least, this was pretty straight-forward, or so I thought.
The doctor took one glance at my toe and announced it was infected. Brilliant! I figured that he would pull out his prescription pad and I’d be off. But he followed with, “I’m going to insert a needle through the nail and drain any excess fluid. It won’t hurt.”
Are you kidding me? I cringed (you did too, I bet, and you’re just reading this) and let him poke through the nail. Apparently, I did a good job the night before because there wasn’t much blood and puss left. And, he was right: it didn’t hurt. Regardless, I was anxious to grab my prescriptions (one oral, one topical) and run.
In June, I laughed at my co-workers with their pedicured toenails. “You should get yours done,” many told me.
“Ah, no, I’m a runner. For me, that would be a complete waste of money,” I replied. And, this week confirmed that. My foot “allowance” goes towards socks and running shoes; pedicures simply aren’t an option.