Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Little Story

During an indoor soccer game in the spring of 1992, an opponent's pass came into center and a guy from the other team and I charged the ball at speed from opposite directions. He came in a little high, and my toe-punch kick found not the ball but the bottom of his shoe. My indoor soccer days came limping, literally, to an end.

For months after that the outer edge of my big toe was perpetually bruised and tender. The toenail along that edge wouldn't grow straight but rather out, to the side. The side of the toe itself would bulge in rainbow colors. It got so ugly that at one point my bestest manfriend took a picture of it when we were roommates later that fall.

Sometime in late '92 or early '93, I was back home having dinner. My dad's an ER physician and had been giving me doctorly advice over the phone, none of which really helped. So we were sitting there having conversation after dinner and somehow I mentioned that my toe still hurt.

"Goddammit," Dad said, "I'm sick of hearing about your toe. We're going to fix this right now."

Now, you probably wouldn't guess my dad's a doctor by looking at him. He has a certain cowboy quality that manifests itself when he's not at work or when his kids get hurt – ask me sometime about my broken ribs years after this incident. Essentially, Dad takes precisely no bullshit from anyone and uses whatever means are available to solve problems.

"Take off you shoe and sock and sit there for a minute," Dad continued. "I'm going out to the garage to get the stuff."

The garage? The only things out in the garage were his workbench and truck. Coincidentally, he came back into the kitchen with a rusty pair of pliers and a small first-aid kit.

He produced a small bottle and needle from the first-aid kit. He filled the needle and jabbed it into the side of my toe, up near the joint, relatively far from the bruised area. I felt freezing cold liquid seep under my skin.


"Mm-hmm. You won't feel a thing in a second."

He repeated the process on the other side of the toe, near the webbing.

"Oopsie. Hang on a second," Dad said. I looked down and saw him pull the needle back out of my toe – he'd accidentally pushed it through a flap of skin and all the way through. He plunged the needle back in, but this time I didn't feel it.

He pinched at the skin and wiggled the toe. "Feel that?" he asked.


He tapped the discolored side of the toe with the pliers. Usually a good stiff breeze at that location would send shockwaves of pain rippling up my foot, but this time there was nothing. "Feel that?


"Okay. Hang on."

He grabbed the front of the toenail with the pliers, jiggled it a little bit, and then pulled up and back like he was lifting the hood of a little model car. In my memory it made a slight sucking sound, but I could just be making that up.

He pulled the nail completely out and held it in the light over the table. Besides the obvious blood, there was an odd yellow goo all along the jagged edge.

"Good one," he said. "You must have had a pretty deep infection in there. I have some pills that'll clear that up."

The toe has always been a little crooked since then – not because of Dad, I'd imagine, but because I probably broke it in the first place.

This post will be our referent for Random Question Friday. In the meantime, the readership is encouraged to think of the most pain they've ever experienced due to an accident. And as painful (and sometimes accidental) as it may be, childbirth does not count.


At 10:13 AM, Blogger Rosellen said...

Oh, my God. No wonder you haven't told me about this before. Or, if you did, you didn't give me the exquisitely described detail that you gave us here.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Trout said...

I know I've told you this before. This was my favorite story for years afterwards ... funny, funny stuff.

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Anna said...

I'm sitting down and even so I think I'm going to faint.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger david said...

most painful moment? 4 months ago, when jenn took me to a denver emergency room at 2 in the morning with what turned out to be acute appendicitis.

it felt like someone was slowly, continually stabbing me with a dull butter knife in my side, then somehow pinching my innards all at once.

what really hammered home for me how fucked up i was happened in the emergency room waiting area. quite literally, i could not sit down, nor could i stand up straight. the only thing i could do was stand hunched over like someone had just punched me.

appendices are only good at the end of books. fuck 'em.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger dirk.mancuso said...

Toes. Needles. Pain.

I really do not want to comment on this.

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Softball Slut said...

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Thanks

At 4:47 PM, Anonymous jonashpdx said...

mmmm, breaking off a chunk of my humerus in middle school when i was thrown into a cinder-block wall during a particularly fun game of floor hockey in gym class. the worst part of it was actually the ride to the ER-- every bump in the road made the floating bone piece jiggle around in there...
good times.


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