I don’t cope with gore very well. I don’t mind blood in movies such as The Godfather and Gladiator, but anything that’s icky gives me a prickly feeling in my sternum that threatens to move to my stomach. If I’m ever struck by curiosity over a medical issue and turn to Wikipedia, I load the page with my right hand hovering in front of the screen, ready to block any gross pictures intent on implanting themselves in my brain.
Unfortunately, disaster struck almost two weeks ago, and it’s not possible to hover my right hand over the offending image at all times.
It was as innocent as a Saturday night can be for a 22-year-old. Clark was in town, and I had spent the evening cleaning and doing laundry while he was at a fraternity dinner. When he came back we talked while I folded clean clothes and put them away. My antique dresser, which stands on legs rather than resting on the floor, is a solid oak hunk of furniture, and the warmer and more humid weather has caused the wood to swell ever so slightly. I had folded some shorts, but couldn’t get the bottom dresser open with one hand. Still talking to Clark, I set the shorts on my bed and gave the drawer a two-handed tug. It still stuck, so I tried again.
This time, the drawer came flying out and landed squarely on the nail of my big toe. I yelped, mostly from surprise, and then I started hopping around my room, trying to ascertain just how much pain I was in.
“Maybe you should sit down,” Clark offered. I did, and playing part of damsel in distress, I asked him if he would get me an ice pack. In the short time he was gone, the magnitude of the pain set in, and by the time he got back I had big, juicy tears rolling down my cheeks.
I managed to fall asleep, but the feeling of my heartbeat in my big toe woke me up around 3am. I hobbled upstairs to get another ice pack, which I then shoved down at the bottom of my bed. I woke up again around 6, again unable to control the tears. I laid awake and tried to distract myself, imagining how someday, in the midst of childbirth, I’ll look back on this night and chuckle.
When that didn’t work, I finally got up and took off my turquoise nail polish, mildly annoyed at how badly it had stained my nail. Then I realized it wasn’t stained—that blueish gray was the actual color of my nailbed. I remembered hearing a family legend about an uncle smashing a finger, and an aunt sticking a hot needle through the nail to relieve the pressure. In my crazed agony, I became convinced that this was the only course of action open to me.
And by me, I mean Clark. I went and roused him, and he didn’t even flinch, much less question me, when I told him my plan. In the end, it was a hot thumbtack, and while not that much blood came out, it relieved enough pressure that I could go to sleep.
I hobbled around the next day, to church and the grocery store, and then Clark came to my rescue once more with a giant pot of warm water and Epsom salts. Soaking my toe helped some—at any rate, the water was hot enough to take my mind off the pain.
Below the jump lie the rest of the gory details, in bullet form.