Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pinkie Toes. Do we really need them?

As I laid on an emergency room table in Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon, I looked around and thought, This is a becoming an all too familiar scene. I was surprisingly calm as I watched the doctor stitch up my foot. The local anesthesia that he had given me was not really working. I could feel every stitch pierce into my skin, but that was no match for the thoughts that were running through my head about how I may have just ruined my summer with one slip of my hand.


Earlier that day, while getting ready for my Nana's 80th birthday party, I was cutting something with a chef's knife that was really sharp. It slipped out of my hand and dropped to the floor.

Judging by the lack of pain that I felt, I thought I had pulled my bare feet out of the way. I then looked down and was surprised to see a large pool of blood on the floor.That couldn't be from me? I don't feel anything.

But it was my blood. The knife had fallen straight down into my foot just above my pinkie toe and bounced out. After we got the bleeding to stop I decided to investigate the damage. The slice was about a half inch long. The cut was pretty deep (the skin on my foot is pretty thin) and everyone thought that I would need stitches. I still wasn't convinced. "Couldn't we just hold it together with some fly bandages?"

I decided to wait until my Nana arrived and then decide whether or not I needed to go to the ER. In the meantime we bandaged up the cut with some fly bandages to hold it together. When I went upstairs to put my flip flops on I noticed that my pinkie toe was hanging down and I couldn't lift it. I decided a trip to the hospital would be unavoidable and felt a little twinge of panic with the thought of not being able to move a part of my body, no matter how small or insignificant the pinkie toe may be...


The doctor walked into the room, took one look at my toe, and said, "I hear you cut your foot. Wow, does your toe always hang down like that?"

"Um, no, that's why I'm here." I said.

After examining it further he said, "You cut through the tendon that holds your pinkie toe up."

"Oh. Well can you put it back together?"

"I'll stitch up the skin today and refer you to a podiatrist that you can meet with tomorrow. He'll reattach your tendon."

"Well, I'm supposed to fly back to Anchorage tomorrow. I live in Alaska. I'm just visiting my family."

"You live in Alaska????" This was followed by all the usual fuss that is made over the fact that I live in Alaska. People in Pennsylvania cannot fathom why anyone would ever want to move to Alaska, but after spending a week in 90 degrees and 100% humidity, I was eager to get back.

"Well we'll have to get a surgeon in here today. We'll get you fixed up."

There was an hour and half wait before the surgeon came in. It gave me some time to think about what this might mean for my summer.

A cut on the skin would heal in a week. A severed tendon would probably take longer. How much longer? I am in the middle of the hardest training weeks of the summer. Was all of the training I did this winter and spring for nothing? I would surely lose fitness with a month of doing nothing.

We wait for the months of June and July all year long, making plans, booking cabins, entering and training for races, dreaming about the days of perpetual sun when we hike until midnight and ride our bikes in overnight races. I thought about how we may only be in Alaska for a few more years and how I may have just wiped out an entire summer because of my clumsiness.

Maybe I can convince them to just cut it off? That would certainly heal much faster than a reattached tendon. If I had no pinkie toe, there would be no need for the tendon, right? What does a pinkie toe do anyway? My friend Ken lost one of his in a lawn mowing accident and he seems fine. He's faster than me on a bike? Maybe without this toe I would be faster? I snapped back into reality as the surgeon walked in.

"I hear you live in Alaska?" He said.

"Yes, and I have a dead pinkie toe."

To be continued...


Tim said...

Ken lost a BIG toe. If he can live without that, you probably wouldn't miss a pinkie.

Carry a sharp knife and some gauze in the Soggy Bottom this year, just in case that little bugger starts to cause you trouble!

If you rode into Hope with that thing hanging from a string around your neck, you would go down in Soggy history as a legendary badass.

The Old Bag said...

Bummer! Sorry to hear...but just think about how badass the pinkie-around-the-neck would be.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, "...toe, toe, toe, toe, toe, toe, toe..."

Maybe this will replace "PEDAL, PEDAL, PEDAL!"

Wait - this isn't one of those trends where we ALL have to lose an appendage to fit in, right? I sure f*ckin' hope not, because I'm kind of "attached" to my toes. LOL!


Julie said...

His big toe?!!! That's right! Well this is nothing then.

I'm not religious but I did have to go to church as a child. I remember this saying... "If thy foot offends thee, cut it off!" You may be onto something Tim.

Tim said...

Shit like that is what turned me away from the church at a very young age. A little toe is one thing -- especially if it earns you free drinks at the Sea View Bar -- but I refuse to be a member of any organization that endorses self-amputation of major appendages.

Hell, even Ken stopped at the big toe.