I’ll preface this by saying that, 15 years ago, I was diagnosed with PTSD after a doctor told us that our 12-day-old baby might “expire at any moment.” I also lost an entire summer of my life due to antibiotic poisoning. And, I and my loved ones have been misdiagnosed, undertreated, overtreated, and terrified by more physicians than I can count.
One day at the doctor’s office, I had an anxiety attack that was so severe they wouldn’t let me leave until my blood pressure was under control. At the dentist once, when I was having a tooth pulled, my blood pressure was so high from fear that they made me chew up a Valium before they would perform the procedure.
I was in therapy for two years for my hypochondria (the more politically correct term is white coat syndrome) and it did nothing to fix it. In fact, it got worse (she was a horrible therapist). At one medical appointment, the doctor asked me, “What the heck is going on?”
I blurted out, “I’m terrified of people who wear stethoscopes!” He immediately ripped his off. That did not help.
As some of you may remember, I broke my toe last November. I was getting off our sailboat after preparing for a tropical storm and I slipped and, well, you can read the whole E.R. story (which I had a LOT of fun writing!) RIGHT HERE.
I’ve been having problems with that toe ever since. The break is on the very last knuckle (near the tip of my toe) and there really is nothing they can do to fix it.
Here’s what the E.R. folks did NOT warn me about:
When you break that knuckle in your toe, your toe is then crooked. Mine now points a bit to the right. I know, I know. Sexy!!! Anyway, while my toe points to the right, my toenail continues to grow straight. That has caused me all kinds of horrible problems. I had to stop wearing close-toed shoes entirely because of the pain. That was not a problem when we lived in Florida, though.
IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH, STOP READING HERE.
Are you still with me? Okay, I warned you!!
The only way to stop my nail from going haywire, and causing TONS of pain, was to do what I called Clip, Grip, and Rip. Yes, rather than going to a doctor months ago, every two weeks, I would simply remove the sides of my big toe toenail all by myself. While the pain was incredibly (and briefly) intense when I did that, it seriously provided INSTANT pain relief and I’d be all good for the next two weeks.
So, one day seven weeks ago, we were outside gardening in the rain (because it was a LOT cooler than doing it in the blazing sun!). I was wearing sandals, of course, because, again, I can no longer wear closed-toed shoes. (I know what you’re thinking. What am I going to do this winter now that we live on a mountain in Georgia?! To be completely honest, I hadn’t thought about that yet. It’s a blonde thing…)
Anyway, after being outside in the wet yard for a couple of hours, I came inside and my toe was hurting again. I did my clip, grip, and rip routine and all was well…or so I thought. The next day, I woke up to HORRIBLE pain in my toe. I sat up in the bed, pulled my toe up close for a good look, and EWWWWW!!!! My big toe was swollen, and soooo hot and red, and I won’t even describe what was oozing out of it on top – from both sides. (I hope you brave, strong-stomached people are not eating lunch right now!)
So, I did what any person with severe white coat syndrome would do… I Googled it! My eyeballs blazed past all of the “see your physician NOW!” warnings and, instead, I learned about Epsom salt baths, and which antibiotics to take. Lucky for me, I had a supply of the right antibiotics. Between soaking, antibiotic ointment, bandages, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories, I was determined to fix this myself.
And, I failed. MISERABLY.
Five weeks later (yes, THAT is how terrified I am of people who wear stethoscopes), I finally put on my big girl panties, and called a local podiatrist. When I described my symptoms, they told me to come right on in the next morning.
I arrived the next day and, one hour later, and after a big, juicy needle was lovingly inserted into my red, swollen digit, both sides of my toenail had been amputated (permanently removed) and I had a big, fat Shrek-green bandage on my toe.
The shot was supposed to last for 12 hours. Aside from some pain pangs every once in awhile, I’ve experienced nothing. No problems at all!!
I have a follow-up appointment this week but it’s seriously feeling GREAT! How it looks, however, is another issue. But, that’s okay. I already had the ugliest feet of anyone I’ve ever known (except my first husband but we won’t EVEN go there…). My very narrow toenail now makes my toe look GINORMOUS. I was never going to be a foot model anyway so I don’t care at all.
One of the things I asked the doctor when I was there was, “How did you decide you wanted to treat feet?”
I mean, aside from being a proctologist, I think that would be pretty far down on the totem pole of desired professions. He explained he’s a foot and ankle surgeon and that he got involved in that specialty after being a sports medicine doctor.
And, I have to tell you, that angel in a white coat is VERY good at what he does! And, the best part? He doesn’t wear a stethoscope!!!
UPDATE: I went for my follow-up appointment and they did x-rays. I already have arthritis where the break occurred. I also have bone spurs in my heel, and plantar fasciitis from walking on the right side of my foot for seven weeks. Self-induced injury. Ug. I’m on a treatment plan (specific exercises and stretches) to fix that. The good news is, I no longer need to walk on the outside of my foot so it that part should heal quickly. 🙂
- ANOTHER Falling-Off-the-Boat Accident Lands Me in the E.R.!
- LOOK! I HAVE 2 KNEES ON ONE LEG!! My First Major Liveaboard Accident… (includes grotesque pics!)
- STILL GROTESQUELY SWOLLEN but the Doc Says I’m Not Gonna Die! (Includes a new photo!)
- When an E.R. Doc Treats You Like a Junkie (and an updated pic of my deformed leg!)
- Holiday Trip…to the E.R. 🙁
Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the President and CEO of BookLocker.com and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
HOW TO REMEMBER, WRITE AND PUBLISH YOUR LIFE STORY
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