I would like to speak with you about toes.
Most of us have ten; we upright and walking on two feet type of homosapiens, that is. Some of us are unfortunate and have only eight, nine, or fewer. This can often be attributed to improper use of an axe, chainsaw, or some other sharp instrument swung above the shoulders and in a forward, downward motion…missing our objective and reducing the number of toes protruding at the front of the foot. This portends certain problems such as maintaining one’s balance while walking, for although we walk on the soles of our feet, the toes provide balance, weight-bearing, and thrust as we walk.
Most people I know are not particularly proud of their toes. “My toes are horrible,” which translates into “I see models on television with beautiful toes and mine look nothing like that.” Well, that’s because those are foot models. Just as there are hair, face, and hand models, so there are foot models. Get over it; they may have ugly hands, tiny tits, or buck teeth. None of us is perfect, right?
Women are prone to something called hammer toe. They generally get it from wearing high heels. Hammer toe is a buckling of one of the joints in the toe to the point of dislocation. I don’t wear high heels, yet I have had hammer toe. No, I never wore high heels, so knock off with the smart comebacks and retorts. There are other toe deformities such as trigger toe, claw toe, and the infamous what-the-fuck-is-that toe. The last is exceedingly common and found most often on beaches by those walking with their heads down.
I am very proud to state that my toes are just as ugly as anyone else’s toes. In fact, if there was to be an ugly toe contest, I would not hesitate to enter. Several of my toes, including the big toe on each foot, don’t exactly have toenails. They have what has been described by some as “Holy shit…what the hell are those?” or “Is that foot cancer?” and other such witticisms, too many of which are questions regarding where my big toes might have been trespassing. There is a reason why these toes and several others are lacking toenails. The reason is simply this: It is very difficult for a non-competitive, non-runner to run-walk 7.2 miles in a pouring rain, through hubcap-deep water without having something happen to one’s feet…including toes. This is exactly what I did, and within two weeks, there were no nails on any of my toes.
For a number of years…from 1999 to 2014 to be exact…I have performed what has been called by one podiatrist “bathroom surgery,” as in, “Oh, I see you’ve been performing a bit of bathroom surgery,” after I had accidently sliced into a big toe while trying to remove part of whatever is substituting for a toenail. Never went back to see the son-of-a-bitch-with-the-smart-mouth. I prefer to call what I do, “bedside surgery” because I sit on the side of the bed, hoist one leg at a time onto the mattress, and dig, dig, dig, whatever there is to be dug! How do I know when I have completed this surgery? I begin to bleed. This is why I keep a large supply of band aids on the night stand by my bed.
Over the years, I have grown weary of my predicament. There is a podiatrist about 20 miles away, the man who gave me my first orthotics – for four hundred plus bucks – and with whom I have maintained contact over the years. I finally went to see him. Although, my shoes and socks were off, and he was sitting facing my feet, he looked directly at me and asked, “What’s the problem?”
“Look at my feet, Brian,” I practically screamed.
He did. Without making any big deal of it, he wiggled the second toe on my right foot and said, “Well, this one’s certainly dislocated; has been for some time; not much you can do about it unless you want surgery…you don’t want surgery.” Simple, straight forward, no BS answer. It also explained why there are times when pain shoots through that toe like a red hot poker. He looked at all of the other toes and without making any more comments about them, began digging and probing, periodically stopping, and tossing a piece of whatever he’d just dug out onto a plastic sheet. There was no pain. For about fifteen or twenty minutes he just dug, all the while asking me what had happened since last we met, and telling me about his own life. Then he sanded my feet with some kind of electric sander that sent dust everywhere. There I was watching my toes and then each foot get attacked by a professional. The difference between an amateur toe-digger and a professional toe-digger, I am convinced, is that the pro knows how to dig without drawing blood. Had I done what he did, there would have been arterial spray everywhere…and I don’t think there are any arteries in the toes. It should be noted that “Of the 26 bones in the foot, 19 are toe bones (phalanges) and metatarsal bones (the long bones in the midfoot). The way I look at this whole thing is that I probably have several bones in my toes that are dislocated or downright broken, or maybe even have been broken and healed improperly. Yes, I walk funny. Yes, I still have whatever-the-hell-that-is for toenails on my big toes. Is my friendly podiatrist concerned? Not at all, because he gets to see me in another three months and he can do more digging. When I told Juli this story, she merely smiled and asked, “Did he ask you to whinny for some oats?” Me and my big mouth!