The Ugly Toe

I am not sure if I should post a picture to accompany this post (or even write the post at all, but then, we all are getting familiar with how desperate I may be getting for ideas). On the other hand, having written it, what the heck…

I have gotten considerably better about running lately, churning out about thirty miles a week (donʼt sneer or condescend, actual athletes — thatʼs pretty good mileage for me). I have even gotten back into the long loop, six miles around town, some days. Once again, I should acknowledge that the word “run” is at best a fantasy-approximation of the actual sluggish trudge/jog that my aging body incapably almost doesnʼt accomplish. A considerable number of svelte, healthy, trim young women in lithe track suits speed past me regularly (one or two even twice a morning), pony tails bouncing insouciantly with contemptuous disdain. I saw one gangly guy, visibly running like a girl (no offense to women, but it is the best possible description of his wayward arms flapping unsynchronously to his wide-spaced legs), turn onto the sidewalk about a block ahead of me one day last week, and although I had figured there would be one individual not merely crawling along on all fours that I would end up passing, he easily galloped away, ever increasing the gap of distance between us until I gratefully turned the corner toward home. Equally or more aged folks feebly strolling in the morning breeze are about the only ones I ever pass nowadays, and even they cannot avoid hearing my hoglike approach.

But I am back at it, instead of loafing for an extra hour or two in bed before arising to help Janet with breakfast and lunch and getting her away to work (which had become the alternate-week pattern usually in the earlier summer — one week on, one week off with huge, poorly selected lunches every week to boot). And furthermore, the running so far hasnʼt injured me again — yet. This spring I got off track after pulling a muscle in my left leg, and then as I got myself back at it, my right knee acted up. (I really, really enjoy getting old.) Pain made it particularly easy to decide on getting nearly seven hours of sleep instead of not-quite-five.

With pain in mind, we are back on track. Sometime late last week (I think it was Thursday), I noticed that my right big toe hurt, noticeably so on Friday, and by Saturday morning I knew I had somehow let myself suffer an ingrown toenail. At least that is what I think these little situations are — a situation I never faced at all until I was about forty, and which I have only suffered about a half dozen times altogether. The redness, swelling (and pus eventually) I attribute to my near blind personal toenail clipping: difficult for the aged fatty to bend himself sufficiently to bring his face near enough his toes to see what heʼs doing when he tries eventually to trim the knifelike nails. And Mr. MultifocalLenses canʼt twist his head awry enough to find a viewing angle that puts the toes in focus with his glasses on. So I am generally cutting somewhat blindly. And periodically pay the price, like this past weekend.

I ran with the possibly infected toe on both Thursday and Friday (six then five miles). I mentioned the problem to The Lovely One on Saturday morning (she had noticed me wincing with every step and shunning shoes for my sandals). My normal regimen is to suffer a day or two and then with some rigid tool — fingernail or plastic knife — press back the enflamed flesh along the side of the toe to reveal the bit of nail that has been buried. It is exquisitely painful and usually produces the oozing liquid behind the inflammation. She offered to soak my foot in lukewarm water enriched with epsom salts that evening (although her definition of “lukewarm” apparently matched my footʼs definition of “scaldingly hot”) as we watched a rental movie, Date Night (not bad, amusing often, but not life-changing or -enhancing whatsoever) while eating grilled scallops for dinner.

Sunday the toe was better but not by much. Janet thought it looked even more gross, red and enlarged. I opted for flipflops and sandals again. And again, as we did episode ten of I, Claudius, I put the foot in the plastic tub of (considerably cooler) salted water. I even sat an extra hour, watching a big part of Inglourious Basterds on one of the movie channels (not bad, like all Tarantino films featuring great dialogue — even in French and German with subtitles — and without much letʼs-just-turn-this-off-now gruesome violence of the sort that made Janet never get further than just past the opening conversation between the Mr. Colors in Reservoir Dogs).

Monday morning, I awoke before the alarms (a side effect of plenty of sleep on Friday and Saturday nights) and got out to do my miserable excuse for a run (unfortunately without my iPod, which somehow had lost all charge between mowing the lawn Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, but I found the six miles of semisilence — my hearing leaves nothing completely silent these days, what with the insubstantial celestial choir of cicadas I tintinitically pseudo-hear — interesting and not boring). And my toe never complained. Until later, as I was watching another movie, The Last Station (which Janet had selected but not really wanted to watch, and as it had to be returned by Monday evening, I decided to go ahead — liked it a lot, especially Plummer and Mirren, both juicily enjoyable doing Tolstoy and his wife, but likewise with the ever-excellent Paul Giamatti, and the young folks and the doctor were all good, too). The toe is still visibly red and somewhat swollen. I did take the picture. Weʼll see if my nerve permits me to include it.

It should be better by the end of this week.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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