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April 29, 2013
Life on Planet Kathy
When Feet Rebel
by Kathryn H. Kidd

When most people think of their feet, they do so just in passing. Feet are things that get us from one place to another. They are things that, for women, come in very handy for showing off their shoe collection. (After all, it would be a pain in the neck to carry around your shoes in your hands to show them off because you had forgotten to put on your feet.)

But for most of you, feet are there to do your bidding. You get up and walk without ever worrying whether the soles of your feet are on the ground or whether your feet actually want to go wherever it is you are taking them. Once you have mastered the art of walking as an infant, feet, like your other appendages, are there to do what you want them to do.

This is not so on Planet Kathy. On Planet Kathy, there is no assurance that the bottom of a person’s foot is actually the part of the foot that is on the floor. No, before trying to scoot from one place to another I have to look down to make sure that my foot is not lying sideways. If I forget to check, I am likely to slide out of control because the side of my shoe does not have the floor-grabbing traction that I need for even the second that it takes to scoot.

You may think it is a major annoyance to have toes that do not cooperate when you try to walk or even to scoot over a transfer board. If that is the case, you don’t know the half of it. As we learned last week, those pesky toes can actually kill you if you don’t keep on top of them.

Last weekend, Fluffy noticed the little toe on my right foot was pink, and he asked if it hurt. I had to laugh. That toe wouldn’t hurt if somebody mashed it with a sledgehammer. We didn’t need to worry about a little pink toe, we thought.

Then on Monday, the toe was bright red and swollen. It looked like one of those little Vienna sausages that come in cans. There was a little blood around the toenail, but we didn’t know the source of the blood. If we had known the trouble that stupid toe was going to cause, Fluffy and I would have dived back in bed, put the covers over our heads, and put our thumbs in our mouths. What a bummer of a day!

We thought we might have to go to the doctor over that toe — not because we were concerned about it, but because certified medical professionals tend to get a little excited when people with paralyzed body parts get a wound in those appendages. So Fluffy decided to cut my toenails so the doctor wouldn’t think I was growing claws. He also thought that the long nail on the little toe might have been the source of some of the irritation.

This was a noble idea that backfired. When he was cutting the big toenail on the other foot, he missed the toenail and made a deep cut in the toe. It didn’t hurt a bit, but the nail clipper nicked the mother lode of blood veins.

Tablespoons and tablespoons of blood made puddles on the floor. We never got the bleeding to stop, so eventually we gave up, put a gauze bandage around the toe, and played on the computer until it was time to go to the physical therapist’s at 12:45. The physical therapist took one look at my left foot and said, “What is that?” I looked down and saw that the blood from my botched pedicure had filled the inside of my shoe and left a ring above where the shoe met the foot. It was disgusting.

After collecting our $35 co-pay, the physical therapist, Andre, pulled my shoe off and inspected my toe. It was still bleeding like crazy. Fluffy had to go to a sink and empty out the shoe. Andre said, “You’re going to need stitches.” Fluffy and I exchanged disgusted looks. Then I volunteered, “That’s not even the foot we’re worried about.”

Andre quickly pulled off the other shoe and expected the little toe. “This could be a bone infection,” he said. “You’re going to have to go to the hospital or instant care immediately. He cleaned up my left foot, put my shoes back on them, and sent us on our less-than-merry way. We didn’t get any therapy for our $35, but we got some free medical advice.

We didn’t get farther than valet parking before we had our next mishap. Fluffy was transferring me to the car from the wheelchair on the sliding board, when suddenly the wheelchair started sliding. There was a parking attendant standing at the door of the car, so I yelled, “Stop the wheelchair! Stop the wheelchair!”

The parking attendant just stood there and let the wheelchair slide. Too bad I didn’t know how to say “Stop the wheelchair” in Spanish. Within seconds, I was sitting on a board with nothing underneath it, and I fell to the asphalt. Immediately a crowd of bystanders gathered, just like last week. Eventually they got me up and in my wheelchair, and that crisis was averted.

Although we were at a hospital when Andre recommended we go to a hospital, we were not smart enough to use that hospital. No, we drove to an instant care facility closer to home. Then we waited for an hour to see a doctor who was in a snippy mood. After collecting our $35 co-pay, she told us to go to the hospital immediately, so off we went to a hospital that was fifteen minutes farther away than that. And we sat in the admitting area until I was finally put in a room at three o’clock that afternoon.

In the interest of brevity (brevity went out the window a long time ago, I hear you think), here is a brief synopsis of the hospital trip:

Thinking about this hospital visit, the thing that occurred to me was that the whole crisis could have been prevented if we if we had paid attention to that stupid toe while it was still pink. Whether it’s a bad habit, a sin, or a pink little toe, some things are best nipped in the bud while it’s still early. If you wait too long, things are going to become a lot more complicated.

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