The day of my toe surgery arrived.
In two previous blogs, I discussed the saga of my misshapen claw-like toe which recently acquired the diagnosis: HAMMERTOE.
This particular toe had always been longer than my big toe—making it a bit of a curiosity to our daughters as they were growing up.
Myths abound about this type of toe, officially called Morton’s Toe.
The myth I liked best was that having a long second toe meant that I had royal blood coursing through my veins.
I always hoped that the royal blood angle would give me some leverage when it came to getting my husband and kids to obey me. It did not.
The toe simply became known as Mom’s Royal Toe.
All the Royal Toe ever did for me was to embarrass my kids when I wore open toed sandals in public.
But age exacts a painful toll—even on Royal Toes. By last summer, the Royal Toe had acquired a claw-like shape—an advantage if I had to climb a tree really fast—but otherwise the crooked toe made it painful to wear shoes.
I visited a couple of podiatrists to find options for treatment.
One option was a surgical procedure which involved placing a rod in the crooked toe to straighten it. The rod, protruding from the tip of the toe, would remain in place for a couple of months. Ouch!
Illustrations for this procedure made me shudder.
But there was hope. My podiatrist also offered a less invasive option: a tenotomy. He would snip two toe tendons, thus releasing the toe from its claw-like grip.
Fortunately, the toe was limber enough for this procedure. Once a toe becomes rigid, this procedure is not an option.
“After surgery your toe will be long again so you’ll have to buy shoes in a larger size after the surgery,” my podiatrist advised. “The worst part of the procedure is getting the injection to numb the area. After that, it’s pretty easy.”
I don’t like to hear a doctor say the words WORST PART, because that means there IS a WORST PART!
My doctor generally does these surgeries in the late afternoon, so that the patient isn’t inclined to run in a marathon or Iron Man Contest that evening.
“By the next day, you can resume normal activities as long as you keep the toe dry and the bandage in place.”
This sounded pretty good to me, so by 4:30 on a fall afternoon, I found myself sitting in a surgical chair with my foot bathed in a brown Betadine solution.
The needle on the tray looked formidable. Additionally alarming was the strange brown bottle with a nozzle that sat nearby.
“What’s that?” I asked pointing at the strange bottle and nozzle.
“Ethyl chloride. I’ll spray this on your toe so you won’t feel the injection.”
“I think I’d better not look.”
“OK. We’ll tilt the chair back.”
Bracing for the worst, I laid back, closed my eyes and felt a cool liquid bathe my foot. It actually felt sort of good.
“Tell me when you’re going to put the needle in,” I said after about a minute.
“It’s already in.”
Relief swept over me. There was no pain—only coolness on the outside and a feeling of fluid coursing within my foot.
When the tendons were cut, I could feel a tugging but no pain.
Fifteen minutes later I walked out of the podiatrist’s office and Bill drove me home.
I took it easy until bedtime. In the middle of the night I felt the numbness drain out of my foot. Then, nothing. No pain. No soreness.
When the bandage was removed the next week, the toe was no longer claw- like. Once again it was straight and long. It towered over my big toe. Regal status was restored.
And will remain healthy if I don’t succumb to wearing tight shoes!
As for open toe sandals displaying the restored long toe—I’ll wear them with pride!