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Runner's toes and woes

August 23, 2009

Some readers may recall that Tim is training for a marathon.  Well, you’ll mostly recall that he recently pooped behind a port-a-potty before one of his 18-mile morning jaunts.  (His excuse was that it was dark and he couldn’t find a toilet and thought he was pooping behind a  trashcan.  He either needs a better lens prescription, or he needs a remedial class in trash-can identification.)

The rain has since washed away the poo–and Tim knows this, because he went back to check–and this seemed to clear the slate for another half-gross, half-hysterical experience to befall my favorite runner. 

More specifically, it befell my favorite runner’s right pinky toe.

A few months ago, when Tim was first researching marathon training, he informed me that many marathon runners find that they lose one or more of their toenails during their training.

I don’t know why, but I imagined this tiny pink toenail just falling off one day–just, *bloop*, falling off in the shower or something–and regenerating a few weeks later.  Like a starfish arm.

Well, Tim did turn out to be one of those runners whose toenail fell off.  And the good news is that Tim’s pinky toenail is going to grow back.  Probably.

The bad news is that it has been anything but pink.  And it certainly did not just *bloop* fall off in the shower or something.

It all  began with a sore toe and a slight change in color.  First a few shades shy of chartreuse, and then a shimmery magenta, and then a hunter green, and then eggplant.  It was like one of those coal gardens I grew with my grandma when I was a kid.

And then Tim’s toe began hurting so badly that he could no longer run with shoes on and chose to run barefoot for half-an-hour in the grass just beyond the high school track. 

That, my friends, is dedication.

But I drew the line when Tim came home from work one day wearing thick brown socks and sandals

I could say that I drew the line here because Tim’s toe was now causing him so much pain that he could not bear to even fit it into a regular shoe.  But my concern was more along the lines of 25% pity and worry and 75% unforgivable shallowness.

“No.  No, no, no, no, no.  Socks and sandals will not do on a man who shares my bed with me at night,” I proclaimed.  “You need to show that beast to a doctor.  Now.”

And that doctor was my dad, who determined that Tim had developed a blood blister underneath his toenail.  And my dad could fix it, right at home, with a little tool that he could bring home from the ER.

“Blood blister under the nail, blood blister under the nail, I know I’ve heard that somewhere before,” I thought to myself.  “Where was it…where was it?”

And then it came to me.

“SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, I SAW IT ON THAT ONE EPISODE OF DEADLIEST CATCH WHERE THAT ONE GUY DROPPED SOMETHING HEAVY ON HIS THUMBNAIL AND IT TURNED BLACK AND HE HAD TO STICK A NEEDLE RIGHT THROUGH THE CENTER OF HIS NAIL AND OH MY GOD THE BLOOD THE BLOOD THE BLOOD!!!!!”

And this is why I didn’t follow either of my parents into the medical professions.

Tim was brave.  With my father (an ER doc) and my mother (a nurse) assisting, Tim’s toenail was summarily punctured (not with a needle from mom’s sewing kit but with some special nail-puncturing, red-glowy needle from the ER) and drained of its scarlet and then barn red and then burnt orange blood.  (Really, the colors have been spectular).

And now we’re just waiting for the nail to completely fall off and regenerate.

Just like a starfish arm.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2009 11:19 am

    My second toenail fell off after my marathon—It grew back. But for the real stuff, you should see Jen’s second toenails on each foot. Like big thick claws.

    Having shoes that are just slightly too small is the biggest contributing factor in having toenails fall off… so when it’s time for new shoes, maybe get a half-size up or a wider size. On the other hand, lots of people curl their toes when they run and so there’s not much you can do about that. Keep those nails short though.

  2. BirthingBeautifulIdeas permalink*
    August 23, 2009 11:42 am

    I’ll pass on that info to Tim! Thanks, Mark.

    I do know that he has been specially fitted twice for running shoes, but that doesn’t necessarily rule out the possibility that they don’t fit properly, of course.

  3. renbeth permalink
    August 23, 2009 8:21 pm

    Poor Tim! His dedication in the face of multi-colored blood and nail-puncturing needles is both inspiring and frightening. Maybe he could take up knitting next? 😉

  4. August 31, 2009 9:06 am

    The next time he gets new shoes, it’s worth mentioning which toe nail fell off and which one. They’ll assess whether wider shoes would be helpful.

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