A pall has been cast over the general feeling of well-being with which I started out this pregnancy.
Yesterday, I took my daughter into the Y for her swimming lesson and then, unable to get the 3-year-old to feel happy about staying in the child care for me, skipped my own workout and instead ambled around the public areas of the Y with him in tow.
We watched the swimmers in the pool. We peeped through the glass at the women lifting barbells to music in the BodyPump class ("They are practicing picking things up," he told me.) We went to the snack machine to buy a granola bar, and the 3-year-old stepped backwards to get a broader look at the array of treats AND HE STEPPED ON MY TOE ALL FUNNY AND SHATTERED MY TOENAIL INTO ABOUT FIVE CRUNCHY PIECES.
"Auuugh! Ah, just a minute... ow..."
I hopped over to a chair, reassembled my toenail without looking at it (horror horror horror) and pinched my thumb down over my toe. As soon as my HORRIBLE UNDEAD toenail was all back together and seated properly, my toe felt happy and normal again.
Quick peek. No blood.
"I'm sorry, Mommy. Can I have a blueberry bar?"
"Just a minute. I need, uh, some tape or something."
+ + +
So. This is all because I went skiing in 2012 with new boots.
Two Februaries ago, we took a lovely week out in Montana at Moonlight Basin (totally. recommend. for. families.), and before we went I bought new ski boots. They were well-fitting, selected with excellent service from a locally owned dealer, but you never quite know exactly how to adjust the buckles until you've skied in them for a day. I spent the whole first day moving the buckles around between ski runs, trying to figure out exactly how tight everything needed to be; since they were new, none of the settings would give that "exactly right" feeling that you get when you correctly buckle into an old, well-worn pair. And of course the boot will continue to mold to your foot a bit as you wear it over the seasons, so you would expect it to remain slightly uncomfortable even once you get it set right.
Three ratchet-type buckles on each foot makes for a fairly large number of possible combinations of settings. By the end of the first day I still hadn't quite gotten it figured out, but early on the first second day a telltale soreness in the top of my left foot clued me in that I had had the toe box too loose all along: I'd been unconsciously pressing my foot against the top of the boot for balance. I ratcheted the frontmost buckle down extra-tight, and -- like magic -- I suddenly re-acquired the ability to ski in control. The rest of the trip was perfect skiing for me, maybe the best few days I've ever had. I kept up with my big boys and had a great time. Boot adjustment matters!
But the Day of the Sloppy Toe Box had already taken its toll. Within days I developed an ugly, black bruise on my left big toenail (from pressing it against the top of the toe box). It didn't hurt, so I kept the toenail trimmed and went on with my life.
But then in May (we're still in 2012, mind you) one of the kids stumbled over one of my feet and applied some upward torque to my toe and OH %$&% HE RIPPED MY WHOLE TOENAIL OFF.
Horror. Horror. Horror. I am not an extremely squeamish person but there are some things I cannot stand. I do not like it when children put their spit on me. I do not like helping anyone get a particle out of his eye. AND I DO NOT LIKE INVOLUNTARY AMPUTATIONS. The sensation of air wafting over my naked nailbed gave me the screaming willies. I was afraid to look at it. I shoved the toenail back into place and immediately went into denial about what had just happened. Sat there and just refused to believe it.
+ + +
After a few minutes I managed to recover my senses long enough to Google "ripped toenail off" and find out what the hell I was supposed to do for a toenail until it grew back, and what I was going to do with my toe until then.
I found this extremely helpful blog post entitled "So, you've ripped off your toenail?" (the blog, Jill Will Run, is a pretty good distance-running/health blog in and of itself) and did everything she said. My poor dead toenail was completely detached, but I seated it back on the nailbed anyway, figuring that it was a perfectly shaped protective shield and also because then I could remain somewhat in denial. (My toe felt awful awful awful -- not painful, just got-the-heebie-jeebies awful -- when the nail was off, and happy-la-la-everything-is-fine-it-was-all-a-bad-dream when the nail was on.)
I kept the toe taped up, wore a little gel toe cozy during the day, and religiously doused it with hydrogen peroxide at night to help prevent infection. I carried a little Toenail TLC Kit around in my bag with me: first aid tape, gauze, mini scissors to cut the gauze, an extra toe cozy, and some antiseptic wipes. I carefully mummified my toe in waterproof tape before swimming laps, and de-mummified it after my shower, replacing the waterproof tape with air-permeable tape and gauze so the damp skin wouldn't get all gross. A couple of times I had to get out of the pool and re-tape the toe when the tape started flapping during a swim, because it's not nice to let bandages float away into the water, and also it feels annoying. After a few weeks I got up the courage to start running again, gently at first, and more confidently after I became certain that my toe would not poke into the front of my shoe hard enough to disturb my carefully constructed toe bandage.
I am not a high maintenance person; but gee howdy, I had a High Maintenance Toe until about January, when I finally had the courage to peep under my carefully preserved undead toenail and discover that there was enough new toenail under there that I could throw the old one away.
I nostalgically thought about keeping it, maybe putting it under my pillow for the nail fairy, but then came to my senses. It had betrayed me, and served its sentence, and now it could be returned to the universe.
The very next month we went skiing again, and my ski boots were correctly tightened, and all was fine, and I thought my long horrifying ordeal was over.
+ + +
All right, fast forward to this week. Sixteen months after the original ski-boot bruising, and it became extremely clear that my new toenail was not correctly formed. The truth is I wasn't terribly surprised when one little stomp from a three-year-old shattered it, because only a couple of days ago I was frowning at the toenail because it didn't look right. It wasn't the same color as my other toenails: a dead-looking yellow all over instead of rosy pink back by the cuticle. I had made a mental note to be careful when trimming it.
I guess I was right. It was a toenail miscarriage.
I would like to say that it's going to be easier this time because I know what to do about the toenail (although maybe this time I should listen to Mark and suck it up and not baby it so much; maybe I smothered it with all my TLC, and he's right and I should just get over the HORRIBLE AMPUTATION HEEBIE JEEBIES and stop taping it up and learn to get used to living without a toenail until the new one grows back).
And I may have to do this anyway. Because, let's face it, I do not see myself bending over to tape up my toe twice a day in the third trimester of pregnancy, as I looked in this photo from January 2010.
Yeah, not going to happen.