Because I am a delicate, delicate flower

By Mir
May 15, 2017

Hello! All last week I kept thinking, “Oh, I finally have something to write about! I shall write! About it! All of it!” And all was very busy and before I knew it, 1) time had passed, 2) I had not written about any of it, and 3) “it” had become far more than one post could reasonably hold, even if you’re me, the person who believes that brevity is when you eliminate three adverbs from your 3,500-word post.

The good news is that this means you’re in for several posts in a row, assuming that a piano doesn’t fall out of the sky and flatten me, cartoon-villain-style, before I can manage them all. I’m not saying I EXPECT a piano to fall on me, you understand. I’m just saying I’m me and it could happen. Also I want the excuse out there in case it does. (“See? She must’ve had a premonition or something.”)

I think I’ll work backwards, in part because I want to cover what’s freshest in my mind, and in part because the most recent thing is the grossest, and I’d like to just get that out of the way. There are no pictures in this story because I love you all and also because I don’t want to make my father faint. I come by my delicate flower-ness honestly, it seems. So don’t worry that you’ll suddenly have your eyeballs assaulted with visual proof. I shall just stick to DESCRIBING this lovely incident for your entertainment. Buckle up!

Allow me to set the scene:

It’s Friday afternoon, and Friday evening, we’re going to have our end-of-year band banquet. This is always kind of a big deal, but an especially big deal if you have a senior, because first there is a meal together in the cafeteria (we fancy) and then all kinds of awards and announcements and FINALLY, a slideshow of the departing seniors. The slideshow is why you go. There’s baby pictures and awkward middle school pictures and it’s awesome.

As a longtime band mom and active member of the Boosters (read: one of the handful of parents that does everything while the rest of the parents bitch and moan about how it’s not being done right) (not that I’m bitter), I agreed to help set up for the banquet. I always help set up for the banquet. It involves arranging some tables and spreading tablecloths and putting out centerpieces—no big deal, but an adult has to be there to wrangle the kids who volunteer. I had asked my own children if they wanted to come help and they both declined, and I decided not to press the issue. (This was a fortunate thing in the end, though I didn’t know it at the time.) Chickadee felt like it was beneath her, I’m sure (and the fact that as I was getting ready to go at 3:30ish and she was still in her jammies didn’t help…), and Monkey just wanted some more downtime before the banquet, which I had to respect after years and years of trying to get him to figure out what he needs and acting on those realizations.

So I headed off alone to start setting up at 4:00 for a 6:00 banquet. I was dressed for a banquet (surprise!); not SUPER dressy, you understand, but as the mom who usually shows up in a band shirt and jeans with a big messy bun falling off the top of my head, it was different. I stopped by the band room to collect volunteers and the band staff were kind enough to compliment my dress and shoes (brightly-colored strappy wedges; I love those particular shoes), and later another parent who came by said all sorts of nice things about my hair, which was down and somewhat tamed for the occasion. I was wearing MASCARA, people. I looked like a grown-up.

My gaggle of students followed me to the cafeteria, where we found that the “banquet tables” (8-foot long rectangular ones brought in special for the buffet line, as opposed to the regular circle and hexagon tables our caf already holds) had already been set up by the custodians. Excellent. Of course then one of the custodian came in when he saw us to tell us he’d set the tables up and to ask if we needed anything else.

Let us pause for a moment here while I say that I 100% appreciate the custodial staff at my kids’ school, and I’m sure their jobs are largely thankless. Most of the folks who do those jobs are perfectly pleasant and I always make a point of thanking them. This particular custodian, however, always wants to chat. He doesn’t want to just chat; he wants to chat about how hard his job is and how overworked and underappreciated he is, and then he wants to stay and talk FOREEEEEEVEEEEER. Also, you know how some people just give you a weird vibe, and you maybe try to brush it off because “I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice person and I’m just being dumb” but then you remember “The Gift of Fear” and remind yourself that maybe you should pay attention to that feeling, actually?

I work over at school a lot (rather, I did, because this was MY VERY LAST EVENT), and this custodian not only always wants to talk to me, quite plainly: he creeps me out. Maybe he’s harmless and I’m stupid but there it is. He just creeps me out. Every time. And so when he did the whole “I can hang around and if you need things moved I can take care of it for you” thing, I assured him that we had plenty of kids to help and I’d need to wait on the caterers to find out how they wanted setup done and no, thank you, that’s very generous, but we’re all set. Finally he left and we got back to tablecloths.

The caterers arrived and looked at where the buffet tables were and said they could actually do two lines, if we wanted to split the tables up, and we said OH WHAT A GREAT IDEA, because that would make it all go so much faster. “We can just move the tables into two lines,” I said, moving over to the table on the end.

[This is where the “sound of the needle screeching across the record” would go if this story had a music track.]

I placed my hands under the end of the table and started to pull. Turns out—and this would’ve been useful information to have ahead of time, I’m thinking!—creepy custodian did not actually lock the legs on this particular table when he was setting up. So I can’t tell you the exact sequence of events (even though it appeared to happen in slow motion while I was powerless to save myself), but in very short order the table bent in the middle and the edge I was holding popped out of my hands and crashed down to the floor.

Except, not exactly the floor. Because my foot was in the way. Specifically: the big toe on my left foot.

I don’t know how much those tables weigh, but I can tell you that one falls on you it is not fun. I can also tell you that there was a loud CRASH and the caterers and the students came running and I was standing there, double over, trying not to fall down, trying not to swear out loud, and wondering if maybe I was going to pass out, but OH GOD I’M WEARING A DRESS, I cannot, I will just stagger over here and sit down.

Everyone was very kind. “Are you okay??” And I focused on breathing and assured everyone it was no big deal! Go back to setting up! I’m fine!

Eventually I limped back over to the prep table and quietly informed the other parent there that I suspected my toe was broken. I was treated to a commiseration injury story about a time she was sure she’d broken her ankle but it just turned out to be a bad sprain. So. I sucked it up, took off my shoes, and limped around on my heel, finishing getting things ready.

At the moment I am wearing a shiny teal nail polish on my toenails called “Constant Caribbean.” It’s lovely. It’s also indestructible, because it didn’t even chip when I got hit, even though the point of impact was in the middle of the toenail. The thing I’m getting to, here, is that I couldn’t see how bad it was, really, because of my nail polish. I mean, I could see that my toe was purple and swelling, and there was definitely kind of a bruised black ring forming around the base of the toenail, but that was it. This is known as a blessing.

Otto was out of town for the band banquet, so when the kids arrived at 6 I let them know what happened and assured them I was okay and they both peered at my toe and agreed it looked “kind of gross.” Then we had dinner and I took some Advil I found in the bottom of my purse and then we moved over to the auditorium for the presentations and such. I walked over to the auditorium verrrrrry slowly.

Monkey won a “Most Improved” award and that was nice, and yes, I totally did send in the baby picture where he’s wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and a diaper for his senior baby pic, and really, it was all lovely, except my entire foot was throbbing and as time went on the pain was getting worse instead of better.

We got home around 9:30. Monkey went up to bed, and Chickie came with me into the bathroom to watch me remove the polish from the affected nail. I expected the entire nail to be black, but surprise, it was more like 2/3s black with a craggy line to show how everything had seeped upwards from the point of impact. As my lovely daughter said, “Neat! By which I mean DISGUSTING!”

She then offered to take me to the ER. I told her I’d go to Urgent Care in the morning. I got myself set up on the couch with my foot elevated and under ice, and we watched some TV before bed.

I didn’t really sleep that night, so I was up and ready to go long before Urgent Care was open, which just means I was sitting in the parking lot, ready, when they did. I was the first person through the door and I STILL had to wait almost an hour to be seen, but sick babies and old people take precedent over a smashed toe. I get it.

There were X-rays, which meant I got to giggle uncontrollably when the nurse asked if there was any chance I might be pregnant, and eventually the nice doctor came back to report that nothing was broken. Yay!

“But to help with the pain, I’m going to relieve some of the pressure,” she said, and then she assured me that I wouldn’t feel anything. I may have looked skeptical. But it turns out that what they do is bring in a tiny cauterizing pen and BURN A HOLE in your nail, and you really don’t feel it at all.

I was expecting a geyser of blood once the hole was done, but no, I’d waited too long and things had clotted, so it was more a… weeping… sort of affair. I went home with instructions to soak my foot several times a day to help it “clean itself out.” Warm soaks turned out to be much more impressive in terms of said cleaning out, and so while it still hurt like crazy on Saturday night, I took some meds and was able to sleep.

On Sunday I continued the soaking and discovered that the black ring around the base of the nail was, in fact, a giant blood blister. I will spare you the details, but that feels a lot better now that it’s been drained, too. Ahem.

In conclusion, I headed to the band banquet prepared to spend the night being verklempt and instead I spent the entire night wanting to chew off my own foot. Monkey got an award and I got the world’s ugliest toe, but it’s okay, because I’ll be losing that nail, I’m sure.

It felt better on Sunday on better still, today. It’s still ugly (thank God for large Band-Aids) but I can walk, if I’m careful. And really, better that it happened to me than one of the kids or the caterers, or that we found out the table wasn’t locked after a bunch of food was placed on it. Right? Right. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.

[Sotto voce: Man, I hate that custodian.]


  1. Nichole

    I dropped a bowl of ice cream on my toe a few months ago, losing both my toenail and my ice cream in the process. I just noticed yesterday that the nail has finally started looking like a toenail and less like abstract art. I can’t eat ice cream anymore, but I don’t think that’s related.

  2. HG

    Two words: GR OSS

  3. Brenda

    Is it weird that the part I honed in on was the gift of fear part? Because I needed that reminder that while I do need to constantly check myself for responses based on prejudice and/or privilege, it is OK to listen to my gut when something just seems off.

    Glad your toe isn’t broken! And I fully admit to being one of those people who likes to see minor medical procedures like the one you had on YouTube. It’s gross and fascinating and I love it as long as it’s not me who’s getting the procedure.

  4. 12tequilas

    Sorry to add more grossness, but you may want to ask for an antifungal as a prophylactic. Toenail fungus just *waits* for these sorts of opportunities to get in there and wreak havoc. If you do lose the nail, same thing for while it’s growing back. Feel better!

  5. liz

    I’m glad it’s not broken, I’m gladder you never have to deal with that creepy person anymore.

  6. laura

    I can’t believe you didn’t scream DAMN IT! Like three of four times. Perhaps delicate flowers do not curse?

    Sending healing vibes your way.

  7. Rosie

    I’m waiting for the custodian to comment and describe his hurt feels because he is YOUR BIGGEST FAN!

  8. Emily

    Just an FYI – if you do lose the nail – wearing shoes is going to suck for a while. That almost hurts more than the original injury.

    I just spent 9 months growing out my big toenail that broke 3/4 of the way down the nail bed when I jammed it on the nose of the stairs. :( no fun!

  9. Mary K McBride

    A few years ago, the hubs and I took an intensive set of West Coast Swing lessons – every day for a couple of weeks. I was wearing closed-toe dance shoes (which you want to fit snugly.) Both my big toes turned into giant, throbbing blood blisters. Turns out, it takes almost a year to re-grow non-hideous big toe nails.

    Good news for you: it’s sandal season. No pressure on that toe!

    Bad news for you: it’s sandal season. Not a pretty toe to expose!

    But then, feet are weird anyway.

    I feel your pain!

  10. gillycat

    get yourself some ARNICA pellets immediately. They help with the bruising and removing any clotted blood inside. Also for the pain. I too am extremely impressed that you didn’t scream. Good girl. You deserve a pony.

  11. Bev

    I lost a big toenail during the summer. I’m not ashamed to say that I covered it with a clear bandaid and painted the center section with nail polish. Most people didn’t notice.

  12. Teresa

    Wait! We want to see the “Lone Diaper” photo too!! (With an appropriate mask of course.)

  13. Elliesee

    I lost my toe nail last June – I believed the Internet that said I would get a new one in 3 to 6 months. It’s taking much longer and it’s an ingrown affair, and it’s hard to get sympathy for a nail!

  14. Jessica (tc)

    That cauterizing pen thing is amazing. My niece’s hand was shut in a door when she was young (craziness in that you could SEE the imprint of the door on her hand, but it was basically still cartilage and slow came back up–ick), and she had to go into the hospital for the same thing. It was right after it happened, though, and it did spurt.

    She was so sure the pen was going to hurt she kept yelling, “OW OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!” the whole time they were getting ready. It turned out more like this: “OW OW OW OW OW OW OW OW OW, IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS IT…doesn’t hurt anymore!” *head whips around* “What did you do? Can you do that again?”

    Hilarious–but only after the fact when we ascertained that her hand wasn’t broken and that she would live through the swollen nail incident.

  15. liz

    How is your toe feeling?

  16. Meg

    Walked out my front door to drive across the entire state of Iowa years ago and dropped my overloaded suitcase on my foot trying to close the front door. Got an awesome blister that throbbed for the 7+ hour drive and eventually led to a summer spent minus my big toenail!

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