Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rite of Passage

As if the Shin Splint from Hell hasn't been enough to hamper my training the last month, I recently found myself to be the proud owner of one very painfully bruised toenail. Last Saturday, around mile 15 of my long run, the aches and weariness in my body gave way to the excruciating pain in my right big toe every time my foot hit the ground. Fortunately, I was only a mile away from being done, so I managed to tolerate the pain for another ten minutes by curling up my toe inside my shoe. Made for an interesting-looking gait, I'm sure, but at that point I couldn't have cared less.

Sure enough, upon peeling off my sock and removing the nail polish, I discovered a lovely hue of bluish-purple (or was it purplish-blue?) under the surface of my toenail. Even the skin below the cuticle was red and swollen.

Figgers, I thought, rolling my eyes in my head. Maybe it's just as well, though... gives me something else to focus on besides the incessant ache in my shin. And how nice for it to be on the foot of the opposite leg so now I can be more balanced in my crippledness. Instead of "ouch... ouch... ouch... ouch", it will be "ouch, ouch.... ouch, ouch... ouch, ouch... ouch, ouch." Perfect.

I tolerated it for two more short runs before deciding surely there must be something I can do to at least alleviate the pain. Bruce, one of my favorite and faithful blog commenters, pointed me to an article by Jeff Galloway on how to treat bruised toenails. Upon reading it, I was inspired.

Ten minutes later, my 13-year old daughter walked into my room to find me holding a needle to the flame of a candlelighter, hovering just inches above my naked toenail. Fairly alarmed, she asked what I was doing. When I told her matter-of-factly I was sanitizing the needle so I could poke a hole in my toenail to release the blood underneath, she replied equally matter-of-factly that running has turned me into a crazy pyscho.

I paused, only long enough to acknowledge the validity of the statement.

Then, with the perfect dexterity of a skilled surgeon, I slivered the skin just above my toenail and instantly felt the release of the fluid trapped beneath. Five minutes of careful squeezing and prodding later and my toe looked like new. Never mind the corner of the nail has released from my toe and I eventually will lose the entire thing... for all intents and purposes, it's good as new, I say!

My daughter, on the other hand, is fairly traumatized. I tried to explain this is just a rite of passage for us runners-- something for which we can actually claim bragging rights to all our family and friends. She just doesn't see the light, though.

I guess that means I shouldn't give her for Christmas the bracelet made out of my old toenails I've been saving.

9 comments:

Jim said...

(((Then, with the perfect dexterity of a skilled surgeon, I slivered the skin just above my toenail and instantly felt the release of the fluid trapped beneath.)))

If ever there was a perfect You Tube video, this would have been it. Sigh...

Tall Girl Running said...

Sorry, Jim! Next time for sure.

Rosie said...

Wow... You are a trooper. I am in awe.

Allen said...

Don't worry about showing your black toe when you're out in public. Just cover it with work boots :)

Anonymous said...

Just think how much more it will mean to you when you cross the finish line with less toenails than you have toes. :-/

robison52 said...

I would probably chicken myself out and try to force my wife to do the nail surgery! The movie, "Running on the Sun," about the Badwater Ultra Marathon featured one runner who intentionally had ALL his toenails surgically removed...talk about dedication and/or craziness!!

cardiogirl said...

Found you through Betsy when I asked her about black toenails. Yes ma'am, I have lost a good 6 to 8 toenails in the course of my short running career. I did lose the big toenail once and it really freaked me out, but version 2.0 came back improved and stronger, so it was all good in the end.

I have taken a hiatus from running favoring the elliptical and weights instead, but might lace up my shoes again. Good luck on the nail, I have sanitized many a needle via the stovetop to perform surgery. The relief, as you noted, is tremendous.

Izzy said...

Another rite of passage crossed, I met someone who lost 5 toenails after running the Top of Utah, all that downhill. Something we have to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

I had to do the very same thing last night. My husband also thought I had lost my mind. My toe feels so much better now. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Jeff's article. I am also training for the TOU marathon and have found your blog to be very fun to read as we are in similar situations. (Minus the fact that you will blow me away next month.) Best of Luck to you on the 15th.