As a runner (25-35 miles per week for the past ten years or so) I have gone through the gamut of running-related injuries including Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, sore knees, shin splints, ankle sprains, hip pain, and perhaps the most famous of all, the runner’s toe. This latter is probably the least painful on the list, but there have been nights after a fresh bleed under the nail that the incessant throbbing has kept me awake.
Over the course of time, I have suffered purple toenails in three toes, all on the same foot. Only the piggie that went to market and the one that cried wee, wee, wee all the way home have been spared.
After a brief consult with a podiatrist, I decided to have the nails removed from the three offending piggies. She wanted to remove them permanently, but that sounded, well, so permanent. I mean, what if I become a cross dresser some day and want to wear open-toed stilettos? How will I paint my nails if there are no nails to paint? I couldn’t take that chance.
So I opted for simple surgical removal. Simple and surgery should never be used in the same sentence, although technically, I used the word surgical instead of surgery.
The podiatrist in question operates in the same surgery center that I do on the same day. So we agreed this past week to do this simple procedure after I had finished my slate of cataract surgeries. I’m thinking she will use some really sharp scissors and cut them back much the way I would do at home with nail clippers. Wipe away the blood clots and I would be good to go. Probably just do it in the surgeon’s lounge as long as no one was trying to eat. I’d probably be running later that afternoon since the sun was finally shining here in central PA.
I was mistaken about the simplicity of this procedure.
I was told to go to room six, which is the room where I normally operate. I feel comfortable there, but I’d still rather just have it done in the lounge or in the hall. It was done by the podiatrist, in the hall, with scissors. It’s not that big of a deal.
They wheel in this big operating room table–the kind you do orthopedic or neurosurgery on, not the kind you use for eye surgery.
“What’s that for?” I ask innocently.
“For you. Hop on.”
Really? I’m just having a couple of nails cut off. I can just sit in the chair over there.
No I can’t.
My staff is busy with gowns and gloves and setting up a table of instruments. I don’t know whether I’m in for a lobotomy or a nail removal, but from the sheer volume of instruments, it looks a lot more complicated than I thought. I’m starting to fear for my appendix.
Fortunately, before I can think too much about what is going on and change my mind, the surgeon comes in.
She asks for the anesthetic. I’m just having the nails removed. But you are going to want them numbed before I do that. The way she said that made me want them numb.
“Can I have a smaller needle?” She laughs. They gave her an 18-gauge needle. We’re in the eye room–I’m sure we have smaller needles.
“Can I have some morphine? Or Fentanyl? Or Propofol (Michael Jackson’s drug of choice)?” I hope I didn’t sound too whiny or pathetic. I am. But I don’t want to sound that way.
“Don’t you have anything smaller? This is a one and a half-inch needle. I’d rather have a one.”
“Will somebody get her a smaller needle?!” Now I just sound scared. Or desperate. Or both. Scary desperation. Desperately frightened. Throbbing in my toes every few weeks isn’t so bad, is it?
They didn’t have to hold me down, per se, but I think someone sat alongside my legs and leaned over. They said it was so I wouldn’t be tempted to watch. Or move. Or run away.
Now I’m paranoid. Scarily, desperately paranoid. I want to hang on to my appendix and my spleen but I’m afraid they will just make fun of me.
“What are you doing down there?” I think I may pass out. I’ll probably fall on the floor and break my nose. I think the ENT guy is in room three, lucky for me. Maybe he uses Fentanyl.
“We’re just cleaning the skin with a little alcohol.”
Can I have some to drink? Is the Fentanyl here yet?
But alas, all I was going to get was a series of injections at the base of my toes with a short, sharp needle. The medication burned a little at first. I was being injected with tabasco sauce. I don’t remember much after that. But they didn’t need to call ENT so apparently I didn’t fall on the floor. Well, at least I didn’t fracture my nose. I take an aspirin a day because of a history of atrial fibrillation, and so I bled like a stuck piggie. Three stuck piggies truth be told. By the time they finished wrapping my numb hemorrhaging toes, I couldn’t fit my shoe on. They got me some kind of boot to wear home. Thankfully, no one called a stat type and cross to room six.
I figured if I got pulled over by the cops for speeding, I could blame it on the boot. My foot is numb, officer, I couldn’t feel the pedal on the floor.
I made it home just fine and elevated my foot as I was told to do. Initially she had recommended no running for two weeks, but I think we both knew that wouldn’t happen. That was also when she was planning on permanently removing them by cauterizing the nail bed with Phenol.
My doctor was wonderful, but all the same, I hope they grow back normally and I never have to go through that again.