that time an iron fell on my toe

Hindsight is 20/20: Part 2

I sat in Exam Room 2 at the local Emergency ward, waiting none-too-anxiously to clap eyes on Dr. DeGratt. I could hear him examining someone in the curtained-off room across the hallway. I had finally succumbed to the nagging of my friends, and most notably, my husband, and came in to get my toe looked at.

Apparently, although the patient across the hall was in there for bronchitis, the doctor felt it necessary to give him a mini-lecture on the old stab wound he had discovered on the patient during the exam. I focused on the citrus-coloured cotton yarn in my hands as the curtain was withdrawn, taking a surreptitious glance at the bronchitis patient while pretending to be extremely interested in the intricacies of seed stitch.

The nurse had mentioned something about a "drill." This did not sound exciting, since I was certain that it was meant to be used on my toe. As badly as my toe already hurt, I could just imagine the high-pitched whirring of a miniature cordless drill being the harbinger of even more pain and suffering.

Dr. DeGratt was very personable. South African, so I found out as I was chatting him up, trying to distract him from the real purpose of my visit and any thoughts of using a drill on my big toe. Unfortunately, he proved infinitely difficult to distract.

"When did you say this happened?" he asked.

"Um...Wednesday," I said. I was eyeing the pointy sticks in my hands, wondering what kind of defense they would offer if I had to make a break for it and hobble out of there. "I just couldn't get in before now."

"Well, it's not fractured." That was the end of the good news. "You've got a lot of blood under the nail. We're going to have to put a hole in there for yeh." His chipper tone of voice told me that this man moonlighted as a torture master--this line of work was right up his alley. My knuckles grew whiter on my knitting needles.

"What would happen, say, if you didn't do that?"

"It would go septic."

I don't exactly know what this means, but I've watched enough Lost to know it's not good. I heaved a sigh, resigning myself to the inevitable. "I'm going to knit while you do it, so I can try not to think about it."

"Do you think it will hurt?"

I nodded, white-lipped.

"I think it will make you feel better," he said, trying to cheer me up.

"I hope you're right," I said.

As he straightened out a paperclip (this was the drill?) and lit the fuse on a little kerosene-like glass candle to heat it with, I decided that knitting was out. I covered my face with my hands, peeking between my fingers occasionally like a child too scared to find out what's really behind the door in that scary movie, and too curious not to know.

Yes, I am a wuss. When I get needles, I have to clench my teeth and look the other way. It seems that the pain you know is coming is always worse than pain that already happened and you are enduring.

A couple of pokes with the hot paperclip, and the only evidence of the deed was the red-stained gauze pad over my toenail, and the acrid scent of singed protein in the air.

"Did it hurt?"

"Yes." I paused. "For like, a second. All in all, much less than childbirth, so I guess it wasn't so bad," I said, glad it was over, and trying to recover some of my lost dignity.

He then went into an explanation of how there was a small chance the nail would take hold of the bed again, but most likely it would fall off.

"Permanently?" I squeaked.

"No, no. It will grow back in about six months or so. If you had come in here on Wednesday, it would have been a lot better."

Well, that definitely gives Jason 'I told you so' fodder, I thought.

For those of you wondering how I am doing, my toe still hurts, although it feels somewhat better. I am still limping, but hopefully not for much longer. My vanity is somewhat alarmed at the idea of a nail-less toe but, Hey. At least it will start to come back in time for sandals weather.

I hope your weekend is going better than mine! Tell me about it. Take my mind off my toe!

Hindsight is 20/20

"Can I watch a movie, Mom?"

The question came from Jude, my oldest. He no longer naps, but he is the only one of my children who skips this daily ritual. (Too bad. Sometimes I wouldn't mind one, myself.) Often I will take this time to do a little "school" with him, or a short craft, and then let him watch a movie while I go get some office work done. So for him to ask this question was not so unreasonable.

However, I had already let him and Noah watch a full-length animated feature before lunch, and figured that another movie this afternoon was not all that necessary.

"No, I think we are going to make thank you cards for all the people who gave you birthday presents. Do you want to do some stamping?"

Jude loves to stamp. It was a no-brainer.

"Wait here, and I'll go get the stuff."

"Can I help, Mom?"

Duh. "Sure! C'mon down!"

So I descended into the basement, my tow-headed four-year-old trailing closely behind me.

My craft room used to share floor space with my husband's and my office. However, when I decided to start teaching this fall, we decided that the office would be put to better use combined with my music studio, so the craft stuff got moved to it's new home behind our wet bar downstairs. I actually love it down there. It's a little chillier, and a little less convenient--no more popping in and out of the room to work on a scrapbook layout ten minutes at a time--but I have WAY more storage, especially considering that the wall behind the bar is a mirror, fitted with glass shelves. There's a sink right there for cleaning up brushes, etc. And when I am finished, I pull a leg-less table turned edge-down across the opening so I do not get unwanted "helpers" in my workspace.

One of the items that does not fit in my new, compact craft area is the ironing board. It has now taken up permanent residence between my husband's benchpress and the wall. But for safety's sake, I always make sure and put the iron on my chair in my closed-off craft area when I am not down there using the chair myself. After all, the rest of the common area is my children's toy room!

I slid back the table and grabbed a couple of stamp sets for Jude to choose from. He picked my new set with the hearts, stars, and flowers--nice, large, filled-in stamps that leave satisfying saturated shapes of colour on the page. Good choice. Then I hunkered down to rummage through the inkpad drawer for the primary colours I had decided would be perfect for a card from a preschool boy.

The drawer is on the bottom of a tower of 7 plastic-drawers-on-wheels. Next to the tower, chumming it up, is my chair, the iron positioned in the center of its padded seat.

What happened next was like one of those slow-motion action scenes from an epic drama. It was like time slowed to a snail's pace, and my reaction time with it, but my brain sped up to have a full commentary on the play-by-play:

Okay, there's the red. Annd...the black for the "Thanks." Perfect. Now we'll just close this drawer, and I think I'll use the blue cardstock that matches the Brilliant Blue in--OOOOOWWWW! WHAT THE—?

The IRON fell on my foot! OOOWWW! Point down! On the big and second toes! Why did—?

Jude leaned on the chair. It was an accident. BUT IT HURTS SO MUCH! WHY DOES IT HURT SO MUCH?!!!!


And then I cried. A lot. And loudly. I don't normally cry from physical pain, but this is pain like I haven't experienced since I broke and dislocated my arm at the age of 9.

The intensity of my reaction totally freaked Jude out. "What happened, Mommy?!"

Through my sobs I managed to say that he knocked the iron onto my foot. I could see the remorse instantly strike his little heart. His face screwed up and he started crying, too.

"I'm sorry, Mommy, I'm sorry!"

Great. So now I have to somehow suppress the mind-numbing pain and soothe the fears of a well-meaning but careless boy. By now I had removed my sock and noticed that my big toenail was already blooming with blood under the nail behind my months-old chipped pedicure. Figuring that seeing that would only freak Jude out more, I gingerly replaced the sock, tested putting my foot into my slide, decided against it.

I managed to get a bit of a grip and called Jude to me. "It's okay, buddy, I know it was an accident. You just have to be more careful. I'm not angry with you."

This seemed to do little. Hoping that distance from the situation would help to calm him down, I sent him upstairs with the stamps and ink while I gathered the cardstock and followed behind, as quickly as my injury allowed.

Jabin had been drinking his bottle on the kitchen floor when we went downstairs, but was now wailing in displeasure because he still cannot sit up from a prostrate position. I sat him up, then collapsed down onto the floor beside him with an icepack on my toe, still barely holding it together.

Finally, I was able to get Jude to tell me why he couldn't calm down. He was actually frightened. "I scared that the iron fell on your foot."

It's hard to tell what was really frightening him--most likely, it was seeing me like this. There was probably a healthy dose of guilt in the role he played in the situation. Not wanting to let a teaching moment pass, I calmly explained that even when we don't mean to, we can hurt other people because we are not paying attention—that we always need to be aware of and pay attention to everything around us. (This was a lesson I remember my father oft repeating: "Be aware of your environment!")

After lots more reassuring hugs and words, plus reading a book together, Jude had calmed down enough to complete the card project.

And after a full night of teaching piano, my blood has pooled sufficiently in my toe that I am not sure I am going to be able to sleep. But, I guess I better go give it a shot. My toe may well be broken, or just very badly bruised, but I guess we'll see in time.

Someone has to be a responsible, cheerful adult around here tomorrow, and I guess I better make sure I qualify for the job.

I do not usually indulge in "what ifs" and regret--but right now, I wish I could zing a message back through time to myself at 2:00 today that says, "When Jude asks to watch a movie today, just say 'Yes.' Trust me on this one."