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A toe with a story to tell

April in GlenwoodApril E. ClarkGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
April E. Clark
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I recently lost the nail on the big toe of my right foot.Now that it’s gone, I realize how attached I was to that little sucker. Or was it more attached to me?A sports-related injury during a co-ed rec league softball game is why I’m painting nine out of 10 toes with polish these days. The Post Independent team is no Bad News Bears. We’re no Boston Red Sox either.The toenail met its demise as I was catching during a very important championship game. I attempted to tag a runner out at home base. The runner – or in this case, the slider – and I collided. I slowly emerged from the kicked-up dust with a sore foot and scratched-and-bruised knees.Not the greatest accessory for summer dresses and swimwear.Great punch lines for sexist jokes though.I knew from the first night I was going to lose the nail. A dark purple hue formed underneath it almost instantaneously. And like a fling with a college guy during Spring Break in Daytona Beach, the thing was gone one week later. No trace of it ever being in my life.Except maybe some tenderness.I do have feelings you know.As a way to cope with the loss, I’ve decided against hiding my disfigurement with adhesive bandages. There’s no covering up this co-ed rec league softball war wound. If people don’t notice it first – and there have been some – I’m pretty adept at letting them know the story.Trust me, I’ll work it into the conversation somehow. Whether they want to talk about it or not.”So I lost my toenail,” I announced to my friend Barry over a beer at Mountain Fair Saturday.”Really,” he replied, looking a little grossed out.”Yeah, playing softball,” I said, pointing to my throbbing pink exposed toe in flip-flops.”Actually, I sort of noticed it earlier,” he said. “But I didn’t want to say anything.”I wonder if he’d do the same if I had spinach in my teeth.All this hubbub about my big toe reminds me of another mishap involving my right foot. This time I was on my bike – a beautiful Snap-on Tools Gold Anniversary Edition Trek someone recently stole from my boyfriend’s apartment patio. So if you see it around town let me know. What can I say? I’m really attached.That bike and I go way back. About 5 years ago, I was riding my Snap-on Tools Gold Anniversary Edition home from White House Pizza in Carbondale. I hit a patch of gravel, went sideways and my sandal strap became caught in the bike chain. That ultimately led to a huge gash on the inside of my right foot.And blood. Lots and lots of blood.My boyfriend and I rushed home, my foot as crimson as my face after Spring Break in Daytona Beach. I was feeling a little freaked, knowing I no longer had that wonderful health insurance freelance writers sometimes do without in a pinch. Did I mention tissue and bone was showing?Not a story for the squeamish.I actually wasn’t feeling much pain. Numbing had ensued. Stitches were probably necessary. That’s why health insurance – and toenails – are nice to have around.Instead of going to the hospital, we called Barry.”You’ve got to come over and see my foot,” I said into the receiver. “It’s cut wide open. You can see the bone I think.””Um, I’m kind of busy right now,” he replied, trying his best to avoid a house call. “Please,” I begged. “I need you to come and check it out.””OK, I’ll be over,” he said.Crammed in the bathroom, we cleaned and sterilized the cut as I tried not to pass out. We did some impressive impromptu wound management with butterfly bandages. I don’t necessarily suggest people try this at home, unless a nurse or doctor is involved.Luckily I now have insurance.To this day I have an ugly scar on that right foot. That’s also the same lower extremity that features a crooked broken second toe from a locker room mishap after seventh-grade gym class.And a big toe without a nail but with a story to tell.April E. Clark wonders how long it will take for her toenail to grow back. She can be reached at aclark@postindependent.com.


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