Toe Jam

November 7, 2007 at 1:52 pm (Waxing Nostalgic)

I have a friend with a teenage son. He’s fourteen, and can be quite stubborn. Recently he asked mom for a permission slip to get out of gym, because his feet hurt. Upon further investigation, it was discovered he has two highly infected ingrown toenails. Boy, does this bring back memories…

When I was around the same age, I had the same problem. I had a pair of cowboy boots. They were nice, cool looking. They had those pointy toes, perfect for crotch-kicking bullies. I felt like I was wearing high heels sometimes, and they hurt to walk any distance in, bit I looked good.

It started with discomfort. My socks always seemed too tight, and the little angry-looking bumps on either side of my big toes weren’t going away. Because I walked so much, I switched to tennis shoes, then deck shoes. (Skipper shoes, they were called in my ‘hood.) Soon there were complications, and it got to the point where I told mom about it, and she took me to the family doctor.

I should say in advance that our family doctor growing up was a sweet, wonderful man. He was also very old, and a bit behind the times medically. Every treatment involved a shot, and whatever the shot was cured whatever ailment I had. (Except tonsils. He snipped those puppies out, and except for hitting Clay Aiken-like high notes for about two weeks, I was fine.) So I wasn’t worried when he said he could cure my ingrown toenails.

I prided myself on being tough. I could take any amount of pain without flinching. (Or so I thought.) I took my shoes off, and laid down on his examination/in-house surgery table.

I should have started worrying when he called in my mom, his nurse and his receptionist. (?) He said, “This is going to hurt a little bit. I need you to hold as still as possible. Ladies?”

Mom, seated near my chest, took my hand. The nurse and receptionist put the majority of their body weight on my leg. I saw the doctor prep the syringe, take a deep breath, and advise me to do the same. I did.

ZAP! A white-hot flash of pain shot from my big toe to the top of my head. “AAAAAHHH! God-DAMN!” I bucked. The ladies held my leg down, barely.

Mom? She slapped me on the forehead. “Stop swearing, and don’t take Jehovah’s name in vain.”

“What the fuck? Why are you hitting me?” I was nonplussed! Couldn’t she see this hurt?

The needle went in again. “JESUS!” Slap. This went on for a minute. The doctor kept giving my mom dirty looks, but continued his meatball surgery.

I sorta blacked out after that. They say you don’t remember specific pain, but I remember this pretty good. It fucking hurt.

He snipped the corners out of all four infected areas, put cotton-balls and bandages over them, and told me to avoid shoes for a while. I explored my hippie side, and wore sandals for about two weeks. He told me that if it started to ingrow again, that I should cut a V-notch in the middle of the toenail, so the ingrown part would grow back out.

Yeah, right.

Despite my best efforts, they came back. I knew better than to tell mom, so I went to dad. “Um, dad? I need new shoes, and this time I’d like to get some steel-toed boots. They’ll last forever, and my feet aren’t growing anymore.” (Lie.) He said that it sounded reasonable, and I ended up with a pair of black leather steel-toed engineer boots, the kind badass bikers were wearing at the time. Since I had a cutoff Levi’s jean jacket, I was living the part. (Everything except the motorcycle, that is. Parents wouldn’t indulge me in the most important part of the biker image.)

I held out for about a year. I got my learner’s permit, so I was able to drive the car. But as my toes got worse, and my mom noticed wincing every time I bumped my steel-toed boots, she inquired. I fessed up.

“I guess we should call Doctor Carlstrom again,” she said.


“Let me see them.” I peeled off my sock, and the blood and yellowish stains on my sock drew a gasp. When she saw the toes, she insisted I go back to the doctor.

“No. Let my toes fall off. I will not go through that again!” I was adamant.

Around this time my dad had a stroke, and was paralyzed on one side, lost his speech and ability to run the household. Since my mom had been sheltered from all things manly, like paying bills, managing bank accounts, grocery shopping, it was up to me to run the show. (Tagging along after dad, paying close attention to all he did and asking a million annoying questions paid off. I was running my own household at age fifteen.) But mom was worried it was too much responsibility, and counselors were brought in. The one I liked most was Carol, a southern belle with a cute bottom and a cuter smile. Mom sicced her on me.

I refused to go back to my family doctor. I haven’t given birth or had hemmrhoid surgery, the two worst described pains I’d heard. My toes were my sore point, but I wasn’t going to deal with it again. Not like that.

Carol had an idea. She knew people in county government, and maybe, just maybe, she could get a special dispensation so I could go to a real foot doctor. I was willing to listen, since every time my toe hit that steel tip I felt like yelping.

And so I met Dr Henry Swearingen. He had an office in a high rise downtown, a couple of blocks from where I work now. Carol had agreed to come along with me, and to drive our car back if needed. But since this was just a consultation, I wouldn’t need that, right?

Dr Swearingen was a very nice man. I told him of my procedure, and he winced sympathetically. He explained that he had a different procedure, which removed the whole side of the nail, so it wouldn’t grow back.

“You mean it would only have to be done once?” I could put up with one more operation, if it was the last one I’d have to deal with.

“Unless you do something stupid, like cut your toenail any other way than straight across.”

“Won’t it hurt more, since you’re cutting more out?’

“We have a little trick for that now. Except for a bit of pain at first, your toes will be numb for several weeks, and by then everything will be healed.”

“Cool! When can we do this?”

He smiled. “Right now, if you like.”

Carol had a purchase order for $268, (about $1,200 in today’s doctor money) and she left with the nurse. Carol waited outside, and the nurse came back. The doctor prepped a big needle, and I braced. I knew what was coming.

Or so I thought.

“Um, Doc? You might want to get more help holding me down. Two three-hundred pound women couldn’t do it last time.”

“I think you’ll be okay. Nurse?”

She was a twenty-something hottie, with blond hair up in a bun and nerdy-girl glasses. She leaned over my leg, and it was most distracting. I barely paid attention to the doctor, who had an odd-looking device in his hand. He fed a C02 cartridge into it, and placed it next to my toe.


I flinched, then went still A sharp burst of pain, followed by nothing. Wha-wha what?

He did all four corners of both toes, then picked up the needle. I watched as he injected some sort of -caine deep into my toe. He instructed me to close my eyes, and then asked if I felt anything.


“Good,” he replied. “You might want to avoid watching the rest of this.”

I laid back, staring at the ceiling. The nurse sat at my side, holding my hand. That was nice, comforting. When you’re fifteen, holding hands with a twenty-something hottie nurse is like a dream come true.

But wait! It gets better.

I had to sneak a peek. I could hear snipping and mumbled commentary, so I looked. There was blood all over my toe, and the yellow disinfectant added to the shock. Doc was right. I did NOT want to see this, so I turned my attention to the nurse.


She was wearing white stockings and a white skirt, which came down to about six inches above the knee, when standing. Sitting down? It barely covered her upper thighs. The stool she sat on caused her legs to part, and I was staring straight at her white-panty covered crotch!

The hell with being tough! I needed to milk this situation!

I squirmed a little, and squeezed her hand a bit tighter. She leaned forward, parting her legs a bit more. I could see an ever-so-slight tuft of pubic hair sticking out the side of her panties. I felt a stirring down below, and had to try with all my might not to react the way most fifteen year old boys do when they get an on-the-sly beaver shot. “I’m just queasy is all. I shouldn’t have looked.”

“Just focus over here. You’ll be all right.”

And so I did.

That was the most fun I’ve ever had being surgically altered. Dr Swearingen finished, bandaged me up and gave after-care instructions. Always cut the toenail straight across, and if it comes back, which it won’t, but if it does, to call him and come in. He’d cauterized the nerves, so I should be good for life.

It’s been thirty years now since I’ve had an ingrown toenail.

A few months after, I ‘just happened’ to be walking by the office when the nurse came out, heading home. It was a Friday, and I wondered if I could buy her a cup of coffee, as thanks for helping me in my time of need. She politely declined, as she had a date already. Another youthful crush, shot down in flames.

The toes have held up well. I was able to drive home that day, and after a few days I was wearing the boots again. I eventually stuck with tennis shoes, as I walk for my main form of exercise. But to this day I wear shoes with lots of toe room, and loose fitting socks. And no fucking cowboy boots. My crotch-kicking, roach-hunting days are long over.

So, my young friend with the sore toes, go to the doctor. Make sure it says ‘Podiatrist’ and not ‘Osteopath’ on the door. Listen to what he tells you, and do what he tells you.

And may your nurse be as hot as mine was…

1 Comment

  1. gee-no said,


    *licks lips*

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