I can’t win for losing. The older I get the harder it is to distinguish between “old guy shit” and something that is genuinely wrong. Having just returned from my annual physical, down at the VA clinic in Ukiah, and figuring I was done with doctors for another year, I now find myself having to journey down to the great metropolis of Santa Rosa, to have the second toe on my right foot examined, the one right next to its big brother.
This particular toe is of the variety which is longer than the big toe, by just under one-quarter of an inch, something that may possibly contribute to my ongoing discomfort. I use the word “discomfort” in place of the “p” word; as long as I am only experiencing discomfort, and not pain, I am good to go.
How long has this discomfort been going on? Er, since last March, give or take, or corresponding with that time period last spring, when I was outside seven days a week, for four to six hours a day, turning over and de-rocking the soil, here on-farm.
My right foot is my digging foot, which is slightly out of kilter with the fact that my left side is my dominant side. I have always kicked right-footed and used a shovel with my right foot, even though I do most everything else as a left-hander. It just goes to show I should have stuck to the left. Sigh.
So somewhere along the line, my toe started to give me grief. As I explained to that nice Dr. Mulligan down in Ukiah, who also happens to be the director of the facility, I did not injure it, per se, as in nailing it with a tine of the pitchfork, something that would have been more likely to get my attention.
No, one day I became aware that my toe was unhappy. So what’s new? Get in line behind-[Editor’s note: Must we?]-well, yeah, so my toe hurt. No big deal-ferris wheel, you know? That knowledge and a lot more than a quarter, will buy you a cup of coffee at StarBucks.
So, I just kind of ignored it. We are not talking chronic discomfort here; otherwise I would have had no choice. It was the kind of thing where I would go days without any difficulty, and then either pivot to the right, or dig my toes into the ground in pushing a particularly heavy wheelbarrow of firewood.
Act tung, Chucko.
“Well, it can’t be a ten, because then it would be unbearable. It has to be somewhere in between one and ten,” Dr, M explained.
“Fine,” I replied. “Nine-point-nine.”
Still, the discomfort came and went, so I figured it was just like the plethora of other maladies that afflict people as they age. Am I going to rush down to the clinic, every time I feel a twinge that is abnormal? As fun as that sounds, I don’t.
On the other hand, when I turned that mountain of compost over a couple of weeks ago during a brief period of sun, I experienced a great deal of discomfort. Do you believe in coincidences? Me neither, so fine. Whatever. What’s your point?
As the good doctor carefully conducted her exam last Thursday morning, I went along for the ride, chit-chatting until suddenly, she did something that created such “discomfort,” tears sprang into my eyes. When I had dropped back down from the ceiling, she asked me a couple more questions before reaching out to grab a form from a cubby, and beginning to fill it out.
“I want you to make an appointment down in Santa Rosa, to see a podiatrist. You can get this x-rayed at the same time and verify what I think is going on. What may be happening is that you have a stress fracture of that toe.”
“Oh.” Not old guy shit?
I had been certain that all she was going to do is chastise me for not wearing more supportive footwear than sandals, but she never brought the subject up.
“What do they do for a stress fracture? Put the toe in a cast?” I jokingly asked Dr. M that question, and she smiled good-naturedly, before hitting me over the head with a sledge hammer.
“I don’t know. Maybe a walking boot?”
I mean, “Oh, how nice for me.”
I can’t postpone this appointment, even though we are at five days now-and counting-and I still haven't done the deed. I will. Soon. Absolutely. I can’t not do this. Says so in the manual, Page 12, Paragraph 4, Subsection C: “Put your big-boy pants on and go get your toe fixed.”
It’s hard to turn soil with a walking boot, but it’s hard to turn soil with a toe that is less than 100 percent, too.
It’s a good thing I don’t need my toe to write or I’d really be in a world of hurt.