I was sitting at my computer, farming ores in WoW this morning while I finished the last of my second coffee. I had a number of things lined up for my day that did not involve sitting at the computer or maiming myself. Especially not maiming myself.
I had finished my coffee and decided I would keep mining until I had a full bag of ores before I called it a day and started doing things that were more productive and less virtual. I had just finished mining an Elementium vein when I heard a distinctive, unexpected "thunk" sound from the front hall. The only thing that makes that sound is our defective doorbell, and that left me in a bit of a quandary because I was sitting in the room next to the front door wearing neither pants, nor shoes.
I was not expecting anybody, so that meant it was either a parcel, a Jehovah's Witness, or somebody I had no interest in seeing. I sneaked over to the front window and peeked outside to see a Canada Post truck parked in the street. Oooh! Stuff! For me!
I did some quick mental arithmetic and decided that I had time for either pants, or shoes. I debated briefly on the shoes, but the mental image of me running outside with no pants on waving and calling, "Hey, did you have something for me?" made me shudder. I grabbed my pants and ran to the front door, tightening the belt as I ran. I opened the door and scurried outside, waving and calling as I went. The post woman did not see me as she was getting into her truck, so I ran down the stairs and out the front walk, calling and waving some more.
As I neared the public walk, I slipped in the ice but quickly caught myself before I fell. I guess that caught her attention because she yelled at me and said, "For goodness sake, you've got no shoes! Go back to your porch and I'll meet you there. I need you to sign for this anyway."
I got back to the porch and waited while she scanned the package. It was then that I noticed my left foot was starting to hurt a bit. I glanced down at it as the post woman handed me the scanner to sign, and I noticed that three of my toes were covered in blood. On closer inspection - and I admit that I became momentarily obsessed with my toes at that point - it appears the blood was a result of ripping the skin off the tip of my big toe and tearing the toe nail off the toe next to it. The toenail was just flopping loose to one side, attached by the barest bit of skin.
I don't know if I made an involuntary sound or something at that point, but the parcel girl glanced down and noticed the sorry state of my foot. "Did you do that just now?" she asked as she handed over the scanner for me to sign. "Apparently so," I said as I signed for the parcel.
I make it sound rather nonchalant when I put it like that, but that was the gist of exchange. In reality, I was in mild shock and still coming to grips with the extent of the damage, and she was on the verge of being sick or fainting. I actually feel quite badly for her. As soon as she left, I hobbled over and put the parcel under the tree, then casually flipped the toenail back into place. I limped to the bathroom, still not really feeling a lot of pain. I wrapped some toilet paper around the toes to try and stem the flow of blood and, with no better ideas, went out to the kitchen and set up another cup of coffee.
I figured I should probably let atara know what was up since it seemed reasonable to assume that she would probably notice that I was missing a toenail when she got home, and would be curious. I sat down at my computer and sent her the following email.
"Subject: Ouch. =( Looks like I might have a slight change in plans today.
Body: If I can drive, it looks like I may be taking myself to a walk-in clinic. I slipped on the sidewalk (no shoes, of course) and did a real number on my left foot. Ripped the skin off the front of my big toe and tore the toenail off the toe next to it.
It's surprisingly painful.
On the plus side I didn't track that much blood through the house on my way to the bathroom. "
I was wrong about the part where I didn't track blood through the house. Apparently during the "in slight shock" phase, I left quite a trail of gore in just about every room in the house. Also the reason I chose to email her rather than phoning was because the pain had finally started to hit me, and I wasn't sure if I could talk coherently. It's easy to stop typing while you do the whole "ohgodohgodohgod" thing, and it tends to alarm your dear wife a lot less.
After we spoke, I called the Health Links number to see what they advised. The nurse there told me to avoid the walk-in clinic and to head up to the hospital emergency room instead. He said the clinic might not be equipped to handle my situation, and that the wait in emergency would be much less (good advice - there was no wait in the emergency room at all).
I thanked him, then went out to the kitchen to fetch my fresh coffee while I mulled on my next step. I got hold of atara again and told her that they wanted me to head up to the emergency room. She vetoed my idea of driving myself, and insisted that I call a taxi and then let her know after I was done in case I needed a ride. I wrapped some gauze around the two damage toes, pulled on some socks and somehow managed to get my feet into some shoes before calling a taxi. The shoes were not kind to my feet. Also I now own a blood-soaked pair of socks. I made sure to grab old socks.
All the way to the hospital, the friendly and garrulous cab driver regaled me with a story about an underground building they had recently found in India that contained tremendous amounts of wealth. I missed much of what he said because I had trouble understanding him through his accent, and because I was obsessing over my throbbing foot. I wondered if they would be able to reattach the toe. What if I developed permanent toelio? Suppose it spread up the leg and turned into kneesles? I guess he took my grunts and grimaces of pain and anguish as smiles of approval and encouragement because he kept up his banter all the way to the hospital. Also his cab smelled really good. I tipped him well and wished him a Merry Christmas.
The nurse at the hospital cleaned up the wounds a bit,applied some antibacterial cream, then sent in the doctor. The doctor said that I did exactly the right thing by putting the nail back into place and applying a bandage. Go me. She did the usual humming and hawing over the toes.
"Does this hurt?" *squeeze*
"How about this?" *harder squeeze"
"OK then, how about this?" *crush*
"That's what I thought. I'll arrange for a tetanus shot and to send you off for some x-rays."
A few minutes later the first nurse returned with a wheel chair and a needle. He gave me a Tylenol 3 and a tetanus shot (so now my foot and my arm are bothering me) and then told me that an orderly would be coming by for me shortly to take me for x-rays. I was a bit annoyed at the whole part about getting x-rayed, since I was pretty sure that I hadn't broken anything, but I figured it was probably just a formality.
"Mister Plonq, we regret to inform you that not only did you get blood and gore all over our floor, but your feet appear to be suffering from minor radiation exposure."
In actuality what they told me was, "It appears you have fractured two of your toes." I knew about one of them since I actually broke it a couple of years ago - right before our trip to Chicago. In fact it was the day that I picked up my new bike. I'd stubbed it on the bed as I was rushing around in excitement. I think I may even have posted a picture of it all swollen and black in this very journal. The big toe though, that was new. That is also where I learned about "load bearing" toes. Rather than just taping it to a neighbouring toe, the big toe is important enough to warrant a cast and everything.
The next thing I knew the doctor was wrapping my whole foot in gauze and ordering me to stay off it for two weeks. I have a temporary cast on it right now, and I am scheduled to go in tomorrow to get a more permanent cast applied. After that I'll have two weeks of sitting on my ass, or hobbling around on crutches if I need to make coffee or visit the bathroom. Now I just need to arrange for people to draw ponies on it for me.
Did I mention that I did this on my first day of my two weeks of vacation? I feel like that TV cop who is one day away from retirement. That's always when the bad shit happens.