Ode to my broken toes

A few entries ago I reported to you that this summer I broke one of my pinky toes. In fact, I was not entirely forthcoming with you: this summer I broke both of my pinky toes during the same week. How did it happen? It was the classic recipe for pinky toe injuries:

Step 1: Put a man who has been living in Sweden for ten years back in California.
Step 2: Have him wear flip flops that are too small for his feet, causing his pinky toes to hang out over the edges.
Step 3: Have this same man place his luggage right near his bedroom door, so whenever he enters or exits the room he either has to turn his body to the side or walk straight ahead, catch a pinky toe on the luggage, and break it.

Note: It would help if the man is particularly lazy, so that once the first pinky toe is broken he won’t think, “I need to move that piece of luggage right away.” No, this is not the kind of man you want. You want the kind of man who says, “Oh my god, that hurt incredibly. I’m going to leave that piece of luggage exactly where it is.” In this way you ensure that the man breaks both toes.

Now you may be asking, “But how did he know they were broken?” I knew this because when drying between my toes after a shower, one of the pinky toes moved out perpendicular to the other toes. Which oddly, did not hurt at all – it was just a very disturbing image.

Back in Sweden, I called my local healthcare center to see how they would deal with my broken toes. The nurse on the phone asked me, “Was it the big toe?” I said no, it was not, it was the pinky toes. She said, “Then we do nothing.” Nothing? I suddenly felt like a chimpanzee in a Jane Goodall documentary – one of those old chimpanzees that had fallen from a tree, broken a leg, and was forced to drag itself around on the jungle floor for the rest of its life looking for moldy fruit. Well, that kind of chimpanzee except much more attractive, and with a good set of silverware and a microwave. And legs that work.

But you get my point – modern medicine, in all its splendor and sophistication does nothing for broken toes. Maybe if you whine enough they will put a splint on it for you, but that’s it. I found this all fascinating. What made toes so much less important than fingers? Or are toes simply more hardy than fingers? Perhaps our toes are too far away from our heads for us to really care about them. My pinky toes are like Guam and Puerto Rico – small, distant, and only loosely attached to the United Body of Me.


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5 Responses to “Ode to my broken toes”

  1. megan Says:

    My boyfriend broke his little toe a couple of years ago by colliding with an ottoman while running through the house like a four year-old is so often told not to. By the time we realized it might be broken and not just stubbed, a week had passed. The hospital took an x-ray and confirmed a hairline fracture, and then told us there was nothing they could do except tape it to the next toe, which really wouldn’t help the pain or quicken the healing time. What I find truly amazing is that my boyfriend’s posture and stride were both seriously affected. I mean, he could have broken every bone in his ankle for all we knew, the limp was so bad. It blows my mind how important the baby toe really is.

  2. nycnewgirl Says:

    it’s true. Once I had a possible hairline fracture in one of my phalanges (?), the long thin bones in your foot that connect to your toes. The doctor didn’t even want to do the x-ray because, as she said, “Why bother?” If it was broken, they wouldn’t do anything for it. so it really didn’t matter if it was or not.

  3. Susan Says:

    was your pinky toe ever really straight to begin with?

    they’re like little hooks down there, really. do they look even more crooked than ever? Do you have a photo?

  4. mollyschoemann Says:

    What makes me cringe and wonder how far we have really come is the world of dentistry. They’re all, ‘let’s yank your tooth out of your jaw and sew up the hole! Let’s stab around in your mouth until we find cavities!” It’s so brutal. Where are the advances there??

  5. magnifique100 Says:

    One of my French teachers broke her little toe.

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