I broke my toe recently. People ask me how I broke my toe. I broke my toe by having the coordination of a two-year-old and the strength and bulk of a sixty-year-old woman. That’s how I broke my toe.
I was doing my walking in the living room the other day. Some of you may remember that, since my brother got me a Fitbit for Christmas a few years ago, I am somewhat obsessed about my step count every day. I typically walk 6 to 7 miles a day, mostly across my living room floor in front of the television set. Walking for one’s health is all fine and good and everything, until one slams one’s foot against the wooden foot of the sofa. I immediately doubled over in pain, as if folding my abdomen in two would have any effect on my foot. It did not. At first, of course, I thought I had simply stubbed my toe. As painful as stubbing a toe is, there is no long-term impact. After the first few seconds of torture, the pain recedes and everything is back to normal. Except when the pain does not recede. That usually means a broken toe.
I broke my toe once before on a trip to Hawaii. On my first day there, I was walking through the waves and rammed my foot into a large underwater rock. Note to self: when you fight with a rock, the rock is going to win. The rock is the very definition of an immovable object. Being younger and even more stupid than I am now, I kept on keeping on through my whole trip. My rationale was that I had paid a lot of money for the vacation and I was not going to waste it nursing a sore foot. I continued to walk all over Waikiki and beyond for an entire week, dragging my injured foot behind me. It was agony, but it was agony in the name of vacation, so I was not going to let anything stop me including my throbbing, swelling toe. Funny, it never occurred to me to rent a car, take a cab, or get on a bus. I just kept walking.
When I returned home, my pinky toe was roughly the size of the rest of my foot. It still hurt like a billy-be-damn (no, I don’t know what a billy-be-damn is, but my father always used to say that) and I was starting to develop calluses on my ankle from turning my leg in to avoid pressure on the pinky toe. I went to urgent care, where the nice doctor ordered an x-ray to establish that I did, indeed, have a broken toe. It turns out that there is not much anyone can do to treat a broken toe, other than take ibuprofen and wait. It also turns out that the optimal treatment for a broken toe does NOT include walking all over Oahu. Who knew?
Anyway, with some rest and ice and a week of NSAIDs, the toe did begin to heal. Apparently, despite my ignorance and stubbornness, I did no permanent damage. I may have learned a few lessons about taking better care of myself and thinking outside the “walking everywhere while on vacation” box.
This experience came back to me when I smashed my foot against the sofa the other day. Being much older and maybe a trifle wiser, I knew better than to continue my physical activity as if nothing had happened. I have done a better job of staying off my foot and giving myself time to heal. I am still not able to wear a regular shoe and I still have some pain, but the bruising is fading and the discomfort is much more manageable. I have faith that I will, at some point, be able to walk without hobbling. Dr. Google says that, with a broken pinky toe, the pain and swelling usually resolve in a week or so and the bone heals in about a month. I can live with that.
The problem is that, since my injury, I have learned that I only have two speeds- “run around like a chicken with her head cut off” and “lay around like a lox.” I can walk 6 miles a day, do water aerobics, hop from one activity or errand or meeting or chore to another throughout the day, and rush around fueled on adrenaline or I can recline inertly on a sofa riding the waves of lethargy. Neither mode is very satisfying and, certainly, the “run around” speed is on the blink just now. I feel distinctly discombobulated and disoriented. I do not know how to manage the middle ground.
I need some help. Since neither “chicken” or “lox” is working for me right now, I need someone to please find me another animal to emulate that is appropriate for a person with a broken toe… and a pulse!
How do you find and keep the balance between rest and activity? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a pain-free day!