Old essay…”That’s It?”

Found this old thing on my hard drive; written back in 2000 while out to sea for a college class…We were supposed to write a paper about something and make the reader relate to it…It’s funny to read it now and to think about that ingrown toenail…

Dave Miller
English 1301
Essay #1

If you’ve ever had a toenail removed, then I’m sure you can empathize with me when I tell you about mine. If you’ve never experienced the pain and twisted excitement of ingrown toenail removal, then sit down and hold on to your tummy because I’m about to bring you along on my “tale of a nail”.

I was nervous and a bit scared when I first talked to Doc about my foot. I had never even stopped for a second to think about needing my ingrown toenail removed. I had noticed it about a month or so previous but kept denying that the pain in my foot was being caused by my toenail. I’m not one to rush to the doctor for “any little thing” so I felt it was a bit unnecessary for me to have Doc take a look at my foot. As much as I hated to do it, after awhile it just got to the point where I knew that something was wrong and I really needed to have Doc take a look at my foot. It took him all of five minutes to look at my foot and schedule an appointment for removal two days from then.

Doc explained to me that there are two nerves in the big toes that run parallel on either side of the toe. In order to deaden these two nerves for the procedure, two shots of Lydocaine are required, one for either side of the toe. If you’ve ever received a shot anywhere, I’m sure you didn’t enjoy it but imagine having the needle jabbed into your toe! Those first two shots were, as I recall, the most painful part of the entire procedure. Although I was given a “Heads up, I’m going in” I still was not fully prepared for the upsurge of sharp pain as he pressed the needle down into my toe for what seemed like an eternity. As it went in (TWICE!) I grabbed the sides of the hospital bed and looked at my forearms. My sisters’ names are tattooed there for moments like these when I need a little extra “oomph”. As I was receiving my extra “oomph” Doc pressed the plungers down, unleashing a whole new wave of uneasiness. Upon completion of the shots, Doc asked me to wiggle my toe around for a couple of minutes to circulate the nerve deadener.

When Doc was convinced that my toe was “operation ready” he pulled out the biggest scalpel I’ve ever seen in my 23 years on the planet. Well, in actuality it really wasn’t THAT big but in surgeries, as in the great fish stories, sizes of things are constantly exaggerated. I believe that I might have actually yelped because I remember Doc looking at me with a huge grin and saying “Come on now, Dave. It’s not going to be that bad.” As soon as he touched that scalpel to my foot though, I knew we had problems. He made only one swipe with it before I yelled an obscenity and attached his name to it. He looked up with a shocked look and said “Can you feel that?” Through my gritted teeth I growled “You’re damn right I can feel that Doc”. He responded by telling me that I shouldn’t feel anything at all in my toes. I cringed as he pulled out the needle again and flashed me a wicked grin. He said “Well buddy, looks like we’ve gotta give you a little bit more Lydocaine.” I grinned weakly and told him to do whatever was necessary to finish up this operation. The third shot was not bad at all. Although I could feel the toenail section of my toe, I couldn’t feel anywhere else. I actually watched him as he pressed the needle into my toe for the third time without feeling a thing. It seemed almost surreal to watch the needle go into my own skin, yet at the same time be completely unattached to my own toe. It ended up making me nauseous so I laid back down and let Doc begin, once again, to slice the evil toenail out. He sliced about one third of my toenail and grabbed a set of pliers to yank out the removed section. This time he was successful and I didn’t feel anything whatsoever. I got a huge laugh out of him when I looked up at him and said “That’s it?”

I am currently in the recovery stages of my surgery. My toe was the victim of a painful “throb” for a short amount of time, but has now dissipated. This throbbing seemed to me to represent a real life version of the cartoon character who gets whacked in the head and his bump turns red and makes throbbing noises, all the while progressing further and further out of his head.

If you weren’t able to empathize with me before, hopefully now you can. Ingrown toenails are no fun but with proper management of your toes you should never have this problem. In case you didn’t know, when cutting your toenails cut straight across instead of at a curve, like you would do with your fingernails. And if you ever DO need to get a toenail removed, make sure that you remember all that I’ve told you about mine, and you can ask the Doc at the end of YOUR surgery “That’s it?”


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