The Toenail

I often take my octogenarian mother to lunch.    We like to try different places, which is quite an effort since we now both  live in the same small town.    But huzzah for me and all the other former big city dwellers who had to get away from the insanity of the asphalt, San Antonio is a mere 20 minute drive away.   Still, my mother–an armchair Keynesian–likes to keep the local economy thriving, so she tries to keep her money flowing on the home front.    I humor her and we stay in town.  On this particular day, we decided to dine at a lovely sandwich locale that’s frequented by the Ladies Who Lunch set.    Some red hats, other are  red hots, but all affluent with tremendous amounts of free  time to shop and spend and fulfill the lonely, dark crevices of their lives with material shit.

You have to enter this bistro through a gift shop which sells ridiculously overpriced sundries.    Artsy crap that no well-heeled housewife and/or dowager should live without.

Mother lead the charge inside and as she passed a large, solid wooden stump–approximately 30-pounds– with some elaborate carving on it, she pushed it back to get it out of her way and when she did, it fell straight back and slammed down on the four inner toes of my right  foot.

I try not to make a habit of shrieking and wailing in public, but on that chilly January day, the people of this Teutonic burg I now call home, were audience to an up close and personal performance of my banshee impersonation.   It hurt like birth in reverse.

The wait staff ran out to my rescue, as did the manager who was more concerned about tort than my toes, but I assured her through tears, that my mother did it.   It was no fault of the restaurtant, other than offering horrible art in it’s venue.    My mother stood there, confounded by what had happened.   I looked at her face.  Try as she might, she simply couldn’t resort to her standard M.O.    She couldn’t find a way to blame this one on me.

She actually looked repentant and somehow found the words to say, “I’m so sorry!”     This made me cry even more because my mother rarely ever apologies.

When my shoe came off, my toes were red, starting to swell, but it was obvious the second toe had taken the brunt of the impact.  It had been flattened some…it was longer than the other toes.   It had the appearance of a wide egg noodle after seven minutes in boiling water.

A waiter handed me a Baggie filled with ice and I sat there a minute, but it was too little, too late.    My foot hurt like hell and I couldn’t move my toes.   It’s broken.      My mother and I drove to the nearest  Emergency Clinic, where I explained what had happened as I was being wheeled in the X-ray room.

A few minutes had passed.

“No breaks”, said the milk moustached doctor, four months out of med school.    “But youve  sustained a severe bruise.   This is going to be a painful recovery process, but take these pain pills and  this anti-inflammatory and keep off your foot”.

“Thanks Doc, but what about my mother?”

“What about your mother?  Was she injured too?”

“No, but isn’t this something that should be reported to Child Protective Services?”

He looked perplexed.

“Miss Kendrick, how old are you”?

“I’ll be 54 in April.”

“And your mother?”

“She’s 83.”

“I think you just answered your own question.”‘

I smiled and said, “Oh, I was just joking around!”

But I wasn’t  really.  I was already planning what I would wear in court for the lawsuit hearing, but the mind quelling wonder of a decent opioids banished any and all litigious afterthoughts.    My mother, for now, was in the clear.

Well as for my toes, they stayed red and swollen but for the second one,  in terms of width, it still looked flat in length.    A bruise formed down my foot, almost to my ankle and  there was bruising on the bottom of my foot, too.  Within a week, a blood blister appeared on top of the second toe and grew larger each day.     After a few weeks, it finally popped (with a little help from my digital prodding;  you know we women are)  and that’s when my skin started peeling on both sides.

The other toes recovered nicely, but not the second one.  It still hurt three weeks after.   The toenail was a lovely purple/black color.   Then during  the fifth week, post accident,  I could finally put  some weight on toe  and while it eventually went back to its original width, it was still red and longish.    How long?

  • While lying in bed, I could feel the top sheet with my now longer second toe, something I couldn’t feel before.  And even that hurt.
  • I could put that toe in my bath water to check the temperature.  I could submerge it for two seconds, long before the other toes could even get damp.
  • While sitting outside one afternoon, a bright red Cardinal swooped  down on it, thinking he had found supper to feed his family of five.
  • A random monkey approached me, looked at my toe and in fluent Simian screamed “Long lost sister!!!”

I could go on.

After some time had passed, I went in for a pedicure thinking a little toe rub would be nice.   Quan looked down at my foot and asked what happened.  I explained everything and included the timeline and then he said, “You gonna lose nail”.

At least, that’s what I think he said.

I went home and did some research and yes, my Vietnamese foot  fetishist was correct.   Very often traumatic toe injuries can result in the loss of a nail.  Well, I was floored.   This had never happened to me before.    Broken bones, internal injuries, smashed dreams and arrears of faith–yes, but losing a toenail??????


Three weeks later, my dog Bixby stepped on my toe while playing  “pull the chew toy”.    Talk about painful!!!!

The banshee is back, or so thought my fellow villagers.

I examined my toe and the nail was loose on one side.   I pulled it to get a better look and what did I spy?     A tiny fragment of new toenail growing along the base.    A few days, later it fell off.

What does one do with a toenail one’s body has deemed refuse and discarded?

I had no idea, so I did the only thing that seemed logical when things Mother Nature deems that certain things must be removed from the body.    I put it under my pillow that night with the hopes that the Toenail Fairy…or Dr. Scholl would magically sneak in my room under the guise of darkness,  take the nail and replace it with a crisp new dollar bill.

Or maybe a $20 if adjusted for inflation.

I awoke the next morning and immediately looked under my pillow.    The toenail was still there, as was a strain of foot fungus.  Don’t ask me how I knew that my sheets itched, but I knew it.

I washed the bedding in  hot water and as it was drying, I  painted a tiny purplish pink square on the skin where the old nail had been, you know—to match the other toes.

I’m nothing if not a fuss-budget about continuity.


  1. OMG that must have hurt like hell, you poor thing!!! and your mother dearest to actually say sorry, well that about sums up my mother too…….she has never ever said sorry, its just not in her dictionary. So sad.
    To have weeks of pain afterwards too, I really feel for you. Did you get any TLC by any chance because you so deserve it?

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