A touch of the panic

Last week I taped some video footage for a Momversation about swine flu:

I’m posting it here for a couple of reasons. One, there are days here in this third trimester of pregnancy when I retain every ounce of liquid I consume causing all extremities of my body to swell. And then the very next day there is nothing, no swelling, and people could swear that I’ve suddenly lost ten pounds. I taped this video on one of the days when my hands were so sausage-like that I could not bend my index finger, and you can see in the footage that I’m even retaining water under my eyes. How is this supposed to be useful? I cannot imagine that this serves a purpose. Were cave women routinely running out of food and left no choice but to puncture the swollen bags under their eyes to feed their starving children? Is that even sanitary? Hey mom, I’m hungry, CAN I SUCK YOUR EYE?

Two, Jon took me to the clinic yesterday to have a week-old broken toe checked out, and as we were waiting in the lobby for the nurse to call my name someone emphasized the word SNEEZE in a conversation they were having with a friend. And I’m not even kidding, three people ran for the door. Seems people have a touch of the panic. I could understand such a reaction if the person had shouted FIRE! or LOOK, IT’S ANDY DICK! but there wasn’t even an actual sneeze involved in this exchange. Unless of course the virus has mutated and is now being passed around through vocabulary.

About that week-old broken toe… yeah. When I called to make an appointment the nurse was like, wait a minute, it’s been broken how long? And I just didn’t have the energy to explain to her how I like to practice a holistic approach to healing called DENIAL. The thing is, I’ve got really long toes and a life-long habit of ramming them into stationary objects. My pinky toes are always reaching out and grabbing the corners of furniture, kind of like a thirteen-year-old boy who is clutching a bat and leaning out the passenger-side window of a station wagon so that he can swing at passing mailboxes. Is a table missing a leg? Is there a mysterious hole in the kitchen cabinet? You might think to blame a vandal, but chances are I WAS JUST WALKING THROUGH THE ROOM.

Nine days ago I was just passing through the living room on my way to the front door when suddenly the pinky toe on my left foot lunged at the couch and grabbed hold of its wooden base. It all happened so quickly that it wasn’t until five seconds later that I remembered hearing a CRUNCH! And then the pain settled in, a throbbing, soaring pain. Hours later the entire left side of my foot turned black. Is that not the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard? I mean, it’s not like I can go around bragging about the wild bear I wrestled to the ground. People ask me why I’m limping and I want to go, “The war! I just got back from the war!” When really I got my ass whooped by an inanimate couch.

I thought I’d just treat it at home, stick a bag of ice on it every other hour and pop a few tylenol here and there. Except I forgot I was living with The World’s Worst Dog, an animal who has no sense of boundaries and routinely steps on our faces while we’re lying in bed. So of course she followed me around for seven days, trailed my every move, and treated my toe like the wounded sheep most vulnerable to wolves. Cute, right? You can’t buy that kind of attention. Except she thought that by standing on my toe she was protecting it from further couch attack. Like, is this helping? How about if I pounce on it? Is that better? Here, let me grind my front paws into your toe and we’ll call it a massage.

The bruising and pain only got worse, so we decided to have a doctor take a look at it to make sure I didn’t need surgery. Good news is that my toe is still attached to my foot, although there is a clear spiral fracture on my pinky toe:

broken toe

broken toe

Bad news is that I have to wear an incredibly awkward boot for the next four weeks, and oh my god, the immobility is DRIVING ME NUTS. Especially since the nesting hormones are so strong right now that the adrenaline rush I got from organizing our toothbrushes was not unlike snorting an entire eight ball of cocaine.

  • http://www.only-childsyndrome.com only-child

    OMG I am so glad I am not alone. I busted ass in 5 inch heels the other night; not I’m not a hooker no matter what my Dr. says. Instead I got a BOOT for the next 4-6 weeks and I can only think about all the things i WILL DO when I can walk. things like grocery shop, buy pants that fit around my boot etc. I can only imagine how it’s 10x worse because well your having a baby :)

    Good luck!

  • Anonymously

    I had a fractured bone in my foot after giving birth. dr said it was becuz of the extra poundage I put on and the fact that I was in retail so I was on my feet alot before I gave birth. first:that’s insulting…and 2nd:I have to take care of a newborn with a big ass boot on my foot. so I cheated. I only wore it for like a week -during the day….when people were around.
    in other words…

  • faq

    I actually think you might be getting funnier as this pregnancy wears on. :)

  • Amy

    What disease does a sick pirate have?


    Sorry, someone said SARs in the Momversation and I HAD TO DO IT.

  • amy

    EXACTLY. The American media blows EVERYTHING out of proportion. Anytime I switch to a US channel there is FEAR! Fear this, that, fear everything dammit~! FEAR! I am surprised the entire country is not on anti-anxiety meds. Because there is SO MUCH TO FEAR!

    Here in Canada the ‘medical authorities’ have suggested we all wash our hands more often and that should the swine flu effect a significant (minimal) portion of our population vaccines are available. Period.

  • Janie

    A boot for a broken pinky toe? Sounds like crazy overkill. I’ve broken mine a few times and never needed more than a splinting to the next toe. Go see a podiatrist for a second opinon. Physicians never know what the hell they’re doing when it comes to broken toes.

  • http://www.babytanous.blogspot.com Rachael

    A boot, really?? They couldn’t have given you a rocker bottom post op shoe?? A tennis shoe or in your case a wedge flip flop will help with the leg length issue caused by the boot. I would be careful how tight the boot is too so you don’t cause other problems. Keep your feet up as much as possible, if you are not wearing compression stockings you can end up with sausage toes and a big swollen calf/knee above the boot. You can get a Darco post op shoe with a rocker bottom at a medical supply or orthotic/prosthetic shop. Good Luck!!!

  • Rachel

    You poor thing! As always, you crack me up, even in your extreme pain.

    I hope the toe heals soon!

    And…America is ****ing crazy when it comes to paranoia. It’s like it’s not happy unless it’s cracked out on being terrified of The. Next. Big. Thing.

    ::runs around in circle screaming:: SWINE FLU! OMIGOD! SWINE FLU!

    …Just wash yer damn hands. lol.

    ^^This, coming from the obsessive-compulsive freak.

  • Anonymous

    Mmmm, eightballs.

  • http://melaniedejonge.com Melanie

    I had a headache and felt tired last week and almost threw the entire room into a panic! Haha. People are definitely worried about the swine flu out of proportion to the negative effects it’s had so far. But maybe, with the economy being so scary, it gives people something else to focus on.

  • Gabby

    AHHHHH your poor pregnant toes!

  • Vicky

    I, err, risk panicking you further… but if you are retaining fluid around your eyes, in your face etc, you should speak to someone medical about pre eclampsia. I got it right towards the end of my pregnancy, and it was pretty weird. I looked like a blob, but I thought that was normal. Only my mum expressed concern, and she turned out to be right dammit. Giving birth was good for a number of reasons (epidural? I love you!) but one of the reasons was that I got my hands back.
    (And I didn’t have headaches or vision distortion, so I thought I was just fine. I wasn’t, the gits induced me…)

  • Carol from SA

    You are so bloody funny!

  • Susanne
  • http://etlilleoejeblik.blogspot.com/ trinsch

    i seriously couldn’t read parts of this post. it was too painful. think it was like that pavlov dogs thing, so hearing about toes clashing with furniture brought back that terrible pain from those encounters. i feel for you.

  • http://hopelds.blogspot.com/ Hope

    OMG you make me feel SOO much better sometimes. I have one of those toes – it places itself under rapidly descending heavy objects, reaches out to grab and impale itself on any and all metal equipment and/or furniture.

    And of COURSE we don’t get it treated right away – it’s not significant enough to go to the ER and wait seven hours to see just the triage nurse – it’s stupid to go two days later to the doctor’s when it’s just a ‘little’ broken – and so when people make a big deal out of WHY didn’t you get the swollen, blackened and AGONIZING digit see earlier…

    Well, like you, it’s difficult to explain. Thanks for sharing your pain, sister!

  • http://www.fudgeit.org bushra

    oh no! all i seem to be able to do is panic on your behalf! you’re pregnant and you have a broken toe! argh! sorry that doesn’t help. hope it heals up soon. rest, lots of rest. oh and while i’m here can you stop taking fucking great pictures? ta very much.

  • http://www.ohthatissogay.com LifesBeenGood

    Feelin’ your pain sistah! Broken many a toe… Broke my pinky toe once riding a skateboard in a friend’s basement (It was a party… I was drunk… cut me some slack!). Crushed it between the dryer and the skateboard. X-Games here I come!

    Spiral broke mah big toe once running in the dark when I was a lifeguard 20 years ago. Kicked a pile of dirt. When I got to the ER, the very handsome ER doctor said to me was, “Nice tan… you’re going to get skin cancer.” Of course in my 16 year old genius I replied… “Thanks Doc!” like he’d just told me I was Cindy Crawford or something. I worked hard on that tan!

  • http://www.whenpigsfly.squarespace.com Jen

    Well, at least giving birth will dull the pain of the broken toe. Not sure if that makes you feel any better.

  • FreakishlyTallMom

    I just have to say that I LOVE how your mind works…whereas I would just say “I stubbed my toe and it hurt” you compare yours to teenage boys mailbox smashing!!! GENIUS! I am sorry your toe is broke and you are so swollen…but you made my day when I read “CAN I SUCK ON YOUR EYE?” LMAO

  • http://besidethebutter.wordpress.com Diana

    Hi Heather,

    Love your blog and am a virgin commenter but had to speak up as I SO SO SO feel your pain.

    When I was 8.5 months with my first I was walking the darling but disobedient dog and found myself having to chase her out of someone else’s yard. It was up a small slope which I promptly fell down, caught my foot in a storm grate at the bottom, and of course my whale of a body just kept sliding with the leg still stuck– snap, crackle pop in the knee. Hobbled home, using said dog as a crutch, and thought “It’s just sore but perhaps I should get it looked at”. One hip to ankle cast later, I was NOT happy. Being that front heavy on crutches is not fun. Not to mention we had just moved to Hong Kong, I had no friends, no mummy and no shoulders to cry on — or beat with a crutch out of frustration. Of course, my son came early, at 36 weeks and the cast had to stay on. When my water broke and gushed blue liquid on the floor, after my initial freak out, I realized it was just all the ink from the scribbles on the cast. Birth plan out the window, garbage bags stuffed around the cast to keep it dry and a Chinese cab driver who can’t speak or read english trying to find my hospital — I’m thinking “this is really not what I imagined.”

    Of course, I can look back at it all and laugh now, so thanks for the reminder! Just think ‘she’ is extra-special already simply due to these circumstances that you will now never forget. For me, I realize now that the drama of the pregnancy was a clear indicator of the little personality coming in to my life :)

    Good luck converting the waddle to a hobble!

  • http://fearealized.com/ NaysWay

    This was so funny, I had to read it aloud to my co-worker. What made me laugh harder (aside from Coco as I, too, have a dog who likes to sit on feet) was knowing, oh my gawd, you’re getting that boot off right before/right after the baby is born. What the frak! So funny, yet so sad. Being pregnant twice, with the second pregnancy being some bad karma for my wrong doings, I couldn’t imagine breaking something on my body to add to the ongoing misery.

    Hope that thing comes off before the baby arrives!

  • http://www.undersundog.com Undersundog

    ANDY DICK, RUN! Word.

    He was the “celebrity guest” at a grilled cheese Sandwich eating contest I attended at Venice Beach.

    He started signing t-shirts, and, umm, pretty much everyone started leaving. Then, staring directly at my friend’s chest, he asked if anyone wanted their boobs signed.


    The sad thing was he said it like it wasn’t a joke. But like a helpful suggestion as in, “surely you wouldn’t want to leave this beach having wasted the opportunity to have my signature printed on your tit.”

  • Nemo

    Do you think the boot will effect your tennis game?

  • http://www.gorkyrises.com gorky

    You don’t like the boot? I’ve worn the boot a couple of times. Still have one in my closet just in case I decide to mangle a toe again.

    As for the Flu – I seriously believe if more people watched horror movies, they would know this is HARDLY the worst infection you can get…

  • Tek

    I love x-rays!

  • Kelly

    Welcome to the boot-wearing club! Mine is for a now-healing broken leg/ankle suffered on driveway ice, protecting dog in arms on way outside to pee (her, not me). Can’t imagine wearing one while pregnant … but hang in there! And maybe use it in the grocery store to justify riding one of those scooter-shopping cart things? I’m just saying … a pregnant girl in a boot has GOT to take it easy!

  • Acher

    My sister in law recently fell backwards off of a stair (ONE STAIR) and landed on her elbow. On the concrete. While chasing her two year old who thought it was fun to run the opposite direction. While nine months pregnant. That was a bad day.

  • Acher

    Oh- I might add that she BROKE her elbow in the process

  • Jessica

    Another sympathetic commenter also in my 3rd trimester. As yet, no boot. Now I’m a little paranoid about my pinky toes, one of which is already all messed up when I stubbed and didn’t break it, but tore all the muscles up so the thing still looks all sad and gimpy.

    But I have started sporting a couple of very trendy wrist splints this week to deal with my pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. I look kind of like a boxer or a weight lifter, or maybe someone who thinks fingerless gloves have come back into style. Either way, I feel at least some of your pain.

  • Kerri

    I got a stress fracture in my foot and I’m cursed with the same big, plastic boot. I hate it too, and I can only imagine how annoying it is to be pregnant on top of that. You poor thing!

  • Diana

    I love the way you say “SWINE FLU” you rock, Heather!

  • http://www.poinkie.com In my other life I was a Mormon

    I’m so sorry about your toe but glad to hear it doesn’t require surgery!

    You won’t believe this but I have a broken toe story that involves Utah, BYU and Mormons! Circa early nineties, my then infant son is sick and throwing up…hubby yells for me to open the bathroom door as he’s carrying him, I run for the door and literally ram my foot into the wooden leg of a chair at full speed. So, while on crutches with an infant, I call up the ‘ol Relief Society president, ’cause you know, church members help each other out right? I mean, if you’re sick or just had a baby they come running with casseroles, everybody knows this. So, after I explain my tale of woe to the RS Pres. she says—and I quote—”I don’t think anyone can help you but I’m sure you’ll learn to get along on one foot.” I can’t make this stuff up.

  • Anonymous

    I thought you looked on the verge of tears while taping On the Record. This might explain it.

  • Unglued Momma

    At least it happened before you had the baby. None the less those plastic boots are a bitch. I broke my foot when my son was 3 months old and that was when my nesting was finally kicking in. I worked up until the day before I had him and thought that he would have no idea that I had not done a damn thing to his room. Months 1 and 2 as you know are just plain damn tiring and when month 3 came around and my energy was getting back into full swing, along came the broken foot. I live in a tri-level home with stairs in every direction and my husband is a firefighter that works 24 hour shifts. Needless to say that I lived in our living room with my son when my husband was gone with a rolling office chair to get around. I was supposed to be on crutches for 8 weeks but sadly it only lasted for about 1 week. With every bathroom in the house on a different floor, I was not about to resort to peeing in a cup.

  • Julie

    I so feel your pain in the toe department. I have broken the same pinkie toe twice and mine are very small pinkie toes. It is not about the size of the toes. It is a sly furniture conspiracy. And I retain a lot of water regularly, but not with pregnancy as I have no children. I get to a point where I am either afraid someone will come near me with a sharp instrument and cause a leak or I wish they would just to relieve the pressure.

  • Lindsay

    Wow. Considering that American tourists are the ones who brought AIDS to Haiti in the first place… Daphne’s comment seems really abrupt and inappropriate.

    Interesting debate though. I’m a college student living away from home (and in an area with confirmed cases, no less) and my mother keeps calling to freak out about swine flu getting to me. The more other people panic, the less I find myself concerned at all.

  • http://tiggerlane.blogspot.com Tiggerlane

    Hitting the pinkie toe can be akin to having your balls smacked. Not that I have balls, but I get that sickening feeling in my gut as I writhe around, and imagine it to be much the same.

    I was in denial about an infected wisdom tooth, thinking I could just squeeze pus out of it occasionally and pop some Motrin to make the pain go away.

    Three months, four courses of antibiotics, a swollen head and a visit to Igor the Drilling Oral Surgeon later…I’m finally healed. My husband said I paid mightly for my denial.

    I posted photos of my Chipmunk Cheek … I think your readers deserve at least ONE classic video of your pregnant ass lurching around the house in that boot! PLEASE??? LOL!

  • http://thepapertreehouse.blogspot.com Embee

    Watching this video, once again confirmed that my 16 yr. old daughter and I would love to hang out with you for at LEAST a day.

    Good news, we ALWAYS wash our hands after we poo!

  • http://raininthesky.blogspot.com Cathy

    I have been pregnant and I have broken my toe. I am glad that these two things did not occur at the same time. I am so sorry this happened to you. The good thing is it will be pretty much healed by the time the baby arrives. Get lots of rest and pamper yourself. Best Wishes.

  • pammyg

    Heather, I feel your pain. Oh the throbbing!!

    I, too, am part of the “pinky toe breakers club.” In my case, hopping (Yes, hopping. I was in a hurry…) over a baby gate. All of me made it over the gate with the exception of my left pinky toe. Never having a fracture before, I was clueless how painful one could be. More difficult? Trying to sleep on the right side of the bed while keeping your left foot out from under the covers because, damn, those blankets will make it hurt.

    My daughter inherited my love for being bare-footed, not to mention pinky toes with a mind of their own. It’s only a matter of time for her.

    Think I’ll buy her a pair of Crocs.

    Speedy recovery!

  • http://angryredhead.wordpress.com Candice

    Love the video commentary. I just returned from Mexico last week, where people were taking everything in stride. Returning to Canada was like walking into a screaming throng of panicked idiots…people are actually afraid of me. NOT THAT SERIOUS people. Geez.

    Get better soon!

  • http://red-headedtempertantrums.blogspot.com/ Tabitha

    I agree that people are over-reacting a bit about this Swine Flu thing…but don’t think I didn’t wash my hands after I touched a kid from Texas in Wal-Mart today!

  • http://www.mompsy.com Mompsy

    Yes, it seems this strange illness called “the panics” is even more contagious than some pig flu I vaguely heard about last week. ;)

    As for the broken pinky toe–you SO remind me of one of my sister-in-laws. We used to work together eons ago and about every four months or so she’d come in to work wearing fab clothes (as usual) and ugly-ass sneakers. Yup, it was toe crunching season once again.

  • Elizabeth

    That woman with the short, dark hair–cute as she is with her eyeliner–needs to read up on pandemics. Sure, the swine flu is turning out to be nothing scarier than the seasonal flu… but, hello! Historically speaking, we are 60 years overdue for a deadly flu pandemic. The Avian Flu, when it hit in ’03, had a 60% mortality rate. THAT is scary.

    Scarier because the flu has the ability to strike the young and healthy, as it did in 1918, sending their immune systems into overdrive and essentially letting their bodies self-destruct.

    Bottom line? The flu pandemic that is coming is not something to roll your eyes about. I excuse the doctors and scientists who have been up in arms about this–it’s going to happen, it is inevitable. I’d rather have access to information than not.

  • http://table4five.net Elizabeth

    Pregnancy plus sausage fingers plus broken toe and a BOOT? Good gods, Heather, I think the Universe needs to give you a break!

    p.s. I just finished reading “It Sucked and Then I Cried”. Besides wanting to thank you for writing the whole book, thank you for including those adorable baby photos! My daughter keeps asking me to turn to the photos so she can look at “that cute baby” :) And? I sucked it up and went back on the antidepressants. Don’t know why my brain chemistry isn’t adjusting to the fact that it’s Spring, but it’s not. If having to keep taking the pills means I’ll stop screeching at everyone, I’ll take ‘em.

  • http://walkingtomaine.blogspot.com Betsy

    I kinda like the name Maria now.

  • SueB

    I, too, suffer from Fragile Toe Syndrome. I’ve broken every toe except my big ones, mostly from tripping over my husband’s shoes (which lie about in random patterns all over the house). I’ve also been known to trip on low-pile carpet and whoops! there goes another one. Last time I tweaked a toe, the man said, “Another one? What’d you do, trip on air?” And damn if he wasn’t right.

  • Babing at High Altitude

    It is inspiring how you keep your sense of humor through everything. It has been one of those weeks when the even the ice melting in my glass too fast will make me cry! So, thank you for the laughs. Sorry about your toe though, and the swelling. Hope you heal quickly!

  • Sandy

    Oh heavens girl… pregnant and a broken toe…I’m feeling the pain for you.

    I am also a member of this prestigious club. I broke my toe tripping over the comforter for our bed. Yes, you read that right. I was changing the sheets, walking from one side to the other and tripped over the comforter on the floor. While talking to the doc to make an appt., I bumped it on the desk. I thought I was in labor again.

    We went to an out of town football game the next day. The boot was quite flattering to my jeans.. um.. yah.. Anyways, a 3 year old kid in the row in front of me was swinging his arms and jumping around and you guessed it, landed on the toe. It was all I could do to get out of the bleachers, go to the bathroom and scream. It was like labor all over again.

    It’s amazing how many of us share the same kinds of stories.

    Hang in there. Soon this will be a memory that you all will laugh about for the rest of your life – seriously! Best of luck to you.