An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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.

  • Anu

    Ouch!! that must suck on so many levels. Hope things get better soon…they will right….as soon as the baby arrives 😉 Just kidding…hope you feel better soon. Broken bones are never fun.

  • Hummingbird

    Can relate to the broken toe pain—it does hurt so bad. A horse once stepped on my foot and it only broke the toe right next to my pinky toe. The fact that I was standing on grass saved my foot from having to be amputated, I am sure! Excruiating pain for sure. Then I was at a party playing a game where you do relay running after you don all these crazy clothes in the suitcase. The end result was me running in size 5 heels with size 10 feet. Ummm–ever had a “dancer’s fracture” ? OMG! So, after those two major pain events, the numerous times a chair leg would reach out and grab my toes, it became a game of mine to see just how many times I could manage to break a toe ! Don’t play that game, Dooce! Hope you heal soon. However, this broken toe could be a good thing as when you start having labor pains, have hubby pinch that bum toe and it will take your mind off your contractions!

  • Edith

    Once I had a broken foot from just standing up – well, I did have ostheoporosis but for god’s sake, I was 24! – so I know how you must feel. No, wait. I don’t. I wasn’t pregnant and only had a cat to stand on my foot and she was much much lighter than Coco must be.
    I really feel for you 🙂

  • Toooshie

    The way things have been in NY, I have been considering calling in Swine Flu. I mean, worst case scenario, after all the testing they find out I don’t have it, but we’ve all gotten a nice little vacay out of it.

    I have been telling people I’ve got a touch of the Swine Flu. Just a little piglet flu.

    As for your toe, kudos on following it through all the way to a full, fancy break and not just a little sprain. When you do something, you should always do it well. I once wound up with an inversion fracture in my foot while studying for a semester in London just walking down the street. And then walked on it for a month until I got back home because the clinic NHS doctor said it was just sprained. But as a result, I did learn the words that you never want to hear your (confident) orthopedist say:
    “So I’m sure it’s… Oh… Hmmm… Well, that’s interesting.”

  • First I’m overjoyed that I actually get to post! I enjoy your blog immensely! I am not a mother. In fact I am scared to death….those words are not even strong enough… be a mother. So, it is so refreshing to hear the raw truth about motherhood. I’m so tired of all of the glowing, “little” nauseous nonsense. I get car sick traveling just 5 miles from my house, I can’t imagine 9 months of that!

    At any rate, you’re fabulous and I enjoy you!


  • UGH. Something like a broken toe is the last thing a pregnant woman should have to put up with. Seriously, when I experienced the additional discomfort of a cold during pregnancy, I was an awful beast of a woman to live with. I don’t think my husband even wants to imagine me pregnant with a broken toe. I hope it’s all healed up and you’re boot free soon!

  • The urge to nest can’t be stopped, but vacuuming never made a baby come any sooner. Maybe you & little Leta can decorate your boot — that would make a great photo!

  • Amy

    I could not stop laughing out loud while reading that at my desk at work. Literally clamping my hand over my mouth to stop the fit of giggles. Because, that? Is totally me. My husband is forever hollering at me to just WEAR SHOES around the house so I don’t catch my pinky toes on every single object we own. I’m surprised I still have pinky toes at all. But the thing is, there aren’t many things I dislike more than wearing shoes. I like to be barefoot, and I live in the city these days, so the only time I can be barefoot is in my house.

  • Poor toe! Weird to think such a small going wrong can totally mess up one’s day. You need a pimped out cane, like Boys II Men. Soooo classy.

  • bohica

    I remember having a broken ankle when I was younger and the cast irritated me so freakin’ much that I sat in a tub of water and sawed it off with a hack saw (it was an old plaster-type cast). What a mess!

    I’m also looking forward in a weird and compassionate way to hearing about you giving birth wearing that boot. I am sorry but … someone, somewhere seems to make you do these things in order that my life becomes more entertaining!

  • I know how you feel but hang in there, you’re almost there. Sorry about the clinic and the toe – no one needs this less than you. Be well.

  • Barb Congdon

    Oh My Word! I think I’ve died and gone to Comedy Heaven. I’m reading this at my desk at work and just crying I’m laughing so hard.

    Who needs to walk when your fingers are so awesome at entertaining the internet world!

    I, do, however, hope your toe heals quickly.

  • The niffer

    Ouch! Sorry about your toe. I hope the four weeks isn’t as long as it sounds.

    On x-ray, your toes look even longer than I imagined.

  • Funny! Well, I guess not so much for you. On the swelling I can 100% relate. On the toes, not so much. I have incredibly short toes and can’t imagine them getting caught on anything–got to find blessings in the little things I guess 😉

  • Hilarious! Simply hilarious! Twisted toe breach for sale perhaps? Beautifully spiraled 🙂

  • Oh Heather how I feel your pain. When I was 37 weeks pregnant with my darling baby girl I fell down my stairs and broke my ankle!! I wore the dreaded boot until after delivery. However, (don’t anyone get crazy because I don’t give a shit) the Loratab they gave me for the pain made the last 3 weeks of pregnancy actually bearable.

    Of course I only broke my ankle 4 weeks after cutting my head open and getting 42 stitches in my forehead. Needless to say there will be no more babies. Our emergency prepardness just won’t be as good as the neighbors 🙂

  • Katie

    The first week of April, I was sitting IN MY RECLINER in front of my computer and stood up really quickly, slamming my foot into the computer desk in the process. After three weeks of hobbling around and wondering when it was finally going to get better, I finally broke down and made an appointment for the following week. The toe was broken. But it was almost healed by that point, so I was cleared for normal walking and such.

  • Dawn

    “6. Sundries said:

    What is the white circle on your pinky toe? I thought that was the spiral fracture. ??? ;-)”

    that little round, white “spot” is called a sesamoid bone.
    We all have them, mostly in our feet and hands. Heather, being special, has an extra one!

  • Alexis

    You mean I am not the only one who destroys her own pinky toes on random objects?! I feel much better now that I know I have so much company. The worst incident left my left pinky permanently deformed from being bashed into a door frame – hurt like hell, couldn’t walk for days, doctor told me to “stay off it” while it healed(ha!). I didn’t even have the excuse of being pregnant at the time (although I did have at least one serious toe injury while pregnant…).

  • Anonymous

    Will the boot fit in the stirrups when it’s time to deliver?

  • Barb

    Oh Heather, you just make me laugh! Nobody says it quite like you do – thank you a ba-jillion times over for this quite wonderful blog!

  • So… is the boot removable? Because my thought is… what happens when you inevitably swell up inside that fucking thing?

  • This post made me laugh out loud and force my boyfriend to listen to me reading the whole thing for him. He too is “blessed” with furniture-trapping pinky toes and our pet rat, Sam, happens to have a personality very similar to Coco – “Here, let me nibble a hole in your blouse that you’re wearing” 🙂 Your Momversation pig impression made me giggle uncontrollably, you should do animal sounds on video more often.

  • Leanne

    I broke my toe twice while pregnant (same story, but insert dresser instead of couch)
    I didn’t bother going to the dr. because they don’t do anything except tell you your toe is broken. I didn’t need a dr to tell me that! 🙂 I taped two toes together and wore crocs – did you hear that?
    CROCS HEAL BROKEN TOES. I thought you’d want to know.

  • Ooh a space boot, sausage fingers, broken toes, puffy eyes, and an enormous belly. Pregnancy is so sexy. I can’t wait til it’s my turn!

  • You are hillarious in that clip. THE SWIIINE FLUUUUU!! Raaaarghhh!!! Yeah, I am really not scared at all. Didn’t Mexico go out and say ‘Yeah. Oops. We overreacted.”?

  • shestumbledin

    Seen yesterday on Twitter: “Hamdemic”

    Looking forward to the bath remodel pics when you’re able!

  • This drives me crazy. If you pay even the slightest bit of attention to the reports in the media, reading between the lines of hysteria, there is absolutely no reason to worry (yet). When they raised the “pandemic level” from 4 to 5, I went on the WHO website to check out what that means and it’s got nothing to do with ohmygodweareallgonnadie, but is merely an indication of human-to-human transmission and the number of countries affected. Furthermore, pandemic just means widespread and in fact, most people don’t remember the last two flu pandemics (I believe 1957 in 1968)! So given the amount of information I found really easily and given that outside of Mexico, the cases are virtually all mild, let’s all just calm down. And I say that as someone who is on an immunosuppressant drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Wash your hands, stay home if you get sick and look into value. Or alcohol. Whatever it takes to stop panicking.

    I live in Toronto and lived through SARS. It was scary – SARS was a nasty, nasty disease. However, it gave our public health system a real education in what to do during “pandemics” and that’s a good thing. I remember seeing reports on CNN about Toronto during SARS, showing police officers wearing masks, everybody else wearing masks. I live downtown and in the entire time of SARS, I saw only one person with a mask. So I recommend avoiding any 24-hour news station as they have a vested interest in whipping us all into a frenzy of paranoia. Come to think of it, that’s a general recommendation. 24 hour news stations are bad for you. But I digress…

    Good luck with the toe!

  • I feel for you with the bad toe, the big belly and the sausage fingers! Poor Dooce. Very funny story though 🙂

    I think the media has blown the Swine Flu totally out of proportion. People are panicky and there is nothing but a bad case of flu going around!

    I just got your book today! Can’t wait to read it. Thanks so much for writing it. I love your site and have followed you through the months are coveed in the book already. Take care.

  • You had me at “eight ball of cocaine”.

  • OK you must be related to my husband. He has such long toes I make him wear socks in bed or else I can’t put my feet, or my body for that matter, anywhere near him and that is not conducive to happytime.

  • Karen

    If it makes you feel any better, during my freshman year of college (which was already nine kinds of hell served with chips anyway), I broke my lower back. Not by doing anything cool or funky, though. I fell out of my bunk while I was asleep. I woke up literally one second before I landed, THUNK, on the concrete-with-a-thin-carpet floor.

    My first thought was, “Shit, I broke my back,” but then i realized I could move my legs and everything, so I figured I had just “bruised it really bad”. They got me to the ER, where they proclaimed my back NOT BROKEN and sent me home on a shot of Demerol. The next day the college infirmary sent me to an orthopedist, who took one look at my X ray and said, “Dayum, kiddo, you have three fractured vertebrae down there.”

    I spent about three months of my freshman year in a back brace. Not a cast, just a back brace. Really fun. I could tell guys to knock on my chest and it sounded like a wooden casket. Heh.

    That’s the only bone I’ve ever broken. My back. While i was SLEEPING. I think that officially makes me the clumsiest person in the Northern Hemisphere, at least.

    Anyway, at least i could move around without a boot on my foot. And I didn’t have a human being growing in me. I so hear you about those sausage fingers. And toes. And ankles. The first thing my husband said after the birth of our first child, upon seeing my legs in the hospital bed, was, “I got my skinny wife back!” He was terrified that the sausage legs were there to stay.

  • linderbug

    The walking boot thing SUCKS. I broke my right big toe last year (dropped a table on it in my classroom, definitely NOT recommended) and they put me in one. I couldn’t stand it. I wore it at work and out in public, but at home I hobbled around putting my weight on my heel. Then again, I also started driving again less than a week after I broke it-against doctor’s orders-because, hello, until I win the lottery I do not have my own personal chauffeur…and if I did, then I sure as heck wouldn’t need to get to work every day! 🙂

    Hang in there…

  • Diedre

    “wash your hands after you go poo”…that had to be you! 🙂
    love the pig snorts too!

  • Andra

    I have very long toes, too. They are also very knobby and crooked (thank you, 10 years of ballet). Sometimes I press all my other toes down and just slowly wiggle my 2nd biggest one at my fiancee and go, “Ellllliiiooootttttt”. It’s why he’s marrying me.

    I’m pretty convinced I’ve broken my pinky toes so many times they are now nothing but bags of flesh with shards of bone floating around in there. That pain is pretty ridiculous.

    Whenever I do it, I use athletic tape and wrap the last two or three toes together for stablization.

  • I would like to request a pic of the pregnant Heather wearing the boot. Doooo it!

    Sorry you’re hurt, that just sucks.

  • Dude, you are NOT KIDDING about your toes. Those are … ahem … LONG.

    And by the way, i love the snorting 🙂

  • Cat

    Having just escaped from an arm cast, all I can say is HA HA BETTER YOU THAN ME!

    Also, in case someone didn’t warn you: the pain from moving your joint after you take the boot off is about 5,000 times worse than the original broken bone. Seriously, I would remove that boot and move your foot around every single day if you can.

  • Susan

    I just about died laughing. Just make sure you wear a sock with that boot. I broke my foot last summer and had to spend it a similar boot, but mine went up to my knee. My foot continued to kill me until someone told me to wear a sock. Here I thought I was being cute having matching painted toenails in the hottest summer alive while wearing it. What a HUGE difference wearing a sock makes. Good Luck! Now off to watch your video and observe the water:D

  • I am so RIGHT THERE on the swelling. I retained water in my face so badly that my nose actually changed shape and stayed that way for the last 2 months.

    FWIW you look great even with the rounded features.

    Sorry about the boot+pregnancy though. Ew.

  • I’ve done the broken pinky toe as well. Once it latched onto the leg of a stool at the gym. I took a taxi to the emergency room and the ER nurse wrote it up as a “gym accident” – sending the X-Ray tech into paroxysms of laughter when I had to explain that I’d tripped over a bench. The ortho boot girls loved it too. I soon changed the story to bear trap.

    Sorry for your pain, those of us with (as Lucille Ball once said) “European Feet” are to be admired for our ability to carry on through our self inflicted pain.

  • Millions of people get AIDS everyday and no one wears a condom, and then Swine Flu breaks out and suddenly everyone is adorning face masks. Lame.
    Sorry about your toe

  • Mammakaze

    Sorry about your toe. But I don’t have too much sympathy since you probably have those really long toes that look sexy in those strappy sandals (tree-climbing toes is the evolutionary term I think) unlike gals like me with the squatty little things (cave-dwelling toes) that are barely long enough to cling to a flip-flop let alone inspire foot fetishes.

    As for the swine flu, or the “spine flu” as my daughter has come to call it. The media has blown the whole pandemic thing into a PANIC-demic! No wonder we’re all so freaked out. By the way, the Walmart’s out of Purell. Anyone know where I can get me some?

  • Kmira

    Is that x-ray posted to scale? You have huge feet. Perhaps they gave you the boot so you would hear how many times those flippers whack against something. Seriously, try typing or turning the TV station with those toes. I’m in awe….

  • Take a look at the length of those toes!

  • Susan

    Oh…and my coworker called out for 3 days returning from a weeks vacation in Texas claiming she “might” have the swine flu. I won 50 cents from my coworkers winning the bet she would call in using that excuse. Tsk Tsk Tsk

  • I coughed in a waiting room today (ALLERGIES, nothing to do with anything making an oink sound), and easily cleared the entire room. Awesome.

    And, I once broke my pinkie toe by walking into a wall. The lights were off and I thought I could make it to the bathroom without turning them on. Yeah, I was wrong. Or… I mean, I made it alright; I just broke a toe on the way. So, just have solace in the fact that you are not the only one with revenge-seeking inanimate objects. Hope you feel better soon… and don’t sneeze.

  • Noelle

    Aww, a broken toe – those suck. I’m actually kind of surprised they put you in a boot.
    I walked into a Webster’s dictionary when I was younger, they looked at it and said, “Go home. Buddy tape it. Don’t do it again.”
    I think maybe your doctor is better.
    Heal quickly – and sneeze into your arm, not your hand. Ugh. Panic!

  • A boot AND a pregnant belly? As if it’s not hard enough as it is to move while pregnant! Good luck getting out of bed 30 times a night to pee!

  • At least it wasn’t your tailbone.


Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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