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.

  • Your commenters are killing me with their injury stories. I’ve gotten weak-kneed at least two dozen times. Although Dawn at 67 is my information queen of the day.

    I hope you heal quickly, Heather.

  • angela

    I was leaving Dodger Stadium after a game on Sunday and as I was descending down the steps to the parking lot, I kept saying catch-phrases like “SWINE FLU,” and “H1N1,” and “MUTATE” randomly, and I swear, you could see the panic spreading through the crowd.

  • I work in an emergency department… damn you for making me read x-rays on my days off.

    Seriously, people make fun of broken toes but they hurt BAD. And they mess with your balance in ways you’ll never understand until you break your own toe.

    I had a vision of you in delivery, with your boot up in the air in a special stirrup. Gotta protect that toe, you know. And if the OB isn’t gentle, you can whack ’em with that monstrous thing.

    Take 2 tylenol and post in the morning.

  • Jessica V

    Oh how I feel for you Heather. During my recent pregnancy I somehow developed stress fractures in my foot (“somehow” = I gained 40 pounds in a short period of time and was barefoot through out most of that time – thus, no arch support and my poor tootsies just couldn’t handle the pressure of my fat ass)…and my doctor gave me a boot as well. It was ridiculous – I was a billion months pregnant, hadn’t actually seen my feet in weeks and was definitely unable to put on the equivalent of a ski boot just to walk around the house (plus it made my back hurt even more). So, I rebelled (or really just was incapable of complying) and just wore supportive tennis shoes the rest of my pregnancy and afterward until the fracture healed. If the boot becomes too much for you – especially in the summer heat – regular shoes might suffice. Although the sympathy you’ll get from being a pregnant gimp with a boot cast is undeniably a perk! Good luck!

  • Amy

    Why the boot? Can you just tape the wilted Pinky toe to the next one in line and wear flip flops or some other comfy shoe? (Personally, I bought a pair of those cheapo grandma sneakers at Walmart and hacked open a sidecar for the toe) Talk about pushing boundaries of what a preggo will endure…what’s next – arthritic hose and a girdle?

  • Ray

    “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.”

    ^^LOL! That was a great line. ;o)

    Glad to hear that your broken toe isn’t that bad, though being pregnant probably makes it a bit sucky. Hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly!

    Also, great momversation.

    Take, care.

  • And it’s only the first week in May!!! 🙂

  • There is nothing worse than a stupid pointless injury. Last week I turned my head quickly to the side to look at something, jammed my vertebrae, and had to lay in bed while it healed for FIVE DAYS. All because I turned my head too fast! I’m sorry about your toe and that you’re stuck with the cast/boot thing for several weeks. You’re even more unlucky than I!

  • Meg

    I feel so sorry for you. I too know the pain of a broken pinky toe. I went down to Ft. Lauderdale, FL once for spring break with my boyfriend (now husband) and a few friends of ours. The first night we were there we went out to a little bar that sold buckets of alcohol. So being the foolish college student I was, I sat down and drank 2 full buckets. By myself. This, of course, led to me leaning on my boyfriend as I stumbled back to the hotel. As I was swaying down the hallway, I swayed into my boyfriend, somehow hooked my pinky toe in his sandal (I was in adorable pink flip-flop kitten heels), and then stumbled away, snapping my toe in the process. I did what any rational drunk would do. I whipped around, yelled at my boyfriend for intentionally breaking my toe, and stomped on his foot. Not one of my prouder moments. Luckily he forgave me but I had to spend the rest of the week with my foot taped and propped up. Hope your foot starts feeling better soon!

  • kelcut

    Look on the bright side… you can tell everyone you’re trying to look like Melissa Rivers with her fashionable boot on Celebrity Apprentice. Because that’s what we all want to strive to look like.

  • Oh my, I have broken all of my toes (some of them multiple times)along with various other bones in my feet. I wish I could blame it on have long crazy feet but really it is sheer akwardness. You remember the scene from Ms. Congeniality when she just comes out from her make over and falls flat on her face? That is me (with thirty extra pounds. I once slipped on a flash card a broke my big toe.

    I feel your pain, Heather.

  • nice phalanges. glad to know i’m not the only one with “grabby” toes.

    growing up, my family referred to them as monkey toes, i used to freak my sister out and pinch her. ah, good times. these days all i have to do is brandish a toe or three and my husband knows i mean business.

    thank you for taking the time to write. i believe you touch more people this way than you know.

  • i broke my pinky toe once too. the kitchen table attacked it. the doctor said there was nothing to be done and that i should just wait for it to heal. european doctors are sometimes lax like that. (not necessarily a bad thing!)

  • Amy

    I don’t know if this makes me want to get pregnant (nesting sounds fun) or just do a few lines. Mutually exclusive, I suppose. KIDDING. Of course, mutually exclusive. Sigh. Every once in a while I miss being young and really stupid.

  • bonnie

    i love chuck

  • Alyxherself

    Oh Honey No. Nononononnnonononnonono.


    That. sucks.

  • Deb

    The thing about the media and those who think the media are blowing it out of proportion is: Let’s say the media were not covering swine flu as much as they are. And then let’s say the virus mutates into a very deadly strain and all hell breaks loose in a few months. This is not necessarily going to happen, but it is certainly a possibility; it’s happened before.

    I’ll bet the same people who are all dismissive about the media coverage now would be ranting and raving thus: “The media! They ignored this! They kept it under wraps! It’s a cover-up!”

  • Hmmm…I agree with Amy why the boot?
    Thanks for sharing was very interesting to read.

  • Maria from NJ

    You are lovely when you snort 🙂

  • Melissia

    Spiral fracture is a classic symptom of abuse. Obviously some dog has grabbed you by the small toe and twisted, investigators will be at your home soon, having been alerted by the doctor! Hope you feel much better soon.

  • Barb

    Lordy, Heather. I once broke my foot and had to wear a boot on and off for TWO YEARS. During college. My advice: let it heal! To this day (more than 10 years later) I still have pain in that foot, and it’s very fragile. Like, when my husband gives me footrubs, he has to be extra gentle with the way he touches my foot.

    In other news, I’m with you about swine flu.

  • I think my toes stayed curled up through that whole story. now they are paranoide. Lol

  • As much as I hate admitting this, Dooce, you’re kind of cute. Pathetic but cute.

  • Do you lay in bed at night and crack yourself up? I couldn’t be you. I would have a sore gut all the time from laughing out loud at my own thoughts. You are a riot!

  • I’m probably not the first person to suggest wearing ‘inside’ shoes around the house if you’re prone to this kind of thing. Not to mention that body oils & sweat from bare feet make your floors dirtier than socks and (clean) shoes.

    You can mock the Crocs all you want…they have saved my toes more times than I care to count. (from table legs, stomping dogs, Lego…)

  • Popsicle sticks & duct tape.
    I’m just saying…

  • malie

    I too broke my toe just over a week ago (left pinkie also, as it happens), though only my toe itself turned purple, and my very accurate and specific diagnosis from my highly qualified nurse friend was thus: “it’s either a bad sprain or a slight fracture.” Nothing so fancy as what you’ve done there.

  • April

    As long as we’re all having fun sharing and one-upping each other and Heather, this reminds me of having to pull on waist-high compression stockings at 8 months pregnant because of horrifying varicose veins. I cannot even begin to describe what that process must have looked like to an observer. I will only say that it involved lying on my back on the bed, lots of grunting and swearing, and working up a sweat. And none of that in the good way.

  • I’m not going to lie. This totally grossed me out.

    “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?”

  • Lindy

    Boots suck balls. It’s true. But now you have one for the next time this happens. Does it make you limp because your legs are different lengths now? If that’s the case, be careful…it can cause back pain.

    If you don’t plan on keeping it, can I suggest donating your boot to a place that gives them out to uninsured people? Those things can cost an arm and un-broken leg if you aren’t insured.

  • yeah, what the hell is up with nesting hormones? i get that way sometimes right before my period even, and i swear i’m going to drive my husband to leave me some day. at least those are the only times i’m ever inspired to do the really nasty jobs like cleaning out the closet under the basement stairs. the scary closet. which is now a testiment to my anal retentivness and the power of hormonal surges.

  • Jessica

    I think the whole pandemic thing is total hype. Media-freaking hype. Tough economic times? Hey everyone, look over here at the monkey! Or – swine. Whatever.

    Can I just say that the 9 months we actually had our child in a public school were THE unhealthiest in any of our lives? We haven’t seen puke since we started home schooling, except for that one time, and we blamed that on the cheap rum. Harumph!

    Close all the schools down, I say! Close them! They are nothing but seething, breeding petri dishes of virus, and they will only continue to get worse.

  • Beth

    Ok. The swine flu thing is such a joke. The whole reason they were really worried about the pandemic thing if because they were afraid that this strain of flu had a certain protein in it that would make it a “killer flu”, like in the 1918 pandemic that killed 50 million people. But they know now that this strain of flu doesn’t have that protein. I think it is crazy to close schools down for weeks, not that they probably don’t need cleaned because of all the other bacteria and crap that is there. Alright, I’m done ranting. I hope your toe feels better.

  • Elizabeth


    About a year ago my fiance kidnapped the scarf I had just finished knitting and locked himself in the bedroom. I chased after him only to RUN INTO A COUCH and BREAK MY FOURTH TOE. Everyone asked me how I hurt myself and I had to tell them A COUCH DID IT. There is nothing more humiliating.

    My toe was pointing completely in the wrong direction after that, though, so I had to go to the hospital immediately. (They didn’t let me see my x-rays… how disappointing.)

  • Anonymous

    I can bend my right pinkie toe in a 90-degree angle to the right…due to avoiding the doctor until too late.

    Him: “I’ll just rebreak it and set it right”
    Me: Like hell!

  • jomims

    Can’t believe you bought into the whole SO YOU BROKE YOUR TOE NOW YOU NEED A BOOT TO PREVENT ANYMORE INJURIES TO THAT TOE thing. Remember they can’t do anything for a broken toe??!! Well i bought into the whole “they can’t do anything for you” and the pain was horrific for two months and now occasionally that middle toe that i dislocated sends nerve messages to my brain that scream bloody murder. Maybe the boot would have done me good. Denial was my savior and I’m sticking with it til the end. I feel for ya and hope it heels soon as you will be needing your feet in real good shape to put in the stirrups!!! Oh gosh I ramble…..

  • Oh been there and it is painful. I mean the toe, the pregnant part I don’t understand but I can’t imagine having both at once, the toe would be enough. Good luck and I hope you heal quickly.

  • JennyM

    In all seriousness, I hope the toe gets better quickly.

    However, in the most incredibly gross understatement of all time, Dooce is funny.

  • lizvelrene

    I have done the SAME EXACT THING. I think my official diagnosis is Queen Klutz of the Universe, the symptoms of which are: I was carrying a laundry basket and I kicked a piano. You would think that a large object like a piano, I would be able to avoid. But no. I walked right into it as I tend to do and I was not wearing shoes this time and I broke my little toe.

    You would not think that your very tiniest appendage could cause so much trouble, but oh, it does. You have to wear crappy hard-soled shoes forever and elevate your throbbing foot and walk kind of lopsidedly for awhile. But people do bring you ho-hos and drinks while you’re laid out on the couch, so there’s that. Can That Awful Dog be trained to fetch from the refrigerator?

  • If it makes you feel any better, I broke my foot a few years by doing a cart wheel into a ping pong table. I’m not even kidding.

  • chuk

    Ha. Last week I saw 3 different people panic-shopping at the SLC Costco. Two of them looked like they might spend a great deal of time defending the mouths of their private box canyons, but the other seemed perfectly normal.

    The normal one had an entire cart loaded with Lysol, Wipes and Nyquil. As Nyquil probably wasn’t going to save her from a deadly pandemic, I had to assume she planned to spend the next 3 months high.

  • stay_see_

    You have my sympathy. I’m pregnant too (EDD is today, actually, although the baby doesn’t seem to know that) and broke my right pinky toe during the 1st trimester. Well, I think it was broken – I never found out for sure because I didn’t feel comfortable getting an x-ray during the 1st trimester, and there’s no other way to diagnose a broken toe. By the time the second trimester rolled around, the pain had dulled enough that the x-ray just didn’t happen. I will probably get it checked out for real once the kid exits my cooch.

    But let me tell you, I have been having SUCH pelvic pain during this last trimester. Which was not a problem at all during my first pregnancy. I swear it’s because I still walk a little funny thanks to that stupid fucking toe. I wish now that I’d gotten the boot, awkward as it would have been. But they told me “there’s nothing you can do for a broken toe anyway, just tape it up and ice it.” Yeah, okay.

    Mine was a couch, too. It took such great restraint not to raise it over my head, She-Ra style, and hurl the damn thing out the window.

  • You’re so damn funny, it’s magical!
    I’d love to see you waddling around in your silly boot with your sausage fingers and puffy eyes.

  • I hate when my little piggies get a mind of there own and start atacking the furniture. I thought I had them better house trained.

  • I adore it when my cat stands on my foot. Though I can see liking it quite a bit less if my foot was throbbing and black.

  • moondoggie

    We have two permanent and one occasional large hairy dogs sleeping with us at night, and I hear you loud and clear. We now tend to think of them as goats rather than dogs, as our bodies are mountains for them to climb–never mind that part of the mountain may be a face…

    Chuck’s photo is incredible with the blue stuff around his eyes and floor and chair–how ever did you accomplish that with sausage fingers? Good. Dog. Job.

  • First off just READING ABOUT about the toe/couch collision hurt my weary heart. SEEing it was downright pornographic.
    Or graphic.
    graphic violence!
    yah. That’s the word I was looking for.

  • It appears you have more bones in those couple of toes on that xray than the rest of us have in our whole foot. Freak!

    But seriously. They’re making you wear a boot? Now that’s funny.

  • Bossy can never see anything on -rays. Just like she can never see the baby in ultrasounds. Is that the penis? A hand? The protruding ass-hat, what?

  • Anonymous

    Those are some long toes!

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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