Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Hello dear reader

Just the other day, I posted an article saying that yes I was around, and yes I will write again.  Who would have thought that my creative juices would start flowing again mere days after that article.  I suppose that the title of this article is a bit mis-leading.  Some of you might read it and say to yourself 'oh no...he's leaving!!'.  Fret not, dear reader.  I am not leaving.  I re-iterate what I wrote the other day...I will continue writing.  With that being said, let me explain the meaning of the title 'Alas...Goodbye'.  Truly, yesterday was the end of an era. For 14 years, I endured.  For 14 years, I put up with it.  Finally I made a decision to start the process to make it all go away.  After months of deliberation, appointments, consultations and sleepless nights....the era ended.  Things are new again....a new day has dawned.  Read on, dear reader, for details on the previous era, and hopes for the future.

As I mentioned, dear reader, it's been a 14 year era.  Now, before I go on, I give you fair warning...the following article contains graphic images and descriptions, and I will not be held responsible for any nausea you may encounter by looking at the pictures.  Have you figured out what I'm talking about?  If you're a Facebook friend of mine, it should be clear.  Yup, that's right.  Toenails.  To be precise...big toe toenails.  14 years ago, I had them surgically removed.  They were not supposed to grow back, but they did.  I found out that with the surgical removal of the nail bed, there is a 15% chance of re-growth.  I fell in that 15% group.  So for 14 years, I walked around with my toenails growing into my toe.  Oh, I would perform self-surgery and dig out the embedded nails....but that was always a temporary solution.  I knew that I'd have to go for surgery again...but I was scared.  I'll explain.

I think I was 11 years old the first time I had this surgery done.  I remember little of it, except the pain of removing the bandages for the first time.  Back then, they wrapped up the nail-less toes with gauze....and didn't unwind it for 3 days.  So, in those 3 days, the wounds started to heal....around the very strings that make up gauze.  Just imagine, dear reader, yanking those bandages off and causing the whole thing to open up again.  I remember the pain...I remember crying.  I was 11.

Since then, I've had my nails removed 4 more times, including this time around.  3 times I've had it done under a general anasthetic, and twice I've had it done with local freezing.  The 3 times under general were the easiest...except for the initial bandage removal as briefly described in the previous paragraph. The first time that it was done with a local anasthetic was the cause of my fears.  You see, when it was done that way, my toes didn't really freeze properly.  I felt the entire operation.  I mentioned this to the doctor in passing (as in "Hey Doc...I can feel you slicing the nail off").  He kind of sloughed it off (as in "Hey Rod...don't worry about it.  We're almost done.").  Yes, dear hurt.  Some of you may think I'm a wimp.  Some may think coward.  Some may laugh.  And that's was 14 years ago.  The scars are mine alone.

Enter 2010.  Once again, the toenails have grown in.  No, it has nothing to do with poor trimming practices.  It is hereditary.  My dad has the problem, my uncle had the problem, and same with a cousin.  It runs (no pun intended) in the family.  I have spent 13 years digging out the nails myself with a nail clipper, a tweezers, and sharp pointy object for digging and lifting.  After 13 years, it got old.  And it got to the point where the left toenail could not be dug out any more, and the right toenail was so mis-shapen that it was too much work and too painful to do self-surgery.   Here are some pics of the toenails.

The left picture is the right toe, and the right picture is the left toe.  Don't ask.  Just accept it as it is.

So, I went to see my family Dr., who referred me to another doctor.  The second doctor only performs toenail removal via local anasthetic, and I was going to have no part of that.  I insisted on being knocked out.  Yeah, i know....I'm a wimp.  So, this second doctor put the word out, and found a surgeon willing to do this.  A consultation was booked.  I went in to see him, he looked at my toes and we talked.  We talked about my fears of local anasthetic.  He laughed....I didn't.  But, not only is he a doctor....he  is also a salesman.  He convinced me to have the surgery done with a local anasthetic.  And this, dear reader, was the start of a few sleepless nights.  I worked myself into a real fret imagining the horrors of 14 years ago being replayed.  But, the surgery day was booked, my time off work was booked and coverage for my schools was arranged.  I couldn't back out now.

The day arrived. My dear cousin gave me a ride to Grey Nuns Hospital.  I was nervous.  I had taken a couple pain killers before I got there as preventative medicine.  I could tell I was nervous (and maybe a wee bit stoned) just by the conversation I was having with the nurse as she took me to my room.  The doctor came in, followed by a couple nurses.  He prepped his needles.  After looking at the size of the needle, I said "You're not sticking that thing in my toe!!".  He laughed and said "No, it's just a filling needle."  He then showed me the needle he was going to jab into my toe.  I didn't feel too much better.

Let me interject here for a moment, dear reader, and explain something.   When the doctor sold me on local anasthetic, he told me that he would only give me one needle per toe, for a grand total of two needles.  He said that two needles was hardly anymore that the one needle needed for a general anasthetic.  *sigh*.  I fell for it.  But, here's the kicker (no pun intended).  What the Dr. failed to tell me was that each needle was going to be jabbed into each toe 4 times.  One needle.  4 Jabs.  One prick.

Back into the room.  I'm lying on my back, my pant legs hiked up to my knees.  The Dr. is ready, and he is swabbing my toes with cleansing alcohol.  He asks me that no matter how badly it hurt, not to move my foot.  He will stop if I ask him, but I cannot move my foot.  Great.  And here goes.  The first needle jab is on the outside part of the toe, right beside the the joint at the foot.  This particular jab hurts...bad.  I do not scream, or cry.  But I think I emitted a moan or a groan.  The second jab hurts, but not quite as much, as the freezing from the first jab is already taking hold.  I slightly feel the third poke, and I wasn't aware that there was a fourth until I saw the marks on my toe.  The Dr. has effectively created a ring block...freezing the nerve that goes down into the toe.  The whole process to freeze the first toe takes about 14 seconds.  The second toe goes just as quick, with the same amount of hurt.

So, now I'm frozen.  The Dr. leaves for about 10 minutes, letting the freezing take hold real good.  The part that I remember most about the operation 14 years ago is coming up...the nail removal.  The Dr. and his nurse come back in...he does a few things and I can feel some bumping on my foot.  I ask him what's happening and he says the nail is gone.  Wowsers....I ddin't feel a thing!!  It was at this point that my 14 year old fears were gone.  The Dr. and his nurse talk abou the chemical that they are applying to the nail bed.  He says that normally they leave it on for about 40 seconds, but for me they will leave it on for 3 minutes.  Hopefully this lessens the chances of re-growth.  The deed is performed on the second toe, and before I know it, they are bandaging me up.  I am instructed to lay still for 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of sitting up with my feet dangling down.  After the 5 minute dangle, they change the bandages and I am free to go!!










And that, dear reader, is the end of it.  Nothing much more to tell.  I popped a couple of T3's once I got into the car, but as it turned out I didn't really need them until much later.  My wife and I changed the bandages twice that first day.  We figured it was better to do it a couple times whilst I was still frozen.  I suspec that the good Dr. took heart to my horror story, and that he gave me enough freezing to freeze a horse.  I fell asleep around midnight....still frozen!!  By morning, the freezing was out, but I had very little pain.  As of this writing, I hurt a wee little bit, and I am still bleeding a little bit, especially if I walk on them.  Thus, I stay on the couch as much as possible.  The toes cleaned up nicely in a warm bath, and it did not hurt horribly to submerge them.

So, you want pictures of the finished product?  Here are a couple pics before I cleaned them up:
























And that, dear reader, is all I got.  Thanks for coming on this journey with me.  I hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did.  Until next time.....goodnight.


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