Posted by: Kate | May 12, 2010

Ten Minus Two

While I’m recovering faster than anyone ever predicted – early estimates agreed that I would, right about now, just barely be considering a possible move out of the ICU – I’m still not out of the woods just yet.  I’m frustrated and sad today, because I had really very intense pain all day long that I just couldn’t get ahead of.  This includes a new kind of pain, just rearing its ugly head in the past week or so: it’s an aching, radiating nastiness, very strong – to the point that I cry getting out of bed in the morning.  Not really the most auspicious start to a day, you know?

But, really, I’m doing OK.  I sometimes have to take a moment to remember just how awful I felt two months ago, and then I realize, right, I’m doing just fine.  I no longer have a huge gaping hole in my abdominal wall (which, I had forgotten, but it turns out that I had asked Willem to take a couple of pictures of my surgical wounds with my phone’s camera; I won’t post them here because they’re very intense and unpleasant, but if you’re interested in that sort of thing, let me know, I’m happy to share).  I can take showers again.  I’m able to parent my children again; in fact, the inevitable slowed-down nature of my existence now means I’m spending a lot more time just sitting (or walking slowly, etc.) with the older kids, talking about all manner of things… I really think that I’m being a better mother, right now, than I was before, and I hope I’m able to retain at least the heart of it when (if?) I do return to full speed.

And as I think ahead to my birthday in a few weeks, I’m able to construct a wish list that is really pretty frivolous in nature.  Events might have unrolled such that the best I could hope for was a visit or two in a bleak hospital room; instead, I can drop subtle hints for things like a compact snazzy little camera or high-end yarn or just suggestions about books I might want to read.

The only item on my birthday list that is not entirely lighthearted, also happens to be entirely impossible.  No one can possibly grant this particular wish, so I can safely request it from everyone I see: it’s silly, so they laugh, because they think I’m kidding.  I let them think that, though I really do want it badly.

It’s my toenails.  I’ve lost two now, from the pinky toe and the ring toe on my left foot.  I knew they were on their way out; I had been warned repeatedly.  The combination of inactivity, serious edema during the coma and ongoing swelling now, medications to bring my blood pressure up and medications to bring my blood pressure down, all contributed to some seriously messed-up, sad-looking toes.  First we thought I might lose several toes altogether, then that I might lose portions thereof, and now it has faded down to a cosmetic sort of concern: I’ll lose some toenails and perhaps some length/roundness at the end, but that’s all.

And lo, over the past few days, I have started counting down from ten.  The first nail escaped while I was reading a chapter of Watership Down to the kids; they enjoy the book, but were beyond fascinated at the refugee toenail.  The second wandered away after today’s shower.  I’m confident I’ll keep the big toe and the pointer toe, but that middle toe is questionable.  I’m eyeing it when it’s not paying attention; I don’t want it to feel pressured, lest it bolt when it doesn’t need to.

(And in case you’re curious, the moment of separation between me and my toenail is entirely undramatic and un-noteworthy.  No blood, no pain, no real discomfort other than disappointment.)

So.  For my 33rd birthday, I would most like not to lose any more toenails, or to have my now-missing ones replaced.  And if that’s not possible, then I’d be thrilled with a little camera that I can just toss into the diaper bag in case Isaac has the audacity to do something cute or picturesque when I’m out and away from my big, too-heavy-to-carry-now-that-I’m-sick Canon.  You know, whatever.  All of it is just so much better than the white plastic bracelet you wear when you’re an inmate at a hospital, I’d be happy with air in a plastic bag as long as it’s not on the grounds of a medical center.



  1. Happy to read you’re doing better. Wishing you new toe nails for this upcoming birthday, who knows what the future holds… Good luck!

  2. Oddly enough, press on toenails are available. I don’t know how you’d get them to stick on (a band-aid maybe?). Perhaps they would provide a cosmetic solution until the new ones grow out?

  3. I lost my big toenail a few years ago due to bad ski boots. After an entire summer without it I learned that if you wear dark red toenail polish & just paint the end of the toe (where the nail should be) that no one will ever notice what you’ve done. 😉

  4. […] but carrying it around qualified as One More Thing to cope with. Then once that was gone, I started losing toenails. Ugh, unfair, not what I wanted, blah blah… but they’ll grow back, someday, right? And […]

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