“You know, I didn’t cry the last time I had my wounds cleaned,” I bragged to Dr. Narong, my no-nonsense doctor who thinks crying is unnecessary.
“You didn’t? Good for you! Are you going to cry today?”
“I hope not.”
He undresses my wounds and begins his assessment. I’m now nine days post-accident. “Your arm is almost completely healed. I’ll just clean it, but we don’t need to wrap it anymore,” he tells me.
One good report. Let’s hope there’s two more where that came from.
Inspecting my largest wound, the gnarly road rash on my ankle, he reports, “Your ankle is healing well. It won’t be too long before it scabs over and we don’t have to cover it. There’s just this one spot that’s not so good. Let me clean it,” he says as he begins scrubbing my ankle with a cotton swab doused in Betadine.
Flinching, letting out some grunts, and unsuccessfully keeping my right leg still, I hear him ask, “Are you gonna cry?”
Determined, I grit my teeth. “No.”
“Good. There’s no reason to cry.” He finishes scrubbing and cleaning the rest of my wound, and dresses it with foam and waterproof tape.
Another good report. One more to go.
Taking a closer look at my toes, I hear, “Hmmm…this isn’t good. I’m worried about your second toe. That black spot is really bad.”
You mean that same spot I’ve been worried about since the accident? The one I’ve been told was no big deal up to this point?
“What’s wrong with it?” I ask.
“There’s a lot of dead tissue on top, so the wound can’t really heal, and we don’t know what’s under there since we can’t see. There are some spots on your other toes, but not as bad as your second toe.”
How did my toes get such deep wounds when I was wearing tennis shoes? What would it look like if I had worn my sandals like I originally wanted to that morning? I don’t think I wanna know.
“OK, so what does that mean?” I ask, worry creeping into my voice.
“Well, it means that if we don’t treat it, your toes will have really bad scarring, and most likely you won’t be able to move that toe since the scar would be on the joint.”
“What do you mean by treat it?”
“I’ll give you a local anesthetic and scrape out all the dead tissue from your toe. Then it can heal properly.”
Tears sting my eyes. “Do you mean the spray they used on me in the ER?” Flashbacks to that day send a shiver through me.
“No, we’ll inject a local anesthetic into your toe, and you won’t feel a thing.”
“With a needle?” I say, my voice quivering.
“Yes, with a needle.”
Alone and worried, I think about whether or not I should do it. I know I should do it, but I hate needles, and I hate pain. And I know it’s going to hurt. A lot. Silent tears fall as I try to decide.
Less than a minute later, with a bit of impatience in his voice, he asks, “So what are you going to do? Are we doing it?”
“Do we have to do it today?”
“No, but if we wait, it may get worse.”
Man, I wish my mom or dad was here. Heck, I wish anyone was here with me. They could hold my hand, reassure me, and tell me what to do. But they’re not. I have to do this alone.
“Can I call someone?” I ask.
Looking at the time, I realize I can’t call my family. It’s the middle of the night. I call the next best person, my best friend Shaggers. She immediately picks up. She already knows where I am, since I had been texting her updates and photos of my injuries.
“Shannon, I’m scared,” I barely get out.
“What’s going on?”
I explain the situation, through tears and shallow breaths. “Should I do it?”
“If he says you should do it, then yes, you should. It’s good they’re being so thorough and wanting to get rid of all the dead stuff.”
“But they’re going to use a needle. It’s going to hurt.”
She reassures me that while yes, the needle will hurt, I won’t feel a thing after that, and they’ll make it all better by removing the bad parts.
Turning to Dr. Narong, through blurry eyes, I tell him I’ll do it.
Shags tells me she’s proud of me and asks, “Would you like me to stay on the phone with you to distract you from the needle?”
I crumble. Through sobs, I say, “Yes, I would like that.” This is why she’s my best friend. She’s always there for me through the tough times. She begins talking about some topics she might slice about tonight and asks me about my slice. I tell her an adorable story about what one of my kids did in school today. I might slice about that. We talk about a few other things…her sister’s new baby, Marlowe kicking her crib when she should be napping.
The doctor and nurse prepare my foot. Dr. Narong tells me he’s ready to begin. Fear sets in, and I start to cry. Shaggers reassures me that I’m brave, I’m going to be okay. The needle goes in. AHHHHHHHHH!!! Screaming, crying, and thrashing about, the nurse holding my leg still. Shannon is still there, telling me the worst is over. Then, a few seconds later, a second needle in my other toe. AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! More screaming, more crying, and more thrashing about.
What the hell? Why did I have two injections?
Confused, Shannon asks me what happened. I tell her about the second needle…at least I think I do.
“There’s no reason to cry,” Dr. Narong says.
Like hell there isn’t! You’ve just injected me two times with anesthesia when I was told I would have one, and now you’re about to scrape my toe. Yeah, I have a bloody reason to cry!
Dr. Narong then starts scraping my second toe. I can feel it, but not feel it, if you know what I mean. I’m still crying and struggling to breathe through my nose. Shannon’s still on the phone, talking to me, trying to distract me from the pain. I can’t really recall what she’s saying, but I appreciate that she’s there.
Unexpectedly, I scream out in pain again, a guttural scream that comes from deep within me, but this time it’s not from an injection. It’s from the fact that my doctor is scraping the wound on my big toe without anesthesia. Shags wonders what’s happening. Dr. Narong tells me there’s no reason to cry. I tell Dr. Narong I don’t like him anymore. Petty, yes, but I’m not in my right mind at the moment.
The next few minutes are a whirlwind of pain. My fourth toe gets the same treatment as my big toe. I question his wisdom. A few more scrapes, and he’s done.
“All done. It already looks so much better. Have a look,” Dr. Narong cheerily says to me.
“No really, look at it,” he pushes.
Sitting up, I look down at my mangled toes, bleeding uncontrollably at the moment. Yeah, that’s heaps better.
Still tearful, I thank Shannon for being there for me. And I apologize for screaming in her ear. She laughs, and says she only wishes she could have been here to hold my hand. Me, too, Shags, me, too.
As I sit here, back home in my apartment, tears streaming down my face as I relive the experience, the pain coming on strong as the anesthesia wears off, I’m a mess of emotions. I’m in pain and disheartened that I have another setback, especially after such a positive day yesterday, and I’m grateful that I have a friend like Shannon who loves me through the hard stuff. I really don’t know what I’d do without her, and despite living in different countries for the past 5 years, we talk nearly every day and she knows me even better than I know myself. Shannon is my person. I love her.