Well… first of all let me say, I didn’t lose my toe.
And for that I’m grateful.
However for the last few weeks, I was told by a few doctors that I probably would lose my toe. That possibility has sent me on a whirlwind of emotions, because who wants to be without a toe?
What does that mean for flip flops and open-toed stilettos and not freaking people out when you walk around on the beach? It’s an appendage in which many nerves have their end. So not important when compared to the loss of Job’s children, stuff, and health but all consuming none-the-less. Fixing it has been disruptive and expensive. The little three letter word has caused hell and havoc in my world and while I could cover up a missing puzzle piece of my person with a sock, what in the world does that mean for polishings? I mean… can you still get a pedicure? Will anybody even want to touch your foot if a part of it is lopped off?
I realize that there are physical challenges that are more life threatening, more dehabilitating, and possibility more painful, but this situation has been super serious to me.
The very thought of having part of my body separated from the rest of me sent me into a full on panic-attack in the doctor’s office where I heard that possibility first mentioned.
After a long fall of what started out as a nuisance that gradually turned into pain I couldn’t ignore, I visited not one, not two, but three podiatrists — all who told me they could see nothing wrong with my toe that would be causing pain. And then the last doctor decided to at least do an Xray to “be sure”.
And there… clear to both myself and to him, my bone appeared to be fading away. In one moment, I moved from the original plan of simple toe nail removal to allow an irritated nail bed to heal, all the way to bone disappearance and toe amputation as a solution to a very painful problem.
I was beside myself in that doctor’s office. The podiatrist awkwardly hugged me when I started crying like a girl who’d just been dumped unexpectedly and out of the blue. The medical assistant ran for tissue and then they both finally left me in the room to cry it out.
I totally did.
I’m sure the whole office heard me.
It’s now been a total of seven weeks of doctors visits, MRIs, a biopsy, and now a surgery to attempt to identify what’s been inside eating away at me — literally. The doctors still don’t know. They have scoured for infection, for cancer, and have now sent off my culture to a universal DNA database as a last ditch effort to try and nail down the problem.
During the past seven weeks, I’ve been barefoot or in flip flops because real shoes were out of the question. Hot or cold, sunshine or rain, I’ve rocked some three dollar plastic shoes and a litany of bandaids. I’ve cried at night because of the pain radiating through my foot which always seems to be worse at night. And I’ve told the doctor that while it’s “just” a toe I would need some serious drugs to make having my toe still connected to my body bearable.
I got the serious drugs and the pain relief has come with the cost of constipation.
TMI. I’m sorry. I choose truth.
But all seven weeks, I’ve wanted to keep my toe.
It’s a part of me.
A tiny little, itsy-bitsy, mostly unnoticed part of me that takes the full brunt of my movements everyday.
And that small part of my body was in pain.
So my whole body was affected.
I limped. I stepped back when my kids ran to greet me. I stayed indoors because cold or hot made it ache.
My mind was affected too.
I’ve worried about how this would affect my ability to parent, fix dinner, work, take care of my husband, and how much it would cost to have it treated.
My heart has shared the load.
I’ve been so frustrated and asked God why in the world He would allow me to be in situation with so much pain while my life on its own seems to have a pay load just a little heavier than so many others I’m around. I’ve cried about it. Felt sad, depressed, and alone.
Do you know how hard it was to tell people in my close circle of friends to pray for me and my toe?
Who wants to tell the world you are about to lose a toe?
Even if you are telling them because you are asking for prayer.
When we hurt it doesn’t matter how small or insignificant that hurt is. It affects every part of us. It can affect us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We are creatures whose material and immaterial parts are interconnected. Our pain can travel across nerve synapses and find its way into the process of our thoughts or the feelings where we find hidden ache.
Our pain affects us.
Even if it’s coming from “just” a toe.
Our pain is a part of us.
So yes, of course, we should want to heal and be whole. We shouldn’t accept a life of agony or unending sadness or unexplained dismay. But the reason why we work to treat the pain in our lives is because we don’t want to suffer from the finality of disconnect.
We hope we can remain intact.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize that my toe is not the final representation of who I really am. I am more than my toe. More than my tongue. More than my torso. I am a unique soul that has been created by the Divine Creator and my body is only the house I have in which to exist within the atmosphere of the earth. I am more than what I see or what I can touch.
But that doesn’t change the fact that it would be nice to exist soul and body, whole and unbroken.
How I felt about losing my toe is how I feel about losing parts of the real me. I want to treat the pain, face the pain, find out how to fix the pain. I don’t want to prematurely solve my pain problems by severing parts of me without cause.
Yes, I know. Sometimes severance is a part of whole living. We trim and prune so that we can grow.
But that’s not what I’m talking about here.
I’m talking about when we cut off parts of ourselves or our experiences because the pain is too much and then we find ourselves limping through life having separated from a part of ourselves that we needed.
A part of ourselves that we wanted.
I was overwhelmingly saddened at the idea of losing my toe.
But I can honestly tell you that there are times when I should have been just as overwhelming saddened at the idea of sacrificing my hope for the future, my heart and passion for life, or the hand and role I play in my destiny.
There have been times where it hurt to hope. It was hard to press. My hands grew weary on the wheel of real life work.
So I disconnected. Gave up. Separated myself from the parts of life that hurt.
And while it may have stopped the pain, it also presented another set of problems.
But that’s another conversation for another day.
Today I just want to tell you that if you are in pain choose attachment over amputation whenever possible. It may take time. It may involve a fight. You might need backup in the way of experts, a prescribed plan, some good ‘ol prayers warriors or a couple of solid friends. Unless this is some pain that you need to disconnect from or unless separation is healthy, choose hope over hurt and seek help for your healing.
As I type these words, the doctors still don’t know what’s wrong with my toe. They don’t know what was eating away at my bone and causing me such severe pain. I’m waiting for them to come back to me and tell me about the root of the problem.
But even without a full understanding of the problem, I am in less pain tonight than I have been in months because I kept looking for an answer. I’m able to bear weight and shuffle around when necessary. My toe is still attached to the rest of me and I’m glad about it.
I’m on the move slow moving as I might be.
And I expect I’ll only improve with time.
You too, pain and all, can keep looking for an answer.
Keep moving, slow as you might be.
And know that every step, however hard it may be, only moves your forward.