Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Toen Up
Matt Seinberg

Anyone that works on her or his feet all day understands. She or he will sympathize and empathize with this story. You just can’t make this stuff up.

When I started working for a large department store, on Long Island, in 1985 or so, I didn’t have any problems with my feet. In three months of standing and walking all day on hard floors, I was in constant pain. I went to see a podiatrist, who I’ll call Dr. Steve.

I was diagnosed as having ingrown toenails. I had ingrown, not on one toe, but on all toes. I also had bone spurs in my big toes.

Luckily, I had health insurance that would cover most, if not all, of the costs involved. However, not all toes were treatable at the same time. Each one required wrapping in gauze and bandages. I wouldn’t be able to walk very easily if at all, for a couple of days.

Over the course of a couple of months, I had all the toes done, and no longer had any pain. However, the bone spurs in my big toes caused heavy calluses, which causes mild discomfort. Dr. Steve said he could shave down those spurs, and that would help relieve the pain

When I switched jobs, I had a week off and had that taken care of. I used a cane to get around for that week, and the first week on the new job. There was some relief from that procedure, but not as much as Dr. Steve promised.

Every once in a while, I would visit Dr. Steve for a Toen Up as I called it, just to make sure all the nails were trimmed and coming in properly. He had explained to me previously that he used a chemical called phenol, which as many pharmaceutical uses. One of them is stopping the growth of ingrown toenails. Little did I know what would happen to my left big toe, many years later?

Now, let me fast forward ten years.

My left big toenail is bothering me again, and one of coworkers had a daughter who was a podiatrist. Dr. Steve wasn’t around anymore; I could not see him. I went to see Dr. Abby and her partner Dr. Mike, who had worked with Dr. Steve, at one time.

I liked Dr. Abby a lot. I even went to her house a couple of times when she didn’t have office hours. I think that’s where the bigger problem started with the left big toenail

A month or so after my last treatment, Abby moved to Florida, and I ended up seeing Mike. By this time that toenail was fairly ugly and brittle, and looked to have an infection or fungus in it. Yuck!

Mike tried all types of treatments, and nothing worked, so he just kept trimming in along with the others when I went for the monthly toen up. My wife always made fun of the treatments, but they made my feet feel great.

Jump to this past week. I had some sharp pains in my left big toe that felt like hot needles, and I didn’t know why. During a visit to my regular doctor, he suggested another podiatrist close to home that I should see. So this past Tuesday I went to see Dr. Doug, and as soon as I described the pain, he said he knew what it was, but he wanted to take a couple of X-rays.

The beautiful blonde technician, Heather, took the X-Rays and brought me back to the exam room. Dr. Doug look sand confirms I have a bone spur on the top of the toe. He says he wants to treat it conservatively, and start with a shot of cortisone to see if it helps. To date, it’s okay, with only a twinge of a pain, but not as bad as it was. I hope that surgery will not be necessary.

Then he had a look at the bad toenail and took a sample for testing, to see if it was fungus, or something else. It its fungus, laser treatment is the way to go, as I don’t want to take another prescription. My health plan doesn't cover laser treatments; this will be an out of pocket expense.

Dr. Doug said the phenol may have also damaged the nail, but he wouldn’t know for sure until he got the test results back in about three weeks. My next appointment is the end of June, so hopefully we can figure out finally what to do with this stupid toe.

Will I have to play let’s make a deal to get a discount on the laser treatment? Stay toened!

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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