Friday, January 28, 2011


Big toe of sculpture found in the Piazza del Popola, Rome, Italy

I've never mentioned it before, mainly because I cringe at mentioning the super physically personal, but I have an arthritic big toe and a heel that tends toward plantar fascitis. Both ailments hit me when I was in my mid-forties, and now that I'm coasting toward the end of this decade (I'll be 48 in August!), gathering grey hairs, planting rue, well, I'll acknowledge it. It's downright embarrassing, I think, that one toe can dictate not only what type shoe I must wear (black clogs only) but also cause enough sharp pain that my eyes prick with tears. Sometimes, I catch myself nearly whimpering as I stare at the toe, trying to be only mindful of the pain and not judging of it (otherwise, my head would spin with the tangential reminders of my need to exercise more and lose weight, not to mention impending old age).

I get a very cool email every day from the website A.Word.A.Day (thanks to my friend, Jane, of the iPad beneficence). Along with the vocabulary tutorial, the site has A Thought for the Day at the bottom and this morning's was particularly appropriate for me as I try to ignore my big toe:

The least pain in our little finger gives us more concern and uneasiness than the destruction of millions of our fellow-beings.
--William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)


  1. I don't mean to be preachy, but... my mom is about 15 years older than you and she has had a lot of trouble with her toes (many of them) and I would highly recommend you find some sort of physical therapy that might help or maybe have surgery (my mom did) to clean out the joint. I hate this word, but... be *proactive*. Yech.

    At one point, the surgeon told my mom that "there was nothing more we could do to help" and she got really depressed about it, but he was full of shit, because physical therapy helped a lot.

    Sorry, shutting up now.

  2. I like this thought for the day better than thaught thought (I read my "thought for the day" from my local newspaper and today it implies self taught ways of learning are very inferior. But the thought does come from a comedian so I took it lightly)

    I have learned to take most words people say, fairly lightly, because I have found from my personal experience that even the words of authorities can be way off base. It seems that in every profession there are some professionals who do not do well at what they do for a living. Which seems like it shouldn't be true, because you would think that a professional, by definition communicates they are among the best at the job which they are described as "professional".

    But I feel it may benefit you to hear that I have come across numerous "professionals" who preform at incompetent levels in the very line of work that is their profession. From what I have witnessed this is especially true of doctors of medicine as well as auto mechanics.

    I remember the pain of an inflamed plate in my heel very well. I experienced that pain for numerous years and was put through many "treatment plans" that only made the pain worse, and the heel more inflamed.

    the only thing that cured this discomfort was no impact, or as low as humanly possible impact for around two months.

    but as a young teen ager at Author E Wright middle school in Southern California I remember vividly the painful feeling that throbbed as if there was a heart in my heel the pumped a radiating pain after high impact sprints in my P.E. class AKA gym.

    arthritis is a more recent pain I have become acquainted with, in my hip, that are directly related to that joint being broken in so many places it was referred to as being "crushed"

  3. Elizabeth, I feel your pain. I have one "hammer toe". It hurts - at times it makes my entire foot hurt. When I asked the doctor about treatment, she shrugged her shoulder and said, "Adjust to the deformity."

    So when my teenage daughters question my choice of footwear (Dansko clogs) I just explain - I'm adjusting to my deformity.

  4. I know how you feel!!! I have flat feet due to "pronation" in my ankles. If I don't take good care of myself, it can be like stepping on pins of fire. I remember once stopping mid-block in the middle of the city, tearing up, because I didn't think I would be able to make it to the cab stand at the end of the block.

    Another reason for swimming. Easy on the tootsies.

  5. Wow. I read that quote and tho it's only 200 years old it brings be to a place of futile sadness.

    We humans are just spinning our wheels, no?


  6. Hell yes! It's mighty hard to ignore our own physical being and pain colors everything, especially when it comes with every step we take.
    That's just the way it is.

  7. Dear Elizabeth, I love that big toe. I have suffered with pain in my toe since I was a kid living on the street and got frost bite in it and all the complications that could happen from that did happen. We have more nerve endings in our feet than anywhere in our entire bodies. I think. If not it sure feels like it. I am sorry for your pain. Thank you and love,

  8. foot pain is it's very own kind of excruciation.
    take care of yourself okay.
    How else will we be able to wear matching red spikes and dance the night away when I visit you?

    I guess we'll just have to sit and talk :)

  9. I love that quote and see in it infinite possibilities. If it can bring realization to each one of us every time we feel a twinge of pain and prompt us to breathe compassion for the rest of our planetary members, it is a pain well worth it.

    Thanks for sharing.



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