The Great Toe Incident of 2017

Hi, everybody. I want to talk about my toe. Pretty much everyone I’ve seen in the past 3 weeks has heard about the Great Toe Incident of the Spring of 2017, but I just can’t put it away yet. I have noticed lately that people see me and abruptly turn around and get very busy while walking in the opposite direction. But now I have a captive audience who can truly appreciate the depth of this story. It’s filled with human pain, suffering, tragedy and triumph. And just like the TV mini-series, ‘Fargo’; it’s all true, except for the stuff I made up.

About six weeks ago I noticed that my big toe began to ache, and like most things like this, I chose to ignore it in hopes that it would just go away. Well, my initial intervention of nothingness failed to do the trick. While at work in the nursing home a resident ran over my foot in her wheelchair (that happens to me a lot there; they usually do it on purpose in an act of defiance after a particularly difficult session or when I try to interrupt them during Bingo or The Price is Right). The pain was fairly intense. I looked as pasty as a person from St. Louis in February (the enchanting land of gray days). So that night I decided to take a look at what was the matter. I discovered I had developed an ingrown toenail. I’ve never had one before, but I’ve seen plenty of people who had been treated for it. My toe was now swollen to a size that made me think I could make a balloon animal with it, so I decided to try to take care of it myself. 1st, I engrossed myself in causes and cures for ingrown toenails by reading quack remedies on the internet. I’m pretty sure that most of the curative options cited would have made my toe fall off. One of the most common causes seems to be wearing high heels. Well, I haven’t worn high heels since 1983 ( I know that men’s high heeled shoes went out of style well before then, but it was very hard for me to give up those 2 extra inches). I do, however, have trouble finding shoes that fit. My feet are shaped like an elephant foot. They’re kind of round with five very stubby appendages sticking out of them. So I’m blaming my very painful malady on tight shoes and maniacal wheelchair-bound patients.

Next came my curative intervention. Since I’ve seen plenty of people with healing toes and the internet said I could do it, I decided to perform an operation to cut the ingrown part of my toenail out. I used the little scalpel I have for cutting my pills and went to work. I then soaked my foot in Epsom salts (it’s pretty weird that Epsom salts are also used as palm tree fertilizer). Soaking actually helped a little, but the infection took over again and it still hurt. I was telling my story of woe and subsequent intervention strategies to the Resident psychologist who works for me and she said “You know you’re not that kind of doctor, right?”…. I wonder how her job search is going.

Since my toe wasn’t getting better, I decided to do something drastic that I rarely do, but I felt I had no other choice. I went to the doctor. I figured that I had already cut out the ingrown part of the nail, so I would just get some antibiotics to take care of the infection and be on my way. Well, that wasn’t the case. I am friends with a podiatrist, but he had the audacity to be on vacation, so I chose the walk-in clinic we frequent when we need urgent, but not emergent care. The nurse practitioner came into the exam room, took one look and a very painful little poke and said, “Hi. You have an ingrown toenail. It has to come out. I’m not going to lie. This is going to hurt. I have to go get some tools.”

Tools? Well, I thought. I’m a big boy (I’m not, actually, but I still think of myself that way). I can handle pain. I’ve had kidney stones twice and spent eight hours in the emergency room throwing up in a bucket. I can handle a little toe pain. Boy, was I ever mistaken!

When she returned, the nurse practitioner had a tool kit I am convinced came from the Spanish Inquisition. I had evidently just been accused of witchcraft. The kit contained two needles each about six inches long, some tin snips and a pair of needle-nosed pliers. Then she again understated, “This is going to hurt a little”. She then wielded one the needles into my toe. It would have hurt less if she had pounded a rusty railroad spike into my toe with a small sledge hammer. But the masked Inquisitor was just starting her tortuous routine. The needle squirted it’s contents of hot molten lava into my toe that spread another form of searing pain throughout my foot. I don’t think I have cried at the doctor’s office since I was four years old, but I seemed to have broken that streak with this visit. She finally finished with needle #1 and out came needle #2. I thought, “At least this one won’t hurt as much, since there is already numbing medicine doing it’s magic from needle #1”. Well, that was wrong. She slammed the 2nd railroad spike in my toe generating all the pain of the 1st. But this one was filled with some kind of flesh-rotting acid that matched the pain of molten lava. I truly hope I just imagined her snickering at my reaction.

Finally, there was no feeling in my toe, so the Grand Inquisitor took out her tin snips and went to work by cutting my toenail in half. Watching that procedure made me almost thankful for the needle torture The tin snips dug in and soon half my toenail was gone. Next came the needle-nosed pliers. I thought I had cut the ingrown part out, but the tool belt master proved me quite wrong. She stuck pliers into the side of my toe, grabbed hold of pesky little problem and yanked it out with two giant tugs. My toe was a bloody mangled mess, but the Inquisitor had performed her exorcism of the problem toenail with absolute mastery. She bandaged up my toe and I was ready to go. Now here is the rub. I have experienced absolutely no pain at all since the anesthetic began to work.

So here is what I learned. I will not wear shoes that are too narrow. I will seek professional advice in a timely manner. If I get another ingrown toenail, I will cut my toe off before go through that experience again.

Ahh, I feel better now. I can move on to my next adventure.

How I Spent My Easter Weekend

How I Spent My Easter Weekend, or; I’m Really not a Dumbass, or; Why I Am Banned From the Local Home Depot, or; Norman Saves the Day.

High everyone. Jim the Honorary Jew, here. How do you like the title of my new rambling essay on stuff? We just celebrated the holiest of days for both Christians and Jews. Like I mentioned in my post at this time last year, Passover is a big deal, but it is not in the same league as Rosh Hashanah. In that same vein, Good Friday and Easter don’t measure up to Christmas. And by the way, why is it called Good Friday? It seems to me that it is a very cruel misnomer. It should be called “The Worst Friday in the History of the World for Christians”. I am sure there is a logical explanation for this. But I can’t speak as a religious scholar, only as an observer of cultural phenomena. Religious scholars may well argue the significance of these celebrations are at least as weighty as the Rock Star holidays (I’ve only known two religious scholars: my college professor, who Really liked his female students to the tune of two to three per semester; and a good friend, Curt Edward Allison, who puts his religious knowledge and training to the test daily as a marketing director for a car dealership. Oh yeah, and my brother, Reverend Robert Foos. His church service is live on the internet every Sunday, so he must be good at it. I think so, anyway).
Okay, so what does that have to do with the odd titles of this piece of work? Well, nothing, actually, except that it happened during the holidays. Hence, the first title, “How I Spent the Easter Holiday”. It all started because our washing machine broke. The cost of the repair seemed exorbitant so Gayle Kelly Foos and I decided to spring for a new one. So off we went to to the Mall to shop at Sears. Parking was pretty easy; we were car #8 in a parking lot designed for 1400 cars (thank you, Amazon, for freeing up all those spots for us). We then spent an hour comparing different models and prices. We didn’t need that long, but the helpful sales person was a bit slow to help. Perhaps, he was helping the only other shopper in whole the store. We finally made the purchase. The next big decision was delivery and installation. For a mere $100 they would arrange for a crew to deliver and install the washer and haul off the old one… in two weeks!! I was was wearing my last pair of clean underwear, so that timeline was way off. We decided to pick it up and haul it home ourselves. How hard could it be to install a new washer? The hardest part for me should have been getting Gayle’s SUV backed up to the loading dock (I have a car-and-trailer-backing-up disability; I got a Gentleman’s C in Boat Backing Up School. Gayle aced it, but she couldn’t stand to back the boat into the water for fear that she would be pulled into the sea and die. What a pair we are!). But in just a short while we were loaded and headed home. What could go wrong?
Next, comes the “I’m really not a dumbass” part of the story. Removing the old washer and installing the new one should have been a 10 minute job. The washer and dryer share a closet with the hot water heater and the HVAC system. To remove the old washer, I had to move the dryer out of the way, which was relatively easy. Getting the old washer out of the closet was a bit taxing, but straight-forward. I was now ready to install the new one. And then it happened. While moving the dryer, the dryer vent hose disconnected from the outside vent….Now, I need to pause the story for some background. I have a Doctorate earned after 22 years of public education. I can build you a statistical formula that can produce a regression wave so beautiful you’d think you were looking at it from the beach at sunset. I know lots of stuff. It’s kind of hard to beat me in Trivial Pursuit. But when it comes to household repairs, however, I am a grade school dropout. Okay, back to the story…. So when I was able to pull out the old washer without problems, I was a little cocky. Yes, that is a very easy task, but I set low bars for myself. After inspecting the old dryer vent hose, it was obvious I needed to replace it with a new one. So off to Home Depot I went. During that first visit I found the dryer vent hose department, which, oddly enough, is right beside the dryers. I purchased the most expensive hose because it looked very sturdy, even though Gayle argued for the more flexible one. I also purchased a vent with a flap because the old one didn’t have a flap, making it quite the welcome mat for everything living outside to take up residence in the dryer. Then I headed home to try out my new DIY skills.
The dryer vent to the outside is located behind the water heater in the closet. The space behind the water heater didn’t lend itself to getting my whole body into a position in a way that I could use both hands to hook the hose onto the vent. Now here is the problem. The dryer hose and the vent are exactly the same size in diameter, so just sliding the hose over the vent and then getting the clamp in place and tightened is an impossible task, especially with only one hand. Try as I might, I couldn’t make it work. The solution I came up with sounded good to me. The expensive hose I purchased was very stiff. The old hose was damaged and had to be replaced, but it was made of thin plastic and was flexible enough to fit over the vent. I decided to return to Home Depot and find the cheap hose even though I would have to endure a few minutes of “I told you so” from Gayle.
“This shouldn’t take long” I said to myself. “I know where it is located. I’ll just pick it and go”. They didn’t have plastic ones. They had a cheaper one that looked more flexible than the expensive one. It was right beside the vents, so I decided to try to put the hose onto the vent before I left. Well, the cheap hose is also exactly the same diameter the vent, and I couldn’t get it to slide on. As I was struggling with this dilemma, the friendly dryer salesman from the next aisle asked in a not so friendly tone what I thought I was doing, so I told him, perhaps in the same tone as he used. I was into the 4th hour of a 10 minute job and I admit I was a bit testy. He told me to quit messing with the merchandise. I then requested that he try it. He related that all the hoses were the same size and 100 people per week install dryer hoses without a problem. Except he could’t do it either and I gave him a big smirking laugh. He then asked me to leave his department. “Huh, I’ve been kicked out of better places than this” I said to myself as I left hurriedly because I couldn’t think of anything witty to say at the moment when he pointed to the door. I realized then I forgot to get the hose. You know, I really love Loews, and they have cheap vent hoses.
So I arrived home not in the best of spirits. And low and behold, I couldn’t get it to fit, either. I can tell you that my man pride was pretty much finished off. I though I might have to take up crochet-work. When I get into these snits, Gayle does one of two things: her first choice is usually to find a Utube video, watch it for a few minutes and then fix it, much to my chagrin. Her second choice, the secret weapon, as it were, is to call Norman. Norman Nickle is good friend of mine. He is somewhat of a freak of nature, however. He owns several small businesses that all take mechanical genius to keep them running and he is up to the task. He is a combination of the Car Guys, Bob Villa and Mr. Wizard. He would still be a good friend even if he wasn’t a fixit savant, but he is. If you have a problem with your car, whether it is a flat tire, an odd noise being emitted from the rear differential, or brake problems, call Norman. If your garage door isn’t working, call Norman. If you have plumbing problem, call Norman. If you can name it, he can fix it. I called Norman. Did I mention we are friends? Oh yeah, I may have mentioned that. He brought his truck filled with every tool imaginable and his future son-in-law to help him get stuff out of his truck. He began the task trying all the things I tried with the same success. I did smirk a little about that. But instead of throwing up his hands and whining like an eight year old girl he kept trying alternatives until he had it mastered. It did take him about 15 minutes, while I only worked on it for about 6 hours. Did I mention he is a friend of mine? We sat around and talked for a few more minutes and then he had to go. It was the holiday weekend, after all.
So that’s how I spent my holiday weekend. And now I’m sitting at home writing this tome in clean underwear, once again proving the adage that all things turn out OK in the end. If it’s not OK it only means it isn’t the end.

Bill’s Birthday and Other Deep Thoughts

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am in Rockport. It’s cloudy and windy so I don’t feel like going fishing, and Gayle Kelly Foos left me…..(for 10 days to visit her elderly mother in Wichita) so I’m all alone with my computer. What could possibly go wrong? I guess I’ll need to fill my time by writing pithy musings about stuff. I’ve always had pithy thoughts, according to me, but the world was spared from my witticisms because I couldn’t type. I tried to take typing in school, but the teacher informed me I was by far the worst typing student she had ever seen and suggested shop class so I could learn a trade. And she had taught people with no hands! I thought about sending a copy of my Doctoral degree to her, but I still couldn’t have typed the address label (it’s not true that I married Gayle, a typing teacher by the way, so she would type my dissertation). Look at me now! I’m a regular Tammy the Typist. Now, I guess I should talk about what spurred my witty musings today.
A friend from my past had a birthday a few days ago. Bill Werth and I were roommates for about a year or so when we were 18. We’ve known each other since Kindergarten in LaCrosse. His birthday is on April Fool’s Day so everyone always remembered it, even without Facebook reminders. Lucky him. He and his family moved to the big city of Wichita and some time later, so did I. We remained friends because we are from a small town and that’s what you do. During that time in our lives being responsible meant making sure we had enough money for bail when we went out on Saturday nights. Lets just say that was a very good idea, and leave it at that.
Remembering his birthday reminded me of that time in our lives when everything was possible. We definitely lived in the moment and for the moment every moment of the day. But despite that, we both turned out to lead fruitful and successful lives filled with family and good friends. I do believe no one who knew us then would have predicted that outcome for either of us.
I am much older now, but as far as my thoughts, wants, desires and dreams, I feel almost exactly the same (so I am really 18, but there is just something really bad the matter that makes me have bad eyesight, poor hearing, walk slowly, and have a heart that may be a ticking time bomb). I have found some truisms, though. Here are a few. See if you agree:
1. Those who say that with age comes wisdom has never met me or any of my friends; or I’m not yet old enough. Yeah, that must be it.
2. Whenever there is a chance to not open your mouth, take it; especially if the conversation is about politics, religion or sex. This one was learned the hard way. Too bad I couldn’t have just read it in a book and absorbed the information.
3. Alcohol consumption does NOT make you witty. Another hard lesson.
Well, that’s enough. The sun just came out! A buddy just texted that he is at the pool with a drink in hand and needs company. I just need to remember #3; and check to see if I have enough for bail.
Happy birthday, Bill.

The Best Friend Ever

Take a look at this woman. Her name is Sheri Mylius. She should never be allowed to buy herself another restaurant meal or ever buy another drink forever. She donated her kidney today so her good friend Glenda Nickle could live a normal life. We all wish we had a friend like her. Thank you, Sheri from everyone who knows and loves Glenda for your gift of life.


Glenda’s Favorite Day

Today is a very, very good day, or as Glenda, quoting Winnie the Pooh said this morning, “Today is my favorite day”. Glenda Nickle got a new kidney today. She is in recovering from the surgery in ICU and indications are all is well.
This is a culmination of a yearlong nightmare that began last year when she suffered a heart attack and then had terrible complications. She cheated death 25 times since then thanks to miracle after miracle performed by the medical team at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Gayle and I had a ringside seat during this ordeal. When it started we were dealing with our own medical challenge in the hospital right next door, but Gayle was able to recover and we could go on with our lives. Not so for Glenda and Norman. She had to suffer through multiple procedures and surgeries just to stay alive. She was certainly a trooper and Norman was her rock. I’m pretty sure they are closer now than they have ever been.
Even with all the miracles performed during this time the doctors couldn’t save Glenda’s kidneys. She suffered acute kidney failure due to extreme blood loss. Sometimes the kidneys are able to recover from acute failure, but not so in her case. The trauma was too great. So began life tethered to a dialysis machine. Glenda of course was glad to be alive, but her life was severely restricted. She learned to live being uncomfortable all the time. It was quite a strain. She couldn’t really enjoy herself to the fullest.
That all changes beginning today. The whole Nickle clan can now really recover. Today is a very, very good day. Like Glenda said, today is my favorite day.

Enjoy the Elevator Music of your Children

Last night Gayle Kelly Foos and I went to see the Righteous Brothers in concert, or more appropriately, “The Righteous Brother and the guy who took the place of the Righteous Brother who died”. I am not a really big fan of the genre but we went because the couple with whom we are in Vegas are big fans. This type of rock and roll dates back to the early 60’s and ended with the invasion of the Beatles and the Stones. The brother act (even before Bobby Hatfield died they weren’t really brothers) broke up for awhile and then Branson was invented and poof, they are popular again. It really helped that their two biggest hits came after they broke up and then reunited and were attached to very popular movies. Unchained Melody was made more famous by the movie “Ghost” and Time of my Life was written for “Dirty Dancing”. The remaining brother, Bill Medley, is 76 years old, and let me tell you he can move, even without a walker.
The crowd could perhaps be best described as as the silver set. I swear I thought I was in God’s waiting room or the lobby of a cinema in St Petersburg. The number of walkers lined up at the door could have been mistaken for Bingo day at the “home”. They were elderly, but enthusiastic. When the Brothers sang “Time of my Life” every one of the audience was able to close his or her eyes and make that famous leap from the movie into each others’ arms. And, as much I hate to say it, I recalled every word of every song and sang along.
Their second number was their first hit, “Little Latin Lupe Lou”. All of a sudden I was transported back to early adolescence. My friends John Yeradi, Mike Ide and Randy Holiperick had just started one of the first garage bands in La Crosse, Kansas and one of the first songs they first learned was Lupe Lou. The band was named “Shades of Tomorrow” and they were certainly the toast of the town. I was so envious because I had absolutely no musical talent and people paid to see them perform at the City Auditorium. Heck, they even had a groupie, pretty Karen Steen. But I also had immense pride that I was friends with the band who were so obviously talented and were going to be hugely famous.
The concert reminded me everyone has the time of their life when they were young and the world was at our fingertips. We hold onto those thoughts and feelings forever. The music of our time foments a visceral response and brings back those feelings with intensity. And remember, as Bill Medley reminded his audience, the kick-ass rock and roll of your youth that was a symbol of independence, ambition and rebellion will definitely be the elevator the music of your children and grandchildren.
Go to a concert and enjoy yourself!