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This entry is about toenail trouble rather fibromyalgia, although fibro looms in the background because it always does.

I had ingrown toenails on both of my big toes. I was going along with my life, ignoring them, trying to not notice the pain, trying to cut down my toenails to alleviate their condition. But it turns out I was doing the wrong thing by cutting down my toenails instead of keeping them cut straight across. Apparently cutting them down and round actually encourages them to grow into the skin. So silly me was making things worse.

But the skin split and started bleeding, and if one of the dogs stepped on my toes, or if I knocked my foot against something accidentally, I would feel sharp stinging pain that would last the rest of the day, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I didn’t want to run the risk of infection, and I certainly didn’t want to be in more pain.

So I sucked it up and forced myself to go to the clinic and get them fixed. The nurse who took care of them said it was a routine procedure and that in fact he’d taken care of his mother-in-law’s ingrown toenails just the other day. He numbed my toes with the same stuff they use at the dentist’s office to numb your gums and jaw. The toes must be especially sensitive or the needle must have been extra large because the injection hurt more than the ones at the dentist’s. A sharp, stinging pain. I was wincing and holding my breath and saying “owwww…” I told the nurse that I usually need two injections at the dentist. He said something about pain being “mind over matter, mi’ja.” (He called me mi’ja the whole time; it was kind of cute; I feel like I’m getting too old to be mi’ja’ed, but I always look younger than I am. And I know I presented as very nervous and wanting to avoid pain in his office). He didn’t say it in a mean or condescending way, but in a way that was clear he was trying to help me feel better, and I said, “I know, but I can’t help that I feel pain.” I mean, I have fibromyalgia, I’m almost too aware of my body’s reaction to pain stimuli, and I’m very vigilant about trying to do things ahead of time so I won’t be in more pain afterwards. I just knew it was going to hurt while it happened and it was going to hurt like the dickens afterwards.

To my surprise, the pain was barely there. In fact, the needles used to deliver the numbing agent cause the most pain of the whole affair. After the toes were numb, the nurse made quick work of cutting off the third of the toenail that was on the side that was digging into my skin, leaving me with most of the toenail. I didn’t feel anything more than pressure on the first toe, but I felt it when he started on the second toe and asked that he give me more of the numbing agent, which he did, and very quickly I didn’t feel anything at all on that toe. He put some kind of brown liquid on them and had the nurse aide wipe my toes in gauze. And I was on my way.

The truth is, I had been afraid to go. I’m afraid to feel more pain. I know I can handle pain because of how much I live with it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to avoid it like everyone else. For a few days afterward the toes stung, but an Aleve pill helped take care of that. I did wrap them in gauze for about two weeks afterward (after washing them and putting on triple antibiotic cream). They looked pretty mangled and I was worried that they weren’t healing fast enough. I went to ask my mom because she’s a retired nurse’s aide and she told me I should leave them unwrapped at home as much as possible and that would help them heal. So this last week I’ve been spending lots of time at home, barefoot. The skin is starting to grow back in, although some of it is still scabbed over. And just in time, too: I’m wearing sandals as the matron of honor at my sister’s wedding this Saturday.

I was worried for awhile that having fibromyalgia would make this whole toenail procedure worse, but I don’t think it has. I’m tempted to say that the fact that I needed two injections of the numbing agent is a sign of fibro pain sensitivity, but both of my parents have similar issues, so it may unrelated to fibro. The worst part has been that I haven’t done as much exercise as I would have liked, but with them healing up I can start to do more this week.

I can’t wait to get out again. The next two months will be the absolute best months of the year in my area, and I intend to be out and doing things as much as possible.