Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Toeing the Line

Ultra runners are masters of the extreme, pushing themselves to the very edge of their limits and sometimes even beyond. In it there is great satisfaction in accomplishing something that may not have even seemed possible. Emotions bubble to the surface and there is a great sense of pride and fulfillment. But this comes with a price. To achieve your best requires sacrifice: sacrifice of sleep, lazy Saturday mornings, social obligations, family ties, a healthy sex life, and most of all, a sacrifice of one's toenails.

For years, my husband has made fun of my "nasty" feet. But I think he has found one area of ultra-running where he clearly takes the prize in our family. You see, in early September, Mac ran the McKenzie River Trail Run 50k, finishing 39th out of 171 runners, which Mac will proudly tell you is the top quartile of all finishers. And it once again places him in his age group...for women, since the RD of MRTR initially sexed Mac as a female again this year. (His real name is Mackenzie, so you can hardly blame the RD. I mean, it is a girl's name! Forest Park 50k had the same problem. I keep telling Mac to embrace it; it would help his Ultrasignup score a lot!).

Anyway, Mac had a good day on the trail and felt good all day, but there was a price: a big blister under the left toenail. He drained it and went on with life. Until this week, when the thing became a nasty, festering mess and his foot became some Fred-Flintstone-with-elephantiasis swollen mess.
Mac's nasty toe. Compare the size to his other foot.
Sunday he was limping around, complaining about how bad it hurt. "Worse than when I broke my arm," he told me. 

I told him to stay away from me, and yeah, he should probably get some antibiotics.

After two days of antibiotics, the thing was still a big throbbing mess and fluid was actually draining through the skin. Our friend Gloria, the fastest (marathon runner) surgeon in Salem, came to the rescue! (Dr. Nair - if that hurts, you better run faster in Victoria!). She met Mac outside of the Kaiser offices, gave him a prescription for Vicodin, and told Mac to meet her at her house all drugged up at 5:30 pm.

Well because of patient labels, Gloria is not used to writing names on prescriptions, so Mac showed up at Walgreen's with a prescription that didn't have his name on it. The pharmacist was skeptical (because a guy in sweats who is not at work in the middle of the day is obviously a drug addict). So Mac put his toe on the counter to convince her he was not faking. To her credit, she did not vomit. "Well, where were you seen?"

And get this. Mr. Clueless answers, "In the parking lot," before realizing this does not help his case of being mistaken for a drug seeker. But a phone call to Gloria, and Mac got his drugs.

Later that evening, I met Mac at Gloria's. We banished all the kids from the kitchen and turned their dining surface into the operating table. I got to play nurse in the operation. Gloria asked me if I knew how to open items in sterile fashion. Just like a surgeon to think the pathologist is incapable of even the most basic floor skills! Geez, I mean we aren't total losers; we get out of our lab cave every once in a while! (And when we get back, we talk about how scary it was!). Plus, I was like,"Umm, hello? The toe is already infected. How sterile do we need to be? Just save yourself!" But I didn't say that.

Gloria numbed Mac up, ripped out the nail, and all was good. Or so you would think. Just as Mac is getting bandaged up he starts sweating like it is mile 90 of Badwater and his face has the same shade of green as after his first ultra. He throws open the door, puts his head back and is fighting to stay with it. Gloria gets him a cold towel for his head and I get him some water. Gloria is a concerned a caring doctor to her patient. And me? Well, there is a reason I am in pathology - I was laughing at him! Don't get me wrong, I was the concerned wife while the procedure was going on, but this was after it was over! It wasn't the pain, it was a vasovagal response, and yes, I am a terrible person, but I didn't have much sympathy. But this isn't the first time I've seen Mac deal with this: About ten years ago, Mac fainted in periodontist office after a gum graft - only I was the one who had had the procedure, not him. The man is kind, and loving, and a great dad, but let's face it, he's a bit of a wimp.
Still feeling good
Getting numb!
Now that's pretty!
"Be strong, Honey, you can do it!"
Kidding aside (who was kidding?), Gloria was a super-friend, because how many people do you know that would touch that nasty toe? I gave her some new shoes as a barter; she twisted her ankle on the first run in them (they weren't La Sportivas!), so she clearly got a bum deal! Mac says he is feeling much better (but the toe still looks nasty). Let's hope it heals fast because Mac has a race scheduled in ten days.

Thank you, Gloria! You rock!


Anonymous said...

This is possibly the best blog post ever. Or, the worst. I hope Mac mends quickly.

Ronda said...

Sorry Mac but was laughing my head off at this post! It's awful and sorry but still!!! That's funny stuff. Thanks for making me laugh and squirm at the same time. Get better fast!

fitmacdaddy said...

Ronda, I have that effect on lots of women!

Jenni said...

Omg...I was just reading parts of this out loud to Ryan and laughing so hard I am crying. This is hilarious! I mean...ummm...sorry about your toe Mac.....

Bret said...

Way to man up Mac. No woman is going to have a nail removed at home. I will share you the pix I had them take when they yanked my nail off. See ya at the races.

Goes On Runs said...

I SO wish i had read this BEFORE the reunion.... i would have asked to see it! bummer!!! hope it feels better, mac. and it was great to see you both!