Saturday, 6 January 2018

Cunning preparations for my op

The op in question is the removal of the thick, ugly, malformed toenail from my right big toe. It takes place at 9.15am on Monday morning, in less than two days' time. It'll be at the Health Centre in Haywards Heath, and Jackie next door is being wheels, because of course I won't be able to drive afterwards. I've got enough food in to last ten days, subject to some topping-up - but then one or other of my girl friends will get in extra milk or whatever for me, if I ask. I don't think I'll need to. I'm expecting to be housebound for only a few days. I have to keep my feet up for a while, and let the toe heal. I will do the sensible thing and obey. I've got one or two laptop-based jobs to get on with, and can do that sitting down in my lounge. Or I can read a bit. Or just doze.

Here's a last photo of the nail I want to see the back off.

It's grown so thick that I can't wear ordinary shoes unless they are a sloppy fit, or especially roomy. Boots remain fine, but I can't go on wearing those into the spring and summer. And the nail has lately decided to grow skewed to the right. The NHS specialist said 'Off with it!' and here I now am, contemplating minor surgery.

The toe next to the offending nail doesn't look too wonderful, either, does it? But its shape and swollen nature are down to arthritis, the first of my digits to suffer in that way. Perhaps it's not so bad to get to sixty-five with only one toe hit by a touch of arthritis. The joint in question has been encapsulated by the swollen tissue, and I normally feel no discomfort at all. Nor does it stop me wearing regular shoes. As the condition of that toe is stable, I have deferred any remedial surgery until there is a change for the worse. But the big toe, with its dreadful nail, is quite another thing.

The nail will come off under local anaesthetic. I have every confidence that the procedure will go quickly and well, but I'm not looking forward to it. It isn't so much the likelihood of a little gore, and a ghastly-looking nail bed once the thing is off. It's more the prospect of burning pain, as the anaesthetic wears off. I'm anticipating a very sore toe later that day.

But it will heal, if I treat it properly once home, and make up my mind to rest as much as feasible.

There is a visit to the Health Centre two days after the op, for the first redressing; and yet another, for the second redressing, a week later. I have got in a supply of sterile dressings I can use myself, as an ongoing thing. I understand that eventually some tough skin (skin, not nail) will form over where the nail used to be. And, if it matters, I will be able to pop a perfect, artificial nail over that, should I be invited to a posh summer party and must wear pretty sandals. I haven't felt able to wear pretty sandals for a very long time. Admittedly, I was never a great one for open-toed footwear in the past. But with that horrible nail gone, I am now looking forward to exposing my toes to the world this summer. Who knows, I might even paint them!

The op requires more preparation than just filling my fridge and freezer. I need special footwear, for one thing. My toe will be heavily bandaged at first. Late last September, I found these two pairs of sandals at the Clarks shop in Honiton, pretty well at half price in their end-of-summer sale:

The bottom pair are for when I am all healed up. But the top pair (in grey fabric) were bought with the period immediately after the op particularly in mind. Here they are again, shot more recently:

My plan was to cut the front strap on the right-foot sandal, and having made holes, push through a length of black ribbon or cord, so that once I'd slid my toes through the rear strap, I could then pull the two halves of the front strap gently together, and tie the ribbon. I'd do the same with the left-foot sandal, for the sake of symmetry.

Here are those sandals with the front straps cut, and various coils of black ribbon and cord to consider using. I decided on the thinner of the ribbons.

I saw that where the straps had been cut, the fabric was likely to fray; so this afternoon I've quickly sewn by hand along the cut edges, to stop that happening. It's not the neatest sewing job in the world, but it will do. With holes made, and the thin black ribbon threaded through, this is the result:

I think this will work fine. I'll wear these to the Health Centre. It's surely clear from the picture how it will be, when I get the right-foot sandal back on after the post-op bandaging.

It's a shame in a way to have mauled perfectly good sandals, but once I'm healed I still have the option of sewing the front straps back together, much as they originally were. Or I could just leave those black ribbons permanently in place. Beribboned, the sandals look just right for the beach, and many people will think they have always looked like that, from new.

There is another preparation I've needed to get on with. When sleeping I  can't have my bandaged toe touching any bedclothes. My winter-weight duvet, for instance. It needs to be hoicked up out of the way.

I considered some sort of frame or cage at first, to go over my feet with plenty of room to spare, and thus keep the duvet off them. Maybe a pet shop, or a garden shop, might have something suitable. Then it occurred to me that nothing fancy was required. Two large clean boxes with a space left between them would give me all the foot-room I needed. Any cheap plastic storage boxes of sufficient size would do. Wilkinson provided a low-cost solution.


I'm pleased how inventive I can be! The boxes will of course still be useful afterwards, so no money has been wasted.


  1. I've had my right big toe nail removed three times as it was ingrowing. On the final time they gave up hoping that it would behave itself and removed the bed as well; not so much fun when the summer comes and I'd love to paint my toe nails.

    Your nail looks a much simpler malformation, so I hope it grows back in time to look lovely this summer. From my experience, you'll be hopping about quite well within a couple of days, though it'll be a while longer before you can wear regular shoes again.

    Love and best wishes for Monday. xx

  2. You are joining the big toenail removal club. Lost count of the times I have had mine removed, the final time it was done properly and the nail bed killed with phenol. I had no idea just how irritating they had been until they were gone and I could finally wear shoes at last without destroying socks after wearing then just a few times. I do miss summer painted toes, just painting the smaller ones hardly seems worthwhile.

    Really nasty looking toe by the way! Oh, and nothing to fear, but good luck.

  3. I am having the phenol treatment and no nail should grow back. That's exactly what I want.

    Really, I don't care too much about the prospect of painted nails. It's nit really my kind of thing.



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