Today I went to a podiatrist. For the first time. Ever.
I've known people on and off through my life who have had their own podiatrists, like kids who have allergists, or Eastern guru's who have acupuncturists. But I have never had to go to a specialist - ever. And podiatry is so off my radar, is sounds like some obscure hobby one does because they're interested in multiple-footed creatures. Like amateur botany or philatelism (stamp collecting). In fact, the last reference I ca nthink of to podiatry, prior to my investigative skills on Monday, was a joke on a Golden Girls episode. Dorothy's daughter marries a podiatrist. The joke is when Sophia jibes that he's not a real doctor, after Dorothy's effusive boasting on the matter.
"Great, Dorothy. He can't help with anything useful, but if you've got corns, he's your man!"
Why did I see a podiatrist? Well, for the past two months, I've experienced a plethora of various and changing pain on the large toe of my left foot. At first it was really tender. Then it became tear-inducing any time it was stepped on, hit, or stubbed. Then it started becoming painful to walk with closed-toed shoes on. Then a callous built on the outside of my toenail, and then became so irritated by constant toe-on-shoe rubbing that it opened up and turned into something so disgusting, that I will not describe it. However, I will say that the sight was so ghastly, I was googling everything from "Toe Fungus" to "Toe Infections."
BAD IDEA! I am not a doctor. Google is not a doctor. Most online medical guides - you guessed it - NOT WRITTEN BY DOCTORS. So I started getting all sorts of awful of ideas in my head. Melanoma, Staph Infection, multiple types of unhealable fungi with names too long to spell - so stupid of me. It got to the point that I was so freaked out, I called Liz and described it to her, and half-joked that I might be dying. Her response?
"Hmmmm. Maybe a spider bit you and laid some eggs."
WHAT?!?!?!?! WHO SAYS THAT??? My girlfriend. Then the next day:
"Chef Lynn was in Oregon hunting for mushrooms. It made me think of your toe."
Thanks honey. I love you too. So while you're busy laughing at this unknown awfulness that *might* be killing me, I'll just pop on down to the podiatrist and wait for him to tell me I'm dying. Then who'll be laughing, missy?? (never let it be said that I don't trip the dramatic fantastic every so often) Don't worry, I did get over myself quick enough to make fun of my malady enough to have her laughing till she was crying and had an aching stomach. That'll learn her.
Then, this morning, before I left for the podiatrist, she came up with this little ditty:
" spidertoe, spidertoe
No, you can't have her; she's mine. And yes, I'm a lucky woman. My addition was: "Spidertoe, spider toe,/ doing whatever a spidertoe does/ Can it bite, no it can't, it's toe..." I know. Liz makes fun of my terrible lyrics all the time. Trust me, you wouldn't be the first.
Back to the story. So I go to the podiatrist. I fill out paperwork. I wait. I get taken back. I sit in the most awkward patient chair ever - it was tall and wide, like it was made for a giant person. I felt like I was about 2 years old - and for me, at my massive size - that's hard to do. Plus the back was at such an obtuse angle, I wasn't sure if I should be so presumptuous to lay back, or sit up correctly. Finally, the doctor comes in. He's a tall, gray haired man with watery gray eyes. He asks me what I do for a living. Here I think, oh, maybe he thinks it's a work related injury. I tell him I'm an actor/theatre artist, which, while normally slightly embarrassing, only serves to bolster my commitment to solving the mushroom-spidertoe mystery. And at hearing my occupation he looks up and says,
"Have you ever been to the festival in Cedar City?"
Now, I was so nervous at this point, that I had to stop and try to remember where Cedar City was, let alone if there was any kind of Shakespeare Festival there (there is). Finally, after about 20 seconds of me blinking and crinkling my forehead, I told him that yes, in fact I had been there, and I'd met some of the company members.
He was SO EXCITED, as he was examining my toe, he was telling me about how Shakespeare helped write some of the King James translation, that I needed to bring in a copy of the KJB with me (wait?? I'm coming back??) and he'll show me the passages, and about some lambskin land deeds that have been dated around Shakespeare's time, which he bought at auction, and then donated to the Utah Shakespearean Festival (in Cedar City), which are now hanging in their main lobby. Uhm, awesome! Meanwhile, I'm looking at my toe, smiling tersely, and blinking back panic-related thoughts with rapid diligence. Finally, he says:
"So. You know what I think this is?"
Me, incredibly nervous, "What??"
Me: "A what??"
"A plantar's wart, that actually goes back about half way underneath your nail. Warts are caused by a virus that infects skin cells, which is why there's calloused skin, and irritation from shoes rubbing up against it."
WHAT. THE. F$%&^?!
Me, still nervously smiling: "Ohhh. WOW."
"So what I'm going to do is cut back your nail, remove the wart with a laser. Now, there will be a hole from where it was, but that will heal. What's your schedule - are you moving any props or anything strenuous today?" (I swear that's what he said!)
"No, I work from home."
"You want to do this now?"
"Uhm ... suuuuure."
Enter my friend, local anesthesia. Cue to me, hands folded across my stomach, white knuckles in painful anticipation, and absolutely NO IDEA WHAT TO EXPECT. The nurse made fun of me, and said, "Ha! You look like you're ready to bolt at any minute!" Yeah ... no fucking kidding, lady. And man, do I have to give the podiatrist mad, wicked, and copious amounts of PROPS (the bro kind, not the theatre kind). After anesthesia, I'd say the whole thing took about 10 minutes. And besides the anesthesia, I didn't feel a damn thing. When he took it out, he said:
"Do you want look at the little critter?"
Me, hesitantly, with images of mushroom-spiders dancing in my head: "Suuuuure."
he plopped that not-so-little plantar's wart on the instrument tray next to me. And if you look at the size of one of your pinky-finger tips, imagine cutting it in half. Did you do that? Now, the half that you cut off - that's the size of the plantar's wart that was half-way under my big toe. I was simultaneously fascinated and disgusted. Then he asked me if I wanted to keep it. There was no hesitancy in my voice when I said, "NO."
So now I have strict instructions to keep it dry and clean, an appointment for next week (complete with King James Bible), and so much gratitude in my heart, I can't express it.
Of one thing I'm certain: I NEVER WANT TO GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN.
But ... if you're in need of a good podiatrist, I know a guy ...