September 06, 2003

Disappointment Afoot

I'll quote Dante from Clerks, "I'm not even supposed to BE here today."

By this I mean home.

Today is the MS 150. In Columbia, MO, not St. Louis. I'm in St. Louis. Home.

This post will get really personal. I don't often do that, and I probably won't do that again until November 1, 2003. If it's too much or uninteresting, well, there are other things noted below, or you could go reread the PETA post that will eventually be above this. Or the Blogger/Blogspot rant that will shortly follow that.

Yesterday was Friday, the day before the event. I had planned to leave work between 12:30 and 1:30 to go home, pack, get bike (can't forget the bike), grab all other necessities, and head out to Columbia for the MS 150. I was nervous/excited. Okay, I was nearly manic.

At about 9:15, I walked over to Starbucks with a bunch of the guys from work, three of whom are on my MS 150 team, so we talked about the ensuing ride a bit. We returned to work at about 9:30. I had noticed a twinge in my middle toe on my left foot about halfway back from Starbucks.

My toes are really close together, and if I don't really keep abreast of the toenail length, occasionally one toenail will cut into its adjacent toe, sometimes drawing blood. I took off the shoe and sock to check on it. The little guy was painful to the touch - seemed to be the case, but no blood yet. Having no clippers on hand, and wanting to make sure it didn't get any worse, I did what I thought to be the wisest thing. I bit the edge off so it would not exacerbate the irritated part. Once, in June, I thought I'd be really wise and just tear off the offending part of the toenail. I got the WHOLE toenail, so I decided not to try to do that again.

Time passes. I'm working. At about 10:30, the thing is throbbing. I mention this in mild complaint fashion to my coworkers. Hans stops by and mentions that I might want to stop at Walgreen's to get a cushion for it so that the 5 - 6 hours of cycling on Saturday doesn't irritate it too much for me to function as a cyclist on Sunday.

By 11:30, the pain has doubled. I take off the sock and shoe yet again and pronounce myself with a toe infection. I call the doctor, wise woman that I am. Luckily, the nurse practitioner can see me today - at 1:30.

I eat lunch - read the blogs of all of you good people who occasionally stop by to see mine. That takes my mind off it some. I get up to wash my salad bowl, and by this point, I really can't walk without torturous pain. I freak out accordingly, take my cell phone outside, and try to call Brian.

Who just happens to be at lunch. (Imagine that - it's lunchtime). I call my mother because she always helps. Between limping/pacing and talking to her, I pass the time between lunch and the appointment. Brian also returns my call.

I drive to the appointment (yes, across the street). After about a fifteen-minute wait, I'm deposited in the little doctor's room, and I remove my sock and shoe and prop up my ailing toe.

Said ailing toe is red, inflamed, swollen, and there's a pencil-width line of what I perceived to be infection that runs from the toe 3/4 of the way up to my ankle.

Whoa, okay. No wonder that hurt. Thing is, this manifested itself in the period between 9:30 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. Very scary, and of course, a very disheartening sight considering my weekend plans.

I unfortunately have a nice long wait for the nurse practitioner, or at least it seemed. I call my mother again and have a "feel sorry for self" session. The NP arrives. She frowns at my foot. I fill her in between gasps of tears that I'm supposed to ride the MS 150 this weekend. She's not a cyclist I learn later (most people probably aren't), and probably didn't understand, but she can tell I'm certainly upset, and it ain't about the pain.

She asks for the chronicle of events. So I give it, matter of fact. 9:30 onset, 1:45 (probably now 2:00 p.m., this is how it looks). I explain the part about the toenail problem I have - the cutting thing, and I mention biting off the end of the toenail. She completely loses control with laughter. This is contagious. I start laughing too, not sure why she's laughing. She said, "you can put your foot to your mouth?" I said, "well, yeah" and then demonstrated by bringing a leg up and setting my foot to my cheek. Which made her laugh even harder. So, a moment of levity. I guess everybody can't do that.

She leaves me be again to find my doctor.

The time alone sets the emotional roller coaster in motion. I am supposed to be the person to collect our jerseys and ferry them over to some of the guys at their hotel. I call Hans and attempt (in snivelling fashion) to explain that I'm not a likely candidate for this task any longer. Not sure how much of the info I actually got to him because the doctor arrived and I pretty much abruptly terminated the phone call.

The doctor is my normal doctor, so he has a general feel for my personality and my training, and I've probably mentioned the cycling to him. I explain the event of this weekend. He frowns.

He said, "do you clip in?" I said, "yeah." He frowns again.

He gives my foot that doctorly stare and judgment, "mmmHmmm." He then pronounces it a strep infection and then proceeds to give me a set of instructions that he repeats no fewer than three times.

  1. This is a very virulent infection. I am going to give you the strongest antibiotic there is in pill form. Take this every 12 hours. It will kill ALL of the bacteria in your body.
  2. If the infection increases, go to the hospital for IV antibiotics. (He repeats #1, so I really get this more like 6 times instead of 3).
  3. You can ride. It will hurt horribly. You won't worsen it by riding. However, the antibiotics will give you diarrhea, which should dissipate by Sunday.
  4. (Repeat #2).
Well, that's a lot of information to take in. I'm sure that's why he repeated it so many times. I sit in the office waffling. The nurse practitioner leaves and retrieves the medicine, Augmentin XR, which is amoxicillin/clavulanate potassium. 1000 mg per dose, twice a day.

2 grams a day.

I eventually gather my new medicine and limp out. The drive home produces a tug-of-war match in my head between Reason and Emotion. They're both pretty battered right now. Reason agrees with the nurse practitioner and Brian, who want me to stay home and ensure I get better. Emotion keeps calling me a wimp and a loser for even attempting to listen to Reason. See, I don't have the devil and the angel on the shoulder. I have Reason and Emotion. Good enough, I guess.

I return home and take the medicine with food, as instructed. And then I decide to be cycling Cinderella. My bike shoes are lying by the couch. I slip them on. I stand. No way. There's absolutely no way.

150 miles will take me between 10 and 12 hours of actual cycling time to do. At a cadence (RPM) of, oh, say 90, that's...5400 cycles per hour, meaning at least 54000 revolutions. Jabbing pain with each.

So, no MS 150 - the compromise possibility is an MS 75. I tell myself this as I call my friend Susan, whose husband is the captain of the team. Susan, I'm not going to be there. Here's why. This finally sinks in, and she takes the jersey distribution responsibility off my hands. I feel like a wimpy heel.

I next call Sheryl, wife of Adam, at whose home I am slated to crash for the next two days. I explain the predicament. I let Emotion have the phone for about 3 minutes during that explanation. She says to me, "Take pictures. Put them on your blog." I get a good laugh out of that. And do what she says.

I'm kind enough to not post them in the main spot, but if you're my mother, curious, or have already pronounced me a wimp, you may want to visit footpics. I have yesterday's and today's up. The pictures serve as fantastic objective evidence when I need to stop beating myself up.

The other funny and rational thing I did was take a black Sharpie and mark the point on my ankle past which the infection cannot go without necessitating a trip to the friendly local hospital. Thankfully, it does not seem to be spreading. The redness from it is a bit wider in my foot near the toe, and my toe is forming a pus bomb (yucky, I know) in the middle on the side/top that's about as wide/tall as a thumbtack.

What now? Research. I got online and looked up strep infections that were not of the throat. I found that Ed Belfour, goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs, missed at least a game for a strep-infected thumb. I felt a bit better. Hockey players don't miss games very often.

So, terrible timing = no MS 150. Only good news? It didn't happen today. If it had happened today, I probably would have ridden through the pain, had a horrible time, and had the infection crawling into my leg instead of merely my foot. And, there's a century planned for the end of the month. It'll take the place symbolically of this ride. It's the best I can do.

More good news? If Blogger ever comes back, more blogging. And I get to keep my foot.


Posted by hln at September 6, 2003 11:28 AM | Anecdote