Pinfoot

I’ve now got steel pins in the bones of the middle three toes of my left foot. It sounds pretty painful, and it is. In fact, it hurts like hell.

Curiously, I didn’t really focus on this aspect of the surgery before going under the knife. I guess I thought it would be like having a dental implant, or some other painless miracle of modern medicine. It isn’t. When you’re drilling holes in bones and inserting metal rods, it’s going to hurt. The fact that the pins protrude from my toes and have little yellow plastic balls at the tip, like some kind of doll pin, just adds insult to injury. And I’ll probably never use the word “pinpoint” again without an inward shudder.

My painful, pinful experience also helps to explain the back story and motivation of that Pinhead horror movie character from the Hellraiser series. I’ve only got pins in three toes; that poor bastard had pins in every square inch of his head. No wonder the guy was always in such a foul mood! Just imagine how murderous he would have been if he had little yellow balls on the end of each pin, too.

Hammertoes

This week I learned I have “hammertoes” on my left foot and that I’m going to need surgery to fix the problem. It was not a highlight of the week, obviously.

“Hammertoes” is an embarrassing name for an affliction. Even worse, the name always make me think of the “Hammer time” passage in M.C. Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This. It refers to a condition in which the muscle, ligament, and joint of a toe become imbalanced, causing the middle joint to bend permanently. In my case, the second toe of my left foot has not only become arched, but has twisted and is overlapping with its neighbor, my big toe. This makes wearing shoes a painful exercise. Even worse, the next two toes also have begun to curl over, and their twisting and torquing adds to the discomfort.

The result is a left foot in which only the big toe and little toe are normal, and the middle three look like gnarled, freakish deviltoes that need an exorcist. If I were barefoot on a beach in this condition, mothers would grab their young children and flee. It’s weird, too, to see the toes on a x-ray, where the skeleton beneath the skin is exposed in all of its monstrous deformity.

Hammertoes can be caused by a number of things. In my case, the doctor says it’s genetic rather than being caused by wearing shoes that are too tight. I don’t know of anyone in my family, extending back several generations, who had this problem, but I’ll accept the diagnosis because it means I’m not personally to blame. It also means I’m going to need to keep a close eye on my right foot, to see whether I can detect the telltale signs of new toe betrayal.

As health problems go, hammertoes is small stuff. I’ll have outpatient surgery in which the muscle, ligament and joint are restored to their proper alignment, pins will be inserted into the rebellious toes to keep them in line, and I’ll have to gimp around on crutches and later in a walking boot. I won’t be able to take my customary morning walk for months. Instead, I’ll be sitting in a chair, with visions of M.C. Hammer in his funky pants dancing in my head.