Last week, I accidentally bumped Ilsa’s foot and she shrieked. At first I thought she was simply being melodramatic, not that that would be normal or anything for a 13 year old girl. But when she said her toe hurt, my heart sank within me like the proverbial stone.

It was just red at first, but by the next day there was a bubble of yellow green pus already forming. I will spare you further details. Suffice it to say I quickly got online and then couldn’t manage to access my super-secret private insurance page and had to wait to call and then had to wait for the customer service to get approval from my husband before they could talk to me. Am I in Morocco still? I asked myself. Just kidding, but it did strike me as awfully silly since the account clearly showed me as being on it. Sigh.

Then I spent hours trying to make sure I didn’t need a referral to go straight to a podiatrist. I also found a podiatrist nearby and made an appointment. I wasn’t waiting around this time. Never again will I have a doctor purse her lips at me and say snootily, “You have waited too long, madame.”

Today we went to the Foot Clinic or whatever it was called. I told our saga over and over…the removal 13 months ago, the reinfection that wouldn’t go away, the Good Doctor and the Bad Doctor, the perky blonde who took care of it in August at the amusingly-named Zoom Care. I explained all this over the phone when I made the appointment, then again to the nurse, then again to the doctor. Ilsa added in moans and groans and appalling little stories about how the Moroccan surgeon did not let her toe numb completely before he pulled out the nail. It was a great time and we were just warming up our act when the doctor got out his needle.

Now I will say that Ilsa is actually a very tough girl, but this toe thing has worn her out and she is done. She no longer handles needles. Her entire body tensed and, as is her wont, she expressed her emotions freely, using all of her vocal cords. The doctor and I kept trying to get her to lie down and relax. I attempted to cheer her right up by explaining how I had given birth to her and her twin brother without pain medicine, simply by relaxing, but the story did not have the desired effect.

Eventually the novacaine took effect, and she was able to stoically view her injured toe with both sides of the nail removed and huge wooden Q-tips sticking out of it. The doctor decided to definitively take care of the problem by putting poison, a type of acid, on the sides of the nail, so it will never grow out again. The acid turned her skin a deep blackish purple and the nail in between looked sort of green. “You love purple,” I said encouragingly to Ilsa, but she wasn’t convinced. “You could paint a picture of it and people would say you had the colours wrong,” I continued, but she still wasn’t cheering up. Some people are a hard sell.

It was very exhausting watching my daughter suffer. I asked the doctor if he’d consider something a bit stronger than Tylenol 3, for me, for my recovery, but he declined.

We headed over to the pharmacy for the ointment, the antibiotic, and the Tylenol 3 for Ilsa. I left Ilsa in the car, per her request, as her toe was beginning to hurt a little bit, and went into the store. It’s a large store, and there was a large line to match. I turned in the 3 papers. “Give us at least 40 minutes,” said the pharmacist. I groaned, and she took pity on me. “Try in 35,” she urged.

I figured I might as well do my grocery shopping, so I raced around the store. I had just joined the still-long line for pharmacy pick-up when Ilsa appeared, moaning in pain. The novacaine had worn off, she’d been sitting in a freezing car for nearly an hour, and she had completely lost any perspective she might once have had, which, seeing as she’s a 13 year old girl, wasn’t much. We drove home through freezing rain, which crackled and tinkled against the windows like we were driving through icicles. I must admit that I do love freezing rain, although it’s a bit disappointing after we were promised snow. Ilsa continued to emote on the drive home. Once home, I gave her Tylenol 3 with a big glass of milk, and then we got to enjoy hours of her giggling to herself. The pain relief was supposed to last 6 hours but only lasted 3. (although I have to say that I myself have never found Tylenol 3 all that effective. I gave her some advil too, and sent her to bed. I am expecting to be gotten up about 2 a.m.)

The doctor said that even with only half of a nail left, she could still get an ingrown toenail. “But she’s starting with a clean slate,” he assured me, as he got a glimpse of my expression. “She shouldn’t get one.” I hope not. Like Ilsa, I am pretty much done with this.

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