Nail Avulsion

At the beach

Two weeks ago we spent a fun-filled day at East Coast Park. We built sandcastles, played tennis and kicked ball. When we returned to the car I stopped in mid-track because there was a sudden sharp pain in my left big toe. I bent down, inspected it and spotted a small black plastic splinter-like object near the fold of the nail which was removed easily so I thought nothing of it after that.

A few days after, the nail fold area turned red, swelled up, and was basically a pain in my… toe. You know how nurses love to self-diagnose, self-treat, and self-medicate? Well that’s what I did. I expressed whatever exudates (pus) I could daily. I also religiously soaked the toe in chlorhexidine solution.

After one and a half week of somewhat bearable sufferance, I caved and went to a trusted friend who is a GP to make sure that I wasn’t going to die from a toe infection. He got me started on antibiotics as a optimistic first choice of treatment because we all know how unpleasant the other option would be – SURGERY.

But it didn’t get better.

So I went to Mount Alvernia’s 24h Walk-in Clinic and was advised to get to the root of the problem with a minor outpatient procedure with a referral to an Orthopaedic specialist.

The process is supposed to be relatively quick, simple and painless. You get an injection to numb the toe, the offending nail (or part of it) is removed with surgical pliers, and the nail bed is “explored” to remove debris (if any).

Before Avulsion

Waiting for procedure

// This was how it went.

The Doctor injected the base of my toe with local anaesthetic (LA), waited a few minutes for it to work its magic so that he can work his. He pinched the tip of my toe with a toothed forcep and asked if I could feel that, and I reply with a yelp (that means yes).

So there was more of wait, pinch, LA not working, inject more LA, wait, pinch, inject more LA. I got a comment that my big toe was unusually “resistant” to the LA. I apologised on behalf of my toe.

The Doctor proceeds to yank out half of my toe nail with surgical pliers, forceps, and scissors. I felt the full effect of it and wore a brave silent grimace while colourful words exploded in my head.

Then he began to explore. There was digging, poking, prodding – this was done when I was mostly sensorially intact. Then I could hear the forceps scrape against something repeatedly, every movement triggering more unkind words held back through gritted teeth. The Doctor smiled and said, That’s your bone.

After Avulsion

After traumatic avulsion

To say I was traumatised is a gross understatement. On a side note, I think I have an unhealthy tolerance for pain to the extent of being a lil’ BDSM 😑

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