Feet have always been flagged as a “body part to be concerned about.” When I was a little kid with diabetes, my pediatric endos cautioned me about foot care on repeat, telling me to check my feet, be careful when clipping my nails, and for the love of God never, ever do “bathroom surgery” on my feet.
Noted. And followed.
I check my feet regularly, examining the bottoms for cuts, keeping my nails trimmed, and trying not to giggle when my adult endocrinologist uses that wacky tuning fork thing to check for nerve damage. (“Do you feel that?” :: Holds vibrating metal tuning fork gizmo to my toes :: “Hee hee hee … I mean, yes I do!”)
In the past, I’ve had a few issues with my toes. Like when I was waitressing 6 breakfast shifts a week in college, I had an ingrown toenail that needed medical assistance. And one time, I had a toenail that I clipped too closely and it became a little infected, so my primary care clinician stepped in to help. But on the whole, my feet have been well-cared for and this is officially the longest time I’ve ever spent writing about my frigging feet.
But in the last few weeks, things changed a bit.
I was updating my pedicure two weeks ago (read: finally taking off wickedly old nail polish and putting new, shiny nail polish on) and I noticed that there was a dark spot on my pinky toe’s nail. Not normal. Also weird looking. Like any paranoid patient of the digital age, I put that symptom into Google and watched as the highly concerning results were spat back at me. Subungual hematoma was one issue (bruise under the nail) but also melanoma (no effing thank you and also v. scary).
So I made an appointment to see a dermatologist to make sure that a bruise was a bruise was a bruise, and to rule out anything else concerning. All the lectures about keeping tabs on my toes clearly made an impression, as I didn’t want to let any issues linger.
My appointment was today and it was reassuringly boring. The dermatologist suspected the issue was just a bruise, but because she wasn’t 100% certain and also took into consideration my history of being outside a lot and also the diabetes stuff, they did a little snip-and-clip to look at the concerning area underneath a microscope. (“Does this hurt?” she asked, clipping into a tender part of my toenail. “It does.” And I felt weirdly thankful for the pain because it meant I was able to feel all that sort of business in my feet.)
Any concerns about melanoma were put to rest and the bruise was confirmed. Bruise is a bruise is a bruise. Clearly I’m clumsy and jammed my toe into something, which most likely happened while chasing a toddler wearing a jetpack (he’s fast). The injury is contained, not infected, and is suspected to grow out in a few months.
“But it’s good that you came in,” she said, turning off the amazingly bright lit-up magnifying glass she was using to examine my foot. “With a long history of type 1 diabetes, you can’t take your feet seriously enough. Do you check them often?”
“Keep doing that. It’s important to stay on top of these things. Which you seem to be doing. So nice job.”
We scheduled a three month follow up so she could confirm that my toe was healing properly, and I was toe-tally on my way home.
Moral of the story? Check your feet. Don’t let any concerns go unaddressed. No shame in being the person who seems paranoid about a pinky toe. And be sure to write a whole blog post simply so you can use the terrible foot pun of “toe-tally.”