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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

The Fifth Soldier Finally Lost Her Shield! (Warning for Icky, Squeamish Stuff Related to Feet)

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

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"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Fifth Soldier Finally Lost Her Shield! (Warning for Icky, Squeamish Stuff Related to Feet)

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alex eek
Last night, I lost a toenail. The rest goes beneath the cut out of respects for fellow blood-injury phobics!

A few months ago, I was barefoot in my bathtub, scrubbing the bottom of it, when the brush slipped and drove into and slightly under the toenail on the big toe of my left foot. OMG. About half of it came loose. I was certain I was going to lose it. In fact, I even tried to cut away the part that had come loose, but I couldn't quite get it to lift high enough to be confident that anything I used wasn't going to hurt the toe underneath, so I left it alone.

It is no secret around these here parts that I am a blood-injury phobic. Over the years, I've tried to get a handle on the exact nature of this phobia because, while it's clear I have it, it is also extremely inconsistent. I watch gory TV and movies and usually am not bothered. (This is not without exception: for anyone who has watched Deadwood? That scene where Dan fights a man in the street in Season 3? That eyeball scene?? OMFG. I still think about that. Loved the series, would watch it again in a heartbeat, would never watch that scene again.) I have handled Emergency Situations when the need arises. Then I get a papercut and the world goes all dark and sparkly.

My particular triggers are eyes and feet. (Hence my extreme aversion to the Dan-street-fight-eyeball scene in Deadwood!) Even thinking about a pedicure makes my toes curl, like they're trying to defend themselves by hiding under my feet.

So the toenail thing was bad but, like I said, I can cowboy up when I need to, and I much prefer to care for these kinds of things myself rather than get someone else to do it, so I kept it clean, periodically tried to trim away the damaged part with no success (my nails are really hard; I stopped biting my fingernails when they started chipping my teeth!), wrapped it up for a few days, and expected to lose the nail. But didn't.

Last night in the shower, I noticed it had grown out a bit and thought I should probably trim it. My toenails have to be wet to be trimmed because they're so hard. So I got out my heavy-duty nail clippers (Bobby claims they look like something that would have been used in the Inquisition) and started chipping away at it. And that fucker lifted clean off. I put the nail clippers down and poked the nail back into place and quickly went onto doing something else.

Bobby came into the room from trying to get an HD box installed on the cable. I was like, "Did it work? Good. My toenail's coming off. I just want you to know because I'm about to take it off, so if you hear a thump, that might be me passing out."

He said, "Okay. Do you want me to do it for you?"

(Marriage: Casually offering to rip off one another's damaged toenails.)

I replied, "OMGNOOOOOO!"

"I thought you'd say that, but I wanted to be nice and ask."

One thing I've come realize about my phobia is that it is far worse to have someone else do something icky to me than to do it myself. This seems rather counterintuitive, perhaps, but I think it's an issue of control. I can pull back when something becomes too much. This is why the thought of pedicures sends me over the edge, even as I merrily do all sorts of things to my own feet. I got a bird seed hull in my eye when I was a kid and nearly hyperventilated when my mom tried to get it out for me. I ended up just plucking it out myself.

I was wearing a towel from the shower, so I said. "Okay. Well, I'm going to get dressed first and comb my hair, because if I pass out, I don't want to pass out naked and with my hair uncombed."

While putting on my PJ bottoms, my foot brushed against them hard enough that I heard a tick and looked down to see that the toenail had just fallen off. Well. That saved me the trouble of pulling it off at least.

So it's gone at last. Of course, I've been thinking about it all day. The small sensory details. That's why I can handle Emergency Situations but freak out over papercuts and earrings; I fixate and obsess. I imagine the small, squeamish details, down to the level of the cells pulling apart. When I was nine years old, I had my ears pierced. I used to lie awake at night and imagine small rough pieces on the posts of the earrings rubbing the raw flesh inside the piercings; I imagined putting in earrings and stabbing into that flesh. No surprises: I used to black out when putting in earrings. My mom often used to have to sit me down and do it for me while I swooned. I have a higher tolerance for pain and an overactive imagination. Now, the thought of the nail-less toe top touching things freaks me out. It feels defenseless, vulnerable, like in a little row of soldiers, it's the only one without a shield!

This post was originally posted on Dreamwidth and, using my Felagundish Elf magic, crossposted to LiveJournal. You can comment here or there!

  • Owww! My legs hurt reading that!

    I was wearing a towel from the shower, so I said. "Okay. Well, I'm going to get dressed first and comb my hair, because if I pass out, I don't want to pass out naked and with my hair uncombed."

    That is so me!

    I think I am better with real life blood than gore on t.v. I wanted to watch Spartacus, but it involved so much gore than I guessed I would miss at least half of it by putting my fingers in my ears and shutting my eyes.

    When I was nine years old, I had my ears pierced. I used to lie awake at night and imagine small rough pieces on the posts of the earrings rubbing the raw flesh inside the piercings;

    This is probably why you are a great writer :) All that imagination.
    • Spartacus was definitely intense at times! I don't think there was anything I didn't watch--I usually make myself, under the pretense of "working on my phobia," and even watched that whole awful Deadwood eyeball scene--but I definitely cringed at points.

      The imagination is a double-edged sword for sure! :D And, of course, I love writing horror, go figure.
  • You are one tough chica, you know that?
    • You're kind! :D One bears what one has to. I'm rather like a wild animal in never wanting to show injury or weakness! :D
      • My dad once had an accident in the factory: he lost his big toe nail and it had to be removed. I spare you the details, but what I do remember was the pain he was in. And you just write about it so... easily. :) I am impressed that someone with her own fears and such simply did tackle this with so much ease (even though mom nature helped).
        • The initial incident with the scrub brush was painful and hurt for several days. I kept it well-wrapped and cleaned, and after a while, the pain went away. When the actual nail fell off, it didn't hurt at all; the new nail had begun to grow under the old, and it just dropped off. I'd kind of given up on losing it, so it was more surprising than anything! :D
  • Stuff on me I can handle. Stuff on others, ick - probably a good thing I didn't go into medicine.
  • Nails usually do fall off on their own after that kind of trauma, so it's good that it did. Keep the nail bed clean and the new nail will come in just fine.

    I agree that it's much easier to do things to myself than to have others do them to me. I am needle phobic, but I've repierced my ears, pulled out stitches, and lanced sores without a second thought as long as it was me doing it to myself. Having someone else wield the needle causes me to go pale and shaky very quickly.

    Brave girl, you are. And I admire the thought that you were determined to not pass out without being properly clothed. That's a thorough person :-)

    - Erulisse (one L)
    • very comical and tragic situation. Let your toenail grow as healthy.
    • Because if I collapsed (which has never happened! but one never knows!) and hit my head on the way down, I didn't want the paramedics to arrive with me in a towel. ;)

      I am oddly not afraid of needles. My phobia is usually identified as blood-injury-injection phobia; I don't have the third part. I had no problem having my ears pierced; it was the afterward that freaked me out. I even had a biopsy once and was unbothered--not even nervous!--but caring for the little wound afterward sometimes made me a little queasy. I have never had blood drawn, however. That might be a whole new ball of cheese because it involves blood.
      • I have all sorts of problems getting my blood drawn, and injections for vaccinations are horrible experiences, never mind dental work. The eye surgery I had late last year took a real amount of self-talking. I would have been more comfortable if they had just handed me the scalpel and allowed me to do my own excision.

        Biopsy? Nope. Just - NOPE.

        It's weird, because I was a cutter when I was in my troubled teens. Blades (razor or knives) were always my friends. No problem with the blood either. But my fear of needles probably saved my life because I didn't get involved in hard drugs the way that some of my 'friends' did.

        - Erulisse (one L)
        • And I don't think I could do eye surgery. My dad just had to have his eyelids lifted because they were drooping and impeding his vision. *shudderrrrrr* Earlier this week, the basketball team had a game and the construction class was out on a field trip, so I had exactly one student in my sixth period class. It was his third day, so he didn't have anything to make up, so I let him get on the computer. I was on the computer next to him, getting some work done, and he was playing some surgery game that involved removing a cataract or something. It was all animated/cartoon, but it made these horrible squishing and squelching sounds, and I was slowly freaking out and trying to pretend I wasn't ... and then he botched the operation and went on to play something else.

          I had a major depressive episode when I was about 20. I had self-injurious urges but could never carry them out because of my blood phobia, beyond intentionally bruising myself sometimes. At the time, this had the effect of making me hate myself even more ("you can't even do depression right") but, in retrospect, it seems more of a good thing. :(
          • I've had eye surgery several times - for reconstructive purposes after my windshield problems, once to get an eyelid raised because my vision was impeded, and this last time because I had an infection in the interior upper eyelid. No choices any of those times, but I advise that if you can avoid it, do so. It's not fun. I also had Lasik on one eye, but that was quite different, totally painless, and easy--peasy.

            Yeah, that "you can't even do depression right" issue - I've known intimately. Sometimes our phobias can be our saviors in disguise :-)

            - Erulisse (one L)
            • One of the areas of research that really intrigued me as a psych undergrad concerned the evolutionary value of phobias. So even though, as U.S. citizens, we are far more likely to be killed in a car or by a firearm, we are more likely to fear spiders, snakes, or heights, things that posed a risk to our ancestors but not so much to us today! :)

              Blood-injury-injection phobia is a rather weird fish amid the phobias because (at least when I was an undergrad) it was believed to have it origins in the cardiovascular system rather than the autonomic nervous system (hence it causes passing out rather than a fight-or-flight response like arachnophobia would), so evolutionary value might not hold true for BIIP, but for us personally? Yes, it seems it had considerable value after all!
  • Eeek! Toenails and stuff. Glad it just fell out on its own.
  • Marriage: Casually offering to rip off one another's damaged toenails.


    I have long toes, and as a result, frequently bruise my toenails, especially when I was running regularly. Never squicked me. In fact, I discovered there's an art to cultivating the old nail over the newly emerging one, with the reward being able to remove the old booger in one piece. Sort of like scab-farming. >:^D
    • That must have been what happened here. I have about a quarter of a nail that had started to grow under the old. It was rather rewarding, especially because it didn't hurt! But I am a picker too (gods, I should put this under f-lock, all this weird effed-up stuff I'm confessing to in public :D) and have to put Neosporin or something similarly greasy/slimy over scabs to force myself to leave them alone.
  • LOL. When I first clicked on the arrow to see the rest of your post I swallowed hard in preparation for seeing some photos! I don't know why I assumed you'd post some! However, your graphic descriptions did do the job quite nicely, making pictures quite unnecessary.

    Like you, I lost a toenail once, about 20 years ago, when I stubbed my bare foot against a step and half of my big toenail cracked apart. Since I worked for a doctor, I asked him to take it completely off. After giving me about ten injections of a freezing medication which I begged for, he did it but I could still feel it! There is nothing like pain in the lower extremities except for really bad toothache pain!

    To this day I can still feel tenderness in that toe and cannot bear to wear too-tight shoes or anything that touches it. I'd wear sandals all the time if I could get away with it.
    • I can't do the gross photo thing! There are some things that just don't need to be shared with the world ... or even 100 of my closest friends! :)

      Your experience sounds nightmarish, the kind of thing that horrifies me. I was lucky that while the initial injury was painful, it wasn't debilitating and healed quickly, and when the toenail dropped off, it didn't hurt at all. It's been a little strange feeling water and air and socks on a body part that's supposed to be covered, but I'm getting used to it.
      • You are so right that some things do NOT need to be seen! I love your spider icon, especially since I was getting ready to make an arachnophobia post soon. ;)
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