Letter #210: Surgery Learning

Dear learning,

At 24, you haven’t stopped happening in my life. I hope you never do. Yesterday, I informed readers of my recent run in with ingrown toenails…I apologize if I grossed anybody out, but from the beginning I promised I would be real on here. Welcome!

That being said, something as significant as receiving anesthetic, spending 40 minutes a day with my feet in salt water to eliminate infection possibilities and being ridiculed in the process, some sort of you had to have occurred. Good news, you did!

The issue with my toes was my nails were growing where they weren’t intended to grow. This picture is a bit disgusting, but it does a great job depicting my lesson learned. My doctor let me keep the pieces of nail he cut out. I had both insides of my big toes operated on, so the nails below are sitting how they were on my feet. If you look closely the inside portions of the nails are what any Joe Schmo would have. Then, the outer parts of the nails are the issue. The left toe was just beginning to be ingrown again, the right toe was infected. It’s gross, but stick with me.

Gross, but seeing these allowed me, and every person who knew about my ingrown toenails that gave me looks of disgust, to understand what was wrong with my feet.

How the heck does a centimeter (if that) chunk of nail cause infection and severe pain? I’ll never understand, but as I was thinking about it I paralleled it to the big picture of life. How many times do I allow my little mistakes to build up and create much bigger issues in my world?

We were created to live in harmony with God. Adam and Eve sinned. Now, we all inherit a sin nature, but God didn’t choose to leave us in our sinful state. God sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life, become our sin on the cross and defeat death, so we may live in harmony with God once again. So, once I accept Christ, I’ll never sin again. Awesome, but absolutely not true. I’m going to fail, sin, mess up, make mistakes. The difference is my sin has been redeemed, and I want to rid myself of the junk in my life that grieves the Lord.

So, how does this blip of theology have anything to do with my feet?! Just like my toenails were growing in places they shouldn’t be, sometimes I let sin fester in my life where it doesn’t need to be. It starts small, and I allow it to grow and remain a stronghold in my life.  I fail to confess my sin, to humble myself and admit I’m wrong. So, it continues to grow where it’s not supposed to be. The longer we allow it to be present, the more painful removing it is…just like my toes. The consequences of our sin are greater the longer we allow it to remain. Our sins are forgiven, but they don’t come without consequence.

As I physically had my ingrown toenails ripped out, I couldn’t help but wonder what sin needs to be ripped out of my life as well.

Finding ways to learn in all aspects of life,

Lifetime learner

Letter #209: Minor Surgery

Dear ingrown toenails,

You’ve caused great havoc in my life…ok, this statement is a bit a dramatic, but only a bit. You’re gross, and every time I have to explain you to someone I get a look of disgust. Supposedly you’re genetic, and there’s not much I can control in whether or not I get you, but you’re still gross.

Last week, I mentioned I had to get minor surgery. Well friends, this is why. Little known fact about me…I get ingrown toenails. Judge me, but I promise I’m still nice and fun to be around! My toes have been experiencing some pretty solid pain for the past month or two, and I had to get this taken care of before summer. As Mama Roth put it, I had infection running through my body and could get severely ill if I didn’t take care of them.

So, I began a month long process of scheduling appointments to get you cut out. What is an ingrown toenail? Well, basically it means the nail grows into the skin as it grows normally. This causes great pain, inflammation, infection, etc. I had you cut out at some point in college, but unfortunately you grew back in. This time, my doctor put acid along the edge of my nail that’s supposed to never allow it to grow back. We shall see.

All this being said, last Thursday I went to a podiatrist in Edmond to rid me of you. Dr. Walker and his nurse were the nicest, most gentle (caused zero pain!), friendly people imaginable. I am thankful for them. I watched the entire procedure…and took pictures! I wanted to see what these suckers were that were capable of causing me so much pain in such a small area. He numbed my toes, so I couldn’t feel a thing. He told me if I could feel, I’d be screaming bloody murder. Thank you anesthetic!

***Disclaimer: semi-graphic pictures below!

Blurry, but this is when it was infected. If you look closely, it's inflamed and puffy.
Pre-surgery.
The first one after getting cut out with my tourniquet.
Please note how fat my toe is from the anesthetic shots!
After cutting with a scissors, he used this knife to cut the nail all the way to the nail bed.
The best shot of the day...mid yank to get that sucker out!

He kept asking me if I was sure I was alright. I couldn’t feel anything, so of course, I was fine! He complimented my toughness and said he has grown men and police officers ball like babies during this procedure. I don’t know why, you can’t feel anything!

As he was cutting you out, we chatted OSU (he’s a fellow alum), Stillwater, Kanakuk (old camper!), LifeChurch and the fact that my feet aren’t disgusting. He informed me you are actually very common. YES!!!

You are gone, and my feet feel SO much better! They still have to heal up and I have to take good care of them so they don’t get infected, but they’re SO much better than they were! Plus, now I know I’m not as gross as I thought I was…lots of people get you! Welcome to my world the past few days!

Grateful for podiatrists,

Happy toenails