My First Week With a Broken Big Toe


sunset at the beach; no sand in my toes

My big toe is broken, which means no morning runs and nightly walks, but this is only temporary. I spent the first night taking hydrocodone and talking to a nurse on the phone at 4am. I tried walking off the pain to get the blood flowing (the opposite of RICE — rest, ice, compression, elevation) and broke into a cold-sweat just a few houses down. I was able to sit it out, recover while I called Caleb (who didn’t answer), and then walk back home.

For those of you still wondering how this happened… Friday evening I was invited over to my neighbor’s house for s’mores and the kids invited me into the bounce house. I wasn’t in there over a minute before I came back out and iced and elevated my foot for three hours before stumbling home (not booze related). Caleb said we were going to the ER, so I used WebMD symptom checker first and it came up with turf toe (not a good diagnosis), so I agreed to go.


more than hairline

I told the x-ray tech that it was probably a hairline fracture between the metatarsophalangeal joint (between foot and toe) and the interphalangeal joint (between mid and tip of my big toe on my left foot. He started with a full foot and we both saw the fracture immediately — from medial distal to lateral proximal, from joint to joint of my first proximal phalanx. I had done well when I landed on the side of my toe after being pulled down in the bounce house. He took two more x-rays and then it was back to the waiting room. 

Saturday we went shopping so that I could try the electric cart, but it wasn’t as fun as I had hoped. It is slow going forward and jerks to a stop unless you ease the handle. I made it past the squash before I was back up into my crutches. Again, shopping is the opposite of recovery for a broken toe, especially of the weight-bearing variety. So, while I rested Caleb went out and bought an assortment of ice packs. I’m grateful that our bed folds up on both ends — one to keep the swelling fluid out of my foot and the other to keep my sinuses drained while I continue to get over a cold.

img-20171017-wa00062115818518.jpegMonday I got a doctor’s note, after watching Sandlot and most of Monster House in the waiting room from 7 – 10am, for a handicap parking pass on campus and then went to their L – Bldg. in the afternoon with Caleb for the pink paper. It was stressful to think about all the parking and walking I would have to do, and how exhausted I might otherwise be if I wasn’t in the shape I was — balance in strength, endurance, and flexibility is important.

Tuesday was spent driving some of my classmates from City College to UCSD and back for some time in the EPARC lab (Exercise and Physical Activity Resource Center). I wasn’t allowed on the equipment, but I’m welcome back when I don’t have a cast on. We were split into two groups of five and went through the protocol of a GXT (graded exercise test) on an ergometer (bike with external watt adjustment), saw how their Biodex System 4 measures isokinetic strength, and talked about the bone density that DEXA is capable of showing. We finished our time in the lab with me asking questions about a balance machine while everyone else turned in an assignment that was due (I would do this later) and then took the shortcut (stairs) to the car parked in the back and my classmates let me lead the way, which I thought was sweet at the time, but dangerous if I had fallen.



Wednesday is spent on campus from 9 am to 7 pm, which I thought would be a deal, but I spent more time in traffic than if I’d have left home at my usual time. I got to come in late for my Care & Prevention practical (assessing injury of the tendons and muscles surrounding the ankle) and got out early from Physiology. Classmates offer to carry my bag and others open the door; one while I was leaning against it. I attempt some one-legged spin in class, but the others start standing and so I move to a mat for elevated leg core moves and one-legged plank and push-ups. I do some stretches and then get back on the bike to finish with the class.

Yoga will be productive too with the instructor putting us into side-plank and floor-based poses with on-knees alternatives. She looked to see if I would do chair asana and I told her it would probably be easier to do eagle, which in hindsight makes no sense. Chair is squatting down and putting arms overhead (easy enough using the heel of my left foot) and eagle is wrapping one leg around the other, which I can’t stand on my left and with the boot on it won’t fit around my right.


one-legged spin class

Thursday was my first day back with the little kids, grades transitional kindergarten to fifth, and they were all so curious – was it shattered, is the doctor going to use super glue, and when could I play with them again. Only one kid joked that he would kick it and I need to ask him why. I showed the kids my x-ray picture and tried to explain the importance of a knee-high boot vs just a high-top shoe. I think one kid wanted to play with my crutches.

I haven’t been handicap long, but I’ve noticed that not all doors are easily accessible, that San Diego has some rough and uneven sidewalks, that there’s always going to be one jerk in a large crowd, that the crosswalk light isn’t always long enough, and that handicap parking isn’t always the most convenient — nearest the ramp (uneven surface I could fall on) and farthest from the door (as the stairs are always closer). I need pockets or a bag at home to carry food or clothes and have to sit to dress when I used to pride myself on being able to balance while doing so.


I’m grateful to the kind, patient, and understanding people who I’ve encountered on my six-day journey, especially the ones who have given me chocolate. I’ve got many more weeks of this ahead and Caleb is stuck between making me stay in bed and leaving the hose down in the tub so I can take a shower before I cook, clean, and go to school. It used to take me 10 minutes to get ready and now can take 75 minutes of hobbling around. I didn’t realize how grateful I was for that time, but it’s another thing I’m learning and taking into consideration about my perspective in life.

I’m grateful that Caleb allows me to be stubborn and maintain a sense of freedom, but also thoroughly happy when he cooks me dinner and delivers it, feeds the dogs and lets them out, washes the dishes and puts them away, makes me do homework and brings me snacks, helps adjust the bed and swaps out my ice packs. He is willing to hop up to do the slightest thing, so that I may recover quickly and less painfully than he has had to deal with after having knee and neck surgery with constant back pain.

I have an appointment with a orthopedist on Tuesday to see if I need surgery.

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2 Responses to My First Week With a Broken Big Toe

  1. Chester Hendrix says:

    Trying to decide which one of you is the Lucky One. Happily, I think it’s both. 😉


  2. ourlifein3d says:

    Take it easy Jess! Time for a little pampering…. 🙂 Get better soon!


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