My Friend's Toe is Falling off

By Jonathan Smith

Well, probably not, but it might. It's still pretty gross though, huh? After he hurt it skateboarding his doctor decided to rip out the nail and dump acid on the open wound like an idiot. At first it bled like crazy, then it got so swollen it almost exploded, and then it started oozing this weird yellowish toe juice. Now it's getting better, but they still might have to chop it off if the bone gets infected, which would be too bad because he didn't even have to have the surgery in the first place. A couple of days ago he sent me some photos of his zombie toe and I almost blew chunks all over my desk. I called him up for some answers.


Ben's toe right after surgery

Vice: Your toe looks unhealthy, what happened?
Ben: Basically, I had an injury when I was sixteen. A minor thing. I smashed it skateboarding at a contest and my whole toe turned this sky blue color. After that they cut out the toenail and it never grew back right. It grew out, at like a 45 degree angle, so I would sand it down with griptape...

Your toenail grew at a 45 degree angle?
Yeah, the nail bed was all fucked up so the whole thing was up at an angle and it would get re-injured every once and a while. It was sort of annoying, but it wasn't really on the front burner for me, as far as shit to do. But this last time it got fucked up I figured I'd go see a doctor and just see what he had to say about the whole thing. He said, "Well let me just take the toenail out for good. We'll cut this thing out. We'll burn it off so you'll never have a toenail again and won't have to worry about re-injuring it." At this point, he didn't mention the chance of losing my toe.

Wait, so you might loose your toe?
Well, I think at this point, as long as the bone doesn't get infected I'll be alright. Until it's completely healed though, they don't know.

He poured acid on it to burn it off, right?
Yeah, I guess that's the standard procedure. I had never heard of it before, but I guess they cut the toenail off and then pour acid on the open wound where your nail used to be.

Jesus. What were you saying about grinding it down with griptape?
Yeah, I would just get scraps of griptape from the skate shop and sand it down.

Why don't you just cut it like a normal person?
Because the shit was thick. It was this big, fucked up toenail up at an angle. It wasn't something I could cut.

Was it that thick because of the injuries?
Yeah, it was that thick because of that first injury. The whole thing got screwed up.

How did you hurt it this time?
I wish I had some kind of exciting story to tell you but I was just playing S.K.A.T.E. and hit it.

You told me something disgusting about a paperclip one time.
Haha, yeah, what I used to do--and this is an actual procedure that doctors use--was take a paperclip and a lighter, and I'd burn the end of the paperclip until it was red-hot and then push it through my toenail and squeeze all the fluid out. If your toe is fucked up, like it's black or blue or whatever, that's how you get the pressure to go down and get the fluid out.

That sounds terrible.
It was, and when I used to handle it that way, it would hurt for a week or whatever, but I could still walk. After the surgery though, I knew it was pretty fucked up. The doctor wrapped everything up, but by the time I walked out of the room there was a trail of blood behind me. So I went back in there and the guy's like, "Oh shit." So he wraps it back up really tight and tells me not to take it off for two days. But after like a day my toe was fucking throbbing and I knew it wasn't supposed to hurt that bad, so I called up the surgeon and he said, "Well, just cut little slits in the bottom of the wrap and let it drain if the pressure is too much." So I did that, and immediately all this stuff started dripping down my leg...

Toe juice.

You had toe juice dripping down your leg?
Oh, yeah man, it was like a combination of the blood and the toe juice.

OK. Gross.
But when they took the wrap off two days after the surgery, my whole toe was fucked up because they killed the circulation by putting the tourniquet on too tight. So basically, a whole bunch of my toe died, then all the dead stuff fell off and a new toe has to grow back.

A new toe has to grow back?
Well, most of the meat around the bone was dead. So the dead toe had to fall off and make way for the new generation of toe.

Just the outside skin of your toe fell off, or whole chunks of your toe fell off?
Well, the end of my toe fell off.

Jesus... and they think it's going to grow back?
Yeah. I mean, it looks better now.

JONATHAN SMITH

We'll update if Ben's toe ends up falling off, don't worry.

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