Mindfulness, equanimity–and a broken toe

Reflection in mud puddle

I’ve gone “back to spiritual basics” in recent weeks since our trip to Georgia. Being aware of breath and body. Breathe in, breathe out. Paying attention to this body, this shin, that shoulder, this pelvis, this skull. Doing long body-based meditations. Simply being aware of what is and noticing all the thoughts, emotions and sensations arising and falling away.

Noticing how easy it can be to forget this mindfulness intention on a certain Saturday morning in early April. Noticing how very easy it can be to run barefoot pell-mell fast and hard into the coffee table in front of the couch and SMASH the foot against the uncompromising unforgiving wooden leg.

Remembering how easy it is to yelp, cry, curse, sniffle, moan and chastise myself for forgetting to be mindful. Letting that self-judgment be as it is and noticing the quivering lower lip and the OWWWW of the painful toe.

Limping, limping, limping. Trying to decide: should I go to the doctor? The medical internet advises all sorts of things. If the toe is broken–it will heal on its own. If the toe is broken–get ye to a doctor right away. But what if it’s not simply a wee toe? What if it’s a broken foot bone?

Warning, warning, do not click over to the rest of the story unless you want to see a picture of said foot.

Bruising, bruising

Watching all the indecisive thoughts arise. Wondering whether to travel to Marquette with Barry as planned on Tuesday. Deciding to go. Noticing there was NO WAY I’d be able to walk through the big box stores like Menards and Meijer. Listening to his advice about driving one of those electric carts throughout the store. Watching self-judgments and embarrassing scenarios form in my mind.

Deciding what the heck–let’s make it an adventure and drive the electric carts around the stores. Having a ball! This is how you make lemonade out of lemons, right? What fun! Get out of the way, all ye walkers! I nod to ladies with canes and gentlemen with walkers. You’re my peeps today. It’s a handicapped love fest.

Watching thoughts arise: You are not handicapped, you are only inconvenienced. Shame on you for having fun! What if a woman in Ukraine stubbed her toe? This is such a minor thing. Stiff upper lip. Don’t ever write a blog about this.

Noticing pain arising in yonder wee toe.

Fun in Menards! Barry calls it my John Deere.

By Wednesday morning I call the doctor’s office. Let’s just see what is happening with the injured toe. Maybe it’s a sprain, but maybe it’s broken. Let’s see what the doctor says.

I wait in the office, breathing in, breathing out. Noticing toe. Watching thoughts. Feeling nervousness in chest. Also noticing field of peace surrounding all the comings and goings.

Sweet male PA appears and recommends an x-ray. Sweet female nurse asks if I need wheelchair. No, no, no thanks, I say and hobble toward radiology department. Notice steps. Up goes the insole, down goes the heel.

Noticing radiology-lady isn’t too talkative. Very business-like. Lay here, foot this way, don’t move. Okay, thank you, back to the doctor’s office.

Sweet male PA sits down with me and shows x-rays. The bones all lie beautifully to my untrained eyes.

“Oh good, nothing’s broken!” I think.

He points out a fracture in wee little toe.

“But it’s probably the best break you could have had–if you had to break your toe,” says he.

“I think you need a boot to immobilize the toe and help it heal,” he continues.

I don’t notice anything for awhile because I am suddenly upset. Darn it, we’re planning a trip to visit our son and daughter-in-law in New Jersey later this spring. Nooooooooooooooooooooooo, this can’t be happening. I want to walk around New York City! Noooooooooooooooooo, fusses the mind and fights what is for a long annoyed moment or two hours.

Remember, you are not in Ukraine right now, another thought appears. I frown at that thought, because I am suddenly feeling sorry for myself. I notice that and allow it to be.

The sweet PA and nurse now insist upon a wheelchair and off we zip to the emergency room where Ambulatory Care will fit me with a large black immobilizing boot.

Observe: the boot, the teeny tiny shoe and the offending coffee table in background

Time to drive home. I call Barry, my mom, and both kids to boot. Sniff, sniff, sniff.

It’s total mud in our driveway, so Mr. Barry brings tape and plastic bag to car so I can maneuver the boot into the house without ruining it in the first moment. It feels cumbersome to limp along in the boot, but gosh, it does cradle the poor broken toe.

We are reaching the end of this toe saga. I am vowing to be more mindful instead of running pell-mell around the house. Step, step, step. Breathe in, breathe out. Feel your buttocks on the seat. Notice yourself smiling. If nothing else–it was fun to write this story.

Anyone else ever break a bone? Anyone else practicing mindfulness these days? Doing a better job than me? ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh look! Observe: Spring is coming!

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in April 2022 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Mindfulness, equanimity–and a broken toe

  1. Carol says:

    No, I have not broken a bone, but I have done the toe stubbing thing multiple times. Over my lifetime, pieces of furniture have too often thrust their corners into my path just as I reach them. I’m convinced it’s personal. I have studied (and cursed) many bruises – each one of which was a little different than the one before. Kind of like art, yes?

    • Kathy says:

      I feel your stubbing pain, Carol. Why oh why do those furniture corners leap out at us? May we cease getting bruises from now on–we can enjoy our art in different ways! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. rehill56 says:

    So so sad to hear about your toe. ๐ŸŒท Speedy healing wishes.๐Ÿ’•

    • Kathy says:

      Ruth, my toe thanks you for your healing wishes. It really wants to get better soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Stacy says:

      No, I am not doing better than you. Every now and then I try to go back to all the good habits I developed over the years. And then I don’t.

      But good for you for not giving up! I hope you heal fast and get to poke around NYC all you want! XOXO

      • Kathy says:

        Stacy, I think maybe it’s an on-again off-again practice for many of us. It’s just been calling me lately to be much more mindful. (obviously it’s needed, lol!) Thank you for the nice healing wishes. I heartily second them. Hope all is well with you & yours.

  3. wsquared says:

    Oooh, ouch! Sending good healing mojo north! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Anna says:

    Oh dear! Yes, I have broken a toe and the bruise looked a lot like yours. I didn’t go to the doctor and it seemed to heal okay. A boot would have made the healing more comfortable, I bet. And I, too, remind myself (when I get frustrated or anxious) that things could be much worse, I could be in Ukraine. What an awful thing to be witnessing.

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Anna–it does seem like broken toes can heal without going to the doctor and getting a boot. It’s good to know yours healed up. How long did it take before you were comfortable walking again? And, yes, it is horrible to be witnessing what’s happening in Ukraine. Breaks our hearts, doesn’t it?

  5. dawnkinster says:

    So sorry about your toe!!! Yes, I had a stress fracture in my foot when I was training for a 1/2 marathon probably 10 or more years ago. I wore the boot too…In fact, let me think about it, I was wearing the boot while interviewing for library jobs, so probably it was 2009. So 14 years ago!!! It’s a pain, but really good that you wear it to stabilize your foot. I’m having pain in my right foot now and I wonder if I have another stress fracture. Sigh….I might still have the boot somewhere. I hope you toe heals fast and you have a wonderful time in NYC!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, thank you. I just looked up “stress fracture”. It says a tiny crack in the bone usually caused by repetitive stress or force, often from overuse. I can see how this might have happened while training so extensively. Sorry to hear you’re having some foot pain right now, too. This growing up (not gonna say old) is not for sissies! Thanks for the fast healing wishes. We haven’t been to visit Chris and his wife since 2012 so we are really looking forward to this trip. Have never visited them since they moved to New Jersey, although we’ve been together many times here and in other places.

  6. leelah saachi says:

    ” Shame on you for having fun! What if a woman in Ukraine stubbed her toe? ” That had me giggling! Big hugs. and blowing warmly and magically on the broken toe, uttering small comforting noises. So glad you can still move around,and that you do not live alone

    • Kathy says:

      You have me smiling now. A big smile. The biggest smile of the day–maybe the week. I am now feeling your Leelah-magic coming through and twinkling around the house. Thank you!

  7. Susan D. Durham says:

    Ouchie!! I love everything about this post, except for the fractured toe. Okay, I like the fractured toe because you inserted the Ukraine scenarios, and that’s so compassionate and then human to be okay with “My foot hurts.” I still don’t like that the throbbing toe/foot belongs to you. The photos are awesome. And I’m so glad you had FUN!! I’m even glad you were running through the living room, EXCEPT for that darn coffee table. May you feel healing through your recovery, and know that you are so loved.

    • Kathy says:

      Awww, Susan Dee, I love everything about YOUR comment (except the part about the hurting footsie). You should have seen us going into town this morning in all this snow. At least this thick snow is a nice cushion for a fractured toe. Feeling your love, dear friend!

  8. Barb says:

    Oh no! It will hopefully heal quickly now that itโ€™s immobilized. Iโ€™ve broken my little toe and even though โ€œlittleโ€ itโ€™s a big hurt. I remember stuffing it in a ski boot after a few weeks and OUCH! All will be well – breathe, be aware, find one good thing. Smile.

    • Kathy says:

      You’ve said it quite succinctly, Barb. Even though it’s little–it can be a big hurt. Oh well. I am feeling your pain of putting your toe in a ski boot even weeks later. And, yes, there is more than one good thing happening all around. Today we have a beautiful nine inch snow. Even though it’s April, I am refusing to pout and admiring the beauty outside. It will melt soon and give us more moisture. Hope you’ve been getting enough snow this spring to make for a moist summer in Colorado.

  9. I hope it will heal quickly. Keep your leg elevated and enjoy sitting still for a while. Be better soon!

  10. debyemm says:

    HUGS !! for the broken toe and having to wear a boot. Mindfulness is an important practice with me but I am not always and when I’m not stuff happens. It is still a good practice. I hope that it will help to keep age related mental decline at bay. It really could have happened to any of us but since you are a writer we get to have it happen to us from a distance. Wishes for your healing sooner than soon !!

    • Kathy says:

      It is a good practice, Deb, and I do think it may help keep our minds sharper. I am just trying to be more mindful about practicing it and stay closer to the body, this moment, here, now. Glad to share this story–where would we be without sharing our writing, right? Thank you, my friend.

  11. Elisa says:

    Oh MY! I reacted RIGHT away! A Kathy crisis and then shame did this happen when she fell and I laughed?! OH NO! And then I read, see my reaction the adrenaline are all for naught. My perception was wrong! (How dare it, really!)

    Yes I have broken foot bones and toes. Then hurt knee and hip from the limping and the difference in height of feet. One thing I learned at Physical therapy: when i whack my feet or toes, or trip My BUTT turns off! So I can do things to get it to turn back on that are ever so simple, and keep my back and neck from getting out of whack. Though, I have other health stuffs that create this cascade, Iโ€™m glad i know how to turn my ass back on ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Elisa says:

      PS Arnica Gel is amazing for bruising, and for me took the pain down tons of notches ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Kathy says:

      Awww, Elisa, thank you for caring. And I had to laugh–because I laughed at myself for falling earlier. Who knows why such things happen? We could tell a hundred different stories and who knows which one is “right”?

      You make a very good point about other parts of the body starting to ache when we’re limping. I was especially dealing with that a couple days ago. Owww, hips. As for my butt, will keep an eye on this fellow too. Sorry to hear you’ve been through broken bones too. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  12. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve not broken a bone but have dislocated a few joints. I’m sorry this happened to you, but do think that the photo of you driving one of those battery-powered Courtesy Carts is a keeper. At least you’ve had that life experience now and can cross it off your bucket list [in case it was ever on it to begin with]. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Ally Bean–you’ve got me thinking. I am not sure what a dislocated joint actually is. But am very sorry you’ve had to experience this. It was actually GREAT fun to drive one of those electric carts! You are right. Even though it wasn’t on my bucket list, it was a fun time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Debbie says:

    You know, Kathy, I think sometimes getting hurt is Nature’s way for us to SLOW DOWN. One day about eight years ago, I was walking my then-Sheltie when I stubbed by toe on an uneven sidewalk and crashed flat down. Turns out, I’d broken two ribs and you talk about PAIN! It was wintertime, and every time I sneezed or coughed, I’d see stars. No joke. And I didn’t get a boot or anything to help out. Here’s hoping your toe heals soon (and properly) and that your trip to NYC can go on as planned.

    • Kathy says:

      Debbie, I so agree with your thoughts. We sometimes do need to slow down. So sorry that you experienced that awful toe stub–two broken ribs–uhgghh! That must have been awful. I am discovering what it means to slow down, noticing each and every step. When you’re forced to go that slow you can really be mindful. Thanks for your well wishes.

  14. Val Boyko says:

    Ouch! I broke a tarsal in my foot while on vacation in Florida before I lived in the US. Hobbled to urgent care and then back in the UK for several weeks. It was before I practiced yoga and mindfulnessโ€ฆ. Boy was I angry and resentful ๐Ÿ˜–๐Ÿ˜ ๐Ÿ˜ตโ€๐Ÿ’ซ. I think you handled it just right Kathy!๐Ÿ’–

    • Kathy says:

      Val, so very sorry this happened to you. What a way to have a vacation… Yoga and mindfulness is really helping here now–although there were a couple of hours where I was just noticing anger and sadness. Thank you so much for your kind words.

  15. LaDonna Remy says:

    Iโ€™m so sorry about your injury โ™ฅ๏ธ. I love your work with mindfulness and perspective. Sending you lots of healing energy โ™ฅ๏ธโ™ฅ๏ธ

  16. Nancy Joan Besonen says:

    That boot is made for walkin’, and I’m glad you found some relief. Does that coffee table realize you guys burn wood to heat your home? Nudge it a little closer to the basement stairs, just a gentle reminder, but mind that you moved it, and thank you for such a sweet spin on personal injury.

    • Kathy says:

      Nancy, you ALWAYS make me laugh! Only you would take the perspective of the coffee table’s possible demise! Thank YOU for always being such a good (and funny) friend. โค

  17. I’ve never broken a bone, but toes are inconvenient things – I’m forever stubbing them on something! My wife had one of those boots a couple of years ago for a broken ankle.

    • Kathy says:

      I am smiling, Andrea, at your assessment of our inconvenient toes who don’t know how to behave. Maybe mine will learn to slow down, be more mindful and stay away from coffee tables? Here’s a question. Did your wife finally throw the boot away, or give it away to someone else?

      • We’ve still got it upstairs somewhere – I don’t know why! We probably wouldn’t give it away with it just being foam inside it will probably have moulded to her leg so might not be suitable for someone else.

        • Kathy says:

          Yes, I suppose some of the boots have been molded to their wearer’s legs, but mine is an all-purpose one with velcro straps that adjust. Thanks for answering. I suppose we’ll have to keep this one in case. Although it wouldn’t fit Barry–he would need a size large. I hope never to have a repeat performance!

  18. I love this post! My favorite, self-chastising mantra of late has also bee, “not in Ukraine!” I broke a toe last year sometime….I’d forgotten it until I read this. I taped it tight to its partner toe, and whined a great deal more than you, I’m sure!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, that was probably the wisest thing to do–just to tape the toe to its partner and let it heal. My worry was that a metatarsal bone was broken (on top of the foot) and didn’t know how they would handle that. Phew, thank goodness it was just a pinkie. But gosh it can hurt. P.S. I did spend a few hours upset & fretting too. We have to let off steam somehow maybe!

  19. jeffstroud says:

    Oh darn, how did that table get there? I was only mindlessly going from room to room, darn!
    I haven’t broken a bone, though of late I keep banging into things because I keep moving them around or walkabout in the dark… dropping forks and kitchenware on my toes. I hardly
    ever wear shoes!
    Hope your better to visit New Jersey and NYC ! Sending mindful healing

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff, so very good to hear from you! Laughing at your comment about the table and my utter mindlessness in the moment. Hoping that your toes stay uninjured in your dark walkabouts–we have taken to grabbing little flashlights at night. Yep, hoping our “out east” visit will go well and the limping be under control. I will always remember meeting you in NYC, such a fun memory!

  20. Larissa says:

    Ouchie! I broke two toes on my left foot when I was 15. Sending healing wishes โค

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks for the healing wishes, Larissa. I can’t imagine the pain of breaking two toes at once. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      • Larissa says:

        I donโ€™t think two hurt that much more than one (though I wouldnโ€™t actually know). The worst part was the swelling. I was glad it was summer and I could get away with wearing sandals everywhere!

  21. Tilly travel says:

    Looked at the photo and let out a yelp myself, sending you a big hug.
    By the way you are rocking that boot ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Yikes! That’s a very impressive bruise! I stub my toes all the time which is why I wear sturdy slippers in the house most of the time. Enjoyed reading about your electric cart shopping adventure and the trip to the doctor. Hope that the boot and time will heal you in time to enjoy your trip to New Jersey! In my 65 years I’ve yet to break a bone and I hope it stays that way. My son broke his toe when he was a teen. He was walking through a door and hit his foot on the doorframe. The doctor said he wasn’t used to navigating his growing body size yet…

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, my mom said she wears sturdy slippers for exactly the same reason as you. Maybe should rethink my anti-slipper attitude. (Our floors are so cozy-warm because of burning wood.) Glad you enjoyed this and hope you remain break-free forever & a day. Sorry to hear about your son’s teenage accident. Not fun, no matter what our age.

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