It started as a dull ache/pain/throb on one side of my big toe. My elasticity for pain is quite high. Pain is welcome, to an extent. It means I’m human. I thought it’d go away by itself. It didn’t. A few days later, I probed it, something came out. I’m my mother’s daughter. We try to sort things out by ourselves before bothering others. I applied pressure till it bled out. It was beginning to seem like a wound. I rationalized that I probably hit it against something. I wasn’t unable to walk so, life went on. It went on until I realized that 3 weeks after, this wound hadn’t healed. There was a progressive blackening around the edges too.
Was I diabetic and didn’t even know it? I had heard stories of how people would have small wounds which would continue to expand and ended up having to amputate a part of their bodies..sometimes because of undiagnosed diabetes…and in other cases, they’d have known
Was I about to die?
Why hadn’t this small and simple wound healed in 3 weeks?
I figured it was a good time to head to the clinic and I did. First prognosis had me taking a tetanus shot and directions to take antibiotics for a few days. 2 days later, nothing seemed to have changed so back to the clinic I went. 2nd prognosis, by a different doctor, saw me ending up with a toe-nail-removal procedure. It was an ingrown nail and that was the best solution according to him. My first instinct was, “thank God, it’s not diabetes….take the damn nail out so that I don’t have to take a toe out!”.
I won’t bore you with how I felt during the procedure or how I already made a mental list of possible surrogates for when I am ready for child bearing. This list was inspired by the pain I was feeling. When all was done, the moment of vanity stepped in:
Oh, that was my finer toe!
Will it grow back?
How long will it take?
Will it grow back normally?
Can I walk? Bla bla bla bla
Doctor assured me it’d grow back….he said in 3weeks. In retrospect now, this is funny.
I had it dressed and again, life went on. Or so I thought until I needed to dress up to go to the gym and realized that there was no way I could wear my sneakers. Until I turned an acrobat, trying to take a bath without getting the toe wet. One leg on the wall, balance on the other leg…scrub….twist to scoop water, pour carefully…..all day every day. Until I started balking at having to take night showers because of the logistics of not getting the toe wet. Until I realized how slim my options were in footwear choices. Until the thoughts of risking being stepped on alone was enough to induce migraine-like headaches. Mundane things that I had always taken for granted.
A few days after, punishment-glutton that I am, I went on Google to see what I could find. I ended up depressed. The regrowth of the nail is not a given. Its proper regrowth is definitely also not a given. Did my doctor mention 3 weeks? LOL…. Most information online said 1 year for full regrowth.
I felt depressed. You know those dresses you wear knowing fully well that the look isn’t complete until you slip on a pair of nice close-toed pumps? Well, according to Google, I have to re-orient myself to completing them with open-toe flatees. I haven’t been to the gym and if Google is to go by, I may not be going for a while. Fear of infection nko? Realest.
Yesterday afternoon, I saw a lady. Probably just coming back from work. Nice shirt, nice skirt….lovely black pumps. I envied her! I envied her not because she has a job, but because she can choose to wear those shoes.
And then, Jos happened!
I woke up to a throbbing toe in the night. I probably hit it against something in my sleep or not. Whatever it was, it was a reminder of my mortality. While I cradled my throbbing toe at 3am, I was grateful. I was grateful for the pain. I apologized a bit about my vanity because while I have a chance at the regrowth of my toe nail, over 100 lives lost their chances at life in that market at Jos. While I have a chance at re-growth of the nail, however imperfect as compared to what it used to be, 200 girls might be losing hope at getting anything close to what their lives were before being kidnapped. I'm sure many of them would have gladly taken my "nailess" toe over being blown to smithereens or hacked like wood to death or kidnapped
The 3am wake-up-to-a-throbbing-toe helped me put things in perspective, a little.
I cant face Boko Haram.
But I can use my discomfort/vanity/pain/fear as a point of contact…for those girls….for the families of the deceased….for Nigeria…..for us.......and say a prayer each chance I get.
And beseech you to do the same.
Because while a part of me, s’ope temi (I give thanks for me), and another part of me is still vainly worrying about the regrowth of the nail, there’s still a part of me that remembers that we all are oku to’n sunkun oku (the dead weeping for the dead).
Jos can easily be Lagos in the blink of an eye...or Ibadan...or Port Harcourt.
I have no more words, really.
*plays Asa's Fire on the Mountain till fade*