I ran for the dog as he was about to eat the Amazon person who was innocently trying to leave a package on the porch. My body lunged for the dog, while my baby toe stayed stubbornly behind, wrapped behind the wooden leg of the chair. I heard a crunch and saw that my toe was positioned at a jaunty but unnatural angle.
My amygdala took in the situation, having never seen the toe at this particular slant before, and informed the left brain which began to chatter: “My toe is broken. Yep, it is broken. It looks weird. I need to go to the doctor. It’s on my left foot. I can drive. But what if I can’t work now? What if I have to leave the exciting work I just started? What about my 54-week Peloton streak? What if the toe never heals and I end up having to wear clown shoes to work? What will the emergency room charge to tell me they can’t do anything? What if it ends up not being covered because I just got new insurance? What if I end up not being able to take care of my family?”
See, that’s what our brain does. It panics for us, driving adrenaline by creating worst case scenarios. The adrenaline helps us outrun the dinosaur, or get to the emergency room.
Luckily, I’ve learned to let the chatter pass by. I thanked my brain for its efforts, and calmed my ass down. Then I got creative since I had no foot tape and forced the baby toe to rejoin the rest of the foot while wrapping two of my toes together with bandaids. As my rational thought regained ground, I realized that paying $2,375.82 to the emergency room so they could do the same would be a waste of money.
Once I taped the toes, I hobbled around and realized I did not need to file for bankruptcy or place an order from the Bozo Shoe Store. I just would have to break my Peloton streak, try to stay off my foot as much as possible, and recover. The same week, my sister fell off a step and cracked her ankle. Then my daughter went to the emergency room after cutting herself on a mason jar. Today, my son popped his knuckle while playing with the dog and had to tape his fingers together. And my husband has cancer, so we figure the Universe cut him a break.
Things happen. But we tend to plan for perfect days, not disrupted ones. We plan to lose weight through exercise, not tape toes and elevate our foot. We are good at running forward, but not so good about slowing down.
So, when life breaks our toes, or our hearts, or our pace, we must let our brain panic for a moment, but without accepting fear. We must refuse to integrate the “what if” stories into our day. We can just let the messages go by, then tape our problems together and hobble until we’re healed.
Because sometimes (although not always), the injury is just what we need. I had been frantically attacking every day as I moved from one gig to another, trying to do too much. My clumsy footwork slowed me down, made me think, reminded me that taking care of myself and my husband was a priority. I began to thank God for the slow down, that I didn’t break more than one toe and that clown shoes were not in my future.
Let’s face it, I am either a wuss to write a whole blog about a broken baby toe, or I am a seeker searching for the lesson in it. I have found several:
- Do not run around the house barefoot.
- Black out your front windows so the dog can’t see the Amazon delivery person.
- Realize that the soul is not only stronger than the wound, it can build around it like scar tissue, strengthening wisdom and compassion.
And that is how my broken piggy became my Yoda.