My Big Broken Toe – Photos for Friends

Recently I celebrated the 3 year anniversary of The Big Toe Break, or “compound fracture” as it’s medically called. I always thought a fracture was a crack, but now I know it’s a break. And a compound fracture means the skin was broken. Mine was definitely a compound fracture. I guess if you’re going to do something, do it all the way!

Freshly wrapped after my first follow-up visit.

Freshly wrapped after my first follow-up visit.

As I hit the 3 year mark for my little incident, I asked my FB friends who wanted to see the pictures again. Many of them had told me how much they’d enjoyed them the first time around, and I wanted them to have the opportunity to enjoy them again! Yes, I’m that generous! I received mixed responses from said friends, so my compromise is to post the photos here and let the brave look and the weak pass. I’ve made the photos thumbnail sized so the scary ones won’t jump out and poke you in the eye. Don’t open them if you don’t want to look! If you’re like me, though, you’ll be eagerly enlarging them. 😉

I broke my big toe a week after I tested for Shodan. Prior to my test I was tired and klutzy, so I was extra careful about anything I did in class. The week after my test I was still tired and klutzy, but was no longer wrapped in bubble wrap and wasn’t as cautious since the test was already over.

I was doing a leg sweep in Black Belt Class. You wouldn’t think throwing someone else would be trouble, but that’s how I broke my toe! I planted my foot behind my uke, Andy, then stopped to think about what I was doing, and after a few seconds continued with the sweep.

I really should have started all over again, but now I’m just Monday Morning Quarterbacking.

I’m not exactly sure what happened but somehow when I took Andy down I went with him. He jumped up and I rolled over and sat up on my knees. Kyoshi asked if we were OK. I said I was, but thought I jacked up my toe. It didn’t hurt but it felt a little funny. No big deal, or so I thought, until I heard one of the students behind me say, “Um, there’s blood.” Well, that got everyone’s attention, including mine!

Broken Toe

Newly broken and on the way to the hospital.

I wanted to turn around to see it but the other students were reluctant to let me look. Finally they let me turn around, but someone pulled my shoulders against their legs to support me. I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I saw!

Contrary to freaking out, I was really curious. I’d never seen anything like that in my life and I wanted to look at it more closely! I’m pretty sure I could work in an emergency room or trauma unit and hold it together. I wasn’t in pain, so I was more curious than anything.

Well, the guys only let me look at it for so long and then it was decided that a) I should stop bleeding all over the mats; and b) someone should take me to the emergency room. They wrapped my foot in paper towels, put a mat on the floor of a truck, and Uke Andy became Ambulance Driver Andy.

But before I would get in the car I insisted someone take pictures of my toe. (I learned that from another Black Belt who insisted on taking pictures of the gash above his eye before he went to the ER. See? The advanced students teach us more than just karate!)

After checking my crazy-level to see if I was serious, Kyoshi used my phone to take a few photos. Aren’t you glad? Personally, I think they’re pretty good shots and the color was quite vivid! I was even asked a couple of days later asking if the photos had been photo-shopped as an April Fool’s Day joke (I broke it on March 31st).

Well, long story still long, after a couple of delays due to “real” incoming traumas, I was put under and the doctor got to work. He put in a pin to hold the bone steady and a long stitch to close up the rip.

Broken Toe

After the stitch was removed. The pin had to stay in another week – the bone wasn’t healed enough.

The pin was in for a few weeks, the stitch not so long. I was in a boot for 6 weeks, which I did not enjoy. I blinged out my boot because it was ugly, and I became known at the podiatrist’s office as The Girl with the Blinged Boot.

Three years later, I have nearly full range of motion in my toe. It looks straight but it doesn’t bend all the way. I can tell when a storm is coming in by the ache. Sometimes it hurts after I work out on the mats. But for the most part, it’s more normal than I had hoped.

The podiatrist was amazing! Despite being pulled off the golf course to attend to me, he took great care of me. He told me, “You are one lucky lady!” I agree. Lucky to have an amazing podiatrist, lucky to be healed.

I’ll just leave these here. Enjoy!  😉

Broken Big Toe

I posted this to FB. Didn’t look so bad on my little phone screen but it grossed out more than a couple of people.  🙂 I didn’t realize you could see the bone sticking out!

Broken Toe (Compound Fracture)


Broken Toe - Waiting in the ER

Waiting in the ER. It didn’t hurt until the doctor stuck a needle in my toe to numb the pain.


Party in the ER! My son (sorry I ruined your golf plans!) and Karate friends.

Broken Big Toe - Healing!

After the pin was pulled. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

Broken Big Toe

Underside of the toe

Broken Toe - Follow up visit #1

First follow up visit when I got a look at the post-surgery toe. Pin and stitch still intact. So is my pedi! 😉

Broken toe in the boot (pre-bling).

Home, Sweet Home with my really lovely boot and a hospital sock!


Get Well Package from the Sisters

Get Well Package from my sisters made me smile!









Not the sharpest kama on the mat…

I’m not the sharpest kama on the mat at 8 am, so I’m quite gleeful that I made it through classes this morning in one piece.

I did not block with my face, did not spear my brain with my sai, and did not hurt myself in any manner.

There was a moment when I turned on the mat and tripped on my own feet. Happily, I stayed upright and no toes or ankles were injured.  🙂

What’s Your Super Power?

Our company has a tradition of making new employees introduce themselves and answer random questions at the weekly employee meeting. The last question for each newbie is, “If you had a Super Power, what would it be?”

This morning one of the new guys said, “My Super Power would be self-healing, like the Terminator. As I get older, the injuries are more frequent and harder to recover from.”

I’m with him! Now… how do I get that Super Power??

Returning to the Scene of the Crime

In just a few hours I will be back on the mat at the hombu!

Although I’ve been working out with our karate club at the office, this will be the first time I’ve worked out on the mats in 7 months.

I admit I’m a little nervous. The last time I was at Black Belt Class I just about ripped my big toe off trying to throw someone. My toe has healed thanks to a great podiatrist (check out the picture!), and it’s time for me to work out on the mats again. If I don’t, I may never get back out there! Just the thought of getting my toe caught in the mat makes me cringe.  Ewww!

Broken Toe - It's healed! I did some drills on the mat at a recent clinic, but not a full, hard work-out. I noticed that I turned more slowly out of caution (and fear- ha!), and I may have developed a tendency to turn on my heel instead of the ball of my foot.

My plan is to take it easy, see how it feels, and try to do things properly, even if I’m slow.I’m not sure I’ll have a partner for self-defense drills, though – my last partner had to drive me to the emergency room. (Sorry, Andy!)

I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be, so tomorrow’s the big day. Fingers crossed that I don’t end up at the ER again. If I do, though, I’ll be sure to have someone take a picture before I go. Oh, and I have a fresh pedi in honor of the occasion – because you just never know when you’ll have a surprise toe surgery and can’t get a fresh paint job for a couple of months!

Let’s Do This!

Let’s Do This!

I just heard the ref on tonight’s MMA fight say that, and I’m sure he was talking to me. OK, he was probably talking to the fighters, but it was applicable to me, too!

I’ve made my decision and I’m going for it – I’ve returned to karate! I now realize questioning my return was due in part to sleep deprivation and also in part due to a mood change because I wasn’t exercising. It’s amazing how those two factors can have such an impact on one’s mental condition.

Slowly, both those issues are being resolved. I’m now able to get more sleep, and that’s making a big difference. I’ve also committed to working out more, both inside and outside the dojo. I’ve noticed the more I work out, the better I feel – both physically and emotionally. The activity is chasing away my mini-depression, and I’m really grateful for that! People around me are probably relieved, since I’m getting back to my usual charming self.  😉

My toe still doesn’t bend much and I lost a lot of cardio conditioning while I was out. But those are just excuses to be overcome, and the only way to do it is to work hard and work often. I’m rewarding myself for every workout that is 30 minutes or more. It’s a silly little thing, but it’s working so I’ll keep doing it.

I know I’ve got a fight ahead of me. My biggest challenge is a stubborn, hard-headed, excuse-filled girl. But I know her well, and I’m pretty sure I can turn the tables on her and use those characteristics to succeed.

Well, wish me luck. Let’s Do This!

My Crossroad

I’m at a crossroad. One direction is working hard and getting back in shape. The other direction is lethargy, and probably never working out again.

It’s been 8 weeks since I broke my big toe. 8 weeks without working out. 8 weeks of lost conditioning, lost muscle tone, lost reflexes.

CrossroadIn the last week or so I’ve noticed lethargy has set in like a heavy fog, and it scares me. I really feel I’m at the point of a major decision.

Do I get off the couch, work hard, sweat, strain my muscles and fight to get back in shape again?

Or do I stay on the sidelines, making excuses, and let my body settle?

It’s a life-altering decision, and a scary one. The choice I make now may be the last of its kind. Before now, I would have said it wasn’t even a choice. Of course I’d be back full strength! Of course I’d work as hard as I could, put in the extra effort to make a comeback! Why wouldn’t I?

But now, lethargy has snuck in. All these weeks it’s been quietly feeding on my frustration and lack of physical fitness, and now it’s attacking my mental fitness.

I’m tired. Seems like I’m always tired. I’m busy. But I’m always busy. There are a million excuses I can use to sit back and let lethargy take over. The question is, will I do it? Will I just take my black belt and melt back into the couch? Well? Will I?

The struggle is harder than I could have imagined! If I don’t go back to karate, I’ll have lots of free time. If I do return to karate, a battle awaits me. So in my head, I’m struggling with the decision, yet still marveling that I could even think about not going back.

Inertia is a powerful force. I know the longer I “wait” to be in good enough shape to workout, the harder it will be to get started. Rationally, I know the benefits to returning far outweigh the benefits of continuing to sit on the sidelines. Rationally.

Emotionally, I waffle on whether I can do it or not. Do I have the will to make it happen? Do I have the mental strength to fight myself, to drive myself, to endure the struggles of making a comeback?

There’s my crossroad. Which way do I go?

Held Together by Elastic

My dad used to joke he kept Johnson & Johnson and Ace Bandages in business. Dad raised three girls, none of whom were dainty. Three daughters, three athletes, seven sports. We hit softballs, tennis balls and badminton birdies; flipped and twisted in gymnastics and diving; hit the floor for volleyballs; and ran full-tilt towards hurdles. When we weren’t in season, we were still moving.

Sprains, muscle pulls, bumps, bruises and cuts were the norm in our household, much to my mother’s chagrin. She would have preferred ballerinas. Oh, we did that too, but only when we were young. When we got older, our competitive streaks took over.

Recently, as I wore an Ace bandage on my ankle and searched for my wrist brace, I thought of Dad and wondered what he would have said of me taking up karate at the age of 46. I can see him shaking his head, then slowly grinning and saying, “Why not? I’d expect no less from one of you girls.”

These days, instead of smashing my knee on hurdles I’m blocking punches, being dumped on my butt, and having my wrists twisted in ways they don’t want to twist. When I was 20, I was made of elastic and would have shaken it off and done it again. Now, at 50, I think fondly of those days but reality says they are far gone. Now, instead of being made of elastic, I’m being held together with elastic!

I should own stock in Aleve. I have a physiatrist who greets me with, “What’d you do to yourself now?” My Swamp Water and Biofreeze are close at hand. And I’m the proud owner of three ankle braces, a wrist brace, several Ace bandages, multiple ice packs, and a heating pad (with a very important auto-shut-off feature, since I often fall asleep on it).

I have strengthening exercises for my wrist, my ankle, my neck and my core, courtesy of the physical therapists. I use the penetrating heat of a tanning bed as balm for my sore muscles.

True, my limitations are gaining on me, but I’m too stubborn to give in. Some days I’ll win, some days the aches will. Either way, I’ll continue to train.

But for now, it seems I’ve come full circle. I’m once again keeping Ace Bandages in business, just like when Dad was around.  And weird as it may sound that makes me smile…just a little bit.

Realizing I’m Not Superwoman

It’s a hard realization to come to – that I’m not Superwoman after all.

All these years I thought I was tough. That I could do anything, push through any injury by sheer force of will. Mind over muscle, so to speak.

And then I broke my toe. Not just any toe, but the big toe on my right foot. And not just broke, but BROKE. As in “snapped sideways, busted open, looking like it got caught in a lawnmower, requiring surgery and a pin to set it properly” broken.

Broken toe set with a pin

Believe it or not, I didn’t request the pink bandage – the nurse chose it. It’s perfect!

It didn’t really hurt when I broke it, and it didn’t hurt much after the surgery. Superwoman doesn’t feel pain, right? So I didn’t think too much of trying to work out less than 2 weeks after my surgery, even though I was still in a boot with a big bandage protecting the stitch and protruding pin. 

I took the boot off and hobbled around a bit. I settled into a kiba dachi to do basics with the class. I even used a yoga mat so my feet wouldn’t slip! I twirled my new bo around; the temptation was just too much for me to pass up. I did maybe half of the 90 minute class. I was a little sore when I finished, but I had a broken toe so I wasn’t surprised.

And then… Then I discovered I’m not Superwoman, and what a disappointment that was! Much to my irritation, the next afternoon my foot and ankle puffed up and the pain kicked in. I spent the weekend on the couch watching movies and drooling from painkillers. Talk about a wake-up call.

It was difficult, but I had to come to terms with a few things:

1) I had a serious injury and I needed to heal before I worked out again.

2) Sometimes mind over muscle fails. That Bible verse, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak” is sometimes true, whether you like it or not.

3) And the worst realization of all…I’m really NOT Superwoman, darn it!

Honestly, I didn’t like any of those revelations, but there they were and I couldn’t ignore them. I’m not a superhero, and I had to heal. It was back to the sidelines for me. I still attended classes, but instead of working out I watched or helped teach.

Yesterday, almost 5 weeks post-surgery I did another Superwoman check because, of course, I’m still not convinced she doesn’t live in me somewhere. This time I went slower, with the memory of last time’s pain and some monitoring by my instructor to keep me in check. I did a very modified workout. Stretching and crunches, basics in a standing position, a little bit of “tai chi” self defense, and some no-step weapons kata.

Mentally it made me feel like Superwoman. Physically, I didn’t have her power and speed, but I did OK and I made it through today with minimal pain. I’m now lounging on the couch, but this time no drooling, no ice pack, no hydrocodone. I’m calling that a success!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not Superwoman. Actually, that’s not true — I’m a work in progress. But if I can’t be her, she can be my role model, right? And while I’m waiting for my toe to heal, I’ll do my best to remember that I have to go at Michele’s pace instead of the pace of a lady in a blue leotard and boots. That’s contrary to my personality, so I expect I’ll need several reminders. But if I behave myself and remember who I am, eventually I’ll be back up to speed and acting like I’m the real Superwoman!