Sizing It Up
An inch and a half is not really much to brag about, right? Or is it? I guess it would depend on the context of that measurement. When that inch and a half just happens to be a sliver of wood deeply embedded inside a six year old’s foot, well, that’s another story.
Shoes Are For Wimps
Courtney, our youngest kid, was prone to barefootedness. Try as I may to keep shoes on that kid, it was not gonna happen. So, the untimely union of her feet and our old, neglected wood deck produced the inevitable.
That Just Bites
It was a “come now” call for me. Moms out there, you know what I’m talkin’bout. Its the kind that says, “stay calm, keep your head on” ’cause your just about to see something new. Sure enough, there’s Courtney, foot in hand, blood on deck. She was just kidding’round out back when, apparently the deck attached itself to her. I say “apparently” here, because there were NO SIGNS that a piece of deck was in there. There was a puncture type wound and nothing else. However, you’d be hard pressed to convince Courtney that she had just gotten stabbed and that’s all. She FELT it in there.
If Looks Could Kill
It didn’t take long for the tell tale signs to emerge. A tidy little swelled area, about 2 inches long and an inch wide, directly under the biggest toe, beginning at the puncture wound and ending somewhere within her arch, made itself known. I was at a loss. It had the potential of being a two inch chunk of deck in there, but, I couldn’t see ANY of it.
Back Off Mama
The decision not to tweeze, poke and prod at it was thoroughly realized when Courtney would let out screams of terror just by my glancing in the general direction of her foot. Apparently, I had made an impression on her at an earlier date, as being the type of mom who didn’t mind a little blood and guts operation.
Father Knows Best
No, I knew that, if we were gonna get through this, it wasn’t going to be ME. AT ALL… Period. Appropriately, I prayed. The answer I got was a reminder of some good advice my daddy, the lineman, gave me.
“The body will push it out on its own”,
he’d tell me every time he’d come home from work with telephone poll pieces inside his skin. To tell you the truth, that actually sounded like the most pleasant option. After all, we had no insurance. We paid, out of pocket (or should I say, “out of mouths”) for everything. Visiting the doctor didn’t sound fun at all and was something that I didn’t want to be “frightened” into doing. Assessing the situation, Courtney wasn’t feverish. She really only screamed when I, as previously mentioned, glanced at it with intent. So we soaked her foot. That sounded reasonable. Perhaps if we epsom salted it in warm water the splinter would emerge out the point of entry.
The Waiting Game
We waited in vain. But, boy, I didn’t know just HOW vain- a whole six weeks of praying, soaking, wrapping, crutches, hobbling, hopping and colloidal silver. Swelling persisted and redness accompanied it. Intuitively, I knew that it had to look a bit worse before it would get better. I mean, that piece of deck wasn’t gonna give up without some kind of a fight. But, the shear feeling of being the “neglectful mom” goaded me into a doctor’s visit.
Feeling like I was wasting my time, the doctor x rayed it. (x rays don’t show wood, Doc) I guess, somehow, he felt like he was doing his doctoral duty. And, of course, he gave me a prescription for antibiotics because he contracts with the AMA – that’s just what they do when something looks red. As the weeks drew on with still no sign of “anything wood” I actually went back to him. Again, I was goaded by my own fears. After all, what must Courtney’s teacher think? Here’s a child struggling to get around during school, weeks on end, as mom WAITS IT OUT on a splinter that, apparently, has some sort of stage fright.
Taking Matters Into Our Own Hands
This time the doctor decided that that thing had been in there just too dang long and we should get Courtney to a podiatrist. Okay, I have to admit, I was getting a little perplexed myself as time rolled on, so, I made an appointment. We were instructed to get an MRI and have the images sent to him so our appointment would be complete with pictures of her foot and its foreign invader.
A Can Of Worms
When the podiatrist looked at the images he was incredulous. There it was, a piece of wood about 2mm wide at the top and tapering down a whole 1.5 inches in length, snugly embedded inside the ball of her foot, but, the patient seemed to be doing so well. Yes, the spot looked a little aggravated, but there was no sign of eminent danger. Still, of course, the deck needed to come out. He gave us a run-down of the events that were to follow the visit. I was to take Courtney into a doctor that could okay her for anesthesia. Then, I was to bring that signed consent to the hospital the day of the surgery.
“Huh?? I was thinking we could just get the thing out in your office here?”
“Hehe, um, no.” was his official reply. He made it clear that he was going to have to cut her foot open the length of the splinter and remove it. After that, he said that we would have to pack it for, most likely, ten days to make sure we get all the bacteria out before he can stitch it shut.
Ugh! What a headache! I was dismayed by all these new “requirements”, still holding fast to my understanding that by the same path it entered it should be able to exit. WHY WASN’T IT EXITING ALREADY?!?!
One Crazy Week
On Tuesday, I scheduled the appointments. The doctor’s appointment for the consent to anesthetize was set for Thursday and the surgery was scheduled for Friday. By Wednesday, clinging to my “go to” Bible verse that I recall in frustrating times like these, I resolved that, for some unknown reason, our presence was required by God, at that hospital. It was the only thought that gave me some comfort about the situation that, in my own brain, I could not reconcile. I surrendered to God’s will, reluctantly though, like a two year old who has his arms folded in front of him as he walks along side, as if to say, “I’m going, but I still don’t like it.”
A Glorious Appearing
Wednesday night came. After five and a half weeks of this, Courtney was getting pretty good at life with a splinter in her foot. She had been all day at school, hobbling around, half walking on it without crutches so, by the time bedtime rolled around her dressing needed to be changed and the foot, washed. We unwrapped the area. Then, removing the pad, to my amazement, I saw something at the puncture hole. Not wanting to get my hopes up I first guessed that it was, perhaps, dried blood. We had never seen dried blood at the puncture wound yet, but why not? …I looked closer.
“Courtney, is that the splinter?” I asked. Her eyes grew big as saucers and her jaw dropped. “I don’t know.”
I touched it…YES, indeed! It was the wood! (Words, here, cannot express the shear exhilaration of that moment). We were so astonished that I began jumping up and down like a school girl and praising the name of Jesus like some kinda Southern Baptist choir. Courtney just watched, face beaming. I instructed her to massage her foot down behind the splinter’s end. As she did that, I grabbed my phone and called everyone I could think of. I jumped and called and jumped some more. As I informed the world, thanking those that had been praying for weeks now, Courtney kept on rubbing and that splinter began to emerge, slowly at first and then quickly like the birth of a child. And just like a child, that little sliver was perfectly coated with a cylindrical disk of goo (for lack of the proper term). Around 10 to 15 minutes later, when the whole thing finally popped out, we stared at it in child-like wonder.
The swelling and accompanying redness dissipated almost as quickly as the splinter’s exit. But, my absolute amazement stuck with me for weeks. I was literally high as a kite, in awe of the complexity and brilliance of the human body, my dad’s simple yet profound wisdom, my daughter’s patient endurance and my God’s loving care. We kept that little piece of deck as some sort of a trophy and a tangible reminder that faith, being sure of what you hope for, is always accompanied with a price- patient endurance. Sometimes God will take us all the way to the final hour to stretch us, never to harm us, but, rather, always to give us a more steadfast hope, a secure future and a sure footing.