THIS LITTLE PIGGIE WOULDN’T DARE GO TO MARKET

Sweet tiny baby toes can turn into a monstruous care job for people with Alzheimer's.

What miracles we all were, slipping into this world soft and cuddly with skin as smooth as a dish of newly churned butter, a patch of hair – or not — and fingers and toes — miniatures of perfection.  And then we begin to grow into the person our genetics will make of us.  A few months later a mother coos, her thumb and forefinger wiggling a small delicate appendage located at the end of a tiny foot, “This little piggy goes to market.”  The gentle movement sends tickles through the rest of the baby’s toes and the whole of this small scrap of humanity bursts forth into a cascade of delightful giggles so contagious that all assembled laugh with him.

A decade or so later the foot has booted a few soccer balls, been on the ground side of sliding over home plate with the winning run at the Little League Park, and got itself (and owner) in trouble for kicking dirt at the umpire.  Before he rents the shiny dress shoes for his senior ball those same feet, grown to measure nearly one “foot” or more will have been stomped and tromped by the opposing football team more times than any young man cares to remember, and if he steps on the toes of his date, or she steps on his it won’t matter, because – with feet and toes — there’s always more abuse to come.  It’s all part of the battering the lower extremities take during a lifetime.

They’ll be bruised and banged, sprained and strained, stubbed and rubbed, tubbed and scrubbed, stepped on, dropped on and possibly run over before getting the pampering they deserve after years of unrelenting service.  “Hon,” Ken called out years ago, “can you cut this one toe nail?”  My first thought was not one of wifely cooperation.  I didn’t want to cut his toe nails.  “Can’t you do it?” I retorted, wondering when he had become incapable of caring for his own feet, and fearing his toe nails were beginning to look like those once belonging to his father.  Reluctantly I ventured in to find him struggling to get the clippers to cooperate.  That’s when I noticed.  Yes!  His toe nails were changing – becoming thick and yellowish — taking on an appearance almost like the talons of an eagle.   

I had cut his father’s toe nails a few times when we couldn’t get him to a podiatrist.  They needed to be soaked and softened making the task manageable.  Looking at Ken’s troublesome toes I told him to soak his feet.  “You’ve got your father’s yucky toe nails,” I concluded, as I began snipping away at the thick mass.

We later found out that it actually is somewhat of a genetic thing.  Not so much guaranteed, but Ken has the gene which causes susceptibility to the fungus causing the nail to thicken and turn brownish-yellow in color – no doubt inherited from his father.  It became my chore as the symptoms became worse to trim his toe nails, which was all right.  Over the years I had trimmed lots of toe nails for our older relations – and all were relatively easy with ordinary clippers when no fungus was present. However, I found the best tool for Ken’s yellowed toe nails was a small pair of pruning shears (which I dowsed with bleach after every use).  Their ability to snip through a tough branch made them ideal for snipping through the thickness of an ailing toe nail.

Apparently, having a predisposition to onychomycosis is quite common and the fungus is very opportunistic latching on to a victim at swimming pools, showers and other public places where one might be barefoot.  Not having the gene, my toe nails are just fine, but some of my children are showing early signs of toe nail fungus.

There is a medication on the market which, supposedly, eliminates the intruder.  The ad on TV was so disgusting I always turned away after I had watched it a few times. This ugly animated creature (the fungus) lifted up the nail of the big toe and with a devilish smile climbed inside making itself right at home and settling in for the long haul.  The thought and the ad gave me the creeps.  Furthermore, in reading the lengthy list of side effects my conclusion was that no one should be taking that particular medication for any reason even for yucky toe nails.  However, I also understand that it works especially if, all of your life, you’ve been kind to your liver which has an awful lot of extra hard work to do while coping with the toenail drug.  I have also read recently that the fungus can be treated with Laser if caught before it becomes too entrenched.  Furthermore, some of the essential oils, such as tea tree oil, do a good job as well.  I’m glad there is something for so many out there troubled with this intrusive nuisance.

Ken’s foot problems, though, are beyond striving for a cure.  Just getting the nails cut is the challenge, and getting him to the podiatrist – any of his doctors — is a pull-out-all-the-plugs effort – gargantuan — but it’s worth it.  Ben came an hour early so we could get everything done: out of bed, into the bathroom, cleaned and shaved, into the shower, out, get dressed, into the kitchen for breakfast.  “Good,” Ken grumbled, “I haven’t had anything to eat all day.”  Up from the table and into the wheel chair, out the door onto the driveway, out of the chair into the car.  “Move over so Ben can sit next to you,” I encouraged.  He growled because he would just as soon drive away leaving Ben at home, but Ben managed to squeeze into his space.  Besides, we need Ben. Off we go and we’re actually going to be there on time.

Once we arrive at the medical offices and no matter how bad Ken’s AD gets, it appears he is still putty in the hands of a doctor.  He sat down in the chair – Ben did hold Ken’s feet to prevent him from punting the good doctor into the hall if he took a mind to be combative.  With firmness, I gently held his hands and Dr. Laura trimmed the toe nails.  Within five minutes it was done.  “There,” she said, patting Ken on the knee, “That will hold you the next three months.” 

I am on top of the world, reeling with success when we have a good day.  A good day is when plans are made and the task is completed.  With a smile and a sigh of relief I said, “Let’s all three of us get into the car, go home and have lunch.”    “Good,” grumbles Ken.  “I haven’t had anything to eat all day.”

Originally posted 2011-08-27 23:34:53.

2 Responses to THIS LITTLE PIGGIE WOULDN’T DARE GO TO MARKET

  • Thank you so much for writing this. Eva and her family have always held a special place in our hearts and I’m so sadden to hear of her AD. I’d send her a card if you send me her address –she won’t remember me but perhaps if it’s a pretty card she’d like the keep it. My youngest is now a professor at BYU-H and he and his wife and 6 kids love living in Laie. We spent our first year in Hawaii after marriage in the San Lorenzo chapel in 1967. We always loved the music Eva and her family played and their Island warm spirit. Please give our move to Matthew!

    • aromick says:

      They were an amazing couple, and it is so sad when life begins to close leaving the last ones so alone. I guess we all need to keep in mind that we could be the last leaf. I though I should change names, but most of those who knew them can now remember them for who they were, and to the rest of the world it doesn’t matter.

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