Do You Really Need 10 Toes?

When we bought the property adjacent to our country home, we had many other things to fix there along with the decrepit house.  The property also had a pond with a partially submerged boat dock that could only be accessed by descending a very rickety set of stairs that went down the bank.  Although John is not much of a carpenter, he is not completely lacking in skills, so he decided he could replace the dock and stairs himself.  I have to admit that I was very impressed with his design and construction of the dock.  He attached a platform to some 55 gallon barrels to form the dock, and he connected that to a walkway that ran over to the stairs. The walkway was even hinged to allow the dock to adjust to the varying water levels in the pond. He did such a great job, that I had complete confidence in him when he brought home a set of metal steps he’d acquired to replace the current ones.

After several weeks of working on the stairs, he proudly announced that they were in place.  I was really impressed by the great job he did when I walked over to look at them, as they looked every bit as good as the new dock.  Unfortunately, the one important detail he failed to mention was that having them in place was one project.  Having them securely attached to the bank and ready for use was another completely different project, at least in his mind.  Of course to me, the announcement that they were in place, meant “Change into your swimming suit and enjoy the dock!”  So that’s exactly what Seth and I did the next day.

The first step onto the stairs gave no indication of the danger I was in.  Only after stepping on the second step, eliminating the option of going backward, did the stairs start on a rapid descent down the bank. The following thoughts flashed through my mind:  Should I jump off and risk breaking a leg or ankle in the fall or should I stay on the stairs and see where that ended?  With only a split second to make a decision, I decided to stay on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to the end.  If I’d had on shoes, I might have avoided anything except some bumps and bruises, and initially, I thought that was the extent of my injuries.  After untangling myself from the wreckage, I slowly limped over to the dock and tried to assess the damage. The bottom of my foot seemed to be causing the most pain, so I thought the cool water of the pond might offer some relief.  I quickly realized that wasn’t the thing to do as an intense burning encompassed my foot after I dipped it in the water, so I looked to see why I was in such excruciating pain.  That’s when I discovered that the second toe on my right foot was only partially attached courtesy of a metal support that became exposed when the stairs detached from the walkway. I sent Seth to get his dad because I knew I couldn’t walk back to the house in that condition.

John helped me up the bank and into the pickup. When we got back to the house, he convinced me that this was going to require a trip to the emergency room.  After the doctor examined my toe, he asked if I wanted to see an orthopedic surgeon.  I declined the offer as it was just a toe after all, and the chances of a career as a ballerina or a foot model seemed fairly remote.  I did ask him how many stitches he thought it would take, and he said probably 5 or 6.  I said that seemed like a lot for a toe, and if he charged by the stitch, I wanted an estimate on how much it would cost to just remove the toe.  If that was cheaper, I might decide to do that because I wasn’t sure I really needed all 10 toes.  He gave me a quizzical look and replied that I would miss it more than I realized.  I guess not everyone gets my sense of humor.

Five stitches and almost two hours later, I hobbled out of the emergency room.  The next day John secured the stairs to the bank, and we have enjoyed the dock immensely over the last 9 years. And I have to admit, the doctor was probably right. If you have a choice, you really do need 10 toes.

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