Sheila Sybrant

My toes started to tingle. I wish that I could attribute it to love, but, alas, the feeling instead stemmed from fear — fear of pain.

It started just a couple of days ago when I read a Washington Post article by Elizabeth Chang called “ ‘A Pandemic of Broken Toes’: How Life at Home Has Been Painful for Feet.” The article discusses how broken toes have been an increasing occurrence during the pandemic because more people are at home — running around in socks or bare feet.

In addition to the regular hazard of pieces of furniture to bump into, there is the new hazard of reconfigured room arrangements because of the need for workstations in the home, placing chair and table legs in unfamiliar positions just waiting to reach out and touch someone’s toes. More time sans shoes also means more opportunities to drop heavy items, such as wine bottles or jars, on those 10 little piggies.

Granted, I haven’t bashed any of my toes during the pandemic — yet. But, as my toes will attest, I have not exactly been kind to them over the years. I imagine that every time they see a bed frame or chair leg or door frame or any other potential hazard, they hunker down beneath their toenails and cringe in apprehension.

The first time I neglected to consider that my bottom digits were actually attached to my body took place 30-some years ago. My father and stepmother were in Europe and told me they would call me that day. Naturally, I was in the bathroom when the phone rang. As this predated cellphones and a time when calling someone back, even overseas, is of no consequence, I hastily finished my business and ran out the door. Unfortunately for my right pinkie toe, I neglected to account for the fact that our bathroom doorway is unusually narrow.

It was a good thing that it was summertime because the only shoes I could wear for a month were flip-flops.

For a long time after that, I guarded my toes as if they were my computer passwords.

But time has a way of cajoling people into letting down their guard — and let down my guard I did.

Several times I managed to slam my toes into the bed frames in our home. These frames are solid-wood box designs that reach completely around the beds. In other words, it is not just four legs of a frame that pose a potential hazard — rather, it is the entire bed frame. Instead of being hit or miss when my feet get near a bed frame, it’s all hit.

And my family still talks about — and laughs about —the Christmas that I received an air stepper. We lost electricity, and while running around in the dark collecting candles and flashlights, I managed to break a toe on that gift. I’ve never been that fond of it since then.

I worked from home before the pandemic, but because I don’t get out of the house much anymore for things like shopping and socializing, COVID-19 has definitely given me more opportunities to smash my toes.

Although I haven’t yet partaken of any of those opportunities, I did manage to slice my finger with a paring knife a couple of days ago while trying to open a cheese packet for macaroni and cheese.

I imagine that with more people working from home and thus spending more time in the kitchen, the incidence of finger damage is rising as fast as toe breakage. Yes, the coronavirus fallout is undoubtedly a double-“digit” problem.

Readers may contact Sybrant at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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