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Mark "SlowBro" Hurd
Begins: Jun 28, 2019
Date: Thu, Nov 8th, 2018
Entry Visits: 498
Journal Visits: 23,887
Guestbook Views: 407
Guestbook Entrys: 34
"It didn't hurt that much," I thought as I looked down at the bloody spot where my big toenail used to be. The toe looked surprised to be bereft of its vestigial claw, but toes are funny things and hard to read. However, I've gotten pretty good at judging the mood of toes over the last few years, and this toe was definitely confused. As my long distance hiking career has taken form, my feet have garnered a lot more attention. Taking care of my feet has become as important as any aspect of my trips. After all, "No feet = No hike." So in the name of taking care of my feet I find myself at this point where my toenail has literally just been ripped out at the roots. But let me start at the beginning.
If I'm going to be honest, it started more than 30 years ago after an aggressive game of racquet ball with my friend Mike Brown. At one point I remember slamming into the wall with my shoulder and left foot and after the game realize I had unhinged the nail on the big toe a bit. It turned black and blue, but never fell off. Instead, it decided to harbor a fungal infection that has last 30+ years. Such nail infections are not unusual and go by the medical moniker of onychomycosis. The fungus causes the nail to grow thick and gnarly, and more prone to ingrown nails. I have tried several treatments, some lasting months, without any perceptible change and so had resigned myself to managing my affliction with clippers and an electric sander for the last 3 decades. Then, as luck would have it, I injured the nail on the big toe of the right foot during my Arizona Trail (AZT) trip. A fungal infection of the right big toenail ensued and I finally had a matched pair! But the newer right nail was not a team player and started ingrowing sideways toward my second toe almost immediately. After a year this caused a painful bacterial infection and finally prompted a visit to my podiatrist, Dr. McCourt.
Michael McCourt is a former backpacking guide, skier, all around outdoors guy, and a darn good Podiatrist. He had helped me when I'd torn the ligaments on my second toe during my AZT trip and he understood, in ways most doctors wouldn't, the importance of taking care of this nail issue so I could get back on the trail. So he listened with a sympathetic ear as I described my problem and we decided on removing the right toenail completely. That went so well that two weeks later, I decided to remove the left nail as well.
So there I was, sitting in an exam room with Michael holding up my sad gnarly onychomycotic nail as though it was some mere splinter he had removed.
"Do you want to see it? he asked.
No, I've been looking at it for 30 years. My toe may be confused, but I don't think it will miss that gnarly nail. I sure won't.
Until next week- Happy Trails...
SlowBro's Continental Divide Trail Journey
"I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days." -Daniel Boone
"The Journey IS The Reward" -SlowBro
"If you feel like quitting, just keep walking." -Gypsy Spirit
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