Attempts At Adulthood

Don’t worry, because I am so totally on top of my child’s health.

I try to be careful with my son’s health.

Not crazily “I Purell my lips when I kiss him” careful, but careful, regardless.  It is hard, sometimes, not to immediately assume the worst when things go wrong.  The other day he coughed and 85% of my brain went, “All children get sick and cough!” but 15% of my brain had, within seconds, summoned scenes from every movie in which a character is dying of tuberculosis.

This happens all the time.  On discovering a small circular red mark on his leg, my first thought was, “This is probably nothing,” which was immediately followed by the thought, “It is possibly the Ebola virus and by this point we are all living on borrowed time.

He is not yet walking and while part of me is positive that he’s just nervous about taking those first, uncertain steps, I am equally certain that he will never be able to walk because of some rare, genetic leg mutation, probably because I ate a piece of unpasteurized cheese during my pregnancy.

*               *               *

On a related note, about two weeks ago, my littlest pinky toe looked like this:


You’re welcome in advance for not using photos of my actual feet.


Mainly fine.  That is how toes are supposed to look!  But it hurt a little.  If it had been the baby’s toe and I could tell he was in pain I would have Googled things like, “baby toe pain” or “life threatening baby toe diseases,” to see if I should take any further action.

But it was not the baby’s toe, it was my toe, so we went to the park!  We had, for the most part, a very good time.

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 2

No big deal, right? They’re toes. Who’s looking at them anyway?


It definitely hurt a bit more than a toe was supposed to hurt.  Should it hurt every time you take a step?  I couldn’t remember.  If it had been the baby’s toe I probably would have spent an hour on Web MD trying to figure out what was wrong, winding up on hypochondriac-fueled message boards at two in the morning, spending an hour reading the comments section of some horrible personal essay called, “It Takes Toe to Tango,” before calling my pediatrician’s office and leaving 14 messages with their answering service.

But it wasn’t the baby’s toe, it was my toe, so we went on a playdate we had planned the previous week! We had, aside from the ungodly throbbing in my foot, a lovely time.

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 3

At this point the foot modeling agencies took my number off speed dial.


It hurt when I touched it.  A lot.  At one point the dog stepped on it and I made the sound a pterodactyl might make if it were being strangled while simultaneously giving birth to a piano.

If it had been the baby’s toe I would have jumped in a cab and burst through the door of my pediatrician’s office going, “Something is wrong!  Fly in your top toe specialists within the next 24 hours.  Money is no object!” 

But luckily it was not the baby’s toe!  It was my toe.  That day two other parents suggested we take the children to a large playground that is a 40-minute walk from my apartment.  Briefly I thought, “Perhaps a 40-minute walk with a 25 lb. child strapped to your chest is not the best idea when you have a toe that hurts every time you take a step,” but this was followed by the thought, “It is beautiful out today—it would be foolish and selfish of me to pass up such a nice playground opportunity!”  So we walked to the playground.

It was such a beautiful playground!  Aside from the fact that the trip involved 80 minutes of limping, we had such a nice time!

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:


theuglyvolvo foot 4

At this point my toe was called in to an audition (so exciting!) where he read for the part of Slimer in the upcoming Ghostbusters III.


This is the first day that I thought, “You know, I think something might really be wrong.”

I poured peroxide over the toe and covered it with a large bandage, to keep it clean.  Had this been my child’s toe I would have run out the door, hijacked a car (“Move over, I’ll explain later!”) and driven to a hospital where I would have burst through the doors of the emergency room shouting, “EVERYBODY OUT BECAUSE I THINK MAYBE SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY CHILD’S FOOT!”  And meanwhile some guy with a bullet lodged in his neck and some woman with her severed ear sitting in a glass of ice would look on, politely confused as I collapsed from heart palpitations.*

But thank my lucky stars that it was not my child’s toe!  It was my toe.  And so because we were out of milk and several other things I walked to the grocery store with the baby strapped to my chest and then walked home pulling a cart with 50 lbs of groceries.  Whenever my foot touched the pavement I felt a sharp shooting pain that began in my toe and shot up my leg, but let’s not turn into that mother who complains about every little thing, right?  I did not have a lovely time, but I was glad we had milk and toilet paper in the house.

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 5

The lilliputian-sized arrows should have been a dead giveaway that this was not just going to “heal itself.”


This was bad.  I once again poured peroxide over it and changed the bandages and a few hours later poured peroxide over the toe again and changed the bandages a second time.

Had it been my child’s toe I would have immediately enrolled myself in a well-respected medical school specializing in toe-related illness, working with the greatest toe doctors of my generation in an attempt to cure and comfort my son.

But luckily it was not my child’s toe, it was my toe!  I thought about going to the doctor, but it would have interfered with my child’s nap.

*               *               *

The following day my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 6

When one of the Kardashians shows up, it’s a good indication that things are going downhill fast.


This was not good.  Pouring peroxide on this toe was not magically fixing everything in the way that I had hoped.  I could no longer put my foot inside a shoe, forcing me to wear socks (to protect the toe) with sandals, causing me to look like one of those men in his late sixties who wishes admission to the movies was still a nickel and who wants the neighborhood kids to stay the f*ck off his lawn.

If this had been my child’s toe I would have started looking for other, better adoptive parents for him, since I was clearly unfit to have and care for a child.

But luckily it was not my child’s toe, it was my toe.  And I really needed to go to the doctor since this was beginning to look extremely serious.  And I would go to the doctor!  But not that night because it was the first night of Passover and my husband’s family does this whole big thing out in Brooklyn that we had had on the calendar for months.

*               *               *

The following day my toe looked like this:

At this point it became apparent that it was a total f*cking disaster.

At this point it became apparent that it was a total f*cking disaster.


I called the doctor.

“Hello!” I said.  “I have a toe that does not look so great.  I would like to come in today,” and the woman said, “We have an opening at 3PM,” and I said, “Yes, that is fine.”

By the time 3PM rolled around I did not feel well.  My foot felt as though someone were jamming splinters underneath my toenail and my leg and other limbs felt achy and strangely weak.  I felt lightheaded.  I had trouble finding the strength to hold the baby.

“Let’s take a look at this toe,” said the doctor, and when I pulled off the bandage, the doctor made the type of face one might make after walking into a room and seeing a pile of intestines sitting in the middle of the floor.

“Oh my god,” she said.

It is never good, at doctor’s offices, when you can hear them audibly gasp.

She wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me home, calling me the following day to make sure I was ok.  I brought in an aunt to watch the baby for the next few days as I lay on the sofa, fighting off the infection which had spread throughout my body.

And boy, I’d love to wrap up this story in a heartwarming or lesson-learning or uplifting way, but I’m actually running to the pediatrician because the baby has dry skin and seems slightly thirstier than usual which (as I’m sure you are aware!) are two of the tell-tale signs of both cholera and a Type A dissection of the aorta.


*               *               *

If you enjoyed this entry, please follow the blog or like The Ugly Volvo on Facebook or Twitter.    When I am not ignoring my obvious medical problems I usually post about once a week.

*Also, my behavior in this piece was grossly exaggerated for comedic effect.  I would obviously let the doctors care for the bullet-in-the-neck guy and the severed ear woman before I had them check my child’s toe.  I am not a monster.  

Also, I am aware that the “NOW That’s What I Call Music” CDs are not really a “disaster,” but I drew it on a whim and then didn’t feel like re-drawing the whole thing.  


53 Responses to “Don’t worry, because I am so totally on top of my child’s health.”

  1. essbee14

    My guess is doctors save their audible gasps for all Kardashian-esque escalated situations. Glad you are on the mend, and sorry for your poor toe!

  2. mysending

    So sorry for LOL-ing at your expense. I hope you heal quickly and it’s not contagious!

  3. Melinda

    You’re hilarious.
    And so SPOT ON. I think I coughed up a lung this morning, but am more worried about the fact that baby only had 1 pee-pee diapers between 5-8pm. Clearly I’m fine but she has dehydration!

  4. themathmaster

    Reminds me of the co-worker who broke his hand and came into work the same day because he was too busy to go to the doctor… Three weeks later when his hand was the size of Rush Limbaugh he decided it was time to go to the doctor…
    By that point they had to re-break it, set it again, full cast and a pharmacy’s worth of antibiotics. Okay maybe your story isn’t that bad.

  5. thetattootourist

    Well I certainly hope you got the baby’s dry skin and marginal thirst under control! That is one scary medical near-miss! Oh, and I hope your toe didn’t fall off and if it did I hope something really nice grew back in it’s place…like a fern.

  6. chelseasnell97

    WOW… Can I say something in a sage like way?

    You can’t take care of the baby if you are have medical issues. Large or not.

    Other than that… this was great. 😀

  7. pensitivity101

    Those Kardashian females get everywhere. It’s bad enough seeing them in the media every day flaunting all parts of their body or staring at themselves on camera, but having a FOOT INFECTION with one, oh boy, so lucky it wasn’t a hatchet job! Hope you’re feeling better. My crutches any good to you? (see my Beware Buskers post for details).

  8. MagicMom

    ” “life threatening baby toe diseases,” ROFLOL!! You are great!

    Any of your kids ever poop purple? “Doctor! Doctor! The baby’s poopin’ purple!”
    Doctor says “Count the crayons.” Sure enough, purple crayon was no where to be found. Well, not exactly “NO WHERE” to be found, but you know.

  9. bbutler627

    I’m dying. This is hilarious. Your toe illustrations are the best and I thank you profusely for not using actual toe disease photography. Love your blog!

  10. swo8

    In your drawings of your toe, it was not reddened. Inflammation (swelling and redness) is a sure sign of infection. Next time before it gets so far, try a saline soak. (warm salt water) That can be quite effective. No one is sure how much longer antibiotics are going to work.

  11. Harry

    `scuse me while I clean up the snot on the keyboard from uncontrolled maniacal laughter…

  12. tamar

    so funny! thanks for your story. I hope you are ok 🙂

  13. Alexis

    I THOUGHT I recognized you on that show Naked and Afraid. You know, where they drop you naked in the sub-saharan jungle with a total stranger and you have to survive for 20 days? Well I’ll skip to the punchline- every episode ends the same way. Some naked dude gets one of those incurable jungle diseases and gets medicated to a hospital that looks uncomfortably like an interstate rest area. Anyhoo I figured that’s where you picked up your strange toe infection – while naked and filming a TV show for Discovery. As people often do….

  14. Sharon

    Wow, I feel guilty after reading this & the comments. When my 5th grade injured his arm skateboarding, he bandaged it himself thanks to his Boy Scout First Aid Merit Badge training. The next day, he was collecting food donations for the food bank and a woman chastised him asking where the hell his mother was because his arm was “obviously broken”. She was right.

    • theuglyvolvo

      Good for you for raising a gritty and knowledgeable son. Don’t waste time feeling guilty– I can almost promise you that I will do something like this at some point.

    • Kristi

      concur w/ UV on this — don’t feel guilty. My friend’s son broke a bone in his foot and it took a week before she realized it & took him in. Dr. said that happens a lot! I.e. breaks can be hard to identify if you haven’t dealt w/ it before. You are doing a great job raising a son who can handle things himself, too!

  15. Kristin

    I had such a great belly laugh reading this entire post, mostly because it is such a reflection of my own life!! My little guy has had a stuffy nose and cough the past few days, so I’ve come to the conclusion that he obviously has cystic fibrosis (despite the fact that his cousins all have head colds right now). PLUS, I also had a disgusting toe infection that I let slide for months until I finally went to the doctor and was given antibiotics a few weeks ago. (Admittedly, part of my reason for delaying a visit to the doctor was my certainty that they were going to have to amputate my toe…)

    I shared this post with my husband and he no longer thinks I’m clinically insane, so thanks 🙂 Hope you’re feeling better!!

  16. Doreen Bench

    This is how I justify feeling almost opposite of this attitude when it comes to my health vs. my kids: if mom ain’t happy, no ones happy! (Although this can be a bit exaggerated too)

  17. abandoningpretense

    I just DIED laughing reading this. And then came back from the dead so I could zombie-type this comment about how awesome you are. It was THAT GOOD. Can’t wait to share.

  18. Foxy Wine Pocket

    Aw, hell. That was amazing. I mean, I’m sorry for your toe. That sucks. But this post was amazing. I hope you are well on your way to a speedy recovery. Those kind of infections are serious shit–sometimes multiple antibiotics are required. I’ll be over here hoping the Kardashians go away.

  19. KRY

    Thank you for this! I just went to the doctor after 6 weeks of chasing my 12-month old around on a broken toe and snapped tendon. (No Kardashians or antibiotics involved, though.) During that same six week period, we of course visited our pediatrician at least three times.

  20. Lonifoundherself

    When your foot resembles the state of Florida, you know things have gone unbelievably FUBAR, to use the parlance of our time.

  21. jgg

    Cannot find a Lillith Fair reference in the post but I agree that too was a disaster.

  22. Ellen

    My brother had a toenail infection that went from inflamed to blood infection to his lungs and him in an isolation room in the hospital because it was MRSA. He had to have injectable antibiotics for at least a month.

    I hope your toe is all better faster than that.

  23. Kristi

    This is hilarious, but I hope that anyone else who is in a similar situation will deal with it sooner! Not to be crazy-paranoid or a wet blanket, but sometimes people die or end up in the hospital from infections that start out small. (Hospital happened to my sister w/ a small staph infection on her arm.)

  24. Bip

    Thank goodness you posted. I thought maybe you had decided to stop giving us free humor.

    • Jesho

      Here, here. I too was beginning to worry. But now that I see it was just a toe…what, they don’t have wifi in your hospital waiting room? Don’t leave us like that. We followers are way needier than some kid you birthed (and perhaps more obedient ;-P ) Good to have ya back. Hope your toe evicted the squatters.

  25. Rachel

    Omg I was JUST reading (at 2am while my baby slept) about how ingrown toenails can kill you!! Is that what you had??

  26. A Morning Grouch

    Hilarious. Definitely NOT good when you hear a doctor say, “Oh my God”, as if they haven’t ever seen such monstrosity. Hope your Kardashian foot heals up.

  27. about100percent

    Thank you for not actually posting pictures of your toe.

  28. Liz

    I raised a gritty and knowledgeable son. He recently also had a toe infection that turned into a staph infection because he was so gritty and knowledgeable. Super scary, though he is doing much better now. I hope you feel better soon!

    And IMHO, the Kardashians are an infection.

  29. just_kazari

    Oh man, I did this exact same thing back in January with my finger….after being in denial about it for several weeks I finally went to the doctor and then got a lecture for waiting so long. Three weeks and two rounds of antibiotics (and draining it twice) I learned my lesson: Never ignore even the smallest injuries.

  30. limey7

    You are correct, the “NOW That’s What I Call Music” phenom is odd, just try explaining it to an ipod owning teen and they will give you some very strange looks. However I do think you should be more open to the whole socks-with-sandals thing, personally I cannot remember movies when they were a nickel, although even after almost fifteen years over here I am sometimes a little fuzzy of the the nickel thing, that’s the 5 cent piece right? Not the ten.

  31. renellerico

    Reblogged this on Losing my Virtiginy and commented:
    I told you I was going to reblog something you’d enjoy as soon as I figured out how. It’s getting close to Mother’s Day and this lady’s blog is hilarious and apropos.

  32. Jean Brown

    Yes, yes, yes. My entire body has been out of alignment since I gave birth 19 months ago–clavical, ribs, pelvis all shifted and lopsided. I finally got a groupon to a chiropractor about a month ago, went, and have not been back since. It also took about a month of not being able to hear properly, experiencing excruciating pain and loss of sleep, to finally go to the doctor. She hardly looked in my ear before writing a prescription for my “very angry” infection. We’re ridiculous.

    Anyway, thank you. I love this post so much, and the rest of your blog. I shared it with my readers here:

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  33. Rob Macdermid

    I cut all my toes with one pair of nail scissors but I have to use a completely different set for my little toes. Little toes are weird.

  34. caroline seguin

    It could have been dangerous! Next time go sooner! Love reading your texts though, really funny 🙂

  35. kristenmoux

    You’re a wonderful writer and artist – I really enjoy reading your blogs. But from one mother to another who shares your “put the baby first” and ultimately puts herself in dead last place, I’ll share with you what my baby’s pediatrician shared with me: “If mommy is not well, she can not care for her children well. And God forbid you let that linger so long your children get the same ailment.” And then I thought of myself as a walking viral time-bomb waiting to go off – and I went to the doctor. 🙂


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