Approximately one year ago, I went into the doctor's office to have my ingrown toenail removed and the root killed. I know, it doesn't sound all exciting, but if you had my ingrown toenail, you would have been excited too. I had the ingrown nail for about 9 months before finally getting it removed and the root killed. It first started to go ingrown while I was hiking Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico. Apparently, my boots were too tight. I first started to notice pain 4 days into an 11 day backpacking trip. By day 7, an infection had set in and by the end of the trek, I could barely walk. My toe was the size of a golf ball and filled with puss. My socks would reek of rotting flesh and would be soaked with puss.
At this point, I thought I just had an infection and I could take care of it when I got home. Well, I got home and started a rigorous routine of soaking my toe in a hot bath with epson salt and applying an antiseptic. Well, after a month of my toe continuing to worsen, my mom took me to out doctor who started me on a strong prescription anti-infection drug. Well, it worked a little, so the doc put me on another dosage and told me to come back in 2 weeks.
Well, I did the full regiment of the anti-infection drug and the toe continued to worsen. My mom took me back to our doc who found out that my toe was, in fact, ingrown and would have to require minor surgery to remove. So a week later, I came back to have the ingrown portion of the toe surgically removed. He gave me 7 shots, in the toe, of a local anesthetic. It hurt. A lot. and then he proceeded to cut down my nail from the edge all the way back to the root and remove the ingrown part of the nail piece by piece as he worked his way down. Again: it hurt. a lot. as in, it was all I could do to stop from screaming my guts out.
Well, after that very painful experience, I thought my toe problems were over. WRONG! The toe was fine for about a month. The swelling had gone down, the skin returned to a healthy, non rotting state and I was out of pain. But then, for some reason, my toe went ingrown. AGAIN!!! Apparently, the doc did the procedure the wrong way. He was supposed to have taken out the whole ingrown part at once, not piece by piece, as he had done. Well, the swelling and infection return (this is about November for any of you keeping track of time) and we go back to the doc. He takes a large hunk of the ingrown part out, this time, without any anesthetic. But he fortunately did not take it all the way back to the root. The toenail grows back the way it was supposed to be, and I was ingrown free. For about a week. And then the most terrible thing happened.
THE ******* OTHER SIDE WENT INGROWN!!! I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY LUCK!!!! I had just gotten rid of one ingrown when the other side of the same nail (this is on my left foot big toe) GOES INGROWN!!! And then to add injury to injury, THE OTHER SIDE (the original ingrown side) goes ingrown. So now I had 2 ingrown sides on the same toe. It hurt to walk like no other and I screamed bloody murder when my US History teacher accidentally stepped on it one day.
So my mom dragged me off to see a foot specialists (this is in late December). He trims the corners off the give some relief, although the pain when he did it was excruciating. He tells me to come back in a month and see how the toe is doing. Well, a month later, it's back to its very painful state of both sides ingrown. So he takes the corners off again and tells me to come back in late March, when he has a opening, for surgery to remove the ingrown sections and kill the root.
So about a week before the surgery was scheduled, the doc had me come in to work out the details of the surgery. He offered me a full anesthetic or a local. He strongly recommended that I take the full anesthetic. (the toe was that bad), but I knew I would have to be at a play performance for my school (I was the sound director) and a full anesthetic would mean I could not be thereto run the sound. So I chose the local. Plus, it was cheaper than the full.
So the day of the surgery arrives. I got out of school early (YAY!) after informing my track coach that I would be out of commission for quite a while. So I get to the doc's office a little early (doesn't hurt to get there ahead of time) and after waiting a while, I got to go in. So I hop up on the chair and pull my stinking shoe and sock off (the flesh was badly infected again) and waited for the doc to come in. So he comes in in full surgical garb and commences to scrub up while his assistant begins to unpackage the torture tools.....I mean surgical equipment.
After the doc is done scrubbing, he commences to give my entire foot a strong and rather violent scrub. OOWW and then commences to violently dry it. Again: OOWW!!!. And then came the real pain. He proceeded to give me the local. 11 shots in the toe with the largest needle he could find. And a shot constituted a complete insertion and removal of the needle. He would shove the needle all the way in, put a shot of local in, draw it out partway, put another shot in, and then twist it around, UNDER MY SKIN!!! OW. I swear my fingernail prints are still embedded in his chair.
Well, after about 10 minutes of this hell, He stopped to give the anesthetic time to work in. Then the real fun began. He proceeded to take what appeared to be wire cutters and began to cut my left side of the nail all the way down to the root. Then, he took a pair of pliers and ripped that whole massive hunk of nail out. He showed me piece and then took a ruler to it. The piece measure 1/4" across. So it was dug into my skin about 1/5". Which may not seem like much, but for an ingrown, that's a lot. Next, he took a Q-tip and soaked it in some chemical (that would kill the root) and then jammed it into the hole that was left by the nail. I think I should mention that they anesthetic was not working too well.....
So after much pain and squirming, he proceeded to do the same to the other side. He took his wire cutters and hacked all the way back to the root and then took his pliers and ripped the huge hunk of nail out of my toe. Same as before, he took a q-tip, soaked in some chemical, and jammed it into the void left by the nail. I saw that I had about a strip of still healthy nail, about 1/2" wide, going up the middle of my toe, like a nail is supposed to be.
But now the worst part of the procedure is over. THANK GOD!!! The doc proceeds to insert these plastic spacers into the gashes left by the ingrown part of the nail. These were to keep the holes open to allow good drainage. He then wraps my toe in a thick layer of gauze, throws a surgical sock over the foot and then puts a surgical boot over the sock. He helped me up and walked me to the door. I was to come back in 4 days to have those plastic thingies removed and see how the heeling process was doing.
It has been approximately 1 year since that day and my toe has been pain-free all that time. Of course, I get some interesting questions about why the nail looks the way it does.... but I can tell them my story and make them writhe in pain. Sorry about the long post, but I am really excited about the 1 year anniversary of my ingrown toenail being removed and I wanted to share my experience with everyone....
Sorry if I creeped anyone out...