Oct 21 2012 in Caring for Partners by ejourneys
The bad news is that my partner indeed has an infection where her toenail had been ablated. The good news is that it’s staph, which is common and which the antibiotics are already bringing under control. the great news is that she is down to one soak a day, which means I am finally catching up on a tremendous sleep deficit!
My last entry got into the Byzantine approach my partner takes to her foot soaks. Her latest addition to her many, many steps is to artfully cut and apply packing peanuts as toe separators, so that the Vaseline applied to her little toes doesn’t get onto her big, nail-ablated toe.
Many, many packing peanuts had come with the two boxes of items her sister had sent her, what with the old family home being prepared for sale. They’re made of a different type of Styrofoam than what our landfill recycles, so they’ve been sitting around the house.
I’d been going on maybe four or five hours of frequently-interrupted sleep a night for well over a week by this time. To say I was a bit punchy is an understatement. Once again, we had been through all the preliminary soak preparations on which my partner insists, when she hit upon her packing peanut idea and everything came to a halt while she brainstormed.
Half-hanging off my stool, I watched dumbly as she carefully cut and plucked out bits of Styrofoam so that the peanut hugged her second toe and stayed away from the nail bed of her big toe. She had asked me to wake her at 1 a.m. to get her foot soak done. Then she needed “15 minutes” to eat something. Fifteen minutes from 1 a.m. had become 3:30 a.m.
I brought up the notion of sterilization — of the scissors she was using and of the packing peanuts — but she insisted the salt water would take care of that. (This from someone who didn’t want to use anything plastic out of fear of mold.)
Just cutting one packing peanut wouldn’t do. She had to get the shape right. After several tries she got the shape right, but somewhere amidst the other stages of her brand of preparation she broke the peanut in the middle, where she had thinned it.
She said, “Maybe it’ll still work.”
She fit the peanut to her toe, pushing the broken pieces together. She lowered her foot into the saline solution, adjusting the knob on her fifth burner to keep the water heated and making sure that all her odd pieces of saved wood were in place to stablize the Pyrex dish.
About two seconds later, one of the peanut halves went bloop! and popped to the top of the salt water, where it bobbed around like a little, misshapen buoy.
I fell out.
My partner looked momentarily confused, which only made me laugh harder. Then she wanted to know why I was laughing so hard, which only made things worse.
At least she didn’t get upset. Her sense of humor is still keen. She set about carving another packing peanut while I wiped tears from my eyes.
She tried to toss the broken halves at me to put in the trash. Packing peanuts being what they are, the pieces traveled a few inches and then dropped with little airy wobbles to the floor. By this time we were both laughing.
By 3 a.m. Friday morning I was past exhaustion. This time my partner ordered me to bed. We worked out a compromise where I lay down on a nearby couch instead, so that I’d be close by if she needed me. (This is one case where my highly contested cleanup efforts three years ago really paid off. That couch has stayed free of clutter.) This time, my partner managed to do most of her soak and antibiotic drops on her own, but she did need a bit of my help.
We had an appointment with the podiatrist on Friday afternoon. Never have I been so grateful to have a doctor just a couple of miles down the road. His proximity to us also gave me some extra hours of sleep, since I negotiated with my partner to do a foot soak after our appointment rather than before.
He told us about the staph and added that the antibiotics were working. My partner proudly told him about the packing peanuts. I asked him about sterilization. Turns out the packing peanuts and the scissors don’t have to be sterilized.
Changing the soaks to once a day was the best news of all. Judging from the reduction in seepage, they may soon stop altogether — which is good, because the packing peanut toe separators don’t last long. First my partner has to find the one she made, looking through her collection of foot soak supply Ziploc bags on the floor. Then she keeps having to make new ones (pretty much every other soak), trying until she gets the shape right.
Friday night into Saturday I slept! And after Saturday afternoon’s soak. And Saturday night into Sunday — until, oh, about 1 p.m.
We are now back from getting our flu shots. My partner has also spent a good half hour or more looking for the perfect band-aid and has finally settled on one that, alas, does not meet all of her requirements. Today’s foot soak is still to come.
I did have a birthday celebration of sorts this past week, thanks to a Birthday Bunny that greeted me in the yard as I headed out with fruit rinds for our compost bins.
Well, maybe not so much “greeted” as hopped beneath a volunteer oak so as to be invisible. But then I was able to get pretty close.
I’m sure a couple of neighbors spotted me inching along the driveway on my belly, with my rump in the air.