Big Toe Got Poked

My mother and I are telepathically connected.  Just when Cynthia and I have exhausted all means to remove a foreign object that had been mysteriously embedded into the soft and fleshy underbelly of my right toe, just when we have exhausted all explanations short of labeling the object as an alien implant – a gift from the return of my recent alien abduction, and just when I was thinking of calling my home in Hong Kong for an answer, my phone rang.

“It looks like a piece of hair, mom.  1 cm long.  It could be inside for quite some time,” said I.  “How can a piece of hair get into your toe?  That has to be a splinter,” replied her.  Whether she is right or wrong, it is comforting to hear my mother’s voice.  And we agreed that I should see a doctor the next day.

Later that evening, Cynthia offered to take it out for me using a needle.  I adore Cynthia, don’t get me wrong.  But I doubt that she can play the role as a nurse, when it comes to working with my … big toe.  Cynthia laughed and said that if her mom in Indonesia was to know that I was going to see a doctor for this, she would be laughing hard.

This morning, the rain was horrendous.  Part of the road was flooded.  I braved the rain and walked to a clinic that was a few blocks away from where I parked my car.  By the time I was inside the consultation room, my shoes were soaking wet.  As I took off my socks showing my favorite doctor in town this strange foreign object inside my toe, he asked, “Have you been to the wood lately?  Were you barefooted?  When did this happen?”.

To be frank, if not for the recent occasional sharp pain and over the months numbness, I would not have even noticed.  I mean, how often does one examine the bottom of his feet unless he is diabetic?  In any given day, this chubby friendly doctor always looks happy.  But this morning, he looked serious.  Very serious.  I asked if he was OK.  And he said he needed to think.

OK.  I kept quiet, lying on the bed waiting for his next move.  I wanted to ask if he has done this before but that probably would not help the situation.  So I put my arms behind my head looking relax as though I was waiting for a foot massage by the beach overlooking the sea.  Still keeping mum, the doctor pulled out a small steel tray and started to line up the clinical tools in front of me.  Gasp!  That reminded me of either (a) a typical spy interrogation movie scene or (b) TV series such as “CSI” and “Bones”.

First, I felt a needle poked into the underbelly of my toe.  OK.  That was not that bad.  And then I felt the needle again, again, and again.  Deeper, deeper, and deeper.  Hmmm.  That was not looking good.  The doctor tried to pull the foreign object out using the tweezers.  And then I felt the needle; and then I felt the tweezers; and the needle; and the tweezers.  Ouch, ouch, and ouch!  I tried to get distracted but all I saw was a bookshelf, with not too interesting books.  If I was a doctor, I would have put a beautiful landscape picture on the wall.  Preferably a beach overlooking the sunset.  Sunset is good because it transcribes to: Time flies and it will be over before you know it.

Some say that having a religion helps with time like this.  I recited the Lord’s Prayer in my head in near fluidity only to be punctuated by the needle.  But I suppose if I was to recite Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – one of my favorite play – that would have had the same effect.  From the distraction point of view of course.

The doctor took out a bigger pair of tweezers, with more poking into my toe by the needle, but nothing seemed to work.  I saw a cotton soaked in blood.  I was breathing hard in pain.  At one point, he paused and called for the nurse.  The nurse entered the room looking calm and she wore a surgical mask and a pair of surgical gloves as the doctor explained, “There is a splinter inside.  I need you to open it up like this.”  Uh-oh.

By the time the good doctor managed to pull out the foreign object, I was in joy.  He showed it to me.  Yes, it was a piece of hair, just as what I have observed.  “Do you want to keep this?” asked he with a smile.  Huh?!  Before I could reply, he turned to the nurse and said, “Get me a Ziploc bag please.  I am putting this inside for him.”  And she went: Huh?!  I am not sure if it is a common practice for patients to keep foreign objects as souvenirs, like bullets.  But I know for sure I don’t want to keep that piece of hair with me.  I declined with all my heart.  During the debrief, the doctor recapped on what he has gone through, why he needed to attacked from all angles (because the hair moves versus if it was a splinter), and as he gestured the operation in excitement, I thought of Starcraft and added, “So, this requires strategy.”  “Strategy!  Yes, strategy!” exclaimed he.  “Have you done this before doc?” asked I.  “Splinter, yes.  Hair, no”.  And we laughed.

When I called home later that day, my dad picked up the call.  He was as comical as ever.  And he said in all seriousness, “Yes, that happens.  That’s why you need to watch out and be very carefully when you take a shower.  And try not to step onto any hair.”  Whether he is serious or not, it is comforting to hear my father’s voice.

Categorized as Diary


  1. Your experience sounded seriously painful. But seriously, did it hurt when it was embedded inside? I’ve not known hair to hurt, unless you’re talking about hair that has turned into horns 😛

    1. Mark – Oh yes. It was pretty painful. Quite a fair bit of blood too. Believe it or not, at that moment, I thought: If Mark was to be here, he would have fainted. Hehehe.

      No, when that piece of hair was inside, it did not hurt as much as say a splinter. But I suppose every time it went deeper into the flesh, it hurts. That probably explains the very occasional sharp pain I had experienced. Looking back, it is pretty amazing that the entire 1 cm long piece of short hair disappeared into the flesh! I wonder how long that took.

      1. Someone must have a hair that prick!! The Durian hair so called. So bizarre! HAIR??!! unbelievable.

        Cynthia is right. If you let her do it, maybe she can do it better than the doctor!

        1. JoV – Wah! You have so much faith in Cynthia. Hahaha. Well, it took a doctor and a nurse quite some time to remove that … erm object. It was a pretty bloody scene too! Cynthia may faint. Hehehe.

  2. That is one sharp pricky hair. lol…So is it really hair or splinter? lol…too funny. Did you have new shoes recently? I have heard cases of splinter-like objects poking the toe or sole of the foot because of the shoes that people put on. The factory that manufacture the shoes obviously did not go a good job and there were will sharp rubber “needles” remaining in the shoes. :O

    1. Tigerfish – It is one really sharp pricky hair! I always know that my hair is kind of hard. But I did not know that it is hard as alloy!

      Nah, even doctor admits that it was a piece of hair after close examination. He was very curious because he was not sure what he was dealing with. That was the reason why he looked so serious.

      I do like the shoe theory. But the thing is, all my shoes are kind of old, and I have been wearing those for years.

  3. Oh… Is it still painful? … Still can’t believe a hair can go into the flesh. When mum mentioned it yesterday night, I made the same remark. But dad’s comment is really funny! You see, that’s why HK people are ‘smarter’ as we wear slippers at home!!! lol. (Still can’t understand why people in SG like to walk in bare foot at home… walk to the kitchen, walk to the washroom, then climb on bed…???) 😛

    So, since the hair of my brother is so ‘sharp’, does it mean that I need to take more care when I walk around your house? haha 😀

    1. Lora – Oh my God! I laugh so hard reading your comment! Dad is really hilarious eh?

      Personally I thought barefoot at home is OK, no? I mean, the point is to keep every room in the home clean. I quite like the concept. Ha ha ha. In UK, when I was studying, it was quite common for the local to wear trackers indoors. And they even climb to bed with the shoes on! Different culture I guess?

      Yes. My hair is made of alloy. Please be very careful when you walk around in my home next time. Kekekeke.

      1. sorry no offence. We don’t always wash our slippers, but we always wash our feet. We make sure that all parts of our house floors are clean so that we can walk barefoot around the house.

        Wearing trackers indoor is just plain disgusting.

        My old folks always say people with pricky hair is very naughty. so you have proven the theory. 😉

        1. JoV – Muhahahaha. Dont’ we love our old folks and their wisdom?!

          Yes. It is true. We don’t always wash our slippers. And hence for me, I leave them outside my home.

    1. TK – I did think of posting a picture of my wounded toe in my website. But that would (1) destroy the art value of this piece of writing and (2) gross out readers and that will affect my readership.

      Even photos can be manufactured these days. So why so obsess with photos? Hahaha. I should have asked the doctor to courier the Ziploc bag to you instead of throwing that piece of hair away eh?!

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