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In the chaos of last second crazy cleaning for a party, I ran bare foot into a metal stand and stubbed my right toes. I fell to the floor and wanted to stay there, but someone had to make the sangria. So I put on my shoes and rallied.

Hours later my killer limp served me well for I had fully transitioned from chatting with adults to playing hide and seek with their kids. They were terrible hiders. No matter how fast they ran and screamed, I power walked ’em down, dragging what felt like a dead foot behind me. Sticky blue lollipops hung from my hair. I was the injured but unstoppable monster in a movie with zero survivors. Good times.

By the end of the night my throbbing toes felt too big for my shoe and I began to dread looking at them. It was hours after I stubbed them so I knew something was wrong. Normally a stubbed toe hurts for a minute then it’s gone, like eating too much wasabi.

Big toe that went to the market was fine. Toe that stayed home was fine. Both the toe that had roast beef and the toe that went Weeee and cried all the way home were pushed in opposite directions by the toe that had none. Toe that had none was black and swollen so bad it looked twisted but I couldn’t really tell for sure. My first instinct was to hide it, deny it, no doctors for me, thanks and wish it away. This isn’t a healthy instinct, I realize, but it’s just a toe.

Hiding it didn’t last long anyway. Almost as soon as I took my sock off there was a gasp and then I had a circle of eyes all focused on my big black toe. I learned that sympathy is dead, having people stare at your feet for an extended period of time is awkward and everyone has a gory foot story. One woman broke her toe on a concrete step at a water park and said it was four months before it was back to normal. My brother-in-law sprained or cracked the tiny bones on the top of the feet you see when flexing the toes up. He was off his feet for weeks then fixed with one of those boots. My friend described the sensation of losing a toe nail and recommended soaking my foot in nearly boiling salt water. He’s exiled forevermore.

Apparently 25% of bones in the human body are in the feet. A quarter of all the bones in your body are in your weird feet. One jerk said some fractures and breaks require surgery or need to be put back in place. Then a neighbor/doctor made my night by prescribing ice and elevation. I iced and elevated like I’ve never iced and elevated before. My foot stayed on a stack of pillows and I laid awake all night alternating between a chilled gel pack and a poultice.

Visions of endless couch time, of looking at my sneakers and not knowing when I’d be able to run again horrified me. I need running. When I don’t run I’m moody and bad. Running makes me better. It keeps me functional and healthy. By morning I’d accepted the possibility of going to a doctor just to see, but the black none toe was more of a deep bluish plum shade and the swelling was mostly gone. Best of all, I could wiggle it without excruciating pain. Another day of icing left it mostly purple so I went for a light very gentle run and it was fine. I’ve been running on it for a few days now and nearly every other stride reminds me how grateful I am to be able to run. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far.

The limp comes back every now and then because the none toe has a strange new habit of laying on top of the toe that had roast beef. It is healing with a mind of its own and that mind wants piggyback rides, I guess.