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Is the fifth toe one too many? (It’s too easy to break!)

Listen, my children, and you shall hear a tale of toe woes

Earlene Campbell
Earlene Campbell

I don’t mean to question God’s creations, but I’m thinking that he might reconsider the number of toes a human needs. My little toes are tiny, but between the right and left, I can’t tell you how many times they have been broken over the years.

So you are probably asking, “Why don’t you cover them with shoes?”

My answer is, “My feet have a bad case of claustrophobia.” Plus, sometimes I start out with them on, only to realize later I’m barefooted with no clue where I left my shoes.

Looking for my mowing shoes, I went to the basement barefoot. My right little toe and the one next to it crashed into the steel legs slanting out from a work bench.

“Nee-Nee-Nah-Nah-Nu-Nu!” Instant pain!

After doing a left-footed dance, I found my shoes, limped upstairs, and painfully put them on.

I had promised husband Jerry I would finish mowing the yard. The first few painful strips back and forth, relying on heel walking, I thought there was no way.

The pain accelerated, but I persevered and got the job done. It was four weeks before I could dry between my little toe and the one next to it after showering.

The worst-case scenario (1960 – Rockford, Ill.): Up in the morning and off to work — or not!

I jumped down from my bunk bed, headed across the room to the bathroom, and upon entering, it became clear why door frames are dubbed door “jams.”

Not looking to see the damage done, I hopped and moaned around and sat down on a chair. “OMG, look at your toe!” yelled roommate Jean. My tiny left toe was sticking straight out to the left.

Well, now, that presented a few dilemmas. I couldn’t go through life that way. We couldn’t fix it, but how was I going to get to the emergency room? It was a fall, cloudy, rainy, cold day, and the city bus was my only means of transportation. Pulling a sock on passed that little appendage was out of the question, and so was walking to the bus stop, and riding it while barefooted.

Friend Judy wasn’t working, so I gave her a call. I explained my dilemma and she came to my rescue. I called the office where I worked and explained why I wouldn’t be in that day.

Now, would you please explain to me why breaking a little toe is so freaking funny? Was it because I mentioned it was sticking straight out? Every time I told anyone, they burst out laughing! Truth be known, I probably would have, too.

The emergency waiting room consisted of chairs lined up in a hallway between the hospital and a clinic, resulting in people passing by and checking out my protruding appendage. By then, it had swelled a bit and looked like an anemic pea glued on the side of my foot.

A considerable amount of time later, a couple of X-rays exhibited the little fellow was broken. The doctor brought out a foot-long (?) needle and went straight for my toe bone and beyond.

It hurt worse than the break. Then, when he noticed me cringing from the little coiled instrument he held in his hand, he explained he needed it to get a grip. Working his magic, he quickly had my wee little toe facing forward again.

With little and second toe taped together, I put on socks and tennies, and Judy and I went shopping. We laughed so hard and that night my ribs hurt — the toe was fine. Believe it or not, four days later, I wore three-inch heels with no pain.

Between the 1960s episode and the more current one, I’ve had numerous painful little toe breaks, so maybe God can understand my attitude. According to those in the medical field, we need that fifth one for balance, but to me, it seems they are more like an afterthought.

It could be God might reconsider the toe thing. In the meantime, I’m stuck with five, so for now, I’ll try to keep them tucked in and — F-R-O-G.

Note to readers: Earlene Campbell lives by the FROG motto — Fully Rely On God. She lives in Princeton and can be reached at

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