Don’t worry, because I am so totally on top of my child’s health.

I try to be careful with my son’s health.

Not crazily “I Purell my lips when I kiss him” careful, but careful, regardless.  It is hard, sometimes, not to immediately assume the worst when things go wrong.  The other day he coughed and 85% of my brain went, “All children get sick and cough!” but 15% of my brain had, within seconds, summoned scenes from every movie in which a character is dying of tuberculosis.

This happens all the time.  On discovering a small circular red mark on his leg, my first thought was, “This is probably nothing,” which was immediately followed by the thought, “It is possibly the Ebola virus and by this point we are all living on borrowed time.

He is not yet walking and while part of me is positive that he’s just nervous about taking those first, uncertain steps, I am equally certain that he will never be able to walk because of some rare, genetic leg mutation, probably because I ate a piece of unpasteurized cheese during my pregnancy.

*               *               *

On a related note, about two weeks ago, my littlest pinky toe looked like this:

You’re welcome in advance for not using photos of my actual feet.


Mainly fine.  That is how toes are supposed to look!  But it hurt a little.  If it had been the baby’s toe and I could tell he was in pain I would have Googled things like, “baby toe pain” or “life threatening baby toe diseases,” to see if I should take any further action.

But it was not the baby’s toe, it was my toe, so we went to the park!  We had, for the most part, a very good time.

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 2
No big deal, right? They’re toes. Who’s looking at them anyway?


It definitely hurt a bit more than a toe was supposed to hurt.  Should it hurt every time you take a step?  I couldn’t remember.  If it had been the baby’s toe I probably would have spent an hour on Web MD trying to figure out what was wrong, winding up on hypochondriac-fueled message boards at two in the morning, spending an hour reading the comments section of some horrible personal essay called, “It Takes Toe to Tango,” before calling my pediatrician’s office and leaving 14 messages with their answering service.

But it wasn’t the baby’s toe, it was my toe, so we went on a playdate we had planned the previous week! We had, aside from the ungodly throbbing in my foot, a lovely time.

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 3
At this point the foot modeling agencies took my number off speed dial.


It hurt when I touched it.  A lot.  At one point the dog stepped on it and I made the sound a pterodactyl might make if it were being strangled while simultaneously giving birth to a piano.

If it had been the baby’s toe I would have jumped in a cab and burst through the door of my pediatrician’s office going, “Something is wrong!  Fly in your top toe specialists within the next 24 hours.  Money is no object!” 

But luckily it was not the baby’s toe!  It was my toe.  That day two other parents suggested we take the children to a large playground that is a 40-minute walk from my apartment.  Briefly I thought, “Perhaps a 40-minute walk with a 25 lb. child strapped to your chest is not the best idea when you have a toe that hurts every time you take a step,” but this was followed by the thought, “It is beautiful out today—it would be foolish and selfish of me to pass up such a nice playground opportunity!”  So we walked to the playground.

It was such a beautiful playground!  Aside from the fact that the trip involved 80 minutes of limping, we had such a nice time!

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:


theuglyvolvo foot 4
At this point my toe was called in to an audition (so exciting!) where he read for the part of Slimer in the upcoming Ghostbusters III.


This is the first day that I thought, “You know, I think something might really be wrong.”

I poured peroxide over the toe and covered it with a large bandage, to keep it clean.  Had this been my child’s toe I would have run out the door, hijacked a car (“Move over, I’ll explain later!”) and driven to a hospital where I would have burst through the doors of the emergency room shouting, “EVERYBODY OUT BECAUSE I THINK MAYBE SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY CHILD’S FOOT!”  And meanwhile some guy with a bullet lodged in his neck and some woman with her severed ear sitting in a glass of ice would look on, politely confused as I collapsed from heart palpitations.*

But thank my lucky stars that it was not my child’s toe!  It was my toe.  And so because we were out of milk and several other things I walked to the grocery store with the baby strapped to my chest and then walked home pulling a cart with 50 lbs of groceries.  Whenever my foot touched the pavement I felt a sharp shooting pain that began in my toe and shot up my leg, but let’s not turn into that mother who complains about every little thing, right?  I did not have a lovely time, but I was glad we had milk and toilet paper in the house.

*               *               *

The following day, my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 5
The lilliputian-sized arrows should have been a dead giveaway that this was not just going to “heal itself.”


This was bad.  I once again poured peroxide over it and changed the bandages and a few hours later poured peroxide over the toe again and changed the bandages a second time.

Had it been my child’s toe I would have immediately enrolled myself in a well-respected medical school specializing in toe-related illness, working with the greatest toe doctors of my generation in an attempt to cure and comfort my son.

But luckily it was not my child’s toe, it was my toe!  I thought about going to the doctor, but it would have interfered with my child’s nap.

*               *               *

The following day my toe looked like this:

theuglyvolvo foot 6
When one of the Kardashians shows up, it’s a good indication that things are going downhill fast.


This was not good.  Pouring peroxide on this toe was not magically fixing everything in the way that I had hoped.  I could no longer put my foot inside a shoe, forcing me to wear socks (to protect the toe) with sandals, causing me to look like one of those men in his late sixties who wishes admission to the movies was still a nickel and who wants the neighborhood kids to stay the f*ck off his lawn.

If this had been my child’s toe I would have started looking for other, better adoptive parents for him, since I was clearly unfit to have and care for a child.

But luckily it was not my child’s toe, it was my toe.  And I really needed to go to the doctor since this was beginning to look extremely serious.  And I would go to the doctor!  But not that night because it was the first night of Passover and my husband’s family does this whole big thing out in Brooklyn that we had had on the calendar for months.

*               *               *

The following day my toe looked like this:

At this point it became apparent that it was a total f*cking disaster.
At this point it became apparent that it was a total f*cking disaster.


I called the doctor.

“Hello!” I said.  “I have a toe that does not look so great.  I would like to come in today,” and the woman said, “We have an opening at 3PM,” and I said, “Yes, that is fine.”

By the time 3PM rolled around I did not feel well.  My foot felt as though someone were jamming splinters underneath my toenail and my leg and other limbs felt achy and strangely weak.  I felt lightheaded.  I had trouble finding the strength to hold the baby.

“Let’s take a look at this toe,” said the doctor, and when I pulled off the bandage, the doctor made the type of face one might make after walking into a room and seeing a pile of intestines sitting in the middle of the floor.

“Oh my god,” she said.

It is never good, at doctor’s offices, when you can hear them audibly gasp.

She wrote me a prescription for an antibiotic and sent me home, calling me the following day to make sure I was ok.  I brought in an aunt to watch the baby for the next few days as I lay on the sofa, fighting off the infection which had spread throughout my body.

And boy, I’d love to wrap up this story in a heartwarming or lesson-learning or uplifting way, but I’m actually running to the pediatrician because the baby has dry skin and seems slightly thirstier than usual which (as I’m sure you are aware!) are two of the tell-tale signs of both cholera and a Type A dissection of the aorta.


*               *               *

If you enjoyed this entry, please follow the blog or like The Ugly Volvo on Facebook or Twitter.    When I am not ignoring my obvious medical problems I usually post about once a week.

*Also, my behavior in this piece was grossly exaggerated for comedic effect.  I would obviously let the doctors care for the bullet-in-the-neck guy and the severed ear woman before I had them check my child’s toe.  I am not a monster.  

Also, I am aware that the “NOW That’s What I Call Music” CDs are not really a “disaster,” but I drew it on a whim and then didn’t feel like re-drawing the whole thing.  

53 CommentsComment

  1. I’m glad to know im not the only one…

  2. You’re a wonderful writer and artist – I really enjoy reading your blogs. But from one mother to another who shares your “put the baby first” and ultimately puts herself in dead last place, I’ll share with you what my baby’s pediatrician shared with me: “If mommy is not well, she can not care for her children well. And God forbid you let that linger so long your children get the same ailment.” And then I thought of myself as a walking viral time-bomb waiting to go off – and I went to the doctor. 🙂

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    caroline seguin

    It could have been dangerous! Next time go sooner! Love reading your texts though, really funny 🙂

  4. I cut all my toes with one pair of nail scissors but I have to use a completely different set for my little toes. Little toes are weird.

  5. Yes, yes, yes. My entire body has been out of alignment since I gave birth 19 months ago–clavical, ribs, pelvis all shifted and lopsided. I finally got a groupon to a chiropractor about a month ago, went, and have not been back since. It also took about a month of not being able to hear properly, experiencing excruciating pain and loss of sleep, to finally go to the doctor. She hardly looked in my ear before writing a prescription for my “very angry” infection. We’re ridiculous.

    Anyway, thank you. I love this post so much, and the rest of your blog. I shared it with my readers here:

    Happy Mother’s Day!

  6. […] a good laugh, check out this one about managing our children’s health on The Ugly Volvo, or pretty much anything else there […]

  7. Reblogged this on Losing my Virtiginy and commented:
    I told you I was going to reblog something you’d enjoy as soon as I figured out how. It’s getting close to Mother’s Day and this lady’s blog is hilarious and apropos.

  8. You are correct, the “NOW That’s What I Call Music” phenom is odd, just try explaining it to an ipod owning teen and they will give you some very strange looks. However I do think you should be more open to the whole socks-with-sandals thing, personally I cannot remember movies when they were a nickel, although even after almost fifteen years over here I am sometimes a little fuzzy of the the nickel thing, that’s the 5 cent piece right? Not the ten.

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    Oh man, I did this exact same thing back in January with my finger….after being in denial about it for several weeks I finally went to the doctor and then got a lecture for waiting so long. Three weeks and two rounds of antibiotics (and draining it twice) I learned my lesson: Never ignore even the smallest injuries.

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