Toe Woe of DIY Pedicure Gone Bad

Warning: The photographs and descriptions in this post may be considered disgusting, gross and not suitable for young children, those with weak stomachs or ladies that lunch.

This post is why I started my blog. I knew I was going to tell you about this incident.

One weekend last summer, I was taking call for my day job in Tupelo, Miss. Yep, it’s the birthplace of Elvis and the home to some friendly folks. Anyway, when I’m on call, I commit to being available at any time during the agreed time frame. I didn’t want to be in the midst of a professional pedicure and get called and have to run. And I declare that would be rude.

That weekend, I painted a rendition of our friend’s dock, worked on my new blog, and gave myself a pedicure all in my room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

I was productive.

The pedicure was normal. I soaked my feet, globbed cuticle remover on the toe nail cuticles, waited and pushed back the loosened parts. Here’s where I question my skills and this procedure…I used cuticle clippers. I started clipping those loose parts around my big toes.

My theory on pedicures is that if you can make the big toe look nice and frame the nail well between the flesh, the rest are a breeze. No one really looks at the other toes. Just trim the other nails to a proportioned, semi-straight level and slap on some nail polish. But trust me, everyone looks at the big toes.

With my top coat of super, fast drying Seche Vite top coat, my pedicure was complete. And I noticed my toe was a little sore, probably from the trauma of me trimming the cuticle. But I didn’t worry my little self about it because it would be okay.

Once I was home, my right toe became sore. I had gone to rehab for my knee, wore tennis shoes and perform these crazy jump-on-and-off-a-box exercises that made my toe angry as it was slammed into the end of my shoe 30 times.

Afterwards, my toe went from being sore to throbbing. It didn’t get better. Said toe left angry town and headed to beligerant-ville. I’m confident I could have counted my heart rate from the throbbing and also…it flipped me off. That’s when I knew it wasn’t going to get better.

big toe see that early

In an earlier post I revealed my husband, Brad, is a surgeon in Lake Village. This surgeon thing comes in handy for things like this or falling down stairs in front of a hundred or so people.

“Cut off my toe,” I pleaded of my husband. “It flipped me off and can’t stand me.”

toe infection, cut toe off, diy pedicure gone wrong, toe hurts

He responded as if he was considering the option, “Your big toe is important. In my opinion, you’d regret that decision.”

“Okay.” I appreciated the opinion and what I call my Voice of Reason (VOR).

By this time he knew it was infected and said he could fix it.

Also, along with the gross photograph warnings, here’s another warning:


(unless you have a medical professional and sterile supplies.)

Hobble quickly to your doctor’s office.

Here’s what our at home procedure looked like.

sterile field

Thankfully for y’all I took pictures for my best friend MeMe. I also texted her pics and messages during this ordeal. Before each procedure (spoiler alert, there was more than one) I had to have a conversation with her so she could talk me off the edge of the cliff I was facing.

Here’s a glimpse of our texts:

Meme:  “You can do this. You are strong. Got any bourbon? How many shot glasses do you have?”

Me: “Yes, I can do this. I need to do this. I must do this. I have eight shot glasses. I love you. Come destroy my journals if I die.”

So Brad drew up the lidocaine in a 5 cc syringe, cleaned and prepped my toe with alcohol, and asked, “Are you ready?”

I gulped the last shot glass of Blanton’s (the bourbon we had on hand), wiped my mouth, braced myself on the couch in our living room, stuck my foot at him and declared I was ready.

I’m not going to lie, the lidocaine block hurt like H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

It hurt so bad I shouted the worst words you’d ever heard times seven. Yes, times seven. Words I didn’t even know I knew blurted in a non-stop strewn verbal train. Sailors as well as certain thug circles would have been impressed.

Thank my lucky stars I didn’t have this done at Brad’s office because the entire hospital would have heard me screaming as if I’d been posessed.

As I braced my self on the couch, I bit into a pillow. If I had had a bullet I would have bitten it like the cowboys did in the wild west when they had surgery without anesthesia.

I had a mantra, “Be with the pain. Be with the pain. Be with the pain.” That’s all nice and fine, but THE PAIN DID NOT WANT TO BE WITH ME.

“OH. MY. GOD!” {I apologize if this is offensive, but if there were ever an appropriate time to use this phrase and plea, this was it.} “Did you just poke that needle through my entire toe? Seriously, it feels like you went from one side to the other,” I inquired midst a pain-stricken panic attack.

Not phased by my behavior, Brad replied, “No. In order to block the nerves, I have to go to the bone.”

“Of course. Could you take me to the OR and have the CRNA give me diprivan/propofol {the Michael Jackson drug},” I asked because this was entirely to painful to not be sedated or at least really comfortable that I’d forget. I needed just 15 minutes of unconsciousness for him to do what he needed to do for my toe.

He firmly replied, “No.”

“Well, Y’all should consider that for people,” as I somehow managed to pour myself another shot of bourbon and sloppily swallowed it and tried to calculate how much that would cost.

He began to explore my puffy red toe by my making a small incision with a #11 blade, hemostats and pickups. There it was…a pus pocket. I became faint and I realized this was nothing to him compared to what he sees on a daily basis. He showed it to me as though he’d found a prize. When he pierced it, white pus oozed and I knew I’d feel relief. And I did.

It took two more of those procedures to get my toe on the mend. Because I could not deal with the lidocaine injections, Brad used silver nitrate sticks to cauterize the tissue which turned my toenail black until it grew out. Y’all, as you can see from the photos, my toe resembled a zombie toe [necrotic looking] and I wore a bandage for two months.

Be warned: this is the grossest photo.

necrotic zombie toe, Infected toe, diy pedicure, pus

I don’t wish this on anyone.

healing infected toe

And I’m leery of ever giving myself a DIY Pedicure ever again.

Before the Fourth of July, I stopped by the mall in Monroe, La. and had Long give me a pedicure.

pedicure monroe, Long, Nail Creations Monroe LA

He was wonderful and such a pleasant person. He allowed me to take his picture for my blog and emphasized he was available for all of the single ladies out there. Isn’t that sweet? And he didn’t even judge me after I told him about my zombie toe last summer.

Have you ever experienced an infected toe? Do you do DIY Pedicures or go professional? Share your story. Be careful out there. And please share this cautionary tale to others you care about or want to show disgusting photos of my Toe Woe.

Do me a favor and like the Delta Moxie Facebook Page here. Or deltamoxie on Instagram. Or Follow @deltamoxie on Twitter.

You’re the best!


Kelly Jo (An open-toe-wearing-fool-this-summer)







    • Delta Moxie says:

      Well, you’d never put your sterile field directly on your living room rug or use a piece of tupperware from the cupboard, but he made it as sterile as possible. Yes, I was brave, and on the other hand extremely whiny and foul-mouthed. Not a proud moment. And I kept my toe.

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