Pic of the day: Ueki's best friend pronounces the diagnosis. What this has to do with my toes will be apparent soon, doubly so if you know me. (Screnshot from the anime The Law of Ueki, which will become available in America in some months.)
Today on my way home from the commuter bus I noticed pain in my left big toe when walking on it. This was not the pain of a splinter, but rather seemed to come from the joint. But it did not feel like something was bent or broken either. A sharp pain that made it impossible to walk normally, but I was still able to get home. It is going to last at least a couple days. (I know this because I write it on Tuesday.)
I thought of gout, but I am not really the kind of person who would normally get that disease. (I am talking about the joint inflammation, gout, not the animal, goat.) My only risk factor is that I don't drink nearly enough water, and never did. I am physically unable to consume the large quantities of water recommended by health experts, who talk about liters each day. Even in summer I can't drink that much. I simply don't have the throughput of water that most people have. This has been the way with me since I was a child. At primary school I almost never used the schools toilets. I think it may have happened, or perhaps I just saw how they looked inside for some other reason such as curiosity. It definitely didn't happen every year, or every other year. Even at high school, where I had a much longer commute, I usually waited till I got home. You can't do that if you drink a gallon a day.
But since I rarely eat meat, and then only in small quantities, and since I don't drink nearly enough alcohol, gout is unlikely. Besides, gout is more chronic. I have had these pains from time to time over the last few years, but they usually only last for hours and then stay away for months. That does not sound like gout. Actually it doesn't sound like anything I have heard of, so I remain puzzled.
For some reason this event reminded me of a dream I wrote about in my journal already in June 1999. In this dream the exact same toe fell off as I visited the family of my best friend, who I at the time called by the codename "SuperGirl". To further underscore the lack of realism, they were located in a fictional province in the role playing game Daggerfall. When the toe fell off, it did so painlessly, and there was skin covering both the toe and the foot where it had broken off, although with a tender pink spot in the middle. Clearly this had been underway for a long time. The other thing I should have noticed (but somehow ignored) was that in my dreams about her family, the girl herself would normally get the most attention, just as she did in real life. (Yes, I dreamed about her from time to time.) In this dream, she is conspicuously absent. Why? Because, I realized a few years late, she was the toe.
The big toes are not necessary to live or even to walk, for certain values of walking. Hobbling, more like it. When we walk normally, there is a brief moment during each step where we lean on the big toe to carry our weight. You can remove one or more of the smaller toes, and still be able to walk to some extent, but without the big toe you are ambling at best. Because we instinctively lean on the big toe to support us, without even thinking that it does so, until something goes wrong.
In the same way, I always leaned on my best friend (not physically, more's the pity since she is cute) without really thinking about it. Just to have a girl as my best friend kept a kind of normalcy in my life, made me feel somewhat human. I was figuratively able to walk normally. But the skin was growing over the connection between us, and in a way I was aware of this for a very long time. Even at the end, there was no pain. I guess I could say we are still friends, we are certainly not enemies. But we almost never talk anymore. She will probably call me if she marries or has a baby, but quite possibly not until after the fact. It's that kind of relationship now. It's not someone I can lean on, or the other way around.
My toe will feel much better in a few days. But I'll most likely never have a best friend again. This does not make me happy right now, but it still may. Most things have, in the past. In any case, things are not likely to continue this way. I'll die or evolve, I'm pretty sure, with or without toes and best friends. As the saying goes: "Change is the only constant".
Visit the ChaosNode.net for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.