This little piggy went…snap.

There is no impressive way to break your toe. It’s invariably a result of stubbing it on some furniture as you wander shoe-less around your house, or of clumsily dropping something on it. I know this because I’m now 9 weeks into my broken toe journey, and every time someone has asked how I broke my toe, I would just say ‘Heroically’ and then hobble away, hoping their temporary bafflement would allow me to escape. Now I know that saying I broke my toe, but not explaining how I did it, really is the ‘Chekhov’s Gun’ of toe injury related blog writing…so to avoid any distraction, I broke my toe while doing a fitness class bare-foot. We had to do a move where we kicked our leg out parallel to the ground while in a semi-squat position, and my toe caught on the ground and snapped. Proving that while not all heroes wear capes, they should perhaps at least wear shoes.

So seeing as I haven’t written a blog in
*checks notes*
8 MONTHS?!! It’s probably time to make sure I can still do this, so I’m no expert, but here’s what I’ve learnt from 9 weeks with a broken toe.

Our medical system is a bit like my toe

When I was getting the x-ray done for my toe, the radiologist was saying it’s unlikely that I’d broken it, it was probably just badly bruised…then he saw the x-ray and said ‘Ah shit! Nah, that’s broken!’ Now look…was I perhaps hoping for both better news, and perhaps a less candid way of telling me? Yes. But I’m also feeling that our public health system may be in a similar way.

Now don’t get me wrong. Much like me with a broken toe, most of the health system is still fine…but there were a few niggles, and really what better place to vent my petty grievances than on a blog predominately read by my wife, parents and a selection of Yr 12 Coburg students?!

I know how over-run our Emergency Departments are, so I was keen to just go to my local GP. But in reality there were no bookings there for a few days, so I went to nearby clinic where you can just wait to see a doctor. As someone who has spent most of their life getting bulk-billed, it was sobering to see how few GPs can offer it now, and how much it can cost. Especially when you need to see a doctor to confirm you need an X-ray, then go and get the X-Ray, and then go back to the doctor in order for them to tell you that your toe is broken.

It also kinda sucked having the first Doctor tell me that it would take 4-6 weeks to heal, and that I would have to wear a moonboot for this time. No cycling either…but I could swim, so long as I didn’t push off from the end of the pool.
Then when I went back at 5 weeks to get another x-ray, a different doctor told me that it was healing well, but that of course it takes 8-12 weeks for a toe to heal and that I shouldn’t be doing any walking, running or cycling.

Now I totally realise that no Doctor is going to say ‘Yeah, you can probably get back into some light running if doesn’t hurt’ as then it’s their problem if I further injure it. But at the same time, I reckon my Achilles would have atrophied if I’d worn a moonboot for as long as they recommended.
Plus the blank stares that came back each time I said that exercise was really important to my mental health…was frustrating to say the least. I genuinely felt as though they were thinking ‘We’re giving you an excuse not to exercise for 4-12 weeks…what more do you want from us?!’

For the record, I did make sure I wore shoes at all times around the house to ensure I didn’t stub my toe…and I didn’t run until week 6. But Chris did not wear a moon-boot…and he was well and truly back to riding to work within a week.
At week 9 I’ve done a few 10km runs and played 5 minutes of basketball at an end of season presentation night for the basketball team I coach.

Putting your toe in other people’s shoes

Do you know what really sucks?
When you can see that a set of pedestrian lights is about to go green, but you can’t run to get them.
Or when you crouch down to take a photo and suddenly realise that if you stand up in your normal way, you will put a whole lot of pressure on your broken toe and so have to do an elaborate manoeuvre that looks a LOT like an baby giraffe trying to stand up.
Or when, having spent the last 5 years with your weight fluctuating ‘wildly’ between 71kg and 72kg, you suddenly look down to see that you weigh 74kg.
And especially when you have a problem that no one else can see, but is making your life a freaking misery.

Do you know what’s really great?
Knowing that there is finite time that all of these things will be affecting you.

So just a massive note of support to everyone out there who is fighting these things without any end date. Whether you’re fighting poor mental health, or a chronic injury, or just getting old…you’re a champion!

Take the reset

If two and a bit years of COVID have taught us anything, it’s that sometimes you have to take the opportunity to reset. Going back to square one is never fun, but it might be an opportunity to do things differently, or bring people along for the ride.
So here’s to more runs and bike rides with friends and family!