Friday, February 23, 2024

Zoë vs. the rusty ol' nail

Before you ask, yes, Zoë is current on her vaccines. Her last DTP, DTap, DT, Td shot (I'm not sure why they have them all listed there, but I know they all include tetanus) was on 10/16/2020, so she should be good on that front.


Co-op has simply not been good to this child recently. Last time we went to co-op, we walked away with COVID (today they did another activity blowing through straws; Zoë politely declined to participate). Today, Zoë stepped on a rusty nail!

Here she is soaking her foot when we got home, to help clean it out better than we were able to do on site:

We were outside for recess, and Zoë was heading inside to throw away some trash. The sidewalk leading to the building includes a little corner, but there's a desire path cutting diagonally from one sidewalk to the other. This path is not so desired that the grass has worn away to a dirt trail, but the grass does bear witness to other feet having trod through it from time to time. Zoë took this little shortcut and...found a nail with her foot.

It went right through her shoe and into her foot. 

"OUCH!" she screamed. "Something's poking me!"

That last part would turn out to be a bit of an understatement. She thought, perhaps, it was a bramble of sorts that she'd stumbled into, but no—it was just a big, ol' nail. She tried pulling it out but it wouldn't come, so then she just started wildly shaking her foot, yelling, "Get off! Get off! Get off!"

(This is how the nail came out of her foot, she told me—it just flew out. Probably lubricated by plenty of blood at this point because her shoe was dripping with blood by the time she sat on the ground.)

Unsurprisingly, this little scene attracted the attention of several mothers on the field. 

"I need to find a first aid kit," I said. 

Why this was my first thought...I don't know. The other mothers agreed to stay with my now barefoot child, who was stoically bleeding all over the sidewalk (no tears from this girl). They hunted around their purses while I picked up Phoebe (who was mortified by the suggestion I'd made that she wait outside for me) and rushed inside to find the first aid kit that I was certain existed somewhere. 


The custodial closet? But where was that? I was having trouble remembering. 

More moms were inside. 

"I need to find a first aid kit, quickly," I said. "Can someone watch Phoebe for me?"

Phoebe blew a gasket over this idea. 

"You know," one of the moms (the same one whose children gave us COVID, incidentally—so it's not like I think she's a terrible person! In fact, she's good and kind! I just wish she would have made different (maskier) choices about her attendance at co-op that fateful day) said, reaching for my screaming child. "It's okay if she screams. Doesn't bother me. Just go...wait. What am I thinking?! Keep Phoebe! Go back outside to Zoë! We will bring supplies to you."

Oh! That's a much better plan!!

So they scurried around collecting Neosporin and bandaids and paper towels (wet and dry) and a water bottle. The supplies came from various purses and places (the first aid kit is in the kitchen, by the way (and it's very poorly stocked)) and everyone was so kind. We got Zoë patched up and she hobbled off to French class and I fretted about how much time would elapse before I got the chance to really clean her wound out. 

But! (I reasoned with myself) if she had punctured herself while she was out hiking, for example, it would probably be a considerable amount of time before we'd be able to properly tend her wound as well. And how different is French class from hiking in the wilderness, really? She'd be fine, right?

Thinking about hiking pulled to mind the story of Andrew stepping on a nail while he was out flip Ghana

I'd forgotten about that story...but he survived, right? And it's not like he got proper treatment for that.

When I was a kid I stepped on a screw at the Torrie's farm one time (a slip'n'slide was involved somehow). That was no fun to get out, and I remember the grown ups talking about tetanus, but we didn't ever go to the doctor...and I'm still

Grandpa has a story about stepping on a nail (he got a blood infection because a bit of his shoe became imbedded in the wound) and apparently Naanii also has a story about stepping on a nail because sent her commiserations to Zoë. 

Oh! I have a friend from high school (Highwood, not THS) who shot himself with a nail gun through his construction boot (one of those steel-toe numbers) while he was helping redo a roof. They had to cut apart his boot to remove the nail from his foot! (This one required a visit to the ER).

Anyway, speaking of roofing, the nail that Zoë stepped on was likely left behind by the roofing crews that redid the roof not too long ago. It's been a few months since they finished their project, but that seems to me to be the most likely reason there was a nail where it was. And the nail was stuck in something relatively flat, about a square inch or so in area, but enough to allow that nail to balance straight up in the air. 

I wish I could have seen the nail, but by the time I had gone inside to find supplies and had come back out again the nail had been taken to the dumpster by one of the moms (there are...many moms's a co-op...and many mom hands make light work). In my mind, the nail is stuck to a piece of shingle. 

It doesn't really matter, I guess, why the nail was there. I just like to figure things out.

The moral of this story is...nothing. I don't know...oh! Keep up to date on your tetanus shot! And if you can't remember when your last shot was...go to the ER or urgent care and get a tetanus shot! If you're a minor and are up to date on your vaccine schedule, you should be in the clear. If you're an adult this can get trickier, so literally...if you can't remember when your last tetanus shot was and you step on a nail or something, go get an emergency booster.

Pregnant ladies typically get a booster in their third trimester (to help give baby immunity against pertussis, specifically, which is included in the TPD shots), so I know I had a shot in 2021, 2017, and 2015. And 2012, actually! I got the shot while I was in labour with Benjamin (he was coming early, before I'd had the booster). I know I didn't get one when I was pregnant with Miriam. And I can't remember whether or not I had one with Rachel. Evidently when you birth children in three different decades (somehow, folks, I have managed to pull a stunt like that) things change. We learn how to be better and do things differently. Anyway, all that is to say that for me, right now, remembering when my last booster was is easy. 

But...I will lose that little landmark on my timeline soon enough. And then I won't I'll have to run get a booster. 

And that's the moral of this story. 

Also, you should know that the story of Henry David Thoreau's brother dying of tetanus lives rent-free in my brain. I learned about it in high school. I'm pretty sure there was a poem we read...but I can't put my finger on what that poem might have been. Still, Thomas Thoreau Jr.'s death...

Get your tetanus shot, folks!


  1. Just had to express my love for (besides all of you) your question, "... how different is French class from hiking in the wilderness, really?" Indeed.

  2. My nail-stepping happened in Raymond, when we were doing the roof, so you were probably about one year old-ish at the time.

  3. My dad stepped on a nail that went through his work boot. He was working in his wood pile, I think. He ended up having surgery if I remember correctly.