Feet Are Delicate!

On our last morning at Grand Bahama Yacht Club, we were getting Ocean Song ready for departure. I was doing all sorts of things onboard and on the dock. All the while I was barefoot. GBYC’s docks are mostly concrete with wide concrete borders and wooden slats in the center. I had seen a few rough spots on the wooden sections but didn’t think much about it. As I was getting ready to get back onboard the boat, I felt a stabbing pain near my left big toe. I looked at my foot and there was a splinter about 4 inches long (about the size of a very thin paring knife blade) sticking out just under my big toe. My immediate reaction was to just pull it out, which I did. The problem was it was a 5-inch splinter. It was stuck almost to the bone in the joint between my foot and big toe -ouch! I mean OUCH! I’ve had kidney stones and other “accidents” with some nasty injuries, and this was not close to that level of pain, but it did hurt, I mean really hurt! When Linda saw what I’d done she became very concerned. She said in her experience a puncture wound in that area can cause lots of problems. Being at the joint was a big concern. I did not discount what she said but I didn’t think it was going to be a problem, I was wrong.

Linda cleaned and soaked my foot in rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide before we left the marina. She also bandaged it. By the time we had gone the 7nm to our destination, Topgallant Basin, my toe and foot were swollen, and it hurt a lot worse. One mistake I made was pulling the splinter out myself. I should have let Linda do it, so she’d know if it all came out. We then iced and elevated my foot.  Linda made me pretty much keep my foot elevated the entire rest of the day. She did everything onboard and told me to sit back down when I tried to get up. I took pain meds too. I slept with my foot elevated. The next morning my foot was worse. It was red, swollen and it hurt more. Linda washed, cleaned, medicated, and examined my foot about every two hours. I was allowed to do nothing all day. Linda waited on me hand and …yes, foot! We were riding out gale force winds that day but had decided that I would have to go to the local hospital or clinic the following day. Getting to a hospital or clinic would take most of the next day, but it had to be done. As the day went along, Linda became more concerned about my foot, I did too.

My foot looked as though it was infected, and we debated lancing it. I’m not squeamish and I was for it. Linda isn’t squeamish either but didn’t like the idea of reopening the wound. We didn’t really debate; it was more of a pro -v – cons of digging into the wound. Eventually Linda decided we should do it because there was no way to get to a medical facility anytime soon. It was a good call. There was a lot of pus. Once we had expressed it until only blood and clear fluid came out, there was more cleaning and bandaging. Linda immediately said she was glad we lanced it, she thought it would help. We rode out the gale and made our plans for getting me to a doctor the next day.

During the night my (elevated) foot started feeling better. The next morning Linda could tell it was much improved. We decided my foot and toe were on the mend and we could probably forgo seeking additional medical help unless something changed. My injury initially got better each day, but then started to feel very tender and more easily aggravated. Trying to walk and do things on a boat without putting pressure on your big toe is almost impossible. Over the next week my injury didn’t improve.

It became clear it was still infected and not clearing up. I told Linda I was certain there was still something in there. Finally, Linda broke out the scalpel and fully opened the puncture wound. Out of my foot came lots of blood, pus, and a very long piece of the Grand Bahamas Yacht Club dock. Linda kept saying “Good golly Miss Molly!”. We were both surprised at the size of the splinter left in my foot. We irrigated the wound with copious amounts of contact lens disinfectant (because that’s what we had available).  The squeeze bottle gave good pressure to wash out the area. Within a couple of hours my foot felt much better. Three days later Lefty was almost as good as new, or as good as a 62-year-old foot can be. Linda says the feet are delicate and it will be a while before my left foot has fully recovered. Linda has tons of experience with foot injuries because of all her years as a surgical nurse. She has probably examined my foot and toe three or four times a day over the last two weeks. I think she saved my foot, or at least my left big toe.

The tools needed for “splinter surgery” and the splinter.

The offending piece of The Grand Bahamas Yacht Club dock.


Although it was a bad experience, there has been a bright side. Ever since the injury Linda has washed my left foot (my right foot is a little jealous), done virtually all the work onboard, served me food and drink, and constantly reminded me to “baby my foot”, lay down, and keep it iced and elevated. I want my foot to heal, but not too quickly, a guy could get used to this. Linda is a keeper!