Pier Toenail Thoughts

I sat on the pier, watching the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink. The fish were playing in the water, jumping and splashing, carefree and content. But I was not like them – I was burdened with pain. 

I was wrenched out of my thoughts by a sharp stabbing pain from my big toe, and quickly dipped it back into the water. The cold shock wiped away most of the discomfort, and the thoughts wandered back in. I reflected on my life: the choices I had made, the paths I had taken. 

I looked down at my feet, at the discoloured, thickened nails that were a source of my pain – fungal nails, the podiatrist had called them, as she’d chided me for my carelessness. I couldn’t help but think of all the times I had neglected my health, all the times I had put my work and responsibilities before my well-being.

The wind picked up, blowing my hair into my face, and I closed my eyes, letting the fresh sea breeze wash over me. I thought of the people I had hurt, the relationships I had damaged, and the opportunities I had missed. Had I really been so focused on the future that I had forgotten to live in the present?

The sun gently disappeared behind the horizon, and the cold night rushed in to take its place. I made a resolution, in the growing dark – I would no longer be a victim of myself. No more failing relationships, no more metaphorically-significant toenail conditions – treatment near Cheltenham was the only way forward, for both.  

I knew that I couldn’t change the past, but I could choose to make the most of the present. I vowed to take better care of my health, to be more mindful of the people I loved, and to live each day to the fullest. With a lighter heart, I stood up.

The fish had stopped jumping, and the pier was silent except for the sound of the water lapping against the wooden posts.

Mountain Foot Pain

I stood, panting in the light of the setting sun, checking my watch to clock my heart rate and oxygen stats. It was getting dark quickly now, the last of the afternoon being smothered by the dripping night. Breath coming easier now, I began to trek back down the mountain, taking it much slower than my frantic run up.

I came to a juddering, hopping stop almost immediately, hissing in pain as the muscles in my feet rebelled against my steps. I half-collapsed, steadying myself against a convenient boulder and grasping my foot through the shoe.

My doctor had been recommending that I see a foot specialist near the Cheltenham area for over six months now, every time I came in for a sore throat or a medical certificate. ‘That’s going to grab you one day,’ he’d say sternly, nodding down at my foot.

He’d given me a rudimentary diagnosis, some sort of deep-muscle issue in the foot’s architecture that needed correcting, but he didn’t have the foot expertise to fully treat it.

‘I’ll get to it,’ I’d said to him, an accidental lie, but a lie nonetheless. I was just so busy, constantly moving around, meeting with clients and going for my runs.

‘So this is how I die,’ I grunted to myself, looking up for the now-gone sun. ‘Stranded on a mountain I was able to run up, but can’t even crawl down.’

Stupid. It probably would have only taken a custom orthotics fitting – how long could that have been? An hour? And now my foot wasn’t working, strong lances of pain shooting up my leg as soon as I put any pressure on it.

A low rumbling sounded from the bushes to my right, and I twisted to peer into the darkness – my tight running clothes suddenly leaving me feeling incredibly exposed.

Not like jeans would have helped you if you’re getting mauled by a bear.

I decided that I did not, in fact, want to die, and snapped off a big chunk of bush to use as my walking stick. Slowly, slowly…

I began to make my way down the mountain.