The Farm on Oak Creek

The Other Foot

Before I get started, I’m here to report that it seems I now have semi-domesticated ducks.  This morning when I reached the turkey coop to release Tom and his girls, the boldest pair of ducks was sitting outside the coop waiting to be fed. I was so sorry I didn’t have my phone with me. They both stood there, their heads cocked as if to say, “So, throw us some of those seeds already.”  This afternoon, they were waiting outside the coop again.  I gave up trying to get a photo because every time I lift the phone they quickly back away. Must be the phone’s orange case that sets them off. But I will get it soon. They’ve got the whole feeding thing figured out. In fact, two days ago when it was so dishearteningly cold out at coop-opening time, they were the only birds I fed.  Both the turkeys and the chickens in their mobile house refused to come out. The chickens stayed inside until well after 8 AM, which is about when the sun rises over the surrounding hills. By then the frost-covered sheep–I really don’t understand why they sit outside when they have a nice sheltered area–and the ducks had cleaned up the small amount of scratch that I leave outside the turkey coop. Oh yeah, I’m officially a duck-feeder.

Now to that foot issue. Last Wednesday, while crossing the pasture in the dark to close the chicken coop door I broke my left foot. For the record, it was seven months ago that I tore my right foot’s plantars fascia. This time, I stepped in a hole, my foot twisted to an awkward angle and there was a ear-rattling “snap”, which led to my statement of record for such events: “That didn’t sound good.”

An instant later the pain followed.  Oh yeah, that wasn’t good at all.

Of course, I was in the middle of the darkened and very cold field, nowhere I wanted to stay. So I hobbled back to the house, climbing the driveway instead of the stairs.  By the time I was inside my foot was swollen to the point that my shoe was too tight.

Five minutes later, I was sitting on my bed, examining the damage. Both sides of my ankle were swollen, my toes were stiff,  and there was an unwelcome circular swelling about the size of a half-dollar on the top of my foot. I touched it and I felt the shift of the bone beneath it–the outer metatarsal. (I knew that Physical Anthropology course I took in college would come in handy one day!) Given the snap, the swelling, and the shift of the bone, I was pretty sure I had fractured it.

Well double dang. It was late (for me), I was tired, and treating this meant racing down to Urgent Care to sit in the waiting room for who-knows-how long, submit to x-rays, be given prescriptions for medicines I can’t take, and then dragging my careless self back home to grab a couple hours of sleep before dawn when I would have to make my way across that same pasture on crutches to release the critters.

For years, ever since the Mayo Clinic politely asked me to leave their premises because I couldn’t tolerate any of the prescriptions they tried to give me, I’ve been on the alternative medicine track. I’ve used a number of different modalities for all sorts of illnesses, most especially to treat my Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I haven’t broken a bone, well other than stubbing my little toe, since I was five or so and broke my collarbone while accidentally bouncing off a bed.

It was time to proof the pudding as it were. After all, the worst that could happen is that it would be more painful than I could tolerate in the morning and I’d find some doctor to see. So out came the Arnica gel.

Why Arnica? Because it’s my go-to herbal remedy for bruising, swelling and such like. That, and John Wayne recommends it. Apparently there’s a John Wayne movie in which he shouts, “Get the Arnica,” after someone has broken something. On top of the Arnica I added my favorite peppermint-infused, willow-bark filled pain killing goop. It’s so potent that after applying you need to wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” three times.

It was a restless night. My foot was throbbing and I kept wishing I had some sort of comfrey salve for the bone. Unfortunately, I hadn’t saved any of the leaves from my comfrey plant before winter set on. I did have some roots in a bucket in the barn. I’d dug up the plant back in December, giving some of the roots to a friend, putting a few back in the ground, while saving the rest for planting at my new place.

My comfrey plant last summer

Come morning, my foot was pretty sore, but not nearly as painful as I thought it should be. That was positive. Then, when I came out to make tea, I discovered a miracle. In the kitchen, I glanced at the selection of herbal goodies that my new friend Susan, The Verde Gardener, had shared with me on Tuesday when she came for tea. There was a tin of a comfrey-based salve!

I opened the tin (thank you Susan for using a screw-top tin!) and smeared a copious amount on my foot. My whole body sighed in relief. Not only did it have comfrey in it, but St. John’s wort, which turns out to be a very effective pain killer.

In the past six days I’ve used up that tin and started in on another one. Today, the swelling is almost gone. The bruising, which should have been horrible, never quite flowered–although it does trace the outline of my shoe. There’s still swelling on the spot where I felt the break, but it’s not nearly as tender.

I’m continuing to be very careful while walking and am resting my foot as much as possible. I’ll admit to being pretty tired by the end of the day but I’ve been sleeping incredibly well. I wonder if that’s the St. John’s wort. At any rate, I’m pretty pleased with this adventure in an alternative universe.


© Denise Domning, 2023