Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Future of Toes

Some may know that back in the day when I was a King, I had a wound. It was a particularly nasty one which would not heal and, yes, it was from a mishap that was all my own Fault. Mea Culpa.

Often I would wish my Knights would simply despatch me. But kindness flowed from them.

There were things - quite Kingly things - that I could not do. Like my toenail management. Daggers are damned useful things in the hands of the more youthful.

I was reminded of this the other day. While the general hubbub was about communist Popes and Gay buggers getting married, I happened to notice a chap in one corner, on his knees beneath a table, around which sat some old guys. 

"Hello", thought I, "what have we there?"  I confess it did cross my mind that he might be doing something untoward. Most unkind of me. But thankfully I was wrong. (That's the second time this year I have been wrong and its is only June !)

It was Scott Stanley. I asked him what he was up to.
Who will clip your toenails when you cannot?
One more argument for working to create stronger family bonds.
I am not at a stage of life where I need help doing my own toenails. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I’m expecting to be my own mani/pedi provider for a good two decades or more, but you never know how life will turn out. I am, however, in that sandwich generation. Or I was. 
Since my father passed on a few years ago and my mother passed on a year and a half ago, the sandwich is somewhat more like open-faced tuna melt than a club. I have two emerging adult sons in the home and I have two brothers beyond it. One of those two brothers has had serious health needs of late, and that inspired this piece.
Here’s something they never tell you when you are a kid: 
One day you may end up clipping and filing the toenails of those you love. 
Earlier in life, I could not have imagined that, at some point, I would clip my father’s toenails, my mother’s toenails, and my brother’s toenails. I am cured (pedi, in fact) of my na├»ve beliefs. Sure, my wife and I trimmed our sons’ nails when they were little. We are good parents! Besides, if you’ve had a baby, you know those baby nails can be wicked sharp. Trimming them is simple self-preservation.

But that was long ago—before the one son started using clippers on his own and the other son started trimming his own toenails with his teeth (he was really flexible back then).
In recent months, one of my brothers has had serious health issues and he’s been unable to trim his own toenails. That’s how I came to do it. Twice. 
I never, ever, thought I’d be doing that, but there I was, clipping, filing, and buffing. No polish, though. Shiny was not our goal. Besides, in our family, we don’t get fancy.
Years ago, my parents lived in a retirement home. For a while there was someone who provided this service for them but something interrupted that for a time. That’s how I came to trim the toenails of my parents a time or two.
You may be thinking, “That’s no big deal, Scott, let me tell you what I’ve had to do for a family member.” Indeed, this is a small thing. Ten small things at a time, in fact. Some of you are real family heroes, doing incredible things, year in and year out, for a loved one. I claim no contest. 
Still, toenails are a metaphor for the whole range of little things that many of us will need help with at some point, for a season or for the rest of our lives.
Toenails and the Future of Families
This all got me thinking about the future of families and about toenails. A stretch, you say? I think it’s all related.
One day, when visiting a loved one in a nursing home, I asked a nurse about toenails. I wondered how people who could no longer trim their own got it done. 
She told me that in this particular place, and I suspect it’s far from the only one, staff were not allowed to do the toenails of patients. Liability. So some people needed to have an outpatient visit to a podiatrist to have their toenails trimmed. Think about that a moment. 
The cost. The hassle. 
I got to wondering if it’s a reimbursable medical expense to have a podiatrist do your toenails.
I think a growing number of people are going to have only one of two options for their toenails: Howard Hughes mode or services provided by a family member or friend. Sure, the government has programs for many things, but I’m not sure there’s one coming for toenails.
So, I’m asking a serious question. 
Who will clip your toenails when you cannot?

I pulled him a pint. On the House.

Good staff are hard to find.


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