In an effort to get sustainable income, I have worked a variety of manual labor jobs. Opportunities that require more standing on your feet than sitting on your butt. Granted, there are some perks to these types of employment. I accepted a seasonal position in 2012 that gave me the chance to work outdoors at an event venue. Fresh air. Sunlight. The chance to burn off 12 pounds of body weight (although most of it was probably sweat lost in 90 degree weather). Like most seasonal jobs, there were no medical benefits. I paid for my own health insurance through a single payer plan with an astronomical deductable. I thought as long as I didn’t do anything careless, I shouldn’t have any major injuries. It’s amazing what can happen on the first week of the job.
As I was setting up a venue for an outdoor wedding ceremony, a couple of chairs slipped through my hand and slammed onto my foot. I was wearing an old set of sneakers and I knew those chairs had damaged one of my toenails. As someone who has hiked and snowboarded, I knew that toenails are resilient and would eventually recover from this on-the-job incident. What I didn’t count on was getting on ingrown toenail, which most likely resulted from my improper pedicure of my damaged big toenail. A workmen’s comp claim was out of the question, especially since I had no idea who my company would refer me too. I opted to see a podiatrist in my health plan. The only problem is that once you get an ingrown toenail, it’s very easy to re-aggravate it again. The more times it happened, the more times I had to visit the podiatrist and the more it became an out-of-pocket cost.
In an insane effort to save money, I took it upon myself to do something I never thought I would do: act as my own podiatrist and resect my own toenail. “Resect” basically meaning cutting the portion of nail that has grow “in” to the toe using a sharp set of clippers. It sounds bad and it even feels worse when you do it, especially without the use of a local anesthetic. I considered using alcohol (administered internally, of course), but I feared it would diminish my hand to eye coordination, something very important to consider when you have a sharp object next to your skin. I certainly don’t recommend becoming your own podiatrist, or any medical professional that generally requires years of study. It’s just an example of how far an unemployed person will go to save money. Physical discomfort is oddly less painful than financial discomfort.