• Rachel

Lost: Little Toe. Last seen in aisle 9.

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

You may have heard the first aid tip that, in the unfortunate event that one should (hopefully, accidentally) sever a finger or toe, if you put the digit in a bag of frozen peas whilst in transit to the nearest A&E, the hospital has more of a chance in successfully re-attaching said digit to the rest of your body. It can be a bag of sweetcorn if you don't have any peas. Or, a bag of any frozen commodity, really. Fingers and toes aren't fussy, apparently...I believe it is more to do with the state of being kept cold, rather than the actual vegetable.

Thankfully, this story did not involve me severing my baby toe in a supermarket, but it might as well have. I lose my baby toes, and often my big toes too, more often than I lose my keys these days. Poor circulation, namely due to the woman upstairs' chronic Scrooge-like stinginess, means at the moment my body sometimes cuts off the supply to certain digits temporarily. This would be understandable, were I living in rural Scandinavia and frequented going outdoors barefoot. However, on this particular occasion it happened to be 25 degrees Celsius and I was wearing a long flowy dress and sandals, because, well, it was frickin' warm.

I found myself gently cruising down the frozen aisles in Waitrose this bright and summery June afternoon. N.B. other supermarkets are available, but I'm still recovering from a small incident at Tesco Extra a few weeks ago involving my inability to competently bay park under pressure. Plus, as much as I dislike the bourgeois, they do some good special offers.

ANYWAY. It was much cooler inside the supermarket than outdoors - of course Waitrose happens to be one of the only inside spaces in the country fitted with A/C. Note, this is why most Brits struggle when we have a heatwave. Yes, our temperatures may not skyrocket to the standards most Australians deal with 90% of the year, but our homes are built to keep the heat in, not out. Finding inside spaces cooler than the outdoors on a day in the mid-twenties is a rare luxury.

What is also a luxury, apparently, is the reliable functionality of my digits given a sudden drop in temperature. No sooner had I floated down the frozen veg section in my long, wafty dress did I feel something else float away from, not a silent fart (though there was probably one of those, too), but the soul of that fifth little piggy on my left foot. But this little piggy didn't go whee whee whee all the way disappeared, and then slowly returned to me about halfway home after some exothermic assistance.

This was not something I had anticipated having to deal with on a midsummer afternoon. Part of me wanted to be convinced that the Waitrose freezers had malfunctioned and that everyone in that supermarket found leaving the frozen aisle with all twenty digits a challenge that day. An even bigger part of me realises that this is a completely ridiculous suggestion and is the sort of thing a Karen would reason and demand to speak to the manager about. The woman upstairs may be a Karen, but I sure ain't.

It's small things like this that help me to remember that my mind is still very much at war with my body. Of course, the presence or absence of the woman upstairs is not simply detected by these physical complications. She is a manipulator of the mind after all, and changes to my physiological health and appearance are simply collateral damage. The majority of the damage is on the inside. This stuff, no set of scales, no heart rate monitor, no full blood count or renal profile will ever be able to detect. The woman upstairs' flat may look immaculate from the outside; the windows don't have to be falling out for it to be a bombsite behind the front door. My little toes don't have to play hide-and-seek to prove that I'm unwell.

But, at the moment, even after months of improved nutrition, it's the small things like this, the aching muscles, and the ongoing unpredictability of my bowel movements (sorry), that remind me that that extra slice of bread or digestive biscuit can't possibly be a bad thing.


"Out of everything I've lost, I miss my mind the most!"

— Ozzy Osbourne

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