>Shooting Myself in the Foot

by Daniel Nuckols

It was October 2002; cold and cloudy, and boxes were stretching to the ceiling in our living room.  My brothers, Luke and Josh and I made our way through the maze of packing boxes that was filling up our house.  We were chomping at the bit to do something.
Days before we had noticed a dump behind our pole barn, and we were excited at the possibilities of what we could find there.  We scampered out to the dump.  We had a blast scrapping old motors and “excavating” our new found treasure.  Then suddenly my brother yelped, “Oww!” and we saw him run off to the house.
Josh and I followed him expressing our concern.  “What happened Luke?”  I asked.  “I stepped on a rusty nail!” he hollered.  In the house our Mom cleaned his wound with some antiseptic wash and bandaged it up.  Luke was going to be ok, but this was only a sign of things to come.
We proceeded outside again; this time this time with our bb guns.  We decided to shoot at some blackbirds in the sky since it was fall time and the sky was full of them.  I had an adult Powerline bb gun.  We wielded our guns and marched up and down our corn field, taking potshots at birds.  We didn’t get any, they seemed just out of reach.  I had pumped up my bb gun ten times – the maximum capacity for my bb gun.  This way I’d reach those elusive birds.
For some reason I had gotten in the bad habit of checking to see if my safety lock worked.  As we were heading back from our unsuccessful “hunting trip” I rested my bb gun on my foot and absent mindedly tested the safety lock.
A moment of silence followed as I couldn’t believe what I had just done.  A pain numbed my big toe.  I looked down and saw a black hole in my boot right where my big toe was.
I said with exasperation to my brothers, “I just shot myself in the foot!”
I hurriedly limped off to the house with my brothers following along in disbelief and concern.  I went in the house hastily and said to my mom and sisters more in disgust than in pain, “I shot myself in the foot.”
“You what?”  My mom said in disbelief.
“I shot a bb through my big toe!”  My mom started preaching because she was clearly distressed; “we’ve told you guys to be careful with all the dangers of the farm, and here Luke goes steps on nails and you go shooting yourself in the foot!”  I retorted, “It was an accident!  I feel so stupid!”  I limped over to the couch and plopped down, slowly removing my black boot.  I winced and tried to look away, I didn’t want to look at the damage that had been done. Sure enough there was a hole in my sock which was slightly stained with blood.  I shuddered at the sight, thinking to myself, “the bb is in there… lodged in my big toe!”  I didn’t want to look at the next level…  The actual hole in my toe.  I hesitated, grimacing.  But my mom coaxed me on.  I peeled off the sock.  There it was a red hole in my big toe.  “Not much blood.” I thought.  It made sense that there was not much blood.  I mean this was the big toe not some gigantic artery pumping blood everywhere.  A big toe is mainly bone anyway.  I was disgusted.  I exclaimed in utter disgust, “It’s in there - deep!”  My family was genuinely concerned for me, but I felt the preaching from them again, and I knew already what I had done was completely stupid.  I was distraught, with one boot on and the other off, I limped over to the kitchen and said courageously, “get me some knifes, I’m going to dig out the bb!”  I felt that this way I could correct what I just had done, without dragging others through it.  My mom advised me against it and said, “that is crazy!  Anyway our exacto knifes are probably dirty.”  “Well, sterilize them!”  I yelped.  “They are rusty!”  She said.  “Could you guys get me some that are not rusty?”  My mom then called Dad.  He was heading home from teaching science at one of his homeschool co-ops.  She stressfully relayed all the going on.  Then she handed the phone over to me.  My Dad was clearly upset on the other end.  He threatened, “Do you want us to just pack up and move back to the double where we came from?  I’ve warned you guys about being careful around the farm here.  There are so many dangers.  It isn’t worth it to live here if we die from accidents.”  “I know, dad.  It was an accident though, I didn’t try to do it!  What’s done is done.  I’m going to dig it out with a knife.”  “What?  Don’t do that!”  He exclaimed.  “I’m going to come home and take you into the clinic here.  We’ll probably have to go into the emergency room since it is after hours.  Why don’t you check your foot with your metal detector just to make sure it is in there.”
I took my “Bounty Hunter” metal detector and went out to the sidewalk in front of our house.  My metal detector is not a high-end model; it can only find coins at about five to six inches.  I turned on my metal detector and promptly scanned my toe.  No signal.
Metal detectors are made to discriminate junk metals and insignificantly small pieces of metal.  I mused, “a bb is a very small piece of copper so it is probably getting filtered out…”  I then adjusted my settings so that the sensitivity was turned to a very high setting and the discrimination was nil.  I scanned my foot again.  “Blip!”  “Blip”  a couple of small signals.  “That could mean that it is reading the bb in my foot or it could just be picking up ghost signals since the settings are outrageously high…”  I reasoned.  I still could not conclusively say that the bb was in there.  But hey, I had a hole in my foot, hadn’t I?
After my Dad came home he looked at my wound and then buzzed me off to the clinic in town.  I entered the ER door, and my dad tried to explain to the nurses that I had shot myself in the foot.  After I filled out a gazillion forms, they led me to a hospital bed, in which I lay on.  I propped my big hairy toe for all the hospital world to gaze upon.
“The doctor will be right with you.”  On nurse said tersely.  What seemed like an eternity, a doctor with a thick German accent came in and my dad explained to him what happened.  “You shut your fvoot?”  He said in disbelief.  “Yeah, with a bb gun.”  My dad then tried to explain to the German what a “bb” was.  “So it is in there?”  He said, looking at the little red hole in my toe.  “Yeah, It never came out.  It must be in deep.”  He said, “we are going to take some x-rays of the toe, and see ver it is’and what damvage it has done.”  He had to leave and go and do something.  While I was waiting for the x-rays, I heard in the curtain next to me a young woman who was clearly very sick.  She kept talking to the nurses about how she had never ever gotten this sick in her life.  Meanwhile, while various nurses whisked by me, they would stare at my big hairy toe, and shake their heads pitying me, giving me the “Oh, you poor boy!” look.  I then heard the phone ring in the office.  I heard a nurse say into the receiver, “What fell in his eye?  You better send him over right away!”  The nurse than said to the doctor, “A bird’s nest fell in a boy’s eye, and they are coming over to have it flushed out.”  “I-yi-yi,” muttered the doctor in disbelief.  “It must be a blue moon tonight!”  After hearing all the goings on.  My dad and I glanced at each other and chuckled at the humor of this situation.  Then finally, a couple nurses came to lead me to the x-ray room in another part of the hospital.  One asked empathetically, “would you like a wheelchair?”  I was indignant.  I had got this far on my own hadn’t I?  I kindly responded, “No, I can make it.”  Flanked by two nurses, I made my way to a long hallway and walked into the x–ray room.  In the room they put a green bib on me that felt like it weighed a ton of bricks.  I climbed up to the top of the x-ray table.  The doctor rubbed his chin looking thoughtfully at my toe, “O, this is going to be interesting…  Can you separate your toe from the others.”  So with all the muscles I had in my big toe, I had to extend it towards the ceiling, so they could take a profile shot of it.  “All done” said the doctor.  You can go back to your seat.  I felt sure I was going to have to go through surgery.
After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor came in the room looking at some photographs with a puzzled look on his face.  “I have looked at zee x-rays, and there is no foreign object to be found in there.  Plus there is no bone damage.”  I stared at the x-rays in disbelief.  They must have x-rayed the wrong foot!  But there it was, my toe with no damage, and not even as much as a speck of grain in it!  I was dumbfounded.
The Doctor then squeezed my big toe.  He asked, “Does that really hurt?”  “Not a whole lot,” I responded.  He reasoned, “Vell, if there was a foreign object such as a bb in there,” he pinched his thumb and pointer finger together to emphasize the size of a bb, “you would definitely feel a lot more pain.”
They gave me a tetanus shot and some pills, and I left bewildered.  I had been so sure that it was in there.
When I arrived at home I looked again at my boot, there was a hole in the top, but after closer examination I found out that the bb never went all the way through the boot!  It had stretched the manmade leather at best.  I never even thought to look closer at it, because when I took of my boot I saw a hole in my sock and toe.  It had nicked my toe so hard that that it bled a bit.  So psychologically, all these things added up to me mistakenly thinking that a bb was in my toe!
I have heard of people that have killed themselves by putting an empty gun up to their head and pulling the trigger.  Air pressure in and of its self is enough to do considerable damage.
Now all our family can do is look back at this story and laugh.  It is also one of my all-time favorites to tell around the campfire.
Through this experience I learned that we as humans can make incredibly stupid mistakes and misjudgments, but in the long run it is best to laugh at these mistakes and keep moving on.












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This website and all cartoons are copyrighted by Daniel Nuckols (2009).