Can't we just... lock on and teleport it out instead?
April 16, 2012 6:41 AM   Subscribe

I have glass in my foot. Every time I try to get it out, I panic. Help?

This so embarrassing.

I stepped on some glass on Saturday, and there's still a small shard in there. I tried getting it out myself, but the second I got the (sterilized) tweezers anywhere near the offending toe, I would start to panic and my hand would start shaking.

So, off I went to the nurse practitioner who services my office building. By the time I got in there, I was already panicking. By the time she was actually digging around with the needle, I had completely lost it—crying, hyperventilating, shaking, sweating, etc. I actually had to give up, and made another appointment for this afternoon. I feel so dumb.

What can I do to keep myself calm and/or mitigate the pain? I don't have a prescription for a sedative... but could run (limp) to the Duane Reade to grab some Nyquil. Or perhaps a few shots of vodka at my desk?

Any ideas?
posted by functionequalsform to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
Or perhaps a few shots of vodka at my desk?

Yup. And close your eyes and put in headphones.
posted by lobbyist at 6:48 AM on April 16, 2012

The NP saw your reaction. Ask her for a prescription for an anti-anxiety med. My doctor has given me a prescription for one Valium before for a medical procedure.
posted by bedhead at 6:49 AM on April 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

Get yourself some ichthammol ointment (growing up, we called it "black salve") from the drugstore. Smear a goodly bit onto the area where the glass is, then wrap it in gauze or a big band-aid. Try to stay off of the foot. Change it once a day. It might take a couple of days to pull it out.
posted by gauche at 6:51 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This black salve... it brings it out all by itself? I may not even have to dig?
posted by functionequalsform at 7:02 AM on April 16, 2012

1) Soak it. (Makes it easier to dig out.)
2) You could get a shot of Novocaine, perhaps.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:10 AM on April 16, 2012

Renault family remedy calls for mixing hot-hot-hot water and baking soda, and soaking it. And I mean hot-hot-hot water, just this side of scalding. Hotter than you can stand. 'Soaking' implies that your foot will be in there longer than it actually will be.

It has the benefit that you don't actually have to go near your toe. But with all Renault family remedies, it's usually the fear factor which does the work. Sweat that bad boy out. Stop digging.

Good luck! It's a maddening situation. As for your nerves, that's what medicinal brandy is for.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:19 AM on April 16, 2012

Yes. What I understand is that it actually just softens the skin, which helps your body to expel the thing on its own, but yeah, you don't have to pick at it at all. Do keep an eye on it for infection, though.
posted by gauche at 7:26 AM on April 16, 2012

I once had a shard of glass in my foot for days. (I was ok with trying to get it out, I just couldn't.) I cleaned the area with rubbing alcohol and put neosporin and a band-aid on it twice a day. It was fine and came out by itself.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 7:28 AM on April 16, 2012

The problem with waiting it out is that it many not come out, and further, that it might become infected. Getting it out now is a small procedure, while waiting for later can mean a bigger one to drain an abscess, more pain and greater consequences. I speak from experience here.

Personally, I'd have it out.
posted by bonehead at 7:31 AM on April 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

I've heard you can sometimes pull them out with duct tape. I've never tried it, though.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:33 AM on April 16, 2012

After our pediatrician tried for some time to remove all the bits of a splinter from our little boy's toe, he gave up and covered it with antibiotic ointment and a bandaid. The remainder of the splinter easily worked its way out after that. If we'd known that would work so well, we would never have bothered with the digging out, once it got difficult.
posted by Ery at 7:43 AM on April 16, 2012

Unfortunately, the idea that Ichthammol/Ammonium bituminosulfonate/Black Salve can draw out foreign objects is now considered an old wives tale.

As Ery mentions, splinters can 'work themselves out' over time, but even if you're lucky enough to avoid infection, it can take a very long time for the object and its surrounding scarred tissue to come to the surface. I had a glass splinter in my heel take four years to work its way to the surface, and in the end I still had to remove it with tweezers. It also hurt from time to time from the pressure of walking on it, and would occasionally become inflamed. If I could do it over, I'd have had someone else dig it out properly the first time.
posted by hot soup girl at 8:20 AM on April 16, 2012

Only enough vodka to relax you, you know how much that is. Not as helpful as xanax, though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:54 AM on April 16, 2012

Have a glass or two of red wine to steady your nerves while you soak your injured foot in hot Epsom salts (ordinary salt will do if you can't be bothered finding Epsom salts). Then turn on all the bathroom lights, get a clean sewing needle and a nice thick hardback novel, and sit on the edge of the bath with your feet on the bathmat. Put your injured foot up on your other knee.

Now lift the novel up to head height and drop it on edge onto the uninjured foot on the mat. This will hurt.

While your other foot is still hurting, start digging the glass shard out with the needle. Go slow and gentle. The pain from your other foot will distract you from the sting of the occasional needle slip.
posted by flabdablet at 9:17 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a shard of glass in my foot a few days before I went on vacation to Mexico. I didn't want to get an infection in my foot miles from home, so I had to go have a doctor dig it out.

The shot of novocaine was painful, I'm not gonna lie. But it was quick and it subsided almost immediately, and it was better than the pain of someone digging in my skin with a needle/scalpel. See if you can do that, and lay down flat on your stomach when they give you the shot--don't look at the needle at all! Maybe that will help.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 9:23 AM on April 16, 2012

I've had success getting glass out of my foot using ice to thoroughly numb the area first. Also, what part of the foot? If it's your heel, and if there's a thick layer of rough dead skin around, you can try to very carefully just cut off some of the extra dead skin right around the glass using either sharp nail scissors of toenail clippers, so when you do go in with a needle or tweezers to the actual painful section, there is less surrounding skin to dig through.
posted by at 9:57 AM on April 16, 2012

You are way too wrapped up in your head about this. Do you have an understanding friend that you could take with you to distract you during this short period of discomfort? Sometimes it is helpful for me to just keep talking to someone the whole time during a painful time. Also, don't look. Seriously. If you can lay on your stomach with your head facing away from the nurse and the foot while talking/being talked to, that is what I would recommend. This seems more about anxiety than actual pain, and you can control your anxiety.

If you do go the chemical intervention route, make sure someone is available to get you home.
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:37 AM on April 16, 2012

Medical practitioners will prescribe you a benzo or two to address your extreme anxiety about the procedure. Go back to the NP and ask about it.
posted by killdevil at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2012

IANYD but I don't endorse the black salve stuff. I think you should give your best shot at getting it out. Only in near-impossible scenarios (very deep small glass pieces where digging in the hand or foot is likely to do more damage than it's worth) do I recommend leaving it in and letting it work its way out later, although these pieces do usually eventually work their way to the surface as noted, it can take years.

I've got a much easier solution than the Valium - have them numb you up with some lidocaine before they do the attempt at removal. Unless you have a needle phobia and can't handle the lidocaine being put in (and even that we have topical numbing creams to deal with). Local anesthetic is much easier than getting wacked out on benzos for something that should take less than 5 minutes.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ask for a regional block with lidocaine.
posted by gramcracker at 2:28 PM on April 16, 2012

I once had to dig a shard of glass out of a very panicked person's foot. Even with lidocane, he kept jumping up/running away/nearly kicking me. Until I tried it under a blanket. Once he couldn't see what I was doing, the "OH FUCK NO" button in his brain stopped getting pushed so hard and it was all over relatively quickly after that. So maybe ask the nurse to block your view with a drape? It might help decrease your anxiety.
posted by troublewithwolves at 4:24 PM on April 16, 2012

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