I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to “meet” Charlene Ann Baumbich, author of the “Dearest Dorothy” books. (http://www.dontmissyourlife.com.) I have, and I love Charlene–she looks like Liz Taylor (violet eyes and all), and she’s a stitch. (The photo is a shot of her toes.)

Charlene’s newsletter is called a “Twinklegram” (suits her), and the last one was so hilarious I asked for her permission to publish it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did–and you can enter her contest, too!

Today’s Message, from Charlene Baumbich

THE BACKGROUND: I’m getting over a broken leg and torqued (OUCH!) ankle.

THE SETTING: An official therapy room full of “equipment,” most of which causes me to pray I don’t have to get involved with it. Things like mini trampolines (which they make me use), balance boards (which they make me use), a big machine where you lie on your back and use your legs up on the bouncy thing to power your body to scoot back and forth (which they make me use), foam pads (which they make me balance on–on ONE FOOT!). . . . You get the picture: anything I don’t want to get on, including the stationary bicycle, they make me use.

THINGS I’VE LEARNED: All exercises are assigned in terms of counting or timing. Do your own counting and timing since if you’re daydreaming (or striving to keep breathing) and you ask them how many/how long you have to go, they always say you didn’t do as many or participate for as long as you really have. It’s a trick.

THE PAYOFFS: 1) Strengthened ankle muscles, which were messed up during my step into thin air. (Actually, it was the landing that did the damage.) 2) Better cardio, which means I can now do six “relaxed” minutes on “Level 3” (out of 10, I believe) without having to stop, collect myself and guzzle water like a marathon runner. 3) They play pretty good music in the room. 4) It’s close to a pleasant restaurant where I meet a friend for lunch when I’m done.

THE BEST PART: They massage my foot and ankle afterwards. ‘Twas during this time, Dear TwinkleGrammers, when the butt-gusting Funny Thing took place since obviously the rest of the torture — albeit it ever so good for me — is not funny.

For whatever reason (mostly having to do with the fact I’m now over sixty), along with the usual pain in my healing bone and ankle joint, the joint in my big toe (where it attaches to my foot) was stiff and uncommonly painful. I assumed the position (on back, leg up on incline board, foot hanging over the end so the therapist can handily access it) and waxed poetic (whined) about said toe joint. She gently squeezed it, gently pumped it back and forth a few times and said, and I quote, “Yes. It is stiff. I’m going to distract it and…”

“WHAT?! You’re going to “distract” (I use air quotes here) my big toe?! hahahahahaha HAHAHAHAHAHA! YOU’RE GOING TO DISTRACT MY BIG TOE?! BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!”

I start imagining what might come next. Might she run to the far corner of the room yelling “HEY! BIG TOE! OVER HERE!”? Or might she engage my second toe to make faces at it? Or if my big toe becomes too distracted and can’t bail out of the distraction, might it make me walk sideways?” I am WAILING with laughter! I am holding my stomach and laughing so hard she can’t even get a good GRIP on my big toe, which suddenly seems like it’s trying to distract her by flailing around on the slant board with the rest of my foot which is attached to my leg which is attached to my torso, which is rolling from side to side with laughter!

She cannot imagine what is so funny since apparently “distracting” a big toe is a medical term for gently squeezing and pulling it, so I explain the hilarity to her by saying, “YOU’RE GOING TO DISTRACT MY BIG TOE?! BWA-HA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

She’s smiling, although I’m not sure if she ever laughs since I am laughing too hard to hear. She’s trying to explain to me how important the big toe is to a person’s ability to maintain balance. “You can lose the rest of your toes and still walk,” she said (or something like that), “but you cannot balance without that big one.”


She gives up. Patiently waits out my laughter, waits for my body to settle down so she can begin distracting my big toe (HAHAHAHAHAHA!), which she does–at least in the medical sense. She says she will never again be able to use that term without thinking about “this.”

I felt badly for acting like such a doofus, and yet . . . I could not stop snickering. In fact, I’m laughing all over again right now. And, I cannot stop thinking about ways to distract my big toe — as you can tell by my photograph. (If you receive the text version, I’ve painted a face on my second toe.) I’m SO stuck on this topic that I’ve decided to run a contest. (SEE BELOW)

In the meantime, along with working on your contest entries, I encourage you to also spend some time thinking about unimportant “issues” (real ones) that seem to constantly distract you, thereby causing you to lose your mental balance and keep you from missing some of the joys in your life. Perhaps it’s time to learn to laugh about those, too.

Until we chat again, peace and grins,

She Who’s Trying to Keep Her Big Toe Attentive



1) send an e-mail to charlene@dontmissyourlife.com
2) write “Distracting Big Toe” in the subject line
3) k
eep your “distraction method” entry to a sentence or two
4) entries must arrive before June 3
5) enter as many times as you like, but each entry must be e-mailed separately
6) please give me your full name and snail mail address so I can send you your fabulous (MAN, I am LOVING thinking about what the prizes might be!) should you win.

With kindest and grateful regard for the medical profession (seriously), all honest-to-golly medical entries will be discarded. The funniest (most creatively funny) three entrants will win something, although I haven’t decided just what yet.

I’ll post names and winning entries (but of course not your addresses) in the next TwinkleGram so you receive appropriate braggin’ rights, which means that your entry gives me permission to do that.

*If someone forwarded you this message and you want to enter, SUBSCRIBE by going here: http://visitor.constantcontact.com/email.jsp?m=1101361084642 .

This message copyright 2007 by Charlene Ann Baumbich.


  1. Anonymous

    Having gone through a lot of Physical Therapy with knee problems, and having also survived their “instruments of torture”, I could relate to the beginnings of the story. But, nobody every tried to distract my knee. I think that is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard and would have loved it as a “distraction” to all the other things they were doing to my knee. Thanks for the early morning laugh. It is still early here in Santa Barbara, the day promises to be hot, windows are wide open, and I believe I have wakened all my neighbors with the guffaws!!! Clyde

  2. Christina Berry

    I know this blog is reserved for very important discussions like writing, the conditions of an animal’s soul, and distracted toes…but just in case you need a break from all that heavy thinking, I’m tagging you! No pressure, but come to my blog for all the info. I’d love to see your responses.

  3. Christina Berry

    I hope you get your comments by email or you’re never going to see this one all the way back in May. I need to brag and say, “Thank you for pointing me toward the opportunity to win my very first writing award!”

    I’m blogging about it today. 🙂


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