Stubbed Toes and Mercurochrome



I’m not sure how I still have big toes after growing up barefoot in Oklahoma.

But I looked down yesterday, and there they were, two normal big toes.

I can only attribute this miracle to gallons and gallons of Mercurochrome.

Every summer day that I can remember was spent running like a banshee from dawn till dusk, always barefoot, and frequently right down the middle of Nebraska Street.

Now, stubbing your toe on the smooth driveway was nothing, even if you were running flat-out. But stubbing your toe on super rough “street concrete” was nearly fatal.

At least it seemed that way. And it probably sounded that way to the neighbors.


And for the 10,000th time that summer, Mom would re-attach about half-an-inch of big toe that was dangling by a thread.

She’d dab on Mercurochrome, which for some reason we called “Monkey’s Blood.” I’d stop crying to tell her I needed more. She’d saturate my toe and slap on a big ol’ bandaid.

Then, boom, I was out the door and charging head-long back into Oklahoma summer.

Now, way back then, I assumed that Mom knew what she was doing, whenever she was doctoring my skinned knees, elbows, headbones and toes.

And, last week, if I’d had a bottle of Mercurochrome when I was doing battle with the stupid stockade fence, I would have painted it on the many bleeding parts of my old, round body.

Sadly, I didn’t have any of the magical red stuff, but I did think about it. So, out of curiosity, I decided to Google “Mercurochrome”. I am not thrilled with what I read.

“In 1998, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became concerned about potential mercury poisoning resulting from the use of Mercurochrome.

“There was also concern that the reddish-brown stain it left on the skin could mask inflammation which would indicate that the wound had become infected.

“Mercurochrome was removed from the ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ category and entered in the ‘Untested’ classification.”

So there you have it. Every kid on Nebraska Street, and probably in the Great State of Oklahoma, was a Mercurochrome Guinnea Pig right up until 1998. We may all be dying of mercury poisoning at this very moment.

But, personally, if I do kark it tomorrow because of the mercury poisoning, it’s no big thing. I’ll be happy to have an open casket and a barefoot funeral.

Because, even though my big toes are still a bit orangy-red, they are beauts and remain attached to my feet, thanks to my Mom and to Mercurochrome.


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