Sunday, April 12, 2020

In which I lose my fingernails

Writing about cancer and chemotherapy for the last few months has been largely for my own benefit, but I do hope that whomever might stumble across these entries looking for information finds some value in what I've written.

I have tried to be honest about my experience, but not too 'down' on the whole swath of Things That Have Happened, because it's just been something to live through and not something to let take over my life.

Until the last couple of infusions happened.  The last one (#6) especially tried very hard indeed to take over my life, but let's not get ahead of the story.

Generally, what I've described in these blog entries has been my experience in the short term; a few days to a week or so after chemo and what happened to me.  One person's journey, as it were, because if I tried to speak for everyone who has walked my path I'd be a fool and more than a little overbearing.  Not this gal.  Not now.

So, let's walk a little further down that path, and review what happened throughout the period of a couple of weeks after the 5th infusion.  I was feeling OK, but had noticed that the after-effects of the chemo had lingered a few days longer with that round (oh naps, how I love thee!) and the damnable bone pain was taking way too long to resolve.  I felt personally attacked, I'm telling you.

And then I noticed something weird was going on with my fingernails.  It seemed like the white part was getting longer, rapidly, and in the wrong direction.  Like, it was expending toward the nail bed, not away from it the way normal nails grow.  What the what?

Then the nails started to discolor, turning a gross-as-heck yellowish color, some nails even looked like they has some kind of brown smudge under the yellow.  It was hard to tell.  Unsightly, for sure, and in an evil turn of events, very painful if they were bumped or pressed on in any way.

You have no idea how many times a day a person bumps their fingernails.  It's a lot.

There was, of course, a visit with the nurse practitioner before infusion #6, at which I showed her my nails and she said 'oh yeah, that will happen.  Just keep them cut short and they'll grow out.  Is the same happening to your toenails?'  At the time the answer to that was 'no' (talk about your blatant foreshadowing...)

And so, over the past 3 weeks, ever since the last infusion, the nails have indeed been growing, I have been keeping them short, and now would like to share what they look like in case you see me out and about and think I'm turning into a fungus, because I am not, it's just that chemo killed my fingernails just about dead and this is what happens, sometimes.
Those lines in my thumbnails represent each time I got an infusion and the nails died a little.   They're called 'Beau's lines,' which I don't think is very funny.

ALL THE NAILS.  Not to be too gross, but they can be lifted off the finger surface all the way down to the pink part.
While it's not uncommon for people to experience some changes to the nails during/after chemotherapy, it is very uncommon to lose a whole nail.  It appears that once again I am a unicorn in the world of health care, being all rare with the side effects and in addition taking things to the limit of the possible overall experience.

Why, just to add insult to injury and possibly make me a liar to my care staff, even my toenails have decided to get in on the fun.  Nobody gets a break in MY body, oh no, everyone gets to experience some flavor of weird!  Good thing I don't have to wear fancy shoes very much, or ever, because that's not going to happen anytime soon (or, you know, ever). 

So that's been happening, along with daily afternoon dry heaves, which, apparently, can continue for WEEKS after chemo ends.  WEEKS, I tell you, and no surprise that the woman who didn't get nauseated for most of the chemo journey is now getting it because, obviously, my body misses being poisoned every few weeks.  Figures. 

2020 is proving to be an interesting year, and one in which I had better be learning a lot about myself because the lessons are there and I can't risk ignoring them.  Best to not tempt fate, right?

Tiff out.

1 comment:

kristin said...

I never heard that that could be a side effect. I'm sorry for all the shit you're going through. My experience was with colon cancer and apparently the chemo is not as brutal. I do have lingering neuropathy in my fingers and toes and a host of intestinal issues. I never thought I would be so intimately aquainted with my inner workings, but I coulnt myself as lucky.

wishing you the best and a good sense of humor to get thorough this.