Through the last dose of chemo, my poor fingernails just kept getting worse and worse. The three fingers where I’d had the nails pulled were healing nicely, but I now had 5 more that were grossly infected, including both thumbs. I emailed my oncologist and she told me to head back to plastic surgery. They made an appointment for me on December 13th, but had to cancel at the last minute as the doctor was ill. They offered me an appointment in January, but I was pretty adament that I needed them dealt with as soon as possible. At this point, I was keeping bandaids on them almost all the time to keep them from falling off. They finally came back with an appointment on Friday, December 16th. When I got there, I was a bit surprised that a resident came in to do the procedure, but my hospital has an excellent resident program and I have received great care from them in the past.
I had 5 more nails removed: the rest of them on my right hand, and the thumbnail and middle finger nail on my left. Again, it was very painful, but what was more concerning is that the resident did things quite a bit differently than any of the 3 previous nail removals had been done. If you want the graphic details, email me. He bandaged up my hands and told me to keep the coverings on until Sunday.
I was in massive pain the whole way home, and immediately headed for the big gun pain meds, which unfortunately didn’t touch the pain. My hands were throbbing, and on Saturday night, my teeth started chattering (which I put down to the weather being quite cold for us). On Sunday morning, I took off the first dressing and it was clearly badly infected, as were the 4 other fingers. I tried calling the advice nurse, and eventually one of the staff doctors called me and told me that I needed to head into the Emergency Room.
To make a long story short, I was admitted to the hospital and spent two nights there on IV antibiotics. I was required to soak my hands for 20 minutes every 6 hours (which sometimes meant 3 am!) and had 8 pillows in my bed in order to keep my hands elevated. At this point, I decided to get in front of the pain so I took full advantage of the meds they offered me. They were initially worried about a felon* on one thumb and thought that they might need to do surgery, so I couldn’t eat or drink after midnight on the first night. Luckily, they decided against surgery (I was told later that it’s very painful). I was sent home the Tuesday before Christmas with more antibiotics and instructions to keep up the 4X daily soaks and dressings. I had to go back in to see the doctor on the Friday before Christmas because some blood work looked dodgy, then back again to follow up with Plastic Surgery (but not with the resident) the day after Christmas, at which point I was finally doing much better and was allowed to stop the soaking. I was pretty much out of commission the whole week before Christmas, but now I can finally use my fingers again a bit, and am back on the computer (instead of my iPad) for the first time in weeks. My hands are tender but not really painful. The hardest part is that I only have 2 fingernails on one hand, so if I have an itch, I can’t scratch very well. I am also discovering just how much numbness I have in my fingers, so I’m still not cooking or chopping food, and am careful about how much I try to lift. I wouldn’t take a casserole out of the oven right now for fear of dropping it.
But other than all the finger drama, Christmas was good. I only managed to get presents for DH and the kids; the rest of the family is going to be treated to a late Christmas at some point. No cards or emails went out, and no baking got done, but my children were all here, we had a lovely Christmas morning, and they took care of the big Christmas breakfast fry up I usually do. We all went up to my mom’s house to meet up with my siblings and their families, and took a short trip up to my dad’s grave. It was a beautiful California day, and we could see the ocean from the hill where he’s buried. We missed him terribly, but I remain comforted by how he passed away.
And now we’ve gone into 2012. I’ve been viewing the new year as the chance to move on with my life, and we’ve all been expressing our hope that 2012 is a better year for us (except for that pesky the-world-is-supposed-to-end-in-2012 prediction that Kevin keeps bringing up!) I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday, and all the best for all of us in the New Year!
I didn’t think that my hands would hold up as well as they did. Three posts in one day! Thanks to everyone who’s kept checking in, and replying to some of my outstanding email & phone messages is next on my list.
*OK, a felon is an infection of the pad of your finger, but it was such an unusual term that I thought that I’d share it with you all.