I’m playing catchup with the blog. I had some issues that kept me off the computer, but have been busy writing these blog posts in my head, so hopefully I can get them up over the next few days.
November 2011 – Hair and Nails
As November progressed, two things were clear: my hair was starting to grow back, and my nails were getting worse.
As I was on weekly doses of Taxol, I guess that I was below the dosage threshold for hair loss. My eyelashes started falling out, but I began to see fuzz on my head in October. At first, I wasn’t sure, but Kevin in particular was insistent it was there (and began referring to my head as “furry” instead of bald). As we moved into November, it was starting to grow quite a bit, but was still somewhat patchy in areas. It’s hard to say what color it is. There is white on the sides (where I had it before) but color is starting to creep in on the top and back. It looks almost completely blonde in some lights, and darker in others. At this point (Jan 1st), I’d say that it’s 3/4″ long at its longest, and that the patchy areas are starting to fill in a bit. Of course, now that I don’t quite need to cover my baldy head, I’m finding it more necessary to wear hats because of the cold. I got some very nice hats for Christmas, so I am wearing them when I go out and want to look a little more put together.
The hair was the good news. The fingernails were another story. When I was on the Taxol, it began with bruising under some of my nails and pain when there was any pressure on them. This would be followed by them turning yellow, then discharge forcing the nails to separate from the nail bed and oozing. I could never keep them from oozing and clean, so they eventually became infected and almost completely lifted off. The grossest part was that they smelled bad. My oncologist went on vacation, and although I was able to go back to the podiatry department to have my 2nd big toenail pulled, no one was able to figure out who needed to look at my hands. When Dr. S came back in mid-November, she immediately sent me to the Plastic Surgery department, where I had nails pulled on both of my forefingers and my right middle finger.
It was a painful procedure. I’ll just say that it’s difficult to numb fingers and leave it at that. The head of the department did them for me. There were a few days of pain, but then it just became a matter of them being tender and needing to avoid too much pressure on them.
I’d had a couple of doctors look at the nails when Dr. S was on vacation. One of them sent a message to her that she should cut back on the Taxol dosage because it was messing with my nails. Yeah, right! Let’s see – some bad weeks with my nails versus completing a full course of chemo to reduce my chances of a recurrence of my breast cancer. Hmmmm, that decision was a no brainer! That said, my oncologist said that I’d had the most extreme nail reaction to Taxol that she’d ever seen, and I was certainly experiencing the neuropathy and joint/muscle aches listed as Taxol side effects. I was determined to finish all of the treatments though, so I just powered through.