Just a friendly note: I would like to thank everyone who has the inclination to pass along information about homeopathic cures to my ailment (vinegar, bleach, etc…) I am reasonably aware of these avenues thanks to the Internet and I am not seeking additional testimonials. Thank you for wanting to help, though.
The following contains a few medical details about my life that may or may not sit well with the squeamish. Me, I don’t think it is so awful, but, when all of this described was described to a former undertaker in Fiancee S.’s family, he more or less said “eeeewww. that’s gross.” When a guy who used to work with dead bodies for a living (and many of them in not so great shape), that’s saying something.
Ever see any of those television commercials where they talk about curing thick, ugly, yellowed finger or toe nails caused by nail fungus? Well, I have/had that problem with the big toe on my left foot. It first popped up about 20 years ago, and got worse over the years because of repeated injuries to the nail. I asked a general practitioner or two about it since then, but, lacking the use of certain recently available drugs, there didn’t seem (to me) to be a whole lot to do about it. Fiancee S. has a podiatrist on retainer because of certain athletic pursuits of her youth and encouraged me to find one and let him have a look (I mentioned this briefly in another entry about doctors last July).
As I noted then, my podiatrist, Dr. D., seems to a have a flair for the “surgical option” when it comes to problems. My case is no exception. His initial plan of attack was to remove the nail on the affected toe entirely, thereby exposing the affected nail bed and attacking the fungus with a combination of oral and topical anti-fungal agents. For reference, Fiancee S.’s podiatrist says he generally just prefers to use a longer course of oral anti-fungal medicines (he hadn’t examined me though, so who knows…) In my case, the nail was so ugly looking that Dr. D. felt that even if the pills worked by themselves, the nail would never grow right. It was best, he said, to cut the nail off and start from scratch. It sounded logical to me.
This he did in January of last year. My foot was painful for a few days, but, in general it was kind of nice to be rid of the ugly thing. I had to go back for a few followup visits over 2003, but, the nail slowly started to grow back.
The problems began just before the 4th of July. The nail would not grow back correctly. It kept getting in-grown and infected. I called Dr. D. for the first time for some emergency relief on the 4th of July. He didn’t remember me much at first, but, I became a much more familiar fixture in his office since then. First one side edge of the nail dug into my flesh and become irritated and infected in July, then the other did the same thing right before Thanksgiving. He cut back both sides of the nail to relieve my pain and hope that it would grow in right if given a chance.
Growing back right is not what my nail seems to want to do. I saw the signs of irritation on the first side he cut back earlier this week. Knowing oh-so-well where this was headed, I decided not to wait long and saw Dr. D. yesterday. We decided to surgically remove part of the nail root and nail bed along the irritated side, so my toe nail will no longer become in-grown. If the other side becomes in-grown in a few months, maybe we’ll remove the nail entirely.
I’m at home today, on Vicodin, and trying to take it easy. I can’t sit up for too long without my toe starting to throb, and, the drugs make me a little vacant and rather mellow. Programming and document writing are rather difficult on Vicodin (you don’t know how many typos I’m correcting as I write this — and this isn’t even hard to write.)
Questions are running through my head. Since I more or less picked out Dr. D. out of the “in network” list for my insurer, did I choose the right podiatrist? Would I have been better to just go with a longer course of drugs at the start? Being a professional myself, I know that there are often several approaches to solving the same problem. Dr. D. evidently likes to reach for the surgical option sooner than some others. Thanks to good employee-provided health insurance, this hasn’t cost me much out of pocket. It’s mostly only cost me some pain and a little discomfort. But I still ask myself if this is the right thing to do?
Yet Dr. D. says the nail is still fungal. It’s definitely MUCH better than it was, but, it seems a shame to go through all this and not have a better cure. The Hippocratic oath says, in part, “do no harm”. Really he has done none. I guess I’m frustrated that we’ve tried everything and it still hasn’t quite worked out.
Fungi are tremedously resilient organisms. I guess they’re very hard to kill, especially when they like to hide under somthing like a toe nail. I would like there to be a magic bullet, and, there seems to be none, despite what the commercials say.
Oh well, I should count my blessings. A toe nail is nothing to be seriously worried about. There are worse things, far worse.