Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chemo Lines Revisited

I'm doing remarkably better now that I'm back on the steroids. I do need to repeat my note of self-justification that the amount of steroids that I am on is no more than what your body is making every day.

I am still fascinated by the "chemo line" effect. I wrote a couple months ago about the chemo lines on my fingernails. Those have grown out, but now I'm dealing with the chemo lines on my toenails, as seen below:

See that big line down the middle of my big toenail. All my toenails have lines like that. Some have grown to the end, and the closer to the end the chemo line gets, the more the nail separates at the line. You can probably see how one edge of my left big toe is separating already.

I didn't take the clearest photo. I just couldn't get the right lighting. Anyway, the chemo line on the toenail of the second toe has reached the end and half of it is loose, so I cut most of that half off.

It's not really a problem on my toes like it was on my fingers. The nails get real jagged and catch on every bit of fabric there is, especially socks, but I can just tape my toes up. Then there's no problem. I couldn't do that with my fingers because I have to wash my hands all day, use my fingers to do things, etc. Toes are mostly useless except for being stubbed and for a place for bees to survive and sting when you step on them barefoot.

Notice how crowded those right toes are? I have just one bunion. I'm going to give free bunion advice to anyone who wants it. First, mine's not bad (nor is it related to chemo, but to kicking a football in jr. high school), so if you have a severe bunion, my solution may not work. Here's what a bunion looks like:

See how big the knuckle of the big toe is? That's what's meant by a bunion. Calcium builds up in the knuckle, driving the big toe towards the other toes. It crowds your toes, and it can cause pain both inside the damaged knuckle and on the side of the knuckle from rubbing on shoes.

I never had the shoe problem, but the knuckle used to ache pretty much every evening unless I was off my feet all day.

The solution? I got some MSM/Glucosamine cream from Nature's Sunshine. (You can buy it all over the internet.) I used it topically on the knuckle once or twice a day, and within a week my toe joint didn't ache at all. That continued for a few months, then I quit for a couple weeks just to make sure the cream was the source of the improvement. It was. The pain came back in a few days.

Over the next two years I tried that experiment several times, quitting for a couple weeks, and the pain always came back in 3 or 4 days.

After about four years, I hit a point where I either forgot to restock or just got lazy and quit using it, and the pain has never come back. I haven't used the cream in six years, and my bunion hasn't hurt me the entire time.

If you have a painful bunion, I hope that works for you, too.

Oh, my daughter has a bunion. It works for her as well. She uses the MSM/Glucosamine cream for a while, then quits a while until the bunion starts aching again. Then I'll get her another tube. We probably only buy one tube every two years for her.

Weird post, I know, but I am just fascinated by the chemo lines. They are caused, by the way, by chemo killing the fingernail and toenail cells, then the nails going back to growing once the chemo wears off.


  1. I disagree with the statement about toes being mostly useless. I sprained my little toe in college. I was making Ramen noodles LATE at night and didn't think before trying to catch the heavy swinging kitchen door before it slammed - barefoot. I found out that week that you really do need all 5 of those toes to properly walk around. Just saying. :)

  2. I'm standing by my statement, Allison. Toes can be worse than useless, which is what you described. If our toes were all merged into one, and we still had that joint between the foot and the toes, we wouldn't stub them like we do, and we would have just as much ability to walk and run.

    Um ... one really big exception. I saw a video on a woman born without arms. She made incredible use of her toes: changing a diaper, driving a car, reaching through the car window to take a drive through soda and put it in the drink holder (WOW!!!!).

    Her toes were really useful.

    Mine are in the way, good for stubbing and for some relatively intense pain from ingrown toenails.