Monday, 27 May 2013

25 weeks - toenail drama

This post might seem a bit out of the blue, because having looked back over the blog it seems I haven't really talked about this very much, but I think that is because previously it didn't seem a big deal.

Way back when my casts came off at seven weeks, I talked about how my left middle toe was very very painful, red and swollen in this post. I thought it had been crushed by the cast a bit and so wasn't overly concerned.

I did raise it with my surgeon in my email to him, and his reply, which I posted here .

Basically he said: "I am sorry to hear that your left middle toe is very red and if it is clear that the plaster has been rubbing then I am sure this will settle quickly. If, however, it continues to be uncomfortable I might suggest you ask your GP to see it."

Now, I feel rather let down by this. I think that if he or one of his colleagues did not feel they wanted to look at it, they should have told me to make an appointment with my GP.

As it was phrased, I felt the subtext was: "Hey, silly patient, it's fine, stop worrying about nothing. But if you are a total hypochondriac, go and pester your GP and waste his precious time."

I certainly didn't feel encouraged to go and see my GP to get it checked out, and so when I continued to have problems with it, I didn't even talk about it on here, so convinced was I that it was nothing.

Well, more fool me.

It did start to become clear that the toenail had been damaged, but after reading up on runners' forums about toenail loss it seemed to be a minor cosmetic issue that would eventually resolve when the broken nail grew out and a new one appeared beneath.

So when, in the bath one day, the old one came off, and I could see a small new one below, I thought it was all sorted.

Then, when that new one became discoloured, I wasn't overly bothered as I had read that sometimes bad damage to the nail bed took a nail or two to resolve.

Well, a few weeks ago I was concerned enough to try and get an appointment with my GP. The nail was white and thick, and obviously lifting off the nail bed *boke*. My appointment is tomorrow but I have now self-dagnosed with the help of Dr Google, and it is clear that the original damage and infection have resulted in a fungal nail infection which is now very well established.

Of course, had I not been made to feel that I were being a hypochondriac, then I would have gone to the GP earlier, and got treatment earlier. Fungal nail infections are notoriously difficult to treat, and to make matters worse, most treatments can't be carried out while breastfeeding or when pregnant or trying to conceive.

I currently tick one of those boxes, will soon be ticking two, and hope that shortly I'll be ticking a different two.

Does that make sense? Basically I breastfeed the Little Lady and we are going to TTC (try to conceive) as of next month (I know, I know, TMI!) and hopefully will soon be pregnant.

So I can't treat it!

Well, there are some home remedies I might try but I'll see what my GP says when I finally get to see them tomorrow (yes it took about two weeks to get a simple appointment).

I am really upset and cross and feel so let down. If Mr Nugent had just said "go and see your GP about your toe" then I could have had help so much earlier, before it got this bad. And now, my feet are still ugly and horrid, because while the toes are straight, my toenail is grimsville.

In fact, today I pulled the second dead toenail off and underneath is just soft nail bed and white stuff, which I assume is the fungus *double boke*.

The strong of heart may enjoy the following pictures. EVeryone else should scroll to the bold part quickly.



off you go, squeamish ones




Ok, here we go then. Here is my bokey toenail before I pulled it off.

You can see that it looks white and a bit fringed around the edges. And I can tell you that it was just held on by virtue of being tucked under the skin at the edges. It was so easy to just prise it off gently.

This picture shows what it looks like now, sans nail.

My poor toe! It looks all gammy and grim. The white stuff does scrape off a bit but I'm worried about transferring the fungus to my fingernails, so only did that a bit before realising it was a bad idea. I think I should probably try and remove it if I can, but the skin is tender.

The next two are shots of the toenail that came off. It's really just a nail remnant, and it is very white.


And underneath:

I chucked it in the bin before thinking I should have taken it with me to the GP so they can test it, but I bet they wouldn't have anyway.

Squeamish people return here.

My Googling has found that a lot of people swear by the following home remedies for fungal nail:

1 - vinegar

2 - gentian violet

3 - Vicks Vaporub

4 - tea tree oil

Those are in no particular order. Now, as gentian violet is often touted as a remedy for nipple thrush (the things you learn as a breastfeeding supporter!) I can see that it might work on toe fungus too.

Vinegar is very popular, and as I have white vinegar in the cupboard, I may well have a go at that. I'm very intrigued by Vicks Vaporub and would love to know if anyone has tried it.

The only good thing about my nail having come off is that it is easier to get at the fungus which would otherwise have been covered by it, so I'm hopeful that perhaps in the month I've got available before we TTC, I can at least get the fungus on the retreat, and then I can stop using any prescribed treatment (as the Little Lady is nearly four and feeds about once a day, I won't bother telling the GP I'm breastfeeding and I know they won't ask as they won't expect it at this age) and get going with the vinegar (or Vicks).

I'm still really fed up about this unexpected side effect of the surgery though.


  1. Mirka (Greece)30 May 2013 at 06:16

    Dactarin Vamma(Liquid treatment) is great in those cases. It is in a little glass botlle with a litle paint brush to apply... Best wishes

    1. Thanks, I got something similar from my GP, but called something else (post to follow at some point) which actually worked within six months. Even though I wasn't always good at remembering to apply it twice a week.

  2. Hi! Just came across your blog and had to chuckle at the similarities in our situations. I'm 30 ish..have a little girl I call 'little lady', could write a whole blog about my bunionectomy and am currently sitting here with my foot elevated, my crochet and my side table filled with a bunch of junk. I'm on day 8 of recovery from my 4th surgery on the SAME foot. I'm in the USA, so if you want to chat, feel free to write. After all...I'm pretty much on the internet, watching tv, sleeping all day! lol. I'm on Facebook too... Jennifer Maille (Forson) in Ohio.

  3. Hi, Emma! I'm Nancy! I'm schedule for surgery on 12/13/13 with pre-op on the 9th. I know very little except they are doing the bunion and fusing other toe metatarsals on my right foot. Hopefully will find out more on Monday. I read your entire blog! At least I have a glimpse of what I might be into after the surgery. Don't know how fusions will change things, though. Anyway, I appreciate all your info! Alleviates SOME anxiety!

  4. Hi Emma,
    I have found your blog very interesting! I am having bilateral foot surgery on both feet in July 2014. I went and saw the surgeon who will be doing it a couple of weeks ago. There are a couple of different things here (from what the surgeon has told me and what I have read from you) that have got me a bit worried! (Yes I know everyone is different and different things affect different people). Everything I need done is the same as what you've had done, but intead of using the dissolvable screws, I will have titanium ones. My surgeon said that I will only need bandages (no casts), I will be able to drive after 2 weeks and I may need crutches, but most likely not! That worries me quite a bit, how on earth will I get around if I don't have crutches!? She has given me 3 months off work, but by the sounds of things, I'll possibly need more! I work in a physical job in mining and am on my feet quite a bit and walking around on uneven ground, so that'll be interesting to see how that'll go after the surgery! I live in Australia and I'm not sure if there is any difference between how they do the surgery over here or over there in Scotland! I won't see my surgeon again until the day of the surgery and like you, she has given me no written information on my surgery or for the care I will need afterwards. My mum is coming to look after me, but she can only do that for 3 weeks as we live in different states, so that has got me worried also! Thank you for sharing your stories and giving us an interesting read! :-)