Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lessons Learned from Feet


I've written about a lot of gross things on this blog (gynecological exams, surgical drains, sutures and incisions), but what I'm about to talk about puts that all to shame. Fair warning: prepare to throw up in your mouth a little.

Earlier this summer (deep breath, you can do it) my... (oh god, the internet is so populated by awful things, why am I contributing to it?) TOENAILS BEGAN TO FALL OFF.

(There, I said it. That was harder to type than "I decided to amputate my breasts.")

I've lost two outright, another two are threatening to exit stage left, and the remaining half dozen have seen better days. Now, the astute among you might already have figured out why this scourge has afflicted my feet. But put that aside for the moment. Because this post isn't really about my toenails. It's about something else.

You see, during my BRCA year, whenever something hurt, whenever something itched, whenever something got hot/got cold/turned white/turned red (you get the picture), my first thought was: It's too late. I'm dying. The cancer has come.

But when I lost my first toenail last month, I didn't immediately jump on WebMD and look to see if breast cancer or ovarian cancer causes toenails to mysteriously and somewhat unexpectedly (though not necessarily disgustingly -- there was no pus, no blood, just suddenly a toe without a nail; for the masochists among you: if you really want to lose your lunch do a Google image search for "toenail." You've been warned) fall off. My first thought wasn't: you're dying. My first thought was: you better get yourself some new running shoes.

That's because it wasn't anything molecular or sinister than was causing my toenails to make like a tree and leaf. It was all the running I've been doing. This really wonderful thing (ie: running) that was precipitated by this other wonderful thing (ie: the empowerment I felt after surgery) led to this really revolting things (nails separating from toes). But even that last part led to something good: an opportunity to recognize that I no longer live in constant fear of cancer.

And that's something I'll gladly part with a couple toenails to see.

PS: They're growing back. Ah, the miracle of life.

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