Monday, January 17, 2011

My Fingernail, I Hardly Knew Ye

"The biopsy came back negative."

Five days after my nail bed biopsy, the hand surgeon gave me the great news. I only had a bruise on my nail bed; a stubborn, stubborn bruise that thought it'd be fun to leave a streak in my fingernail and cause me to learn far too much about subungual melanoma. Thanks to a solid family history of cancer, I had to be vigilant and proactive. Ignoring health concerns do not heal them.

I learned quite a few things from this experience. For one, I don't know how to put on a woman's dress. The nurse told me my patient gown is "simply put on with the tie in the back as you would with a woman's dress". When she returned to tie the gown, I had it on backward. For the nurse's sake, I made sure the ties were double-knotted so I had no chance of giving the staff an IV-fueled burlesque show with a twirl.

I learned that the best nurses are from New Jersey, right mom? My surgical nurse and I bonded over tales of northern NJ diners, accents, and Turnpike traffic.

I learned that telling the anesthesiologist that redheads require a higher dose ensures that I'll be knocked out really well. A few seconds after I felt the anesthesia in the IV, the operating room ceiling faded to black. When I awoke 20 minutes later, I was in a different bed, with sheets wrapped around me, and I couldn't feel three of my fingers for at least another hour. I'd much rather have it that way.

I learned that hospital beds aren't long enough for me. Like every sleeping camp bunk bed, my feet dangled over the edge. If there are going to be wider wheelchairs for overweight patients, there should be longer beds for taller patients. Equal rights for above average height!

I learned that Holy Cross Hospital gives patients great socks for surgery.  They kept my feet warm and gave me great traction.

I learned one way to get a turkey sandwich at the hospital is to have staff use a blood pressure cuff that's too large for my arm resulting in a low reading. Hello lunch in a box! A quick resizing showed my numbers were plenty normal, but not before I got to stuff my face for the first time that day.

I learned that when a surgeon goes to tell your girlfriend his preliminary observation that I don't have melanoma, she shouldn't be left in "The Grief Room" for more than a nanosecond until he arrives. When other rooms are full, as was the case here, just wait a few minutes until the, "Nothing to Worry About Room" is available.

I learned that my body definitely gets nauseous from anesthesia. Hello lunch in a box, not so nice to see you again!  I was so nauseous that I wasn't able to eat the matzoh ball soup and homemade kugel waiting for me at home.  It pained me to wait one whole day before taking in those calories.

I learned that codeine is wonderful no matter its one-day side effects.

I learned that having a fingernail and part of your nail bed removed makes for a gnarly story.

I also learned that my fingernail will grow back to the fingertip in four months and will look healthy again in 9-12 months. That's a small aesthetic price to pay for peace of mind.


Sean said...


I am waiting an appointment with a dermatologist at the end of June and like you, have been googling myself into panic...

Mine is on my left thumb and in the last 6 months has seemed to widen and darken...I'm pretty f#$king scared. I am also a guitar player, so the thought of amputation makes me sick to my stomach...

How bad was the recovery afterwards?

Can you describe how they did the biopsy? Did they just take the nail and then dig out the nailbed?

I'm breaking out into a sweat over here...Hopefully you can tell me something positive because all I have found online are the horror stories...I've had this for about 2 years and figured it would just grow out..This sucks

B and T Crowd said...


Sorry to hear about your situation. If you drop me an email, I'll write back a longer response than I'd do here.