Tough as Nails

I’ve always known that fingernails don’t grow very quickly, but I’ve never known this truth more intimately than now.  One month and a day ago (December 10th),  I had exploratory surgery done on my finger.

The problem began about 5 years ago when I started to notice that my left index fingernail had a split in it.  For a long time, I faithfully covered the split with superglue, hoping to hold it together while it grew out.  But, after years of this NEVER working, I gave up on the superglue.

There was never any pain associated with this (minus the times that the shard of nail that wasn’t connected very well would catch on something and pull it back), but I finally mentioned this annoyance to my doctor.  He couldn’t see anything on the surface level that would be causing my nail to grow like this, so he suggested that I see a dermatologist.  This doctor had no clue, so she ordered an x-ray to make sure there was nothing abnormal about my bone that would then affect the growth of my nail.  She then sent me off to a dermatologist whospecializes in nails.

Who knew such a specialty exists?  As it turns out, my doctor – Dr. Fleckman – is basically one of two specialists in the country.  There’s Dr. Fleckman in Washington and his best friend in New York.  🙂

Anyway…I’ve been seeing Dr. Fleckman since August 2010.  He faithfully worked through the process of ruling out a fungus or another skin problem and finally, after I’d stumped him long enough, he decided the last resort was to perform a surgery to lift my nail and see if there was anything going on with the tissue of my nailbed.

*WARNING: if you are at all queasy, you might want to skip the next paragraph.*

So, now I’m up to speed.  That procedure was done one month ago.  Thankfully, when Dr. Fleckman lifted my nail, he found the cause of my irregular nail growth.  I had a fibrous tumor (about the size of a grain of rice) growing on my nailbed.  Weird.  With a little work, he removed the nail, lifted my skin a bit since the tumor started growing up under my cuticle, and scraped off the tumor.  My finger has been on the road to recovery every since.

It took about 3 weeks for the nailbed to heal, but at this point, my finger looks pretty normal.  It’s just missing a nail.  After an entire month, there’s still not a hint of my nail starting to grow back.  I keep thinking that any day now I’ll see a bit of nail peeking out.  I’ve reached the point of having  zero pain associated with the loss of my fingernail.  If anything, it just feels weird that there’s only skin there.  It certainly does make me feel tough, though, when I get to tell the story of having my nail removed and watching most of the procedure!