Swollen ankles and crazy nails

I’ve been experiencing stiffness in my ankles for over a month now (before Hawaii). I blamed neuropathy on the stiffness. It meant that I wasn’t using my ankles properly while walking – causing my calves to get nasty knots in them. In Canada, I discover that using Voltaren cream meant a significant improvement in mobility in my ankles.

Although I thought my ankles were swollen before, something happened on Monday afternoon, and they became a different kind of swollen. I kind of feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy … the rest of me isn’t swollen (other than my breasts – which still have some post-surgery swelling) … but these ankles are a little crazy (they are less swollen first thing in the morning). When you add neuropathy on top of swollen, things feel rather unusual.

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So today I’m waiting for a call from the doctors office. My oncologist called last night – and has ordered a doppler test for sometime today to see how the blood is flowing in my legs.

You’ll notice from the picture that my big toes are discoloured. I’m expecting to lose them sometime soon, but I’ve never lost a nail before so I have no idea how the process works. I’m going to see a nail specialist on Thursday to ensure there is no infection. The discolouration and nail loss are side effects of the Taxol chemo. My finger nails are also funky colours – but the damaged nail seems to be growing out normally.

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  • Becky


  • Rebecca, does this swelling have to do with the chemo settling in your extremities? My toes for sure go numb and turn purple but that started way before chemo and has something to do with my heart meds and poor circulation from stents and veins removed for my heart repairs. Riding a bike reduces swelling for me better than tight socks that end up making my feet look too small for my legs. I wonder if a balance board would help? http://www.fitter1.com/Professional-Balance-Boards_p_20.html

    The 20 inch model works well for me as I can spread my stance and feel like I’d been horseback riding or get real close for balance. We have a chin-up bar in a doorway to hang from to ease the shock of tipping over too fast. The worry is, will the exercise of mussels that might have Taxol in them cause damage? My sense is that any exercise induced circulation is better than being still–and hurting too.

    The alternative would be to move to coast in BC and wear gum boots 24/7. They might spoil the look of your calves but are approved beach wear in Tofino anyway.

  • I’m really interested to see the horizontal ridges there too. From your image, your are is pretty much how my post-paclitaxel nails are too, and that’s so helpful to see, thank you! If it helps, I haven’t lost one. It’s just as though the under nail has converted to a kind of unstable paste rather than an actual nail bed. But they’re not yet going anywhere.

    I have some slightly odd feeling back in my fingertips but I’m consistently still dropping things, and the temperature sensitivity in my feet is still absolutely not working properly. I am also often quite puffy, and I have a continuing pain in one hand.

    Paclitaxel really is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?

    Keep going, you’re doing great. x

  • As an odd diagnosis Rebecca I wonder if the theory of all complex organisms being assemblies of separately evolved individual organisms might apply here? Cancer itself is a version of normal cells and maybe other versions of things like fingernails are subject to the attack by chemo that current therapies represent?

    Second theory involves your desire to swim in the ocean representing a reversion to your being a seal at some point in evolution. Perhaps you are growing flippers? Do you occasionally feel the urge to make rude barking sounds–an unscientific indicator, yet reliable.

    I keep getting asked about nail ridges so they must be important. On my left hand are end to end ridges from cuticle to finger tip. Right hand, the nails are flattening in the middle with right angles diving down into my fingers. My nails have been like this for years before chemo so will ask the the Oncology RN about why this is important.

    Personally, I’d rather be a Sea Otter at the Pacifica end of Monterey Bay. Some of the best kelp on the coast, though if any more of my hair falls out I’ll need a wet suit.

  • Scott, love the comment about the seal … had both Scott (hubby) and I laughing on the drive home from the toe nail excision this evening …

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