Broken Nails & Amputations

The past two weeks have been crazy. If I ever thought that life would stop for a moment so my wife could battle cancer, I was wrong. In the midst of battling Ole Scruffy we have had a new issue arise in my family. My brother lost his left leg.

That’s right. My brother had a work related accident a week ago that completely crushed his left foot. When I got the phone call I didn’t know how to respond. I stopped for a moment and began to think through how I could get home. My mind was racing. My eyes were wet. I wanted to be by his side. I wanted to tell him jokes and make him laugh. I wanted to pray with him while he was making tough life decisions. I wanted to be able to do our, “bro hug,” that happens every time we see each other. Sadly, there was no way I could make it.

We wrestled with all the scenarios and nothing would work.  I kept saying to myself, “I spend my life sitting by the bedside of sick people, holding hands, and praying with people, why can’t I go be with my family.” The truth is I need to be home. I need to be with my wife. In my heart, I knew this was the right call, but it still didn’t feel good. My wife will always trump my brother, but that doesn’t make the decision any easier.

One of the many reasons I needed to stay home is because my bride recently finished her last round of chemo. While this is great, it also comes with baggage. Every round of chemo has provided challenges. Some of the challenges have been foreseeable. We were aware that the effects of the drugs would compound as time went on. We were prepared for more sickness, exhaustion, and the need for more sleep. We weren’t prepared for losing her nails.

At first, her nails just hurt. This has actually been going on for awhile. She noticed it the first time after getting her nails done at a salon. I figured the easy answer was to never to go to the salon again. I was okay with that. She didn’t appreciate my answer. There must be something about the rancid smell, buzzing sounds, and nail techs that bring joy to her, and most women. The pain got so bad she decided to remove the nail polish to see if that would help. It didn’t. Even with the polish removed, her nails continued to hurt, and recently they began to change.

When her nails began to morph she pointed it out to me. I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. I couldn’t think of the proper way to encourage my wife that losing her nails is not a big deal. When she lost her hair it was easy. I reminded her of how beautiful she will always be to me. I comforted her about her looks and feminity. But with her nails, I didn’t know what to say. For once in my life, I didn’t have any words.

She hasn’t literally lost her nails. They just have become very weak. Some of the nails have separated a bit, and most of them are very sore. Over the past week, they have changed in color, and some have leaked fluid. It’s hard to explain what they actually look like. They just don’t look healthy.

On a recent visit to the hospital, she asked the doctor about them. They encouraged her that they shouldn’t fall off. That was good news. However, they can become infected. That was not good news. So, the doctor prescribed a cream for her to put on her nails twice a day.

Since receiving the cream they are looking better. They still hurt and are very sensitive to touch. This is all manageable. The good thing is that she shouldn’t lose them. That in its self is a relief. After all that we have been through over the past few months, it is nice to have a small victory, something to celebrate.

So life hasn’t slowed down at all. I have spent the past few days carefully looking over my bride’s nails, and counseling my brother on the loss of a limb. Both are doing great. They both, in their own way, are owning up to what life has given them. For my brother, we have laughed about itchy ghost toes and made plans for him to be a pirate next Halloween. I told him I would disown him as a family member if he didn’t rock that costume. For my bride, she is taking each phase towards recovery like a champ. Every day is a new day, and every day is one step closer to us dining at fancy tables, dancing to late night music, and enjoying beautiful sunsets as we #LookTowardstheSea.



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