Have you ever had that dream where your teeth start to crumble and fall out? Little tooth shards are in your mouth, but no matter how many you spit out, your mouth is still full of little splintery pieces?
Even in a dream, there is something disturbing about a part of your body crumbling uncontrollably.
So, you can imagine my dismay as I tell you that this is exactly what has been happening to my fingernails for the past two weeks.
My nails began to weaken a couple of days after my final chemo, and now they are splintering half way down the nail bed, past the point where you can actually file or trim. When I do something extremely dangerous, like button a shirt, they disintegrate. What's left of these tissue-thin crescents tend to snag on everything, and when they snag, they crumble even more. I've been protecting what's left with band-aids, which is, of course, extraordinarily attractive, especially when I use the Dora the Explorer ones.
My nails are as soft and weak as Sacramento's real estate market.
During the entire four months of chemo, I kept my nails. I lost my breast, my hair, my eyelashes, my eyebrows, and my entire feminine way of putting myself together. I still can't dress in my regular clothes, I can't blow-dry my hair, I can't put on mascara, and I can't wear high heels. But, I could at least polish my nails.
And, now there is little to polish. Parts of my nail beds are showing that have never seen the light of day. Poor things, they are blushing pink at being exposed this way.
I should add that having nails this short is uncomfortable. Now I know why torturers stick bamboo underneath their victim's nails - it's a very sensitive area.
(Although, I never got the bamboo part. You'd think knives would be more effective.)
Because they are peeling and starting to resemble the color of an old man's fungal-infected toenails, I decided to polish my nail stubs black. Super short, black nails are kind of cute and punkish. Kara DioGuardi who, unlike Paula Abdul, never had to wear a cast after "getting her nails done" sports that look, so why can't I try?
I discovered something interesting. When your nails are this weak, thin, brittle, and ready to fall apart, the polish color sinks underneath to the skin below - and stays. I didn't know this at first. I removed my polish when it started to chip, like a normal person, and then I walked around for a whole week freaking out thinking my fingernails were actually turning black and about to fall off entirely, when it was really just OPI-dyed skin underneath.
Chemo: the gift that keeps on giving.
It's a dream come true.