fighting hair and nail.

July 30, 2013

a long time has passed since i discovered that missing patch of hair on the back of my head. in this case of lady baldness, a long time is a couple of months, i think, but maybe it just feels like longer. i did tell you it got bigger, right? well, it did. it got bigger. i started to feel this constant low-level dread every time i saw more than a few hairs lying about. i felt like my hair was thinning everywhere. i was constantly running my hands through it, poking at my scalp and sifting about up there trying to ascertain whether or not i really was losing more hair. now that clumps of hair are not slipping through my fingers and falling to the floor, i can say definitely yes. yes. my hair was thinning.

to make hair woes worse, it would seem my body isn’t processing or synthesizing something right. but what’s new about that? nothing, except that this is the first time i’ve had weak, striated, thin nails and my hair is breaking and splitting like never before. this could be from sjogren’s syndrome, one of my constant autoimmune diseases (some of the others come and go).  i’ve increased my calcium and zinc intake but neither seem to have impacted my nail beds.  i’m wondering if the nail issue isn’t as closely related to the hair loss as i had assumed. my best guess is that this is a condition called beau’s lines, horizontal indentations that mangle the surface of the nail. only my thumb nails are affected and i don’t feel self-conscious about it but i think if each nail suffered this affliction, i probably would care more. so other than vanity, should i care more? probably. i probably should. all these little issues, the ones that feel insignificant when paired against something like, say, an atonic seizure that leaves me in a heap on the floor, they actually mean something. if i could stay more aware, be a little more mindful of these changes, i would have a much clearer picture of what’s happening in my body.

so, beau’s lines… at some point in my childhood, during the days of manual car locks (somewhere there were probably luxury vehicles with one button that controlled all the locks, but they were nowhere near where i lived), i slammed my left thumb in the car door. my thumb was lodged in the lock and someone had to go around the car, unlock the front door, climb into the back seat, unlock and open my door before i freed my thumb. the result of my carelessness was a huge thumb splint and a splendidly black and purple, nailless, digit with which i could gross out my friends. the longer lasting result of the injury was that the nail very frequently ended up with deformities, deep grooves and an uneven surface. this is one cause of beau’s lines- trauma to the cuticle bed. that explains the left nail. the right nail? i had no explanation and i have no idea why i didn’t think about it at all before recently. but beau’s lines are also caused by peripheral vascular disease and raynaud’s phenomenon falls into this category. i haven’t figured out why this would only affect two nails or why it’s worse in the summertime (when my circulation is vastly improved), but it seems the most logical culprit. damage to the vessels under the nail… anyway, it’s really just one more thing for me to monitor.

last week i finally made it into a dermatologist to get my bald spot (alopecia) needled up with cortisone injections. the hairless area was slightly larger than 3cm across (which isn’t really that small when it’s on your small head). the PA, mrs. m, gave me a ring of tiny injections and one in the center. the goal is that the steroids will jump start hair growth in that area. while i was in there, i figured i’d inquire about the scars, blisters, scabs, etc. mrs. m asked me if i’d had a biopsy of any of the marks. no. no, i had not. in fact, i hadn’t even thought about it. she asked if i would up for a couple of biopsies. of course i would be! any more information i can gather about what’s happening in my body is important to me. in this case, we’re hoping that the biopsies will be able to determine wether the blisters are a result of a drug interaction or if they’re vasculitis, as suspected by dr. j. i’m supposed to get the results back today. it’s pretty exciting that i’ll finally know what kind of torture i’ve been subjecting myself to.

meanwhile, my partner brought a cold into the house and i’m trying to squash that in its beginning stages. taking immunosuppressants and all the other stuff… creates some uphill battles. it’s okay. i haven’t taken my gloves off in years.

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