Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My ordeal with funguy

I was going through old memory cards the other day when I came across some doozies from 2011.  Not only was I more 'cushy' in these pics but it brought me back to some seriously gross and embarrassing things I had to endure.  I wondered if I should even share it but the fact is, I could save someone out there $690 and that is worth sharing.

See back in 2007, I was minding my own business getting something out of the pantry when a big can of baked beans fell right on my big toe giving it a nice little crack.  I would clean it and just wait for it to grow out.  In 2008 is when we started our first bout with exercise which meant sweaty intervals in the gym shoes.  It seemed like the toenail was taking forever to grow out.  I would paint them so I could wear sandals or whatever.  As the weight loss really kicked in and our workouts were getting longer and sweatier, the crack in the one nail gave...uh...I have to type it...toenail fungus the chance to take root.  I went back to cleaning it diligently and then turned to over the counter products with little luck.  Then it did something horrifying, it spread.  I'm talking to BOTH feet and I had no idea what to do and was freaking out.  I could feel the nail on the other foot trying to separate from the bed and it had gotten down pretty far.  If you're squeamish, try to cover the pics because they aren't pretty.

Seriously, you've been warned.
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I know, I know, I gasp in horror as well!  Imagine having these attached to your body!

This is the foot that originally had the problem the big toe is cracked about halfway down and literally for 3 years my nails weren't growing.  But you can see how the fungus spread to the two piggies next to it.


Sexy.

What's worse?  It jumped feet and only affected my big toe at that point on my left foot but this is the one that suffered the most damage.  That opaque look is where the toenail is not only discolored but separated from the nail bed.


Seriously the next step would've been to tape the nail down so it didn't come off while working out.  I'll give you a minute to shake off the heebie jeebies.

Toe fungus doesn't just stunt the growth of newer healthy nails but it thickens the nail as a whole.

About this time, I started seeing a ton of commercials for this new laser treatment you could do for foot fungus.  It was touted as a miracle cure, many testimonials, very low fail rate, blah blah blah.  For the low low price of $700, a place was doing this treatment and they were offering $150 off if you attended a seminar and booked your treatment that night.  Well, what did I have to lose?  Other than all of my toenails of course.  (Supposedly even the full price was a deal as I've seen it quoted between $1500-2500!)

So the Mr and I packed up, went to the doctors office and thought we were in the wrong place.  Everyone was 70+ and many looked sickly.  I looked wide eyed at the Mr and wanted to leave but my desperation kept my grody feet firmly planted.  The humorless assistant gave my tootsies a peep and told me I was a perfect candidate and we needed to book the appointment to get the money off so I did.  We were due for our cashback award from our credit card at the time and it would cover the whole thing since insurance, unfortunately, does not.

A few days later, I was in the office and ready to get zapped.  Lucky for you, I kept a document of my thoughts and feelings at the time.  Here's are my exact thoughts from that delightful experience on August, 2011.

"The girl I met last week called me back and the man and I made our way back.  I slid off my flip flops, she gave us our sassy glasses and she got me some extra pillows.  A doctor came in, I couldn’t tell you his name, looked at my toes, said "awesome" and she said I wanted better looking nails for our trip in the Spring.  He asked where and I said Hawaii.  He said he’d never been but is looking to go there and the assistant said so was she “take me with you!”  He said go with them? (Meaning us)  And she said “no, you!”  He got a look on his face like "what kind of impression are you trying to give these people" and left.   Flirt on your own time, people.

Flirty assistant making her way in with extra pillows...like those will somehow help.


"Apparently a doc just has to see it, nod and leave and the assistants can do all of the dirty work.  Interesting.  It looked like the laser was having issues with starting up.  Something wasn’t plugged in in the back so she squats down and I can see into Breast Valley and of course, the Mr is enjoying the view of her cleavage.  Finally it started up and she got to frying my big toe.  About 400 pulses on the big toe and 100 on the others.  I didn’t see what the big deal was as she did the first 25-40 pulses and she would then put pressure on my toe to get rid of any stinging or burning.  I wasn’t feeling anything and thought it was going to be a piece of cake.  Then getting close to 100 pulses, I start feeling some heat.  Then it feels like a red hot poker slamming into my nail bed and I winced and said “sorry!”  That was about how it went for the next 25 minutes.  A slow steady buildup that sounds like a rubber band snapping on you then slight heat and then ZING!  Hot poker!  *sizzle*  


I was cracking jokes left and right as my defense mechanism and sounded drunk as I babbled incoherently.  I felt so bad for wincing but she said she could get a lot more done on me than most people who freak at about 10 pulses.  So I would make sure 15 was my minimum unless it hurt like a bitch, which it did a few times.  My toes would get tingly and numb from time to time.  I developed a nice case of flop sweat that was coming through my pants once I realized this was going to be a little more painful than I bargained for.  Still WAY better than going on antibiotics for 3-6 months with liver damage panels being done to make sure you’re not screwing up a major organ!  I said “oh crap, I have to go through this again in 2 months, don’t I?”  She laughed and said yes.  I asked who was the youngest person they’ve ever done and she said “you.”  I yelled at the Mr “I TOLD YOU!”   She busted out laughing.  She said her mom and fiancĂ© both had the problem too and her mom even had to have her toenail removed 3x and it still grows in all gross but she won’t go to her to get it done.  I started to feel vain for having it done but it’s gross and it’s not healthy either.   I’d like to keep all of my nails in tact please!  It took about 30 minutes but it was a LONG 30 minutes.  I have to go again in 6-8 weeks.   Now that I know what I’m in store for, I can’t say I’ll look forward to it but will be glad it’ll be (hopefully) my final treatment!"

I went back almost 8 weeks later for my next evaluation to see if I needed another treatment because by this time they're supposed to see if you're already showing signs of clearing up, which you should be.  Well, guess what, I wasn't.  My nails looked just as gross so I figured another round (included in the price) was required.  Here are my thoughts from that session...

"Second treatment time.  I was not looking forward to this since I knew what to expect.  They were running behind so it was about 15-20 minutes before we got back there.  I assumed the position and she started zapping away.  It’s so deceiving because the first 2 rounds of 10 pulses make you think “hey, this isn’t bad” and then all of a sudden ZAP…BURN!  I wince in pain, she squeezes my toes to make the pain bearable then proceeds.  The treatment was thankfully almost half as long as the first one so it was over in about 20 minutes or so.  Once again the flop sweat was flying.  I was pretty sure there was going to be a big sweat outline where my body was but just one big puddle where my lower back sweat.  I asked when I could wear nail polish again and she said they just got in some nail polish that has treatment in it so I bought a bottle.  I’ve got an appt 9 weeks from now to hopefully get the okay that I won’t need a 3rd treatment.  There was a point during the treatment when I wondered if childbirth would be easier but then deemed that was crazy talk.  You’ll think anything when you have a lit match jammed under your toenail."

Two months later, I saw absolutely no difference and by this time I should've been halfway grown out.  There was no way I was going back because a third treatment was "not guaranteed to be covered unless it was deemed they somehow incorrectly administered the procedure."  Meaning, no way to prove it so it's out of pocket for you!  I was TICKED.  So many other things I could've spent that money on.  Then I did more research and since everything was touting tea tree oil in their products to deal with it, I wanted to see how people did using it straight up.

I read that if you use a carrier oil like castor or even olive oil, you can do a mix of 1/4 oil to 3/4 tea tree oil in an empty nail polish bottle to brush around the perimeter of your toes after a shower/workout.  You also have to file down the thickness of the toenails for it to help permeate and the most important but less than pleasant part...keeping the area under the toenails free of "debris" before putting a drop or two of pure tea tree oil under them.  This means, sweat, skin, lint from socks, etc.  So I would use the knife part of clippers (that only *I* used so as not to spread it to the Mr) and then disinfected after each use to dig out anything under there after a shower when everything was soft and easily removable.  Sometimes it felt so gross I almost barfed but I knew it was my last resort.

Given the results, it should've been the first resort.  This is what the worst nail looked like after two months of diligent treatment with the tea tree oil.




I know, still not pretty and the nails were still hard to clip at this point but you have to keep them trimmed as low as possible while treating them.

Five months later, they looked like this.



This was actually after a slight "relapse" after a vacation.  We were in the ocean and a beautiful moldy looking black spot appeared under the second nail but I kept the nail thickness buffed down, trimmed short and if I went on vacation tea tree oil was applied every night regardless of whether the feet were exposed to nature or not.

It's been about two years since I had any issues and as you can see, I'm completely healed.


Sorry for the ghost white feet.  I actually can't keep up with the nail growth!  I'm pre-home pedicure.


Not a single crack in sight, no spots, no issues and I haven't treated regularly for over a year.



Obviously my experience could differ from yours and I'm no doctor so see one of those before you go ahead with treatments of any kind.  But here's the short list of what worked for me if you had to skip past the nasty pics:

1)  Buff down the affected nails with a sanding buffer block file to a normal nail thickness.

2)  If you have nail separation, keep the area between the nail and the bed clear of 'debris' every day for the quickest healing.  I used pure tea tree oil directly under the nail.

3)  Use a mixture of one part carrier oil like castor to three parts Tea Tree Oil to treat the nails on top of the nail and around the edges after any vigorous activity or shower.

4)  When in the shower, especially right after a workout, use Pedifix Tea Tree Funga Soap to wash your feet.  I've written about this before as it's also good to keep any areas like thigh cracks, "gut hang" or areas where there is skin rubbing together rash free.

5)  Spray your shoes with a Lysol type spray after every workout or long walk to keep bacteria at bay.

6)  BE VIGILANT in your treatment.  You must do it every day without fail or you set yourself back.  I wasn't always so good and it could regress pretty quickly.  I did treatment for 3 months after no visible signs were left to be sure and then I haven't had to do any more treatment.

7)  If you want to give your pitties an extra advantage to keep it at bay and you're a toenail paint kinda person, Dr.'s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish with tea tree oil gets excellent reviews on Amazon.

I'm sorry this is kind of a gross subject and one I'm not exactly proud to share.  But if anyone can save money or learn anything that will help them from my experience, I'm glad to share it.

Ever had a run in with athlete's foot and/or toenail fungus?

(This post contains affiliate links to products I used during my treatment.  Should you buy through them, I will get a few cents back to cover blog expenses.)

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12 comments:

  1. You were very brave to share this but I know someone out there will be glad you did. Definitely not something to be embarrassed about because it can easily happen to anyone but you dealt with it in a good way that others might be able to benefit from.

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    1. Twasn't a pleasant experience and irritating that results take so long but I wish I'd tried that before spending all that money on the laser treatment.

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  2. My husband has had a problem with his big toe for years now and nothing, not even Lamisil, has worked. We will definitely try this. Thanks!

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    1. Tea tree oil is some great stuff and certainly cheaper in comparison to my original route! Just tell him he has to be diligent and patient and not miss a day. I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it but I hope he has as good of results as I did!

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  3. I've been lucky enough not to have to cope with that. I'm glad you found something that finally worked. I am going to look for some of that soap though, just to have on hand for random skin irritations.

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    1. You and me both. I just wish I hadn't blown almost $600 in desperation before I paid $6 for the cure. That soap is AWESOME!

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  4. Hmmm. My hubby has some sort of skin problem on his feet that he refuses to have treated. I wonder if I could talk him into Tea Tree Oil. I love the stuff but it never occurred to me to try it.

    I had a problem with foot odor when I started working out heavily and before I threw out all my nylon socks. Not the same as your fungus but embarrassing none-the-less. I treated it with a combo of tea tree oil spray and crystal deoderant.

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    1. I bet you could. That FungaSoap (worst name ever) makes a great foot soak.

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  5. My derm had me use Penlac, a prescription nail polish, and told me not to overgroom my nails. I keep them longer now and haven't had yellow nails in years! It's so gross, but most people have fungus somewhere on their bodies...

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    1. Until this I never even knew they had treatment oriented nail polishes! Pretty cool!

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  6. I haven't had the fungus issue, but I have had athlete's foot and it's gross. Skin just peels away and it burns. I have issues with calluses where I use medicated pads to try to get rid of them, but it's only temporary and they always come back. I've never gotten a pedicure in my life because I just clobber my toenails and cut them uber-short, so I don't even where open-toed shoes! A foot massage is my idea of heaven, yet I've never treated myself to this delight! I have Flintstone feet so I've always been self-conscious about them.

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    1. I can't remember if you said you got that soap or not but if you did, do some foot soaks with it if you ever have the athletes foot problem again. I do home pedicures on occasion because I just don't trust not getting a fungal from people not sanitizing their tools. I've heard way too many horror stories. I've never had a foot massage either except from the Mr but from what I hear, masseuses say women have seriously jacked up feet between high heels and/or runners so I think you could be just fine. ;-)

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