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It is interesting how your body will show you that certain conditions are manifesting. You can be completely unaware until things are all too obvious and then you seek medical attention. I have cold agglutinin disease (CAD), and I am learning how to pay attention to the more subtle signs of the disease’s progression.

There have been many symptoms over the years that escaped my attention and delayed a diagnosis until one doctor was able to put the puzzle together.

Here I am now a couple of years later and I have had many symptoms come and go depending on the climate. In hindsight, there has been one obvious symptom that something was brewing but I ignored it: my nails.


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Your nails can tell you a lot about your health. Abnormalities can point to specific diseases. My fingernails look healthy to me, they even have a pink hue. However, my thumbnails have these hard long ridge lines that run from the nail beds to the tip. The others have the same but are less distinct. I remember my nanny had the same thing, so I just thought it was normal.

Your body has many telltale signs, but if you do not know what you are looking at, it goes unnoticed. I recently discovered that what I have had for many years is called trachyonychia. It is described as having thin, brittle nails with excessive longitudinal ridging. I was doing some research into my nail changes since my big toenails turned highlighter yellow, seeming out of nowhere. I did not even notice it until someone pointed it out.

The odd thing about that is a couple of months ago I was so pleased that my nails had healed. In 2019 my left big toe was yellow and thick but the podiatrist assured me it was not a fungus but damage from my shoe. I assumed it was from running back and forth in a kitchen and having your foot slide in your shoe. When your nail keeps hitting the shoe, it causes damage.

I saw the podiatrist this past Friday and he said again he does not think it is a fungus, but I damaged both of my big toenails. I am no longer running back and forth in a restaurant, and my sneakers fit exactly right. So, what is going on? He took a sample and sent it out for testing. I told him about CAD and he knew exactly what I was talking about. I was so surprised when he described it to me.

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I cannot tell you how great it felt that a doctor outside of my hematologist was not only aware but well-versed in this disease. I wish I would have thought to ask him if he has seen this before in CAD. Or if he ever had a CAD patient? I will be sure to ask him at my follow-up appointment.

I have been jaundiced for 2 years now and it is really apparent; my eyes glow. It turns out jaundice does not just show up on your skin and eyes but can turn your nails yellow. I wonder if my toenails are yellow because of my bilirubin. My bilirubin level has been between 3-4 for the past 2 years. I later learned that high bilirubin can turn your nails yellow. However, so can liver disease and it is just my big toenails. This is concerning but I will wait until the results are back.

The human body is fascinating. It will tell you what is going on if you know how to observe and listen. The problem is I am not a doctor, so I am unaware of what I need to look for. It is fascinating and if you do enough research, you can find connections. The problem with that is those connections can also be made with all sorts of other illnesses. It’s best not to assume that what you find is true. When new things manifest make sure you tell your doctor right away, as it may be a sign of something.