Growing up on the east coast and in a tall family, rowing was a foundational part of life. That, plus my incredible un-coordination with all ball sports, made rowing a natural choice. I never imagined that it would shape my academic path; so when the opportunity to row at the collegiate level presented itself, I knew it was something I could not pass up.
For rowers, the early mornings are sacred times. And I mean really early. A typical spring day for a ‘crewbie’ starts with a 4:45am departure to the boathouse for a 2-hour water practice before class. While waking up at dawn isn’t pleasant, seeing the sunrise on the water and starting your day out in the fresh crisp air is the best feeling in the world. Then, you are back in the van at 3:30pm for another on-the-water practice. It’s intense, and your feet spend most of the day wet.
Halfway through my spring sophomore semester, I started to experience pain and discoloration around my big toe on my left foot. It became ragged and crusty at the tip. Not only was it physically painful, it was also embarrassing and I found myself hiding it from my teammates and coaches. After a few months of increasingly yellowing nails, I saw a doctor and learned I was suffering from onychomycosis, or nail fungus. Apparently, my habit of putting my shoes on while my feet were still damp had created the perfect environment for fungus. Ew.
My doctor walked me through the treatment options, all of which came with some steep asks, most concerningly, no coffee if I chose to take oral medication. When 4:45am is your wake up time, this feels unimaginable. And then there was the nuclear option of avoiding situations in which nail fungus feasters all together, which is impossible when you’re at school to be part of a rowing team. And so, I decided to do a bit of research on my own.
At first, most of the alternative treatments I came across seemed like scams. VapoRub? Bleach?
But then I came across something that hosted a lot of medical studies on its site, but also safety and convenience: Caratin. I read about the company’s personalized approach and was impressed by that it seemed designed for people like me: those who cannot put their life on hold to deal with an issue that will never heal itself without treatment.
I signed up on my phone in between practice and class and within a day a Caratin dermatologist reached out. He was incredibly thorough of my clinical history, but also my nail history and lifestyle. Color me impressed for an online experience! He gave me a rundown of my treatment (I went the topical route given I did not want to give up coffee for the oral meds). I also learned how the fungus may have been caused (wet toes in shoes) and got lifestyle tips for healthy nails going forward.
Three months in, with zero disruptions to my lifestyle and rowing commitment, I clearly see normal nail growth pushing out the fungus infected nail.
Being able to treat the condition without having to make concessions that would impact my performance in other ways was invaluable. By the time the fall training rolled around, I was fungus free and more importantly, educated on how to avoid nail fungus infections in the future.
Being an athlete is a lifestyle commitment. And as with all lifestyles, there are risks. Because of Caratin, I’ve not only solved my nail fungus, but have learned how to improve my chances of future infection. I’m grateful to have found a solution that didn’t interfere or make me choose between rowing and healing.