As I struggled recently with a new ulcer on my left thumb (and screamed and cursed every time I banged it on something, which seemed to occur every five minutes,) I will admit that I did not seek the counsel of my rheumatologist. Since it hadn’t exploded into an oozing, permanently purple, necrotic sore, I knew I was in my safety zone. Trust me–I’ve seen the horrors that can befall my fingers. But I didn’t have a completely trustworthy attack plan aside from nitroglycerine patches and keeping my thumb warm.

Alas–I consulted the wonderful scleroderma forums and message boards out there on the Internet. After scouring for hours, I came up with my attack plan and shortened my healing time by days if not weeks.

I’m always amazed by the nuggets of wisdom I find on these forums that I never hear from my doctors. I consider all of these patients, though I may never meet them, my other MDs. And I’m so grateful they step up and share their experience.

(Please note: I do advise always calling your doctors for abnormal, strange, painful and worsening symptoms. Better safe than sorry. Or you might lose some fingers like I did a few years ago.)