Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More on Lymphedema

I've been thinking a lot about lymphedema lately....partly because I've been "bad" and haven't been doing my exercises and my hand is a bit puffy because of it....and partly because of an almost serendipitous happening.

I spoke of Lymphediva's lymphedema compression sleeves and gloves in an older post here.  A long-time biking friend saw it and thought it would make a great Christmas gift if she got me a gift certificate so I could get those patterned "gauntlets" , only to her surprise, there was not provision for that.  She contacted the company and explained....and they asked her for my contact information so I could review their products!  YAY!  AND...if you're thinking about what to give someone for Christmas....they now have the gift certificate button added to their website.

The gloves arrived on Saturday, and so far, I've been pretty impressed....but I am going to wait to give my full review after I've worn it for a while...washed it, etc.

But...back to my thinking.  To review, lymphedema is what happens when the lymphatic system is disrupted for some reason and instead of the body properly channeling the lymphatic fluid (which is part of your body's filtering process) out, it builds up causing swelling.  It frequently happens with women who have had breast cancer as they have had lymphnodes removed in axillary dissections.  Trauma, whether it be from a bug bite, or a blood pressure cuff can cause it to show up.  In my case, it waited 17 years before arriving this spring quite probably because of an infection I got in my fingernails which in turn was caused by the chemotherapy.

However, there might be another reason...but my reasoning may be slightly flawed.  When I went to the lymphedema therapist, she said that my shoulder and musculature was tight, more than the other arm....I'm wondering if part of the lymphedema may have been caused by my inactivity.

You see, I'm an avid gardener and lift, haul, move and do a lot of physical labor in my garden.  Except last year, since my hip hurt so badly and because of the chemotherapy, I didn't do as much gardening, even in the fall...I'm wondering if the lack of a work out and thus the tighter muscles may have added to the problem...

At any rate, I have exercises I am supposed to do...and do them I must.  One of the hard things about lymphedema is that the patient is the one who is responsible for taking care of it....we need to monitor it, we need to do the exercises and be vigilance in protecting that arm.  But then...that's what we are supposed to do to take care of ourselves anyway.

Why the river? Well...that's supposed to represent the body's lymphatic system....flowing away.

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