Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dr. Glinda...And My Need For Rest!

My boyfriend's sister gave this to me!
Reminder--Dr. Glinda is my surgeon at
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
I named her Glinda because of her beautiful smile,
curly blonde hair,
and the fact that she was my "good witch."
She brought me peace of mind.

To finish off my busy day at MSK, I had my post-op appointment with Dr. Glinda on Friday. It is always such a pleasure to see her. I cannot express how grateful I am that she is my surgeon.

I have mentioned the pain that is continuing to get worse in my left arm. It tends to be extremely painful and swollen at night, causes my hand to throb, and basically just feels uncomfortable. Dr. Glinda noticed right away the difference in my left hand compared to my right hand. (So, that's why they are always observing my hands...) She felt around the incision sites, looked at my arm, the left side of my rib cage, etc. I have some fluid build up which I had already suspected.

Since I only had the arm drains for 6 days, it should come as no surprise that there is a build up. We were hoping it would not happen, but it comes as no shock. Most people have to keep their drains for multiple weeks. For whatever reason, my body was not producing a great deal of fluid so we removed them before I headed back to Virginia.

So, lymphedema, what do I do about it?

Since it has only been 4 weeks from surgery, and I was not supposed to truly be active until week 8, we are going to wait a week or 2 and see if it gets better. If not, I am going to find a physical therapist who can instruct me on excersies to help my range of motion (which is limited right now...) and to do a special type of massage therapy. I am not excited about the possibility of massage therapy. Right now, it HURTS when someone touches the back of my arm. However, I know that lymphedema is chronic and if it gets worse, it will not get better. I want to stop it before it reaches that point!

Dr. Glinda made a good point yesterday...I cannot fear the sun. "Your days of laying out in the sun are over, of course, but a healthy amount of vitamin D is good for you." I admitted that I am a bit paranoid about the sun right now which she said is totally understandable. I still spent time by the pool when I was in Florida. I wear short sleeve shirts when I go outside. But you can bet I am careful...I think that is only normal. I have been expecting the doctors to kindly remind me to stay out of the sunshine, so I was pleasantly surprised with how realistic she is.

Then I got a nice mini lecture from Dr. Glinda. She reminded me that I need to pay more attention to my body. When I am tired, I need to rest. I need to stop behaving like I am completely healed because it takes a body 6-8 weeks to heal after surgery. I don't think I truly know how to relax. I try...but I always find something to clean, someone to see. I see the toll it is taking on me though. Lesson learned: LISTEN TO MY BODY!

The appointment was a good one...The incision under my arm and on the right side of my neck are both healing perfectly. I am going to rest, keep my arm propped up, and try to lose the fluid! I definitely do not want to risk having the drain put in again. That thing was horrible enough the first time! ;-)


Unknown said...

It took several weeks for my lymphedema to decrease. One of the best things I found-thanks to a friend who is a PT- was a squeeze ball. You will be amazed how much the swelling will go down just by squeezing that little ball. I would prop my arm up and squeeze away at the same time. I still have some minimal swelling, but nothing that I cannot live with. I also have a compression sleeve to wear if I need have to have a prescription for that.

Otherwise, hang in there! I am glad you are doing the Ipi was not an option for me because I am an unknown primary, but I am doing the GSK DERMA (MAGE-3) trial. I am 10 months NED and thankful for every day.


PS- I do not live too far from you........Abingdon, VA. Maybe our paths will cross one day.

Chelsea said...

Michelle, I had just logged in to update the blog when I received your comment! Nice to "meet" you! :-)

I had joked to my Step Dad that I felt like I needed a squeeze ball because of the throbbing in my hand. Who knew it would actually work! Looks like I will be going out tomorrow to get one. I am hoping I will not have to get a compression sleeve. The doctor wants to use that as the last resort.

Congratulations on your 10 months! I hope you will have many more NED months ahead of you! I would love to talk to you more if you feel up to it. My email is