Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the truth about my swollen arm

Saw The Lymph Lady today. Announced: "My arm is distinctly swollen in three places - in front below the elbow, slighly to the side of the arm and then at the back of the upper arm".
Mmmm... she agreed but the measurements (she measures me with a tape measure to monitor the progression of any swelling) showed a decrease in swelling. Again, it's a difference of millimetres. So what's up with the obvious swelling, what to me looks like heading-for-severe distortion of my arm?
Well, as I said, she agreed it was swollen but said the upper arm muscle had looked like that for ages. The side of the arm she did not comment on (it is minor) and said the swollen part below my elbow is not lymph. "It is something else," she said, showing how it does not 'pit' (stay indented) when one presses it. And here I was living in fear of having to wear a compression sleeve, stop yoga, who knows what.
She also said the severe pain I reported in my fingers was probably joint pain caused from the tamoxifen medication I am on to help prevent the cancer from returning. I see. She said some people are so debilitated from joint pain they can barely move.
And when I said I intended to lose weight as, weighing myself on my own scale again as opposed to the one at biokinetics or the one at the oncology centre,I had gained about 3kg since December, when I first found the lump, she said she had never heard of anyone losing weight on tamoxifen. And thought it was great I hadn't gained any (think I am on month three of it). Ja well, I spent thousands at that crazy dietician who didn't weigh me once and charged a fortune for saying, over about four sessions of an hour each: "Eat mostly plants - salad, veggies - and don't bother about carb veggies - eat them too and you can eat three fruit a day."
And The Lymph Lady - who has just returned from a lymphedema conference in Australia - the 22nd international congress of lymphology - last week - laughed at the idea that I can now do more cardio at the gym because since I now have less medical appointments every week, I have time on days when I have no appointments, to walk briskly down the road to the mall and back. And that has upped my daily cardio level and made a huge difference to my ability to work harder at gym. "There is something to be said for seeing doctors less and walking more," she said.
A friend said I should tape her. So that next time I get hysterical about my arm, I can play the tape.
Meanwhile it is now 11.15pm and I still have to do my manual lymph drainage massage.... but I am smiling and relaxed within!

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