Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Update on Lymphedema

Want to put some update about it as I know some of you who read me are concerned about this as well. I was called in July from the hospital for physical therapy of the arm but I cancelled it as I considered that my arm was back to normal after doing some exercises. However the therapist called me back from the hospital saying she still wanted to see me as once you have had lymphedema, even if you control it, the probabilities of coming back are large.

When I saw her first she measure my arms and told me both were the same size so no swelling, she also notice some congestion on my elbow and that is the area that was really painful when I come back form Spain, I was impressed she pointed out without me saying it. So I have gone twice to the hospital and I am there only 30 minutes for an arm massage that puts me to sleep! I hate massage as they hurt (at least on me) but this is so gentle that is really relaxing. I will be doing 6 treatments only, twice a week.

She gave me some instructions of what to do about this so I am writing them here as some of them are common sense and some are a bit over the top in my opinion:

  • Avoid wearing jewelry on the affected limb - I am not taking my wedding rings off....
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing, specially with elastic bands at the end of sleeves
  • Always wear a thimble when sewing - do not do sewing...
  • Discuss sporting activities with your physician
  • Avoid intense activities when possible, if unavoidable, spread intense activities over several days (house cleaning) -  taking this one more house cleaning!
  • Always wear gloves when gardening, avoiding prickly/thorny plants. do not do gardening.
  • Avoid contacts with pets, especially their claws - Never, my dogs are my family
  • Avoid activities that have a high risk of causing cuts or scratches
  • Always use an over glove or pot holder when handling food on the stove top
  • Avoid exposure of the affected limb to the sun. Always apply sun block to the limb, even if covered by clothing.
  • Never use a hot tub or Sauna - Really?
  • Inform health care to never perform injections or blood pressure on the affected limb. Must wear my medical alert bracelet!!
  • Always wear your compression garment when traveling by airplane even if you do not have swelling. I failed on this one that is why I am here now
  • Keep the skin clean and moisturize
  • Use bug repellants to avoid insect bites - I got a bite the other day and I got a large lump on my arm that took a few days to go down.
  • Do not cut the cuticles of your nails when having a manicure
  • Seek medical attention if you have fever or the area becomes: red, swollen, warm or painful

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