It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Lymphedema Season!

This hot sticky weather marks the opening of Lymphedema Season for me.  About a year ago, my left hand puffed up so big that there were no trace of knuckles or lines in my skin.  It looked like someone blew air in my hand - like Shrek did with the frog.  The bummer was that my hand was swollen.  The good part was that my hand looked young again.

Lymphedema is when there is a blockage in the lymph vessels that drain fluid throughout the body.  (Yes, I just pulled this definition off a website.)  It is common occurrence for people who had lymph nodes removed during cancer surgery.  Breast cancer women get it in their arms.  Other types of cancer can get it in their legs.  My lymphedema is not painful.  However, I have heard that it can be quite uncomfortable. I went to a physical therapist for lymphatic massages.  I thought, this is great, insurance will pay for relaxing massages.  I was disappointed to discover that a lymphatic massage didn't involve a peaceful room, soothing music, scented oils and dim lights.   When the therapist, Magic Hands, began working on my arm, she said that my lymphatic fluid was like "honey."  I drove 30 minutes to see Magic Hands about 2-3 times a week for 5 weeks.

My lymphedema only kicks in when the weather is hot.  The heat and humidity puffs my hand up like a balloon.   I discovered that the cool, sometimes cold ocean water, helps.  My hand goes back to normal after a little while of bobbing around in the cold Atlantic Ocean.  My skin is blue, but my hand is the right size.

Flying is also an issue for people with lymphedema.  The pressurized cabin in the plane can make lymphedema people puff up.  When I flew to California last year,  my hand swelled up so badly, that I put my hand into a bag of ice - and I was wearing a sleeve! The ice helped a bit, although it didn't go completely back to normal.  The melting ice dripped all over the floor of the plane.  Fortunately, my flight attendant was very helpful.  Just throw out that "cancer card"  when you need a little extra help or attention.  It always works.

One way to keep lymphedema under control is to wear compression sleeves.  Magic Hands go me hooked up with a company called Lymphediva. Lymphediva makes the coolest looking compression sleeves!.  They don't look like those old lady compression stockings! As a matter of fact, I have been asked countless times if my left arm and hand are tattooed!  I was riding the T (subway) in Boston and this completely tattooed, multi-pierced guy turns to me and says, "Nice tat."  I simply replied "Thanks."  I didn't tell him that is was only a compression sleeve.  To him, I was cool. So when I got off the T, I walked up to Mass General with a little bit of a swagger.
Below are a couple of designs.  I  have the one in the middle.  I also have a black and white hibiscus floral print, a pretty pink one with the breast cancer butterfly logo, and a lime green floral print.  I decide to wear what works with my outfit, or matches my mood for the day.  
Check them out at

       If you have deal with cancer stuff, why not do it in style?

Whacky thought for the day...
Is it better to vacuum before you dust, or dust before you vacuum?

Whacky thought for the day #2 related to #1...
How do those huge dust bunnies form in the house?  They are like tumbleweeds that pop up out of nowhere!

P.S.  I'm sorry that I have been MIA.  I've had a lot of whacky and wild cancer-related stuff happen in the last 12 months, so I have a lot to share.  Stay tuned...