Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Less Distressed

I saw my doctor this morning about the swelling and pain under my arm. Today it wasn't so painful, though. Only minor discomfort when I got up this morning, which made me happy. Of course the entire area including my whole left breast is tender when poked and prodded, which I avoid doing so don't even know it's that tender for the most part. My doctor doesn't seem too worried about the swelling. He didn't go so far as to call it lymphedema but it is some fluid collection.

He thinks it's happening because I've been more active. I'm using that arm more and, in fact, I do use it more because of the pain in my right shoulder. Plus, I'm driving more now and with all the extra stops I've had to make at places like the parking office it just means a lot more opening and pulling closed the car door, which is a little heavier for my car being a two-door. Things like that and some of the stretching I've been doing to reach things in and out of kitchen cupboards ... carrying groceries ... opening heavy doors (not at home - at businesses) ... carrying laundry ... lifting this and that ... even things like tugging on the refrigerator door that otherwise don't seem like a big deal all add up during the course of a day and is a little too much activity and strain for my arm. Not only do I use my left arm more because of the pain in my right shoulder, I'm also "left-armed" so it's my inclination to use it for opening doors, for instance. I just have to try not to use it so much. It can't be helped for driving though. I just have to limit my stops so I'm not getting in and out any more than necessary.

I stayed home today to further rest my arm. By the time I was driving home from the Doctor's office, each little bump in the road made my armpit hurt. I hope it's even better tomorrow for having rested it. I'll also have to be more careful not to lift, stretch, pull, push any more than necessary.

I did a little more reading about lympedema (at I read most of this earlier but had forgotten a lot of it. It was good to re-read it. It specifically says, "Don't carry heavy objects with your at-risk arm, especially with the arm hanging downward." Noted. Again. The other thing I have to remember is that even though I didn't have all my nodes removed and didn't have a mastectomy, I still have some risk of lympedema both from the surgery and even more so from the radiation treatments. It's important to remember the following (also found at ...
Lymphedema can happen just weeks after surgery, or years after initial cancer treatment. It can be brought on by trauma or infection, or it can develop without any obvious cause.
And Berny, this is for you since we were just discussing the safety of hot tubbing and the conflicting information we'd been given:
Because it widens blood vessels, heat allows more fluid to get into an area at risk for swelling. Very hot weather and sitting in hot tubs can bring on lymphedema.
And this is why you want to do all you can to avoid getting lymphedema in the first place:
If you are free of lymphedema, it means that your body has learned how to re-route any excess buildup of lymphatic fluid. Unfortunately, once you've developed the condition, the more lymphedema you have and the longer you have it, the harder it is to reduce the swelling in your arm.
I DO NOT want lymphedema. Just another good reason to lose weight, too, by the way, since people with excess weight are more likely to get lymphedema.

By the way, I didn't hear back from the Champion Centre. I'm glad I got in to see my family doctor right away.


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