lymphedema

The mummy returns … lymphedema

Yup, I’ve been mummified once again. What is it? It’s called Lymphedema and it does get tiresome explaining to people as they freak out when they see my arm, thinking I’ve been in some horrific accident. Which I guess is kinda true, it was called cancer and was an awful accident. So here is the definition of it:

Lymphedema

Lymphedema, also known as lymphatic obstruction, is a condition of localized fluid retention and tissue swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system, which normally returns interstitial fluid to the thoracic duct and then the bloodstream. The condition can be inherited, though it is frequently caused by cancer treatments, and by parasitic infections. Though incurable and progressive, a number of treatments can ameliorate symptoms. Tissues with lymphedema are at risk of infection.

Sounds fun, right? What it boils down to is during my breast cancer surgery they had to remove a lot of lymph nodes in my arm as they had cancer in them. However, you need those lymph nodes to manage fluid in your arm, without them your arm swells. There are ways to manage the swelling by using compression garments to force the fluid back up your arm. I’m special though and I’ve got a dozen sleeves, gloves, one-piece sleeves but nothing works. My swelling starts right in my fingertips which makes it very hard to start the compression there.

For the most part it isn’t too bad, it’s always swelled, just depends how much. But when they weather is warm or humid, it gets worse. When I do a lot of lifting, physical work, it gets worse. A lot of events aggravate it (like walking in a mall with your arm hanging down). Lately it’s been really bad, my skin feels really tight and it’s hard to move my wrist (we’ve been doing basement renos so that meant emptying the basement, lots of physical activity!).

So for this week I am doing the wrapping everyday to get the swelling down. That means wrapping each finger first in a sticky tape, then a cloth sleeve, then a piece of foam wrapped all the way up my arm, next are the 4 packs of tensor bandages getting progressively looser as I wrap them around my arm up to the shoulder. I’ve actually skipped a couple items this week. I would normally also have a piece of material on the back of my hand wrapped with a gauze bandage.

Usually once I get my arm all wrapped up, I begin to notice my thumb is numb! Haha. So I either have to suffer on, try to loosen the tape on my thumb or worst case, unwrap everything and begin again. Ugh. Having the sticky tape on my fingers makes everything more difficult (typing, pulling up your pants, getting a jacket on, etc).

Most times I accept my fate but when it gets bad, I do get pissed about having this condition (only for the rest of my life …). I know there are worse things so I do try to focus on that. I could be dead, ya know?? 🙂

Out of context

I was fueling up my car yesterday and the lady at the pump next to me says, “Hi, how are you?”. Oh crap! Who is this??? A dark haired lady with big shades. I was sure she had me mistaken for someone else and I was going to tell her that. Then a few seconds later, I realized it was my doctor!! I said I wasn’t used to seeing her out of the office. She laughed and said that she does do other things, like groceries, gas, picking up kids, etc. I see her enough (every month at least) that I should’ve recognized her, but she was out of the office context. No white coat, sitting at her computer, typing up my recent appointments/results.

It’s funny because my previous doctor I went to for over 15 yrs and she never recognized me out of the office (barely in the office either). So, it’s a nice surprise to have your doctor actually know who you are. But then again ……. is that because I’m there all the time??? Hmmmm …………

I vant to suck your blood …

Okay, I don’t, but the lab does, every week. That’s what happens when you’re on blood thinners (aka rat poison!). I seem to be a hard to regulate person so off I clip clop to the lab nearly every week. Considering how little I used to go to doctors, etc, it still wigs me out having my blood taken. I can’t watch and look around elsewhere. That also seems to freak out the nurses, they’re like, are you ok?? Yup, I just don’t like this.

Unfortunately, parking also sucks at the hospital (big surprise), although they are building a new parkade. Why they didn’t do that when they renovated years ago? Who knows. I couldn’t find parking up top so went into the underground today. All went well till I tried to exit the building. I paid, the gate went up, I drove to the door and the door wouldn’t go up. Oh good grief! So I clip clopped back to the pay station and hit the help button to get someone. They said they would send someone to come help. Ten minutes later and I’m still waiting and now about 6 cars are lined up wanting to get out as well and everyone is freaking out. Finally the lady came and got the door to go up.

The problem is nearly every time I park underground, something goes wonky. The pay station’s don’t work, the gate doesn’t work or the old people that park under there can’t figure out how to pay, where to pay. Oy!! They used to have a real live person man the pay station. They really need to go back to those days since there are always problems down there. The hospital is not somewhere I want to spend extra time :-).

Smile!

What makes me smile? The last year has been really hard to find things that make me smile. We suffered two devastating losses of loved ones. I’ve never felt grief like that before. It’s gut-wrenching and heart breaking and threatens to destroy all that’s inside you, it truly does. But the human spirit somehow gets through these horrors. I’m not sure how but I know the love of good friends and a special sister are what got me through the nightmare times. Some days you wonder how it is you are able to get up and still function. It’s really quite amazing.

So what makes me smile these days? Well, the two little monkey’s we got last August from my sister. They are two Siamese kittens (brothers) and man, are they trouble-makers! Your emotion goes from frustrated crazy to big smiles when you see them do something adorable (which, lucky for them, is more often than their naughtiness!). So all you can do is SMILE!!

Sweet Rory
Sweet Rory
Loki
Loki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grateful

So I made it to the end of this blog challenge by writing something everyday for 7 days. Ya me (considering my first post was about procrastination, haha).

I thought I would end things with what I am grateful for. I’m blessed to have an awesome husband who has supported me through all the crap things (of which there have been plenty the last few years, namely cancer, reconstruction and blood clots, along with the recent death of my mom, touched my heart more than he can know to see a tear in his eye at her memorial service).

I’m also lucky to have good friends, not a whole gaggle of them but some very important, close ones. They supported me through all our challenges too. Just being there to listen is wonderful but they always go beyond that.

My sister is also someone I am hugely grateful for. Even though we were adopted apart and grew up separately, we’ve become so much closer the last few years. She’s an incredible and compassionate person. I’m lucky to have her in my life and so glad we’ve gotten closer.

There’s the mundane things I’m grateful for, a good job, a nice house, not having to spend my days stressing about bills.

I also have 4 furry kids that bring joy to my life. They also bring a lot of mayhem but how can you be mad at them when they are so adorable?

Lastly, everyone always says they are grateful for their good health. Unless you have gone through bad crap, you don’t realize how important it is to be healthy. The days when you don’t make you realize how much you yearn for it and are jealous of those that are healthy and oblivious to how blessed they are. Currently, I have good health. Had a scare a couple weeks ago but that seems to be how things go in my post-cancer life. You’re always on alert and always waiting for results. But today, I am healthy enough and I am thankful for that and to not be in pain.

Try to find one thing today you are grateful for!

Little helpers

Struggling to find a topic for today’s day 6 blog post. Nothing is striking me at the moment, which is good as I can barely see the computer screen. You see I have helpers, 2 of them. They are small, furry and think the cursor is a small mouse. They sit in front of me on my desk and ‘help’ by pointing out where the cursor is. Unfortunately, it makes it impossible to see past their furry little heads. They are my helpers.

This afternoon I tried to work on a knitting project that I had screwed up years ago. How nice that my helpers were there to assist me by pulling the yarn or chewing on the needles. They made a difficult project somewhat more difficult. They are my helpers.

Their names are Loki and Rory, Siamese boy kittens, 7 months old and full of mischief. My sister game them to me (they were advertised as being girls …….. ahem, not so!) and they keep me occupied with their antics and helpfulness.

The blame game

I’m tired of being blamed. I’m tried of being told it’s my fault. You see, I had cancer and I seem to be bombarded daily with messages from cancer sites that tell me if only I had exercised more, eaten more blueberries, never drank, never had stress, etc …… that I wouldn’t have gotten cancer. It’s got to stop.

What makes me maddest is that people who are ‘healthy’ (eat right, exercise, etc) think they are safe from cancer. That cancer won’t take up residence in their body because they have done all the right things. Oh no my friends, don’t fall into that trap.

We lost a good friend several years ago. Was he overweight? No. Was he lazy and never exercised? No. Did he eat junk? No. Yet cancer took no pity on him but gobbled him up like candy at the fair. He fought it once and we thought the battle was over. But cancer is sneaky, devious and crafty, it returned and took him within a few days of us finding out it had returned.

I applaud you who are healthy, eat right, manage your stress, limit your alcohol … good for you! But please don’t think you that keeps you safe from cancer. Cancer has it’s own rules and basically there are no rules. It comes and goes as it pleases and chooses without prejudice.

Hidden sorrow

Depression sucks. I’ve had it and it sucks. I have family members that have been through it too and it sucks for them. One of my oldest friends was telling me recently that she’s suffered with it since she was 10 years old. What? Really?? I’ve known her since around that time and never knew the extent of her pain.

She’s recently lost a parent as well and is struggling to accept they are gone and move forward. It makes me incredibly sad to know she is in such pain and to know she has gotten close to making the pain end permanently. She’s the type of person who always appears happy and draws people to her with her energy but that’s only on the outside, inside is the pain. I wish I could convince her that things will get better and they she is truly loved by her friends and family.

Be kind to those around you, let them know you care and don’t ever make them feel embarrassed or ashamed if they are dealing with some kind of mental difficulties.

Help please?

So can someone tell me where has customer service gone? Are we such a self-absorbed society now that we couldn’t care less about others?

I ordered some fitness equipment a week and a half ago. It said it was ‘in stock’, fabulous. But a week and a half later my order still says “processing” (although they have charged my credit card … it must be on the way???).

I emailed customer service and received this reply:

We have received your order and have a unit reserved for you from our next shipment arriving March 10th as our website states. Your order will ship once this container arrives. On the product page the item states the units will be available on March 10th.

Uh, hell no, your website said NOTHING about waiting till March 10 for stock. That makes me mad enough but the fact that you’ve already charged my credit card 2 months ahead of time AND not letting me know it wasn’t in stock ………. well I’m ready to spit nails.

Unfortunately, this is typical of what we get for ‘customer service’ nowadays (and I use that term oh so loosely). Nobody gives a damn about honesty and transparency. It’s all about screwing over the customer and helping them as little as possible. But we sure will take your money!!

I haven’t decided what I’m going to do, but they will be hearing from me.

And …….

So further to yesterday’s post about shyness, I am reminded of an episode that happened on the weekend. We were out of town, at a concert with friends, and stopped at the pub after for a few bevies :-).

The group at the table next to us had been at the same concert and were indulging in a few aperitifs as well. The one girl had quite a few indeed and found out we had been to the concert. She chatted with us lots and did a LOT of high-fiving. It was quite hilarious (and my hands were getting sore!).

Anyways near the end of the evening she made an interesting observation. She said I reminded her of her sister, the quiet one in the corner, doesn’t say much but when she does it’s unusually funny (think that’s code for ‘smart ass’). Everyone agreed with her, of course.

So strange that a stranger could pick up on that, even in her drunken/distracted state. Things that make you go hmmmm ………