Wednesday was the monthly Linked by Pink meeting, and I arranged our schedule so I could make it. I’m feeling a little frustrated with having to curtail some of my activities because of treatment, and I wanted to be around others who would understand that fact without even having to discuss it.
Amanda from Keystone Rehabilitation was our special speaker. She was in charge of my rehab after my mastectomy and is so great. She talked about lymphedema and how to prevent it, or at least minimize any problems with swelling. Lymphedema is definitely one of those diseases that your outcome improves the earlier you stop the symptoms. You really need to nip it in the bud.
One of the exercises Amanda demonstrated to me when I was doing PT was lymphatic massage. I have continued to do it twice a day (and three times a day while I was doing radiation) – in the morning and evening. I find it easiest to do when I’m changing, because you need to slide your hand along your torso and chest, and a bra just gets in the way. I keep hoping I can stop doing the massage, but every time I cut back, I can feel the area where my shoulder-blade hits my ribs start to build up with fluid. It’s not too bad, and I’m going to keep it that way so I don’t have to get a pump. Then you have to strap on a compression vest and sit for an hour while it squeezes you every which way, looking something like this:
I will bring one of my lymphedema sleeves with me on our trip, though, since I’ve been told that traveling is prime time for some swelling to happen. Since you’re sitting around a lot and not using your arm as much, the muscles aren’t pushing out the fluid like usual, and it can build up.
All in all it was a useful meeting!