So, two months out from my last radiation treatment, I retired from my job of 33 1/2 years, sold the house, all of the contents, bought a 38 foot beast of a 5th wheel trailer and we set off for our new life’s adventure! (I remember months later how a friend of mine, who at the time was a 5 year lymphoma survivor and had undergone numerous moves and renos, advised never to make a major decision after cancer treatment.) “Life is short.” I kept re-iterating, “I want to see the world, meet different people, experience life!” After about a 4 day drive through sundry weather systems, bumpy roads, casino parking lots, we wound up in Arizona at a luxurious RV resort where we plunked ourselves down for 4 months. My husband loved the lifestyle; sun, golf, happy hour. I, always the hyper one, got involved with golf, the choir, got the lead in a play with the theatre group and blogged.
Life was good but I soon found out that my husband and I were definitely not on the same page when it came to experiencing, “new adventures.” I also experienced some minor anxiety about what would happen if I had a recurrence. This would happen whenever I had an ache or pain and as it happened, I did have a lot of lower back pain after the long truck ride down from Canada. I saw a chiropractor and eventually a doctor who diagnosed me with bursitis in the hip and gave me a cortisone shot. This alleviated the issue a bit but I couldn’t help but think that being in the US could end up costing me a lot of money if I did get sick and I guess I was feeling a little insecure about being away from home. And then there was my first lymphedema, “sign.”
It was one day after playing golf that I noticed a difference between my left and right arm, in the inner wrist area as well as around my elbow. (This was the same elbow which flared up during my first massage earlier that year.) What was particularly noticeable was the fact that I couldn’t really see the small bones or veins in the right arm as compared to the left. Of course I handled this discovery in my usual way…I mildly freaked out. Well, that is not entirely true. But I quickly started sourcing out massage therapists in the area by first checking out the Vodder website and soon found several RMT’s who were trained in manual lymph drainage. I drove to Tucson and met a lovely lady who subsequently did a couple of treatments during my stay in Arizona. I also made sure that I wore my compression sleeve whenever I played golf, although I believe the heat of the desert may also have exacerbated the issue.
There are 3 stages of progression. In the “Initial” stage one may feel a fullness or aching in the limb. The skin can actually look lighter when compared to the other limb but it is still soft and may even, “pit.” What this means is that when you press the area with your finger, you can actually see indents that disappear after a few seconds. If you receive treatment at this stage it is fairly uncomplicated and very successful involving manual lymph drainage and/or compression. I will talk about these in more detail in another post. In the,”Secondary” stage there will be protein deposits in the skin, inflammation, the skin will be, “thicker”, (harder to pinch or move), it may or may not pit and the folds of the skin will appear thicker. It takes a more involved and expensive line of treatment to attain results at this stage. In the, “Third” stage, the limb will be extremely enlarged, the skin tissues become hardened and there may also become wounds. The treatment is much more involved and can be less successful.
Fortunately, I caught my, “episode” at an early stage. Thanks to being aware. More to tell. Stay tuned!