About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Monday, March 25, 2013

I guess this is why it's called "chronic."

Well, my lymphedema has decided to rear its ugly head. Sigh.  I don't really know what triggered it. Perhaps it was me riding my bike more last week?  (I took a week off of running to let my right shin get rid of some discomfort. I rode my bike over 84 miles last week.) Perhaps I jammed my hand during my duathalon? Perhaps the weather? Who knows. It is what it is.

It has been quite awhile since I've had a flare up. Sure, my arm and hand would swell a bi† while I was training and doing the 3 Day. Walking 6+ hours a day will do that to anyone. But aside from my ini†ial flare up back in December 2010, this is the worst it has ever been.

I think I've been kind of slowly swelling in my arm. Nothing major, and I just decided to live with my left arm being a bit bigger than my right. But then about a week ago, my hand started puffing up. I started back up with the manual drainage massage at night and bandaging. I didn't see a whole lot of change, but kept it up. Last Thursday night, I was particularly tired. Rather than bandaging, I used my Juxta-Fit sleeve and glove. The next morning, my hand was like someone had blown air into a surgical glove. Not pretty.

Last night, I decided to give it a rest overnight and see what happened. I dreamed that my arm blew up like a balloon. When I woke up, it didn't seem too bad. I went on a 10k run and was feeling good, not focused on my arm at all. (I always wear compression sleeves when I work out, by the way).

My in laws are visiting from France right now. I thought it would be fun to bring my mother in law with me when I picked Jean-Marc up from preschool today. I figured she would enjoy seeing a slice of his little life. I was right. He enjoyed showing her around his school and introducing her to his teachers. They took a picture of his teacher and us in his classroom, it was really sweet.

A few hours later, I saw the picture. My left arm is front and center and my lower arm/hand especially looks foreign to me. Oh my gosh.. that's how it looks? Really. Look at my wrist/hand. Thankfully, the worst part is cut off in the photo.

I need to do something. Now.

I had Eric help me measure my arm. I have always kept track of my measurements on a spreadsheet. When I opened it, the last time we measured was September 2nd.  I started the spreadsheet back in early 2011. We measure at various points on my hand and arm: knuckles/palm and wrist. Then from the wrist, every 5 centimeters up my arm. For each measurement, I have an "ideal" that my physical therapist and I set way back when. The bottom line was that I am up significantly in all but one measurement....my hand.

goals best 7/11/2011 09/02/12 03/25/13
Knuckles under 20.0 19.2 19.8 19.7 19.2
Wrist under 16.0 15.8 15.6 16.1 16.5
5 c.m. under 17.5 16.5 17.2 17.7 18.8
10 c.m. under 21.5 21.3 21.6 23.2 23.5
15 c.m. under 25.0 24.5 24.5 25.8 28
20 c.m. under 26.0 25.5 25.2 25.5 27.3
25 c.m. under 26.6 26 26.2 27.2 28
30 c.m. under 28.5 27.9 28 29 29.4
35 c.m. under 30.0 29.7 29.8 31.2 31

I went upstairs at 5 p.m. and did massage and wrapped my arm up. I was a little disappointed not to feel the tell-tale "tingle" that the massage is actually moving the lymphatic fluid. But whatever. I'm going to either wear the bandaging or compression sleeves for a few days and then re-measure to see if its helping. If not, I guess I'll give the physical therapist a call.

So your prayers would be appreciated. Frankly, it sucks to have to wear bandaging when I'm not sleeping. Poor me, pity party. Sorry. Lymphedema is something that is part of my life. I've had a stretch of several months without being symptomatic, but it looks like that is over. At least for now. I guess that is why its called a "chronic" condition.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry. If you can't get in to the physical therapist, or you have to wait awhile to get in, you might try calling Sandy. Her massages are great and she has been able to get the tingle going in your arm. Might be a way to get some help quicker.