Before I had cancer I had not really heard of the lymphatic system. Then I had a few of my lymph nodes taken out of my armpit to test to see if the cancer had spread. The first time the cancer reached my lymph nodes. The last time I had cancer they took many lymph nodes out and the cancer had not spread. I started to learn a little more about the lymphatic system.
Along with the lymphatic system, another new word I became acquainted with is lymphedema (lymphatic obstruction). The affected limb has chronic swelling. A common cause of lymphedema is removal of lymph nodes. I worry about this happening. The doctor, and other breast cancer survivors have recommended a few preventive actions. The three main things I always hear are to not overtire my arm, to drink plenty of water, and to try to prevent cuts on my hands and arms.
I carry Baby with my bad arm (right side) because my left chest side has a port in it. Once Baby slammed her head into my port I switched sides carrying her. On a related note, when I had my port flushed this week I applied the numbing lotion to the wrong place. I found this out when they punched the needle in. The nurse showed my how the port had moved down 2 inches. Which I then remembered, but had forgotten in my rush to apply the lotion, get Baby ready, and drive to town. I think that my not overtiring my arm is not doing so well right now, but will get better as Baby gets older.
The drinking water situation is okay. I like drinking water, but I just sometimes forget. The old Southern Nevada habit of drinking water all the time has eroded away.
I am pretty careful about getting cuts anywhere. The dry winter is the worst time, because I get lots of little cuts on my hands unless I moisturize well.
It is crazy the number of times I have compared the right side to the left to check for swelling. When I sleep on my right arm wrong it swells up. I will ask my husband sometimes to verify that I am not just imagining the swelling.
In addition to the swelling risk, I am also unable to have a correct blood pressure reading on the right side. When I had the C-section with Baby they put the blood pressure cuff on my leg, because of my bad arm and the other instruments on my other arm. When I went to Girls' Camp the first time, I wrote about it under my health issues. One time I forgot to remind my old doctor and they took my blood pressure on the right. Then my arm swelled up and looked like it might explode. No, not really they just got a bad reading and switched to the other side.
Beyond swelling and blood pressure, I am also supposed to avoid soaking in hot tubs and other warm pools. I was not sure why this was so I went into one to test it out. I was in it for less then five minutes and my arm started to throb in pain. Now I know why.
I joke with my sister that after I am resurrected I am will not only be able to see without contacts, but also enjoy hot tubs again.