Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lyphedema Therapist Appointment

I was anxious about seeing the lyphedema therapist (a physical therapist with training in lyphedema). My arm and hand swelled up months ago and I was able to reduce most the swelling myself. One of my neighbors gave me some information she had received about lyphedema that was very helpful. I doubted anyone really noticed my swollen arm, because I took the rings off that hand and wore loose shirts. In addition, my arm got bigger the same time my hair came back, and so hair was the focus.

Then when the therapist office called, I asked how long was the first appointment and how long were the follow ups. The receptionist said follow ups were usually three times a week. More medical appointments are not what I was looking for.

I kept thinking about canceling the appointment, but my husband took the day off work so I went anyway. It was at the wound care center, so everyone else was older and in much worse health than I am.

The questions were fun like, "Do you have fungus on your arm?" Well no, I do not and now I know that if I did I could get help for it here. Based on my lack of fungus among other things (I exercise, I do not smoke or drink alcohol, I have a good support system, I do not need a caregiver - I am the caregiver, I have the lotion they recommend already because Baby has eczema, my health problems are limited mainly to cancer, I drink lots of water) my therapist put my prognosis as good.

At the first appointment after going through and extended game of twenty questions (answer was - yes you will be able to put your rings on again), she taught me some lymphatic decongestive exercises, and referred me to the rehab specialist for some compression garments. Often you would use bandages first to get the swelling down more, before using compression, but I had gotten it down enough before I went to the doctor.

She also talked to me about the lymphatic system, its history, and what I needed to do during the intensive phase of therapy. She stressed a few time not to get mosquito bites in my right arm. So after the appointment I met the rest of my family and we went a on a hike in the mountains and the next day I drove young women up to girls' camp. I got mosquito bites everywhere else, but I kept them off my arm.

For the at home exercises I could choose between three different sections - the no tool, soft ball, or wand. Also around this time we checked out a video from the library, called "Elmocize". So of course these two came together in how I approached my exercises.

The wand exercises did not have to involve a fairy wand, but why not. If it is a Sesame Street character who carries that wand, even better.
Abby Cadabby from

The soft ball exercises seemed sporty to me, though really they are not at all. They seem to use your fingers more than the other exercises. Why not associate them with a character who only has a few fingers?

Big Bird from

In the "Elmocize" some of the exercising is done from the comfort of your chair. All the decongestive exercises can be done standing or sitting. The "Elmocize" activities reminded me of the no tool exercises.

Elmo from

I tried to get an appointment with the rehab specialist that day while I was in town, but no such luck. I had to go back another day.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. O.K. I am on the account now! I love the pictures...I was just saying how fun it will be to exercise with the characters from Sesame St. I am sure baby is finding it fun to work out with mommy. Thanks for the help getting online.