Monday, January 30, 2012

Doctor Follow Up Appointment

January is a big doctor's appointment month for me. I have the expansion visits and all the follow ups I put off after I had surgery in November. I have two more appointments left this month and then we will move into February. I made many phone calls to try to get my appointments on the same day or at a time that did not interfere with carpool. L heard me making the calls and thought I was too causal on the phone. I told her I had been talking to some of this receptionists for almost 7 years and so we are a little familiar with each other.

L was sick on my appointment day, so my husband took time off to watch the two girls. The visit was fine and so far everything looks good. He did not see any sign that the cancer had returned.

3rd and 4th Expansion

The third expansion bothered me, because I had to wait forever while my kids (who were still out of school) were being watched. There was no emergency the doctor had to attend to, but a lot of patients who yelled and came in whenever they wanted to see the doctor. It was not physically more painful, it just made me weary.

For the fourth expansion my kids were out of school again. I was sick the whole week up to this day, so I was more tired and subdued when I went to the doctor. I cleaned the house ahead of time, because I usually see the doctor on the day we do whole house cleaning. It is uncomfortable to move my arms that much after the expansion.

My doctor said he no longer uses his wheat bag. His kids found it, use it, and will not give it back to him. My nurse is still enjoying hers.

Lymphedema Therapist or It Takes Time

I saw my lymphedema therapist earlier this month, because my hand and arm swelled considerably after the reconstruction surgery. At first I was in so much pain that I did not care. Then I was sick and did not care. Eventually it became a priority. It did not seem like the exercises or MLD or my compression garments were helping.

She was surprised to see me first. Then I told her about the surgery and she understood why I came back. She made minor adjustments to my self MLD(manuel lymph drainage) routine based on my changing body. We talked about my 72 hour kit and she gave me short stretch band aids to replace the ace bandage.

It is always humbling to go to the center where she works, because everyone has much worse physical ailments than I do. My achy swollen hand and arm seem so minor. I do know it can get worse and I have many years for it to get worse, so I want to stay on top of it.

After listening to what I have been doing and checking out my affected limbs, she told me that I am doing the best I can, but that it takes time. She said I could call her if I needed to, but I would not have to see her again until after my next surgery.

A funny thing happened when I signed in. The receptionist was not one that I had seen before. She had me fill out new paperwork. When I asked her a question about something else, she took the opportunity to tell me that I could put my mom or a brother or sister for an Emergency Contact. She explained they needed someone to call if there were problems. As she continued on I realized that she did not think that I was married or even old enough to be married.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Being Understood

I was talking to a lady who is currently undergoing treatments, and someone else came by, saw my Jobst sleeve and glove, and asked if I had carpal tunnel. I told them it was for my swelling and that I had lymphedema. Then they went on their way.

They lady I was sitting next too, said, "They never understand and then they leave because they are uncomfortable." I laughed and said, "Maybe I could of just made something up." Then we continued talking about how incredibly tired chemo can make you.

Later I was thinking about it, and I realized that I expect people to understand about cancer and the treatments and everything else. I try to explain things simply, and hope they will ask questions if they don't. Sometimes the questions are hard to formulate or you might wonder if the person doesn't want to answer again and again, but usually I still ask. When people are going through something I think most know not to take it personally if they do not want to talk to you about it. Every person I have talked to about cancer though is usually glad to talk to someone who knows the terminology already.

It made me sad though that this lady felt that people were uncomfortable talking to her about complicated and confusing cancer concerns. I also thought of the other hard things to talk about beyond cancer and health problems, and I think I could try a little more to be understanding, even if it is difficult to talk about it.

72 Hour Kits

C did a natural disaster project (riptides) in his GT class. The teacher then sent home a prepare for disaster checklist as homework, which I threw away thinking it was another paper from church. C tried to do his homework, and found it missing. I sent a note explaining what happened and stated that he would be glad to share the flag color code system in class instead, and I would put him in charge of updating our 72 hour kits over winter break.

We had not updated them since Baby was born since we were consumed with other things. We left the kits in our front room for a week as we gathered supplies. It reminded me of the last chemo treatment I had when I had cancer the first time and we watched coverage of Hurricane Katrina. It was awful to see, and I especially felt for those who were not in the best of health when it hit. I do not know what my health condition will be if we ever have a disaster like that, so I know I can help now by being the driving force in my family to get the kits ready, and easy for others to use. I can never tell how much assistance I can give in the future, but I can do something right now.

Leaving them in the front room over a week, while not what we initially planned, proved to be very helpful. I know I thought of things that I might not of had we just looked at them, got the supplies and put them back the next day. One thing in particular was we included an ace bandage for my lymphedema affected arm, because looking for my compression garments will not be at the top of my list in an emergency and I only have one pair. Also stress and heavy lifting will most likely cause my arm to swell. Anyway putting that in there made me feel like I will be a little bit more able to assist my family in an emergency.

Post Edit:I replaced the ace bandage with short stretch bandage from my lymphedema therapist.