Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What a day it's been! I just got home and I'm bushed. Today was my first day back to Lymphedema therapy in a little over a year. It's amazing how much things can change in a year. When I walked into their office everything looked so different. They'd remodeled so much I wasn't sure I was even in the right place and felt like I was having a senior moment! After filling out paperwork to update my file, I was taken back to the treatment area. My old therapist, Allison, had been replaced by a woman named Lisa. Lisa seemed competent and a little brusque at first, but she warmed up after we talked a little.

Cold Laser Therapy Machine
It was freezing in the therapy room as Lisa asked me to remove my blouse and let her see my scars. She didn't say anything but I could tell what she was thinking. After looking with pity at my chest for a few minutes, she asked me to lie down on the exam table. She turned to put on some soft music and dimmed the lights (I know, it's kind of freaky but they just want you to relax.) I asked Lisa if many of her patients fall asleep while they're having treatment and she said most of them do. I don't know how any of them could get comfortable enough to sleep, it was like a freezer in that room! I was shivering as Lisa donned her rubber gloves and brought the bottle of lotion over near me. She pulled up a rolling stool and warmed the lotion in her hands before applying it to my upper arms. After the lotion was in place, she began to gently massage my upper arms and chest area. As she worked on my right chest area, she was pressing a little too firmly and I had to tell her to stop. I was surprised at how tender I was in certain areas because most of the nerve endings in my chest wall are complete numb. She apologized and worked with lighter pressure working at my upper arms and along my ribcage. She asked if I'd ever had cold laser therapy and I told her no. I'd never even heard of it. She explained it's fairly new but is supposed to help break up scar tissue and penetrate deeply into the lymphatic system. She said I wouldn't feel a thing as she began the treatment and I didn't. I wondered how something you couldn't feel could do anything worthwhile but she assured me it would. Lisa continued to work on me for about 45 minutes and when she was done, I felt more relaxed and had less swelling in my upper arms. I was thankful! We went over my schedule for the next several visits and I left to go by the Orthotics and Prosthetics company, C. H. Martin. It was time for me to have my annual remeasuring and fitting for lymphedema compression sleeves.

At C.H. Martin, I was amazed that they'd changed their office too. One year makes a huge difference when it comes to change and I couldn't get over everything that has transpired since I was last here. For me, life has seemed to stand still but for everyone else, change and growth has occurred. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard the receptionist verifying my benefits. She talked so loudly and I was glad there were no other patients in the room who might overhear my personal information. She needed to be trained to respect the privacy of others, especially since she works in a medical office. I sat and waited about thirty minutes and finally was called back for my appointment.

Lymphediva compression sleeve
Sara, the fitter, was pleasantly surprised to see me. I was shocked she remembered me, but enjoyed talking and catching up with her for a little bit before we got down to business. Sara pulled my file and took measurements of both arms from wrist to shoulder. As she jotted notes in my file, she asked if I'd already picked out the patterns for the sleeves I wanted. I told her I had looked at some on the Lymphedivas website but I liked the grips better on the Juzo sleeves. The only thing I didn't like was Lymphedivas had so many more pretty patterns and Juzo had just started adding patterns to their line. If I wanted to get the best sleeves, I'd get Juzo. If I wanted the prettiest sleeves, I'd get Lymphedivas. I opted for the Juzo sleeves just because they stay up better on my arms and I don't have to constantly fight with the sleeves rolling down on me. Sara gave me a catalog so I could see the new patterns in Juzo and make my selections. Our insurance had changed since the last time I was in and I could only get 4 pair of sleeves now instead of 8. Each sleeve costs $90 so even at only 4 pair, that's a big chunk of change. I finished up with Sara about 3:30 p.m. and was ready to get some lunch and get home.

On the way home, I prayed for my appeal for the recirculating compression pump to be approved by our insurance company. If they will approve it, I can have treatments at home instead of having to drive 2 hours every other day to the treatment center and it would help so much. I guess I'll just have to keep praying and waiting. My oncologist and my breast surgeon have submitted paperwork to substantiate the claim for the pump. Now it's just a waiting game. It seems so unfair that insurance companies get to dictate what is and what is not medically necessary for their insured. I know I'm not the only one who has to deal with this type of problem but what a racket! We pay our premiums and expect to get what we pay for....the best care at the lowest cost. Since Obamacare went into effect, it's caused so many insurance companies to rethink what they will and won't pay. For someone with long term health issues this creates big problems but I guess we don't have much say in our healthcare any longer now do we? I'm thankful for the Lymphedema therapy and for the compression sleeves that help combat my daily swelling. It's amazing how Lymphedema seems to bother me much more than having my breasts removed.

I'm on a quest now to find women's blouses with looser arms so I can still look stylish but also have clothing that fits without looking sloppy. There aren't many specialty shops that cater to people suffering from Lymphedema. I may just have to start making my own tops soon. And that's all I have to report today. Life is good albeit challenging learning how to manage fatigue, insomnia, and swollen arms. I'm just so happy to still be alive!

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