Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Washing the toxins away

The sign outside my treatment room
Another day of Lymphedema therapy! I am so tired of going for these appointments. The frustration comes from not only having to drive an hour each way to the Piedmont Hospital Physical Therapy/Rehab Center but also from having to lay on the treatment table for an hour while the therapist does her thing. I feel really weird having a woman rubbing and massaging my body parts! That's probably why I've never gone for a professional massage in my whole 58 years of life. I know massage is supposed to be really good for you and is supposed to be a great way to receive relaxation for overworked muscles but if I had my way, a man would be working on me! Lisa, my CLT (Certified Lymphedema Therapist) is nice. She's kind, caring, and personable. If we didn't have a professional relationship, she'd probably be a good friend of mine but as fate would have it, she'll only be in my life a short time to help me with post breast cancer side effects.
My lovely treatment "bed"
The drive to the rehab center was uneventful this morning, but thankfully there wasn't a lot of traffic like there as on Monday. I enjoyed meandering through the countryside and seeing all the beautiful farm land between my town and the hospital area. There are some beautiful old barns and a lot of pretty wildflowers. My thoughts wandered as I was driving and the time passed fairly quickly. Before I knew it, I had arrived and was parking in the lot next to the rehab center. I signed in and took my seat glancing around the waiting room to see how many people were waiting for treatment. There was an oriental woman with a laptop busy making her to-do list shorter. I overheard her conversations because she wasn't shy about speaking on her cell phone in public. I learned she had termites in her home and was trying to find out what to do to get rid of them. She also was trying to make appointments with appliance repairmen to come to her home. They didn't have appointment times she preferred so she said she'd call them back. Although it was evident she was used to working diligently to get things done, she sounded frantic and scared, poor thing! There was a woman newly diagnosed with Diabetes who'd come in for a class on how to eat properly without sugar, a woman with an evident leg injury, and a woman in severe back pain. I watched as she tried to walk to the restroom and I hurt for her as she hunched over taking one painful step after another. The woman who really touched my heart was one with Lymphedema in both arms (just like me). Her arms were HUGE and I had to thank God mine weren't even close to being as bad as hers. Poor thing! She probably was very self conscious. She'd had to wear a sleeveless shirt because of the girth of her arms. As I continued to people watch, my therapist walked into the room and nodded toward me. She smiled and asked if I was ready. I shook my head and told her yes. She was assisting a young man on a walker and asked me to go ahead to the room and get my hospital gown on, so I did. A few minutes later, she appeared and got to work. 
Me in my hospital gown

As she worked on my arms, we talked. I learned her husband works for Delta as a flight instructor and she'd been an occupational therapist for 28 years but had just begun specializing in Lymphatic massage a few years earlier. She had two children in college, a sister and several brothers. Her parents lived in Daytona Beach, Florida, and her in laws lived in New York. It's amazing how much people enjoy talking about themselves! All you have to do is give them a little encouragement and they'll talk for a long time. I guess that's one of the reasons I've always enjoyed counseling...I love listening to others talk about themselves.

Our hour went by quickly and as the time ended, she made sure I knew how to do the manual lymphatic drainage at home. I assured her I felt comfortable enough to do it on my own and she wished me a good vacation and we said our goodbyes. On the way home, I started to feel extremely tired. I didn't understand why because I hadn't really done anything other than have treatment. After lunch, I looked on the internet trying to find a reason for my sudden exhaustion and was thankful when I found it natural to feel fatigue after lymphatic drainage. This is referred to as a Herx reaction or "detox reaction." As toxins are released from tissues they move to the organs to be eliminated from the body. They can cause discomfort or general feeling of yuckiness. I wish I'd known there are things you can do before treatment to help make it a little easier on your system. These are things I found on the internet that help decrease fatigue after treatment: 

Chart of the Lymphatic System
  • Drinking a lot of water before AND after the lymph drainage session
  • Taking "binders" as prescribed by your physician immediately after the session (e.g. charcoal)
  • Drinking more water
  • Light aerobic activity (e.g. walking or rebounding)
  • Colonic hydrotherapy
  • Drinking even more water 
  • Rest
While some people report feeling amazing after moving toxins out of their bodies, others have more toxins and may feel a little less than amazing while the toxins that were mobilized are vacating. The lymph system will continue to feel the effects for 24-36 hours after treatment. 

No wonder I felt so wiped out when I got home! Who knows how many toxins had been released into my body after the lymphatic massage therapy. I called my oldest daughter, (a great self taught naturopath) and asked her what she recommended. She told me to rest and drink lots of water with lemon. She said the lemon would help eliminate the toxins from my body. So, instead of curling up on the floor like I want to and just laying there like a wet noodle for the rest of the day, I'm drinking massive amounts of water with lemon, jogging back and forth to the bathroom, and doing my best to give myself permission to not worry about cleaning house or other tasks today. Instead, I'm focusing on me and my health. Sometimes you just have to do what you need to do and let everything else fall apart...and that's okay...really, it is! Tomorrow will be a better day and I will feel more clear headed and strong. The toxins will have been eliminated and I can start all over again. Hallelujah, no more trips to the rehab center (for now anyway) and maybe, just maybe my insurance company will approve the recirculating compression pump for my arms and I can do the treatments in the comfort of my own home. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed...til tomorrow, gotta run to the potty...see ya!

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