Friday, August 5, 2016

We're here to pump you up

Several years ago there was a funny Saturday night spoof featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dana Carvey. It was a hilarious skit about two body builders and how they were going to help "pump up" people's muscles with their wonderful body building techniques. I thought about that silly skit this morning as I got out my compression pump and slipped on the compression sleeves. After the fiasco, the other day, where I got stuck in the sleeves and couldn't get out, I decided it would be best to only do one arm at a time when I'm alone in the house, so I slipped one arm out of the sleeve and lay it on the sofa.

As I got situated, the reality of my circumstances hit me square between the eyes. This wasn't going to be a once in a blue moon thing. This was going to be a daily, forever commitment. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before, but I hadn't. Lymphedema doesn't ever go away. I'm stuck with it for the rest of my life and if I want to be able to function as normally as possible, I have to go through this therapy for an hour every single day. One hour. That doesn't sound like much. 60 minutes. No big deal, right? Wrong. When I'm hooked up to this pump, I'm immobile. I can't do anything I want to do. All I can do is sit and let the machine do it's thing. The sleeves compress tightly around my arms and begin working from fingertip to shoulder. As the sleeves compress, they move lymphatic fluid throughout my body.

I'm thankful someone invented this type of machinery for those of us who need it but I'm frustrated at having had my lymph glands removed in the first place. I understand why the sentinel node in my right arm had to be removed, because it had cancer in it, but the others...they didn't. And yes, my breast surgeon was taking precautions to insure no cancer cells were missed but if I'd known what the removal of my lymph nodes would have involved, I would have refused surgery. But there's nothing I can do now so I try my best to grin and bear it. I know the compression therapy is meant to help me even though it restricts my movements for an hour every single day.

The best way to counter all the negativity associated with lymphedema is to look for the positives. I'm thankful I still have my arms. I'm thankful the cancer had not spread to even more lymph nodes in my body. I'm thankful there are ways to help move the lymphatic fluid through my body and most of all, I'm thankful I'm still here.

Bottom line: lymphedema sucks. It really does. It's painful and irritating. My arms swell so much I can't wear 95% of my clothing but there are people suffering with worse cases than mine. So permit me to whine a little today. It makes me feel better even though it doesn't change my circumstances one tiny bit. And why is it that complaining makes us feel better? Isn't that weird? It should really make us feel worse. I really should be ashamed of myself for complaining at all.

© bonnie annis all rights reserved

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