September 15, 2008

Lymphedema alert


We're having a typically beautiful Northwest September. They days start off chilly, warm up to between 70 and 80 degrees, then cool down to 55 or so at night. And somehow my lymphedema doesn't like this.

It started last Wednesday night when I noticed a red discoloration at the inside of my left elbow after I took off my compression sleeve. I removed the sleeve earlier than usual because it felt so tight. Normally I wear it from early morning to about 11 PM without trouble. This time it bothered me at around 9:30 PM. So I grabbed my trusty bandaging supplies and wrapped my arm, took a "happy" pill so I could fall asleep.

Next day, same thing, except my arm started bothering me by 6 PM. It's continued every night since, although I am hopeful that it's beginning to tape off. I've used every trick in my box of lymphedema tools -- bandaging, extra massage, more lotion to keep my skin soft. I can't find an insect bite or infected cut on my left arm or hand, so the only trigger I can think of is the warm daytime temperatures we've been experiencing.

Today I think I will make some oxymel. A friend taught me this ancient remedy that's generally good for what ails you. Mix 4 ounces of honey with hot water and vinegar in equal parts. Add 1 ounce rosemary. Steep in coffee maker for several hours. Drink daily diluted with water or seltzer. I have all the ingredients on hand, including rosemary from the garden. Oh, the joys of a well-stocked pantry!

Let's hope this helps. My last option is to request a referral from my doctor for manual lymphatic drainage massage. It can be hard to get in to see a therapist (not many therapists have this specialized training), and of course every visit costs a co-pay. It usually takes 5-7 treatments for success. So I always begin by trying to manage on my own.

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I dance with cancer. Oy!