Monday, February 11, 2013

Garments and prosthetics

I planned to work on a Grammy red carpet post today but I noticed that my arm was a bit swollen. I'd walked Gozer while Ian was away and at one point she pulled on the leash hard enough to hyper-extend my left arm. My original breast cancer was on my left side and they took out lymph nodes in my left armpit. When they take lymph nodes out from that location, lymphedema - or swelling - of the left arm is a side effect.

I've had lymphedema show up in my left arm before. Luckily, it's mild so my arm and hand don't swell up too much but when it does show up I wear a compression sleeve on my arm and a compression gauntlet on my hand.

So what does this have to do with hyper-extending my left arm while walking Gozer? Well, as the arm started to heal, it swelled up a bit. I noticed a bit of swelling yesterday before bed and was concerned enough to measure my arms. I don't wear the compression garments at night, though, so I made a mental note of the swelling and went to bed.

This morning my forearm and hand up to the knuckles were all swollen so that I couldn't fully bend my arm or close my hand. Out came the compression garments. I wore them while making dinner and learned a valuable lesson: if you chop onions without protecting the fabric compression gauntlet, that gauntlet will smell like onions.

In addition to wearing the compression garments I've been trying to massage my arm to encourage the lymph fluid to flow up the arm and down my side. Hopefully the swelling will subside and I can put away these garments. It wouldn't be so bad if they were my skin colour or even the same colour. There's a company out there that makes printed sleeves in a variety of patterns. I'm thinking of getting a set so that my arm will look interesting when I wear these garments. Since the lymphedema is rearing its ugly head, it would be prudent for me to wear the garments when I fly and I might like something a little more stylish.

In other news, although I was happy with the breast prosthetic that I bought, it's a little bit large and doesn't fit quite right. I've been thinking that it would be great to get one custom-made to be symmetrical and to fit to the shape that's there. It turns out that this is actually possible! There's a company in Toronto that makes them (and another company! it seems Toronto is at the forefront of custom breast prosthetics). I'm going to contact them and find out how long it could take and what kind of costs I'd be looking at. I'd love to be symmetrical again.

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