Monday, June 08, 2015

Lymphedema update

I finally picked up my new set of lymphedema compression garments. I wear a compression sleeve and glove whenever I fly on a plane, when it's above about 20C outside, or if I'm doing physical labour with my hands (like gardening) as my hand and arm swell up under those conditions.

I have two previous sets: one that didn't fit well and that I used for gardening, and another set that fit well and that I wore daily. It's looking pretty ratty, though, and I wasn't happy with the compression I was getting from the gardening set so I thought it was time for a new set. I think they're supposed to be replaced every six to twelve months or so anyways as the garments become looser over time. When I ordered them, I discovered that I had to get new Ontario Assisted Devices Program (ADP) approval, which required my family doctor's and my physiotherapist's signatures. I didn't want to go through the hassle of getting the signatures but I'm glad I did: the program pays for 75% of the cost of the set, which in my case works out to them paying $450 and me paying $150. 

I was given a list of physiotherapists in the region who could complete the form but I decided to go to the cancer centre because that's where I received my initial lymphedema treatment and they have me on file. It turned out that I couldn't just make an appointment since it had been a couple of years since I was treated there; I had to get a referral from my oncologist. The waiting period is usually about five weeks but my nurse worked really hard to get me in within a week and a half. Yay for helpful nurses!

Anyways, while I was there this morning getting the paperwork signed, the physiotherapist measured both my right and left hand and arms. Because I'm right-handed, my right hand and arm should be slightly larger than the left. When I first received treatment, my left hand was 0.5cm larger than the right and my left arm was more than 1.0cm larger than the right at each point. This time, my left hand and arm measurements were all less than 0.3cm larger than the corresponding right hand and arm measurements. This is a fantastic result! It shows that my lymphedema is well-controlled at the moment. I'm very pleased.

To be honest, things aren't always great with the lymphedema as I've had some trouble with pain and tingling in my left thumb. I told the physiotherapist and she said that this happens because the swelling is pinching a nerve, which is what I had figured was going on. When this has happened I put on my compression garments and stretch and massage the area. I'll even do my lymphedema exercises if I have to, and all of that seems to help. If for some reason all that stopped helping, I'd go back into the physiotherapist for treatment.

After I saw the physiotherapist, I picked up my new set of compression garments and I'm good to go now. I don't love the look of them or  that they can be hot to wear or that my arms get an uneven amount of sun... but I'll continue to wear the garments because not having a sausage arm and hand is just so much more comfortable than having one.


Robin said...

Sausage - and thank goodness for government funding!

manchester fat acceptance said...

what a pain in the ass to get the compression garments paid for! but in the end it worked out. awesome the swelling went down, but sorry to hear about the tingling and pain.

love, vicki