Since surgery and being released from the hospital, it has been a week of ups and downs. The first hurdle was waking up in the hospital with a severely swollen right arm, Lymphedema. Lymphedema is not curable and results from damage to or loss of lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are a part of the immune system and not having them prevents lymph fluid from draining well, and the fluid buildup leads to swelling. Lymphedema is a life long problem. Because I had so many lymph nodes removed during the bilateral mastectomy, I've had to be cautious with my right arm. I wear a compression sleeve when I work out, run, mountain bike, do strenuous activity around the house, fly on an airplane...you get the idea.
When James first realized I had Lymphedema and pointed it out to medical staff, they seemed a bit unconcerned. The thing with Lymphedema is that not only is it uncomfortable, but it restricts the range of motion in my arm and it is painful. So painful that I couldn't straighten my right arm without sharp, intense pain - while on pain medication! The medical staff didn't know anything about Lymphedema and were unable to help. Fortunately, I brought along 2 compression sleeves and James ran home to get one. A week later and the swelling is about gone and there is little pain when I straighten my arm. The Lymphedema specialist at UW is out of the country so I'll follow up with a doctor when we get back to Anchorage.
A second little scare was when my right flap lost color and felt cool on Monday night. We called in to the medical staff who asked us to watch it overnight and call in the morning if we were still concerned. Tuesday morning, the flap was still white and cool. They asked us to come right in, however when we got into the examination room and Dr. Said looked at the flap, it had color and was warm! He assured us that he believed us and we weren't crazy. He explained that with the new veins and arteries in the flaps, blood would sort of clot and slow causing the flap to go white and become cool. When the "blood clots" broke free, the color and warmth would return. He had me add an aspirin daily to thin my blood. Since taking aspirin on Tuesday, I've experienced no further flap complications. While there, they pulled one of the four drains.
|A Monday evening walk along Golden Gardens Park.|
The third, and I hope final scare was when I woke up on Thursday to a red, warm, swollen inner right thigh just above the drain and around the donor site area. After waiting for a call back, we were finally able to be seen at 3:00. It was in fact an infection and they started me on antibiotics. On a positive note, they pulled another drain. Now just two drains left!
Thursday night we went to see Owl City at the Neptune Theater next to UW. Another really cool theater and the band was amazing. I did have a small episode of, "James get me a chair quick before I pass out." When he got me to the hallway, he said I was as white as a ghost. I guess the infection was taking a little bit of a toll. After sitting for a few minutes I felt much better. I really wanted to see this band, so we went back inside the theater where James found me a barstool to sit on and we were able to enjoy the rest of the concert. I woke up Friday feeling much better!
|"Flowers" on NE 43rd St and University Way NE before Owl City.|