The Lymphoedema therapist has been for my first appointment. Because lymphoedema is often related to the treatment of cancer, she is a Macmillan therapist and so gave me a leaflet from the MacMillan Trust. After taking my medical history, she decided that the best guess is that I have a poorly developed or sluggish lymph system. It is rare but not unknown. And over the years, I have had a few different infections etc that indicate my lymph system might not be the best. Certainly there is scarring. It coped for a long while. But some trauma happened and it is out of balance.
Treatment for oedema is therapy led because really there is no magic tablet. It is a combo of things to try and put my system back into some sort of balance.
First up -- I have to moisturise and attempt to keep my skin soft. The biggest problem for oedema sufferers is infection. There is excessive fluid and celluitus is far more common. If I get an infection, it is 2 weeks of antibiotics.This means wearing gloves when I am washing up, gardening or doing general housework. Making sure that I wear insect repellent and sun cream. I need to avoid getting burnt and insect bites. Animal bites are of severe concern...Anything really that can trigger an infection.
I am also supposed to avoid carrying heavy bags with that arm...
I have been shown two simple exercises that I have to do after every 30 minutes of writing time to exercise my forearm. And I need rest my arm on the arm of a chair when watching tv.
The next time I see her, she will give me a whole series of exercises.
I need to lose weight as I am too heavy for my lymph system. And the weight loss will take the strain off the system. It is a factor, not a cause.
I get to do a Michael Jackson impersonation as she is ordering a compression sleeve and glove for me to wear. The idea is to get the oedema under control quickly and so we are using a number of different tools.
Anyway, it is going to be an on going thing and I am going to need to make lifestyle changes...
And did I say how much I love the NHS (even with all its problems!)?