So, this morning it was time for another appointment, this time to sort out my lymphedema/lymphoedema (apparently the first is America, the second the English spelling – my phone as decided it recognises the former!):
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The breast unit has only just moved to The Nightingale Centre, and this is already my second visit (having seen Mr D to confirm it was lymphedema, although we thought it was confined to my hand).
This was a really straightforward appointment. Asked to sit, and place my head in ‘resting’ on the bed, so that it could be measured. Both arms were marked with biro at intervals (looked about 3cm apart) and measured in circumference with a tape measure (jokes were made that the technology hasn’t changed for lymphedema specialists) all the way up. Numbers scribbled on a sheet, and ‘yes, your left arm is about 9% bigger than your right arm, which as you’re right handed, indicates you’ve got it in your arm too’.
So, the plan is to issue me with a compression glove, and a compression sleeve (glove can be worn on its own, but not the sleeve on its own). A friend described this as lymph nodes working a bit like toothpaste tubes, and as I don’t have any, the fluid can’t move around my arm – and the sleeve flattens/pushes the fluid around! I’ll be back for another appointment in 2 weeks – if the compression garments are the right size, I get another set so I can wash one, wear one). I also have to continue with the massage every evening – using moisturiser (Aveeno) from top of arm to bottom – thankfully not the 15 min job I was fearing…
Once we’re sure we’re happy with the fit, I’ll have an appointment in about 3 months, and then every 6 months – when I think I get replacement garments…. I’ve had advice from others that can keep the standard sleeves, and then if I want to make it interesting – get some tattoo type sleeves from Amazon or some such!
I walked out with this:
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.