29
Oct
08

October 29, 2008

I’ve been dilatory in posting – my apologies.

Radiation is just over a third done. I’ve had 12 treatments out of 33, and up until yesterday evening, I haven’t really had any side-effects. I started feeling a little bit itchy, and when I got ready for bed, I saw that I’d developed a mild “sunburn”. I told Brian that I had a modified trucker’s tan.

The radiation oncologist had me start using aloe vera gel right from the start, but I’d only been using it once a day, and now she wants me to use it twice a day. Based on the itch factor, I think I’m going to use it three times a day.

One of the potential side effects of having lymph nodes removed so near the arm is that you can develop lymphedema – the lymph fluid collects in your arm because it doesn’t have as clear a path to get back out. Lymph fluid carries proteins, foreign materials, and cell detritus through the lymph system and the lymph nodes filter out the detritus – the fluid then passes back into the blood (this is a very simplified layman’s description – please don’t sic the Accuracy Police on me!).

When just the sentinel nodes are removed (i.e., the first three lymph nodes that carry fluid out of the breast), the risk of developing lymphedema is very small. Radiation increases the chances of it occuring, so the radiation oncologist sends all her patients to consult with a physical therapist to learn how to prevent it, how to recognize the symptoms, and if necessary, to treat it. I checked with my favorite physical therapist, and sadly no-one in his office does lymphedema-related work, but he referred me to one of his colleagues who does. I met with her last week, and she was impressed at how well I’ve healed after all the surgeries, and at the range of motion I have. After teaching me some stretches to help with muscles that have tightened from the surgeries and thus potentially could raise my chances of getting lymphedema, she measured me for a compression sleeve. I asked why I needed a compression sleeve now, since I had no sign of lymphedema, and she said it needed to be fitted when I was a normal size, so that if I *do* get it, they don’t have to guess by measuring the unaffected arm. OK, so I’ll have a compression sleeve that I hope never to need.

Let’s see – I don’t really think there’s anything else to mention, since mostly I have very long days going to radiation, commuting to work, working, commuting home, and not much else. Tomorrow night I am going to my beading group, and we’re making earrings to donate as Christmas gifts for soldiers in Iraq – there’s a group we’re donating through, but I don’t have the details yet. BTW, as far as I know, the intent is earrings for *female* soldiers, although I suppose they could really be for whoever wants some.

Oh yeah – we’re having our annual Games Party on November 8 – 26th Annual! I’m looking forward to it, although I suspect I’ll want a nap that afternoon to make sure I’m up for Midnight Party ;-}

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