Take a look at these two photographs…
One might look at these and think, ‘Oh that poor girl, her life is a shitshow.’
Truth is, it isn’t so bad. At the risk of sounding righteous, these two inconveniences are just that, inconveniences. What matters is that I caught my breast cancer on a fluke and am incredibly lucky to be alive and cancer-free.
Photo #1 depicts the elusive, remissive cancer patient mid Tamoxifen hot flash. This wild beast tends to stay hidden in the jungles of her own sweat, but alas, this intrepid journalist has managed to capture an image in the height of the flash.
Here is how it happens: The creature is eating lunch when her cheeks start to flush. Next, the heat starts to trickle down her body where it makes a notable stop under her faux breasts where it creates boob-sweat you cannot feel until it starts to drip down your abdomen causing surprise and immediate resentment. The creature removes as many items of clothing as is appropriate given her current situation.
Now is the point where the feral creature needs ice. Since the head seems to lead the charge on these flashes, ice is best served being placed up there. Now all she can do is wait. It is fact that it will end at some point, but duration is a toss-up.
Once the flash passes comes the tricky clean-up period. The wild animal is dripping with sweat which causes one to become freezing cold from wetness. Body odor must also be addressed, post-flash, as a courtesy to those living around the jungle animal.
—Record scratching change of subject—
Now to the giant cast on my arm. If you have been reading, you know I have lymphedema in my right arm. This is excess fluid that gets trapped in the arm as enough lymph nodes were removed in surgery/surgeries to cause a lack of proper drainage. It is usually not painful (but can be), more of a nuisance that causes your activity and lifestyle to be modified.
My lymphedema is mild compared to some other cases I have seen. You probably wouldn’t notice the swelling in my arm unless I pointed it out to you. It is most clear when compared to the ‘good’ arm. My lymphedema has ebbed and flowed a few times since I finished treatment. It is currently flowing (ironic considered my fluid is NOT flowing, it is trapped in my forearm).
I have been in physical therapy for 4 weeks and today was meant to be my last session. I told the therapist that I thought it actually hadn’t made any improvement and in fact once measured and compared against old measurements, my arm was actually bigger than when I started PT last month.
This means I have graduated to the ivy leagues of compression devices. On my arm is a light mesh compression sleeve, on top of that is a layer of foam, followed by an ace bandage. I have to wear this for 2 days, take it off and assess, then put it right back on. Continue this for a week. Not allowed to get it wet.
Let’s start with the good news. Guess I can’t do any dishes or bathe children… whoopsies!! And I get to think of a whole host of accidents that I can tell strangers when they ask what happened to my arm. Wake boarding accident? Crashed during my final trampolining qualifier for the Olympics? Fell off my silk while working as an aerialist at a night club?
Bad news, this is a chronic problem that I will have to deal with my whole life. And as of now, puffy arms are not in vogue or considered sexy. Paging Anna Wintour. What’s next for Spring 2018? Swollen limbs!
But for reals, this stuff is cake compared to so many alternatives I can conjure up in my over-worked mind. If I hadn’t found my cancer on a fluke, I would be sitting here with a tumor growing deep within my chest that was priming to kill me quickly. Using that as a baseline makes it very easy to laugh through the sweat and bandages.
2 Comments Add yours
Oh girl, been there. The wrapping is the pits for sure. Fingers crossed it gets under control stat!
You didn’t blog about getting that tattoo, did you? I am thinking about getting one over the mastectomy scar so I would appreciate hearing your take on the process.