As Ive mentioned, my left arm has been tingling for over a month now. My doctor got me an appointment with the cancer rehabilitation clinic here in town to check for lymphedema. For those who dont know what lymphedema is (’cause I certainly wouldn’t have), you first have to know what your lymph nodes do. Those guys, we have them all over our body and act as filters or traps for foreign particles and are important in the proper functioning of our immune system. I had two of my lymph nodes removed to make sure the cancer had not spread to the lymph nodes (which it did not), and removing them, that means the fluid in my body has less avenues to access. Which creates swelling and swelling is not good. So, lymphedema is a risk when you remove lymph nodes and its something that used to be pretty common for breast cancer, more so back when they used to remove all of the lymph nodes to test them. Now a days its way less unlikely because of only taking a few rather than a whole cluster. I was given the 20% chance of developing lyphedema because of having lymph nodes removed plus radiation (radiation ups my chances, but I couldnt really get out of radiation). And of course, doing my own research (googling) lymphedema is incurable. Needless to say, I was a little worried going into the appointment. Early signs of lymphedema is mostly swelling, which I have none of, but we just kept thinking, we’ve been surprised before.

The appointment was early (well for me, 7:45am) and I had to fill out paperwork Ive had to fill out so many times before. I wish the health system can get it more together, I mean, do you really not know my birthday? I find that hard to believe. I met with a sweet physical therapist, who was shorter than me (I know, hard to believe). She was very informative and kept telling me as I described the tingling and “pulling” when I reached with my left arm was all very normal. She measured both my arms and said they matched in measurements, so she saw no swelling. The only “swelling” was right above the incision where they removed my lymph nodes, which she said was just scar tissue and again, perfectly normal. She had me do some excises with my arms and told me I was strong (which is always nice to hear). Theres no way to know absolute, but she did not think I have lymphedema. The tingling could be my nerves growing back from surgery like my doctors nurse guessed, we just cant really know for sure. Even so, I got signed up for 3 appointments of physical therapy and will get a compression sleeve fitted for my arm. The PT will just help the “pulling” I do feel in my arm pit and hopefully help prevent lymphedema from happening. And the compression sleeve should help with the tingling, but it may not. Will be good to have when I travel and when I know Im going to be lifting.

At the end of my appointment the physical therapist asked how I was feeling now. I know I wear my emotions on my sleeve a lot, especially with people who know me, but I didnt think I was with her. Maybe it was just something she asks at the end, but I told her I felt a lot better. That I had been nervous coming into this appointment that I did in fact have lymphedema. She said that I had been through a lot, so she completely understand the worry over something else health wise might be happening. That helped me feel less crazy for feeling the way I did. And even though Im not at all excited about adding 3 PT appointments to my calendar, Im glad to be proactive in trying to get rid of the tingling and preventing lymphedema. Needless to say, its great to be told I do not have lyphedema.

For the past 24 hours, you probably could have found me listening to this song called “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters. We’ve sung it at church before, but yesterday it really rested in my heart. Especially the lines of:

“All the hearts who are content
And all who feel unworthy
And all who hurt with nothing left
Will know that You are holy.”

Looking back on this past year, God truly has been to me, what he claims to be. The line of “all who hurt with nothing left” really hit me. With this appointment hanging over my head, I was like, God, I cant do another big health thing. Not yet. I just love this song because its a song you can sing in all different places. When I feel good, its a great song. When Im in a hard place, its a song to sing. Heres the complete song if you wish to listen to it (and recently my favorite new worship songs have been by All Sons and Daughters, so I highly recommend them).

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Thanks so much for writing about this. I like knowing all the details, and I was so worried you might have this. But I’m sooooo glad you don’t!

January 21, 2014 9:31 am

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