The swelling under my left arm and chest area has been causing me a lot of discomfort. I have seen my reconstructive surgeon three weeks in a row and as the swelling is still so severe, he has not been able to add any saline into my tissue expanders.
“I don’t want to add anything yet as the swelling and your hematoma are making things really tight. You need to get all that fluid moving and reduced before we can proceed with injecting saline into your expanders.” I’ve heard the same thing now for weeks. Thanks to so many of you and your recommendations and referrals, I was able to get an appointment yesterday to see an osteopath that is trained in lymphatic massage. Before being diagnosed with cancer, I really didn’t know much about lymph nodes other than I knew we had them. The lymph nodes serve as a series of cleaning filters. Lymphatic fluid percolates through the nodes, being purified before flowing back into the circulatory system. The lymphatic system removes pathogens, excess fluids, waste products, dead blood cells, cancer cells and toxins. Lymphatic vessels have one-way valves to prevent any backward flow, therefore if the lymphatic system gets clogged there is no where for the fluid to go. This is the simplest explanation I could come up with. Unfortunately I can’t just drink some Drain-o and have things flushed out, so I needed to see a lymphatic “plumber” of sorts to open up my lymph pipes.
I was more than a little worried that the massage would be painful. I had watched several “self massage” videos on YouTube and they all involved raising your arm high in the air ( which I can’t yet do) and pushing downward with your hand, all the swollen areas where fluid has built up. The thought of having to push hard on an area that was still extremely tender from the surgery and incisions, was not something I wanted to experience. Fortunately, the treatment I received was nothing like that. The osteopath had me lie on the table as she gently pressed her fingers all over my upper chest, clavicle, rib cage and shoulder blades. She had me take deep breaths while she applied pressure to different areas. She said that there were many parts of my body that were locked up and very tight. With gentle pressure and slight movements of my arms she was able to release some of these areas and get them moving. I could feel the difference especially in my shoulders and clavicle. Just like with a regular massage, areas that felt tight, now felt more relaxed and were moving better. The treatment was not painful and actually felt good. I had a short session yesterday and another today as too much manipulation at this stage in my recovery would only aggravate things. Unfortunately my new lymphatic plumber is going on holiday until the end of July. In the meantime if I need/want another treatment, she recommended one of her colleagues at another clinic. I will see how I fare over the next few days. I have to respect the healing process and not expect too much so soon after my surgery, but I do want to keep things moving forward and am very happy that this “special” massage may help to reduce all the swelling. If that happens, then next week when I see the reconstructive surgeon, he may be able to give me the saline injections and start the process of swelling the parts that I do want to swell. Until then I will do everything that I can to heal, recover and… go with the flow.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.