5 month post surgery update

Sharing the blog if a lady who had LNT to her arm in England …

My lymph node transfer journey UK

hi all,

sorry I haven’t written in a while…life sort of takes over! Some of the reason for not writing is that I haven’t seen much of a change since I last wrote. I had a check up in birmingham and the nurse is still optimistic that the new nodes are working although I haven’t seen any more improvement in my measurement since my last post. The lymphodema nurse now thinks the fluid has moved and what is left is fat that was originally lymph fluid. She has suggested that I discuss the possibility of liposuction to remove this fat…but says it is too early days to do that yet. I was sort of horrified at this..the last thing I want is another operation but I suppose if it helps  my arm look like normal again then I’d definitely consider it. I am booked in to see my surgeon on…

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Sometimes life does not go as planned!!

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I am sure that those of you who have followed my blog over the past couple of years will wonder why I have not done an update of my own progress. March 2015 was the two-year anniversary of my Lymph node transfer and I am very happy with the results, not a cure at this stage but a huge improvement. There will be more on this later…

The reason for my lack of posting is I have been very ill with another late stage effect of radiation and cancer treatment. I started to experience weakness in my legs, I had falls, my legs felt numb combined with pins and needles,(peripheral neuropathy) gradually it became harder to get up stairs and to walk in general. December 2013 was my first appointment with a neurologist…. 2014 was a very difficult year, full of doctors appointments many, many tests, scans, a biopsy, neurological tests etc. I was seen by two neurologists, an immunologist and also visited a Clinic that specialized in Functional medicine.( Combining alternative medicine and conventional medicine).By the end Of 2014 I was given the diagnosis of Radiation Induced Lumbar Plexopathy, a very, very rare and untreatable side effect of radiation that leads to paralysis of the legs due to damage to the nerves in the Pelvis. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/316604-overview#a0101 Women who have had Breast cancer treatment can get Radiation induced Bracheal Plexopathy which leads to weakness or inability to use the arms and hands.

The first three months if this year was spent in hospital, doing intensive neurological rehabilitation, in the hope of regaining the use of my legs. Sadly this did not happen. While in hospital I learnt to use a wheelchair, and everything else I would need to manage with paralysed legs. We have had to sell our house and we will be moving into a home that is wheelchair friendly. Thank goodness for the help of those physios and occupational therapists who got my life back on track while I was in hospital. You can imagine there has been many tears coming to terms with this and I never imagined I could have something healthwise that was worse than the Lymphoedema!!!

It is very hard for me to write this, only 0.16% in 1000 of those who have had pelvic radiation  get this side effect. It can happen from 0-30 years after the radiation. It is difficult to get information and to connect with others but via the internet and the American Cancer Society I have connected with a couple of ladies. This is certainly not something they tell you about when you are having Radiation!!! No I am not starting a new blog at this stage, or trying to build awareness of this side effect!!! All my energy goes to getting through each day and learning to live with my new “normal”.

However even with all this the Lymphoedema journey still continues with I feel good results. Due to my illness I had to withdraw from the research program at Macquarie University Hospital Sydney as I could not have the MRI or Lymphoscintigram done. The measurements would also all be effected due to the muscle wasting of the legs, due to lack of movement. Since the start of the year I have not worn compression stockings, they are difficult to get on and uncomfortable on the sensitive nerves in my legs. Surprisingly my legs have stayed really good without compression. They are soft all the time, a bit of swelling in the ankles goes down over night and I have had no cellulitus since the surgery in March 2013… My lower leg is the same size as my good leg and the thigh a little bigger but does not get worse. Maybe a transfer to the groin as well as the one to the knee would have helped this but there will be no more surgery for me now!!!!

One of the things that is important for Lymphoedema is movement so on the recommendation of the rehabilitation doctor in the hospital I got a MotoMed machine http://abilityinmotion.com.au/products/movement-therapy/motomed/ This has been the best thing I could have done for the Lymphoedema and for my paralysed legs as it keeps the muscles moving and keeps the circulation going. I am unable to peddle, so the motor kicks in and I can do 25km of passive exercise plus I usually do 5km of active exercise, with my arms, for the upper body. This and deep breathing every day helps to keep my Lymphoedema in order, plus I elevate the end of my bed at night to help any swelling. Even the ankle on my good leg swells a bit sitting in a wheelchair all day, so there is double reason to look after my circulation.

I intend to keep this blog going and to share people’s stories and their progress. It has become quite a useful resource for those going ahead with surgery for Lymphoedema. Over the past two years I have noticed an increase in those having LNT and Lymphatic Bypass surgery, LVA, plus Lymph sparing liposuction to help their Lymphoedema, in both arms and legs. I think we are yet to find a 100% cure but there appears to be improvement, how big the improvement depends on the condition of the limb pre surgery and the care given post surgery. It can also take a number if years to see the ultimate response to surgery. Please keep sending me you stories and adding your comments to the posts, it is this sharing of knowledge that helps. Of course non of this replaces the advice of the surgeons who are looking after you, I am also glad to see that some of them are collect data on their results.. This is so important for the future…

Thank you to all of you who have supported me in the past year and who were aware of my problems, you have made it all a little easier to get through. Everyday for me is now a new experience……

If you would like to contact me please send an email to helenbrd@bigpond.net.au

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A question for you all … Please help…

Ann has asked me to share this question so more of the people who follow this blog can answer her questions… It would be great if you would write any answers for Ann as a comment at the end of this post.. If you are willing to email her then please email me your details to helenbrd@bigpond.net.au and I can pass these on to her.. It is a huge decision to go ahead with surgery for Lymphedema and it is very difficult to get answers when it is so new… However everyones experience can only help each other so i look forward to your responses… Thank you so much … Helen

“Is there anyone on this blog with primary LE considering surgery? Anyone familiar with Corinne Becker’s track record? I emailed her and she’s emailed back-I’m impressed. I hear very good things about Chang but struggle with his deeming MRL not of great value. Since my situation is congenital, I can logically deduce that MRL would be a valuable tool when considering surgery on a patient, to know as much as you can about them before operating. However, I think he is just so confident in his procedures he feels it’s just another expensive test. I think he feels the solution/surgery/procedure is the same no matter what the imaging shows.
Dr. Becker, on the other hand, sees significant value in MRL. She distinguishes between hypertrophy and hypotrophy of the lymphatic vessels, and says that will dictate which procedure is used. That in cases of severe hypotrophy (not enough vessels), LVB can actually do harm to the remaining vessels. She uses LNT for hypotrophy and LVB for hypertrophy (too many vessels/tangled mess) and sometimes recommends LNT as well for that. Is anyone familiar with these two categories? Anyone had surgery by either of these surgeons? Is there a way to reach a larger audience on this blog with this question?” Ann

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Are you Heating Up or Cooling Down?

These are some great tips for the summer months and travel… Thanks for sharing …

Life With Lymphedema

Does anyone else find his or her symptoms worsening during the summer months? Just because summer is heating up, does not mean your Lymphedema has to. I have made it a point to keep track of my personal journey and have also spoken to others affected by Lymphatic conditions to provide you with some helpful tips and tricks. The most common effects of increased Lymphatic symptoms more so during the summer months seem to be heat, humidity, travel, diet, dehydration and stress. So how do we stay mindful of these effects in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and thrive with our conditions?

First I encourage you to journal, take photos and track your symptoms good and bad. I have gained so much from doing this since being diagnosed. It has allowed me to mentally and visually track my progress and grasp a more in depth understanding of tools that may…

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Elizabeth shares her lead up to Surgery on 19th June

imageThis is the latest update from Elizabeth who will be having surgery with Dr Chang on 19th June… I am sure that we all wish her well and thank her for sharing with us her progress…

“I am beginning my countdown to June 19, 2015 which is my surgical date for a lymph node transplant and the lymphaticovenous bypass with Dr. David Chang at the University of Chicago Medical Center. I initially found out about Dr. Chang from this blog on which I am presently writing. I am so grateful for the support and the commeraderie I have received on this blog-The tears, feelings of hopelessness/helplessness, not to mention the loss of body image was something I had not experienced before. Once I read about Dr. Chang from this blog,(he was originally from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas) I felt my first rays of hope. For this reason, I vowed that I would share my story so that I could help others–so others will not give up searching for a more permanent solution instead of the countless conservative measures that we Lymphies must endure.
I want to share my experience as I go along so I don’t forget anything.

I went for an evaluation with Dr. Chang in September-a lymphoscintigraphy is a test where dye is injected between the toes to determine where the lymph nodes stop draining. After being told that the drainage in my left leg stopped at my knee, I knew I wanted to have the surgical procedure as soon as I could work everything out with my place of employment. I researched to make sure Dr. Chang was in my network for my health insurance, and Thank God he was as was the surgical procedure.

Dr. Chang emailed his research to me so that I could understand the procedure and what my chances were of getting back to “NORMAL”-All I want is to get my left leg measurements to be similar to my right leg, (which is still normal). The difference in measurement of my left leg to my right leg is about 2 inches bigger in the left thigh, 1 1/2 inches bigger in the left knee and about 2 inches bigger in the left calf. I have been applying wraps, compression garments, bedtime garments, MLD-you name it, I have been the most compliant patient but I really need a more permanent solution—In order for me to put on the Elvarex 1/2 panty 40 mm of mercury compression stocking, I have to sit on the floor with a pair of Playtex purple rubber gloves and pull up this thick stocking even when it is 95 degrees outside. I wear the stocking under my blue jeans as well as under the spandex I wear to the gym. Now finally, even though I know this is a chronic condition and I will always have to wear a compression stocking, I am hoping the amount of compression will decrease after the surgery. Maybe I’ll be able to wear a jobst compression panty hose that has 20-30 mm of mg compression instead of 40 mm. Everyone needs hope-The vascular surgeon here in CT that I confer with occasionally, told me that I should speak on the topic of lymphedema since I have researched this topic so much and feel so passionate about it. While I don’t feel knowledgeable enough or confident enough to talk to a group of people about lymphedema, I would love to help anyone get past the emotional aspect of this chronic disorder. I would love to give this disorder a face-

A short time ago Sandra Lee from the cooking channel told the world that she was having a bilateral mastectomy. My heart goes out to her because everyone who has cancer will have lymph nodes removed. With the removal of lymph nodes, comes the possibility of LE. I will continue to post information so that I may help others who may be thinking about this procedure. Please Pray for me. God is listening.”

Thank you- Elizabeth

We wish you all the very best on the 19th June… Rest and heal after… We look forward to hearing your progress. Take care Helen