Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wrap me up

Gee, this is fun. I will say that these gals at Tucson Medical Center Rehab are good - they explain things, they're cheery and helpful - what a delightful change from ol' Ms. Road Kill from my earlier experience with the lymphedema compression wrap!

Thought I'd share a couple pictures today - foolishly, I didn't take one of my puffy squishy hand and arm prior to this latest experiment.

When I returned home from my Friday therapy, I took one as I sat at the compute

I wore it two full days and removed it this morning for a shower.

This is the pile of 'stuff' after I unwrapped it all.

And this is the relatively dramatic change
I noticed after just a few days of the wrap made.

Unfortunately the fluid builds up again and the swelling comes back, unless the compression wrap and glove/sleeve are worn regularly. This happens because of the surgery that removed the axillary 'fat' pad of lymph nodes under my arm - the filtering system was destroyed. This surgery was necessary to remove the cancerous lymph nodes, so they wouldn't pass the cancer cells on to other areas of the body.

The lymphatic system isn't polite enough to regenerate, as a couple other organs do, like the lungs and the liver. Which is a shame, for more reasons than my puffy arm!

The lymph system is the primary garbage disposal of the body
(my words, obviously not from any legitimate medical document), a vital part of the immune system.

The lymphatic fluid (the 'lymph') picks up the tiny debris, proteins, toxins and germs from the c
ellular level, and transports it through the lymphatic vessels, on one-way only 'roads' via a sort of peristaltic action to the lymph nodes, where the fluid is filtered and hopefully cleaned of infection.

This is one of the reasons your doctor checks your lymph nodes when you complain of being sick - they swell when they are battling an infection ('swollen glands'), or in my case when they battled (and lost) to cancer. So, in my case, without the lymph nodes there to do their job, the fluid has no where to go and just collects.

The compression wrap forces the remaining lymph vessels to work harder, to squeeze the stuff on
its way. The associated massage stimulates the surrounding system to also work harder to re-direct the fluid on other than its normal paths.

The filtered lymph continues through its system of ducts to be returned to the blood just before it enters the heart, from where it begins it's journey again. It seeps from our capillaries into surrounding tissue (we're talking really tiny here), picks up the debris and stuff again and returns through the
magic of the body to the lymph system itself to be filtered and passed on, again and again.

Meanwhile, other things have been emptied too.

Here at my RV park, which was a water park in its previous life, we were lucky to have one remaining water feature that included several hundred koi and gold fish, and served as a lovely scenic party area.

Sadly, the owner decided it was simply too expensive to maintain (tough to do in the desert heat!!) and chose to deprive us of the lovely sounds of running water and the fishies.

Yesterday, the Southern Arizona Koi Association came to rescue the estimated 400-600 fish, and the ponds were drained.

The owls and cranes, and an occasional coyote will miss the fishing, and a local stray dog who took his morning bath there every day will too! (no, not Misha - she's just fascinated by the smell!)

The plan now is to fill the area in with dirt and create a bocce ball court.

I'll be interested to see how many RVers are familiar with bocce ball - otherwise known as lawn bowling. I used to play once in awhile on the polo fields in Hawaii after the matches, so I may have a leg up on them on this one!

And just a little reminder, as I clean up old emails, this is another excellent site for cancer info - all kinds of cancers and all kinds of helpful info!

The Animal Rescue Site
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