Lymphedema · Recovery · Surgery

Fall Roundup, Part 1

Happy autumn, everybody! In today’s post I will give a lymphedema update, and in my Fall Roundup Part 2 I’ll give a cancer update (no bad news).

I have no interesting photos relevant to this post, so I thought I’d post this instead.

I’m currently eight months out from my lymphedema surgery in February. I had a follow up visit with Dr. Champ a couple of weeks ago. Everything looks fine and there is no significant post-surgical discomfort. The clavicle area is still a wee bit numb, but that now feels normal. The incisions on my arm I am aware of, but they have completely healed and I barely notice them. So, that’s all good.

But there is definitely no difference post-surgery in terms of the lymphedema itself. I still wear both the sleeve and the glove. Dr. Champ takes circumference measurements all along the length of my arm whenever I see him, and they’ve changed a bit here & there, with some going up a centimeter or so, and others going down. At this recent appointment I had only been a couple of weeks from my John Muir Trail hike (a topic for a different blog site…) so I suspect any changes were more due to that than the surgery.

Dr. Champ is not discouraged, however. He says it usually takes at least a year to see any changes, and he’s seen some cases where it has take four or five years. Also from my perspective, while of course it’d be disappointing if there is ultimately no improvement, I definitely won’t regret having had the surgery because there was no way to know beforehand whether or not I’d see any changes.

In hindsight my timing for this procedure was amazing. I was initially bummed that I’d be missing out on the best part of ski season. Welp, thanks to COVID-19, ski season – and everything else – was cancelled right after my surgery anyway. And talk about timing for the surgery itself! If it had been scheduled for only a few weeks later it would for sure have been cancelled. By April, when people started venturing outside and hiking again (my preferred form of exercise), I was recovered and ready to join them. Way to look on the bright side!

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