Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The “Ups and Downs” of Lower Extremity Edema


1999I haven’t done a medical update in a while because the bottom line is not very exciting. I am recovering slowly, a little better each day, from the effects of the cancer, chemo and the stem cell transplant. According to my oncologist, the process takes about two years and I am approaching the one-year anniversary at the end of November. At that time I will have to get revaccinated and may go on a bit different recovery regimen. I am regaining strength. Joyce and I are up to about a 1/2 hour one mile daily walk and I am doing some other regular core strengthening exercises. In the meantime, I get to do a lot of reading and studying, which I enjoy very much, and am working on an “exegetical devotional” of the Gospel of Mark, which I have been posting from here on this blog. Comments are welcome on those posts.

The big issue for me is the “lower extremity edema” which is a result of the lymphoma which ravaged my lymph nodes in 2016-17. The cancer is gone but the damage done to the lymph nodes remains. I also had to have a lymph node removed from the right side of my pelvis which inhibits flow and removal a the lymph fluids from my body. This causes swelling in my pelvic area and legs. To manage it I go to a physical therapist, who gave me instruction for self-care which includes massage, exercises and the wearing of compression gear during the day. This will be something that I will have to manage the rest of my life. We are also hoping that I will qualify and be able to benefit from a machine that moves the lymph out of my lower body. It doesn’t work for everyone and it is not covered by any insurance. We are waiting for one to become available to try it out and see if it will work for me. We’d appreciate your prayers on that.

So, here are some “ups and downs” of having lower extremity edema….

The Downs

  1. It takes a long time to get up in the morning and to get ready for bed. First, there is the putting on or taking off the compression gear. That includes a jockstrap-like pad that goes on first followed by compression stockings and then compression shorts. At night they come off in the opposite order. Before I put them on and after I take them off I have a 20+ minute regimen of massage and exercise that I go through. It really helps in controlling the swelling, but I have also learned that bad results happen when I slack off on this regimen.
  2. It is uncomfortable. The pad is a little bulky and the compression gear can dry the skin. So some days the gear can cause a bit of chafing. Also the multi-layers of gear under the clothing can lead to a lot of sweating. This slows down the active life a little. As winter approaches though I am hoping the layers of gear will keep me warm and toasty, instead of just being hot like in the summer.
  3. My biggest concern when I go somewhere is how good are the bathrooms. Using one involves a bit of extra effort than in my pre-cancer days. (See above with gear off and on) I found that I loved attending a game at the Golden One Center but the Oakland Coliseum left a lot to be desired – managed it with a bit of bathroom gymnastics. Basically, it just requires a little extra time and effort.
  4. I need to watch my salt intake and make sure my body stays hydrated. Thankfully my diet restrictions aren’t much more stringent than that. I need to drink a lot of water, which seems counter-intuitive considering the problem seems to be retaining water. But what I am really retaining is lymph fluid and water moves it through my system.
  5. It hurts a little once in a while, but I am thankful the pain is pretty minimal. I have been on line and seen some cases far worse than what I have .

The Ups

  1. The regimen forces me to live one day at a time. God has made us physical, as well as spiritual, creatures and having physical needs reminds me of my daily dependence on God. That is easy to forget when you are healthy. The “chaos” is always hovering out there on the horizon and we should not forget that God is the only One who has defeated and will defeat that sin, death, sickness and evil chaos.
  2. It also reminds me of the daily spiritual care that is needed for living life. If I blow off days of massage and exercise I will see negative results. In the same way, if I blow off times of daily prayer and listening to the Spirit I will also see negative results that are just as real. This is how I can cooperate with God as he holds back the chaos.

This was supposed to be a short post so I’ll end it here. I am so thankful to God who has healed me from cancer and gives me daily strength to live day to day, no matter what we face.

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