Episode LXXXII - She's lump. She's lump.
I had no idea what I was in for regarding Occupational Therapy for Lymphedema. I quickly found out that the lymphedema treatment was essentially a massage that helps to redirect the lymphatic fluid to flow in the direction of the heart. Basically, the massage would help the fluid get out of my arm and back into circulation. And it was not a typical massage.
The lymph system is located directly under the skins, so the therapist barely does more than to move the skin. Honestly, the small gentle movements barely qualify it as a massage. It was essentially a gentle touch therapy. However, I call it My 1 Hour Boobie Massage!!!
Something I never would think I would say...
When I first got into the room I took off my shirt and bra. Seriously, after everything I have been through I am wondering who hasn't seen my boobs?!?!
Then I laid down on the massage table and place a light cloth to cover my breasts. Not that it would matter if they were covered or not since the massage therapy was centered around my arm pits, chest, and arms. I mean the therapist was going to be touching and seeing all of my chest anyway. Take a number... my boobies have been seen by just about everyone.
Light touch down the neck...
(The massage pictures are not me.)
Then the focus is on my good arm pit, or left side, toward my heart and down my sides toward my pelvic region. She starts with my good lymphatic side first... gets the system going and hopefully ready to help aid the other side not working correctly.
Rubbin' the Boobie Area...
(Again, not me... but don't they look relaxed)
Time to focus on my chest. The therapist works on the build up of scar tissue around my many scars and radiated breast. I have a large scar down my right breast from the lumpectomy, across my chest for the port, under my arm pit in multiple spots for the axillary lymph node dissection/drain tubes, and some hardening from radiation under my breast. She works hard to break up all those lumps, tissue, and general mess irritating me. See, I told you... a Boobie Massage!!!
Most of the time during treatment my right breast is being worked on. After she gets it good and massaged the therapist starts to work the lymphatic system down my arm. She will massage it until she gets to the tips of my fingers. Each massage movement was so gentle that I often wonder if something so simple could work.
My arm is definitely showing lymphedema swelling, so I get two Boobie Massages a week. Not only that, I am suppose to do the same massage to myself multiple times a day. Really... I was just given a prescription to touch my boobs!
In my head...
A note to all women about to go to their first OT appointment for lymphedema treatment for their chest or arms, if at all possible leave your children at home. My very first appointment I brought my daughter. I was not aware that I was going to get naked and felt up in front of her. Thank goodness she was so wrapped up in the technology I brought that she was completely unaware. One of those classic moments in life - making memories here!!!
It seems that I have a boob theme going on right now. I cannot seem to get away from clinical touching. However, I am always surprised at how tired I am after treatment. I guess an hour of rubbing an area that feels bad can wear a girl out. I think I should be rejuvenated and all energized. Apparently, all that focus on my chest can be exhausting. The massage really does work and gets the lymphatic system pumping - it seems to be helping the swelling.
I am lucky that I really enjoy my therapist. She cracks me up! I think I am lucky, as it should be important to enjoy the company of the person who is massaging your boobs!
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”
Episode Reference: Lump, The Presidents of the United States song