This week I found not only my PJs but also my pillow had become home to mosquitoes. Not the nicest thing to find when your head hits the pillow it has to be said.
Being someone mosquitoes love to snack on and knowing that bites and stings are a lymphoedema risk, it seems it is that time of year again when I need to find ways to keep the little buggers away from me.
Here a few things I know work and a few new ones that are worth a try:
- On my affected arm swap the E45 and Argan oil combo to Avon – Skin so Soft, which contains citronella.
- Get out the citronella tealights and start using those instead of my regular scented candles.
- Get some more lavender, rosemary, lemon grass and marigolds planted up in the garden.
- When opening windows in my bedroom remember to use the fly screens too.
- Cook with garlic more.
- Get out my mosquito swatter just in case.
- Make sure there’s no standing water inside or out.
- Cook with soy bean oil.
- Cut down or cut out perfumed products, especially when going outside.
- Wear long sleeved, light coloured tops with a tight weave.
- Avoid excessive exercise particularly at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are out. Sweat, carbon dioxide and warmer body temperatures are also very attractive to them.
(Source: Amelia Island Mosquito Control)
5 months ago (following on from some research I’d done online about how to keep my immune system in tip top condition during the winter months), I came across an article by Dr John Douillard, which recommended an herb called Ashwagandha. I’d never heard of it before but a Google search revealed an image of a plant I did recognise. Funnily enough it was one which my Gran used to grow in her garden, which she referred to as ‘Chinese Lanterns’ (we used to use them in dried flower arrangements and I’ve also from time to time had them served to me as a garnish in restaurants).
Somewhat sceptical, I thought I would give it a go in capsule form, as adding the herb to my diet didn’t seem particularly feasible. I also decided to take half the recommended dosage, just to see what affect it would have if any.
Not really noticing any difference at all I had already decided not to buy any more when they ran out. They ran out 10 days ago and not only have I suddenly picked up the worst cold I have had in years but also my sense of well-being has plummeted too. Now this could be a coincidence, so I’ve been back online to do some further research in to the herb. Here’s what I’ve found…
Benefits of Ashwagandha:
- Aiding in wound care
- Aids sleep
- Boosts energy
- Decreases cancer cells without adversely affecting healthy cells
- Fights off cold and cough symptoms
- Pain relief
- Lowers cholesterol
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Combats stress
Some people also use Ashwagandha for improving thinking ability and preventing the effects of aging. It acts neither as a stimulant nor as a sedative; because it can both boost energy and support better sleep.
Needless to say I already have another order on its way. I will be sticking to my half measures however as that seems to be enough for me to receive the necessary benefits. Please do your own research on this before taking Ashwagandha because as with anything, there are always going to be precautions and side-effects that need to be considered. I just wanted to share with you something that had worked incredibly well for me.
(Source: Life Spa, Chopra, Web MD, Natural News, Conscious Life News)
Having developed some mild swelling around my arm pit over the last 10 days I was keen to do as much as I could as soon as I could to reduce it. I revisited the SLD videos I had but was finding them very lengthy and a bit boring. That’s no good to me. I need to have something that’s easy to follow, can be done at home or at work if needed and gets results quickly.
I came across the video below and tried it yesterday to great effect. Not only was it easy to follow but the swelling has noticeably reduced and my arm is not cramping as much and so far isn’t as stiff either. Result!
The clip also contains a section for those who want to try massage with a partner or carer.
I’ve been getting unusual sensations in my affected arm for the last 7 days so the question is…
What do I do now if this is the start of Lymphoedema!?
Ok, first and foremost, don’t panic! The sooner it’s treated the better the outcome. This is what I’m going to do…
- Call the Breast Care Nurse and explain what I’ve been experiencing and for how long. Arrange to see the hospital’s lymphoedema specialist.
- Call my MLD therapist and tell him all of the above and bring my monthly appointment forward.
- Continue with my rebounding workout because it’s a great lymph mover and keeps my arm supple.
- Revisit the YouTube links on SLD (simple lymphatic drainage).
- Throughout the day do the post-op physiotherapy exercises whenever I can. Aim to do these at least 3 times a day now.
- Take a flask of boiling water to work with me so I can de-congest my lymph whilst at my desk.
- Put sliced lemon in my filtered water whenever possible.
- Make sure I eat one banana a day.
- Drink pineapple juice.
- Move my grounding mat from my PC to my bed so I can get the benefit whilst I sleep.
At the moment I think that’s the best I can do whilst waiting to see the specialists.
I found the video below very interesting for a number of reasons but the top one was that MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) is used/recommended in the USA for the prevention of lymphoedema (for those who are at risk following surgery). Although I have since surgery been having MLD, because of the cost of it and because it has not been recognised by the medical professionals that I have spoken to about it as an effective preventative measure, I have had a few doubts as to whether I should be funding my own treatment. Despite that, I have continued because I am in the camp that believes prevention is better than cure. This video however has given me the reassurance to continue and that I have in fact made a good investment in my own health and well-being by having the treatment.
The video goes on to advise that those who are at risk and want to reduce their risk should be well educated/informed about the condition/risks and of course exercise. Progressive resistance exercise with weights and aerobic exercise are highly recommended as studies have shown that those at risk of lymphoedema who did exercise had a lower risk compared to those who were at risk and didn’t.
Interestingly they are not recommending anyone at risk should wear a compression garment. Again I found this to be one of those questions which no one really seems to know the answer to. Although I have been measured for and now have a compression sleeve, I haven’t used it, and following the advice in this video now wont as a preventative measure.
So, we’ve covered some of the stuff we really don’t want to hear, but let’s be fair it’s really difficult for people to know what to say for the best. I know that if the shoe had been on the other foot I wouldn’t of had a clue what to say to a cancer patient. So I thought I would share with you some of the most wonderful things people have said to me that really made a difference during my darkest hours.
In no particular order…
- Whatever you need, day or night just call me
- I don’t know what I can do but if there is anything just let me know
- I would do anything so you didn’t have to go through this
- You are always in my prayers
- Let me come over and do the housework for you
- Where do you want to go and what do you want to do? Whatever it is we’ll do it
- I don’t want you to worry about work, we’ve got it covered
- Your health is the most important thing, let us worry about everything else
- I’m going to bring over some frozen meals
- We want to do a charity run in your honor. Is that ok?
Of course one of the most important things anyone can do is to be there to listen when we need to talk. To not judge us on the difficult decisions we need to make at probably the most stressful time of our life but to just be there to support us no matter what. If you don’t know what to say, say that! We will understand. Sometimes we just want to talk about anything other than cancer so please do treat us as you always have done and share what’s going on in your life with us too.
There is it seems some evidence to suggest that MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) can reduce the risk of secondary lymphoedema. The treatment as a preventative measure however is not backed by the NHS unfortunately.
I decided to source and pay for the treatment myself. Why? Well because I firmly believe that it is better to try and prevent an incurable condition than not and also because it gave me peace of mind, allowing someone else to manage and monitor my arm for me. I must point out that this was ignoring the advice of my consultant, who although she knew of and referred her patients who have lymphoedema to the therapist in question, still advised me not to waste my money. For me it’s not a waste. If there is something further I can be doing to reduce my risk of lymphoedema then I’m going to do it. If in the future I get lymphoedema then I will at least have the peace of mind that I did everything I could.
I was lucky to find that the MLD therapist was located within walking distance of my house. I went for an initial consultation to discuss my situation and he proposed a timetable based on the level of my risk.
I have been having MLD once a month since my surgery. This will initially continue for the first 6 months post surgery and will then be reviewed and a new timetable worked out.
I can’t give you any guarantees on this one. All I know is that I am happier knowing that I am doing all I can to reduce my risk.
To find an MLD therapist near you go to www.mlduk.org.uk
Source: NCBI and Joachim Zuther