From time to time my arm can still feel a bit stiff and achy. Having moved on from the physiotherapy soft play ball I was using after surgery and then the play-dough, it occurred to me that perhaps kneading bread would be a great workout for my arm.
When I was little I used to make bread with my Gran and remembered that kneading the bread would really make my arms ache – the sign of a good workout. So, as I’m on a bit of a health drive I thought I would try to get in the habit of making my own bread. Now-a-days you can buy packets of prepared bread mix to which you only need to add some water, so if complicated recipes are not your thing or if you simply don’t have the time to do it all from scratch, why not grab a bag of pre-mix and give it a go.
Alternatively, as I found out this week for the first time, decorating a cake in fondant icing will also do the trick. You could even go all out and put the electric mixer away and beat the cake mixture by hand!
Whatever works for you one thing’s for sure, cooking and baking my own food not only gives me control over what I eat but it’s a healthier and better for me and my arm.
Back in the summer I bought a second-hand mini trampoline off eBay. It was probably the best £10 I have spent over the last 6 months. Not only is it highly recommended to aid lymph flow but it proved to be a lot of fun too, and, helped me stay physically active post surgery despite struggling with severely low energy levels at times.
I can honestly say I’ve used the trampoline most weekday mornings. Just a 20 minute workout has helped me wake up, feel positive, alive and in control of my health.
For those days when my arm ached I knew that with a quick blast on the mini trampoline it would feel an awful lot better. It has been a huge help to me physically and emotionally and has also proved to be a lot of fun when friends have come to visit too – watching them bounce around, laughing and grinning from ear to ear within seconds of trying it out.
It is addictive and so, when I was asked what I wanted for Christmas, I knew… a brand new trampoline please!!
Having been following Jason Vale’s Rebounding DVD for months, I had worked my way up from the “easy” bounce to the “medium” quite quickly but had struggled to get through the “high bounce” workout. I couldn’t figure out why it was proving so difficult, I was trying to jump as high as Jason was but I just couldn’t get the momentum to keep up. I thought maybe the trampoline had lost its bounce over the years so when I tried the “medium” workout on my new trampoline I was delighted that I was able to jump higher than ever before with less effort and without even breaking a sweat!
The new trampoline seems to me about 5 times more bouncy than the old one. So, today I thought I would give the “high” bounce routine a go. To my surprise I got through the entire workout only stopping occasionally to regain my posture and position because I was bouncing so high I was nearly falling off!
Using the second-hand trampoline for so long had really paid off. The extra effort I was putting in trying to keep up meant that the higher workout with the new trampoline was a piece of cake.
I would definitely recommend trying a second-hand trampoline before buying new. If you like it or even love it, then invest in a new one and you will love it even more.
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.
Macmillan have just released the transcript of their Life After Cancer Web Chat which took place on the 10th September. Whether you were able to join the chat on the day or not you can now see all the questions and answers online. I was there on the day and was one of the people asking questions about Lymphoedema.
Hilary Weaver, a specialist nurse from the Macmillan Support Line, answered questions on the physical and emotional after-effects of cancer.
In terms of living with the risk of lymphoedema, they say that you know when you have done too much exercise or put too much strain on your arm. The problem with that is that it’s then too late – I’ve done too much and the damage is done. How can I possibly know when enough is enough without doing any harm? What are the warning signs?
Hilary: That’s a good question. The risk of lymphoedema is greater if you suddenly do an unusual amount of activity or lifting. The key is to build up slowly and consistently so that your arm has lots of time to adapt. It is possible to do vigorous exercise and weights without developing any problems but you need to work up to that very gradually and make it your norm! Don’t do too much too fast. You can find more information about coping with lymphoedema on the Macmillan website.
But when you have pain in your arm before you start, how do you know when to stop. It’s been 13 weeks since the surgery and I don’t know what the difference is between healing pain and lymphoedema pain.
Hilary: Your surgery was quite recent and it’s not unusual to still be healing up. Lymphoedema would be uncommon at this stage in your healing. Perhaps sticking to the post op exercises you’ve been given at this stage would be sensible. You could also talk to your specialist for more advice or a physiotherapist referral?
Does manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) help reduce the risk of lymphoedema?
We don’t know for sure that manual lymphatic drainage prevents lymphoedema. The research about this just isn’t very clear at the moment. MLD is more often used with other techniques to manage lymphoedema. You can read more about preventing lymphoedema and treating lymphoedema on our website.
You can read the full article here: Life After Cancer Web Chat
The axillary clearance of the lymph nodes in my right arm left it very swollen, numb and painful after surgery. 13 weeks on, I still have some pain and numbness but the swelling has nearly gone.
One of the most frustrating and worrying things during this post op period has been not knowing if what I’m feeling in my arm is the first sign of Lymphoedema or not. Time and again I’ve found myself wishing my upper arms were more toned so I could easily see any signs of swelling. Instead, every time I caught myself looking in a mirror I’ve tried to compare one arm with the other to see if one looked noticeably bigger, which really isn’t that easy to do.
So, now that the swelling has reduced considerably and I am able to use my arm a lot more, I thought I would start to try and tone up my bingo wings by getting my triceps in shape. Not wanting to spend out on gym fees for the privilege, I decided to get some exercise resistance bands. I went for the Bodylastics set, which comes with 5 different band strengths, along with a DVD manual to get you started.
Now after rebounding first thing in the morning, I use the door grip attachment to work on toning my triceps. 15-18 reps x3 per exercise.
It’s going to take some work to get in shape but it’s going to be so worth it.
Just before I found out I had breast cancer I booked an indoor skydiving treat for myself and a friend. However, once everything kicked off I wasn’t able to go and to be honest, wasn’t even sure that I should.
When I read in the LSN (Lymphoedema Support Network) newsletter that the reason why the rebounder (aka mini trampoline) is so good for our lymph system is that on the bounce we experience weightlessness (zero gravity), I started to think about what other fun things I could do that would give the same result.
Well, indoor skydiving is a zero gravity experience, so I checked with the LSN who emailed me back yesterday saying “It is a passive sport so go ahead and enjoy it!”.
This opens up a realm of possibilities, which I will check out first before posting, but the good news is that there is stuff we can do that is a lot fun but also great for our lymphatic system too!