Thursday, June 11, 2015

lymphedema ~ and painting

 Back in November 2014, I was diagnosed with primary lymphedema in my left arm. Most people - including doctors - aren't familiar with lymphedema. The reason most doctors don't know about this condition is because it usually happens after cancer surgery. So the doctors that are most familiar with lymphedema are oncologists. According to my lymphedema therapist, they talk about lymphedema in medical school maybe for an hour. I'm the one who familiarizes my primary care physician about lymphedema! As you might have guessed, lymphedema has to do with your lymphatic system. It's an abnormal buildup of protein-rich fluid that causes swelling, most often in the legs and arms, although it can happen in the chest, buttocks and groin. The most common type of lymphedema is secondary - which "can develop from an infection, malignancy, surgery, scar tissue formation, trauma, radiation, or other cancer treatment." (From Cleveland Clinic.)

I have the rare kind - primary. It can be hereditary, though I don't know of anyone on either side of my family who had this. Or, it can be an abnormality of the lymph vessels or missing lymph vessels. It can show up right after birth or be late-onset, such as in my case. Back on November 24, 2014, I wrote a little bit about it in this post. I had just gone through five straight days of manual lymph drainage (which is done by a certified lymphedema therapist) and bandaging. Well, here I am seven months later and going through it again. Though the good news is - my arm is doing better (measurements are down), so I only have to deal with everything for three days in a row this time. You see, there is no cure for lymphedema. It can only be managed. And that management is very important, because if you don't take care of it, it will get worse. I am only in stage 1, which can actually be reversible. So anyhoo...this is what my arm currently looks like with the five layers of bandaging. NOT fun. I don't let it stop me from doing most things around the house. Except I won't go out in public. I can't stand the stares and people asking me what happened to my arm. It's not something that can be explained in a few words.

As long as I have lymphedema, I will also have to wear compression garments every day and night. This is the Caresia sleeve that I have to wear at night. I call it my oven mitt. Sexy. (Photo from the November 24, 2014 blog post.) During the day, I wear a beige compression stocking for 6-8 hours/day. 

 On to better things...I last left you with my chalk-painted nightstand and said that I was painting the three drawers in an ombre fashion.

 I decided to go with shades of blue. Looks pretty good, right?

Well, I went to put the drawers back in the nightstand and they didn't fit in the order I had intended them to! I swear that these drawers are all the same size. I even had Brian try to fit them in from lightest to darkest, but no go. We don't know if it has something to do with the paint or what. This was the only way they fit. I am not painting them again! Now all I need to do is to find some drawer pulls. I'm going to look for silver curved ones. 

I also spray-painted a little table for the master bathroom. 

 It tucks in perfectly next to the sink. We lack counter space in this bathroom, so it'll give me room for things such as a bottle of lotion, a box of Kleenex and maybe a pretty decorative item.

 Bandages off for good tomorrow ~ which means I can spend all day running errands!


  1. Melanie,
    This has been a big deal with your arm and I am so very sorry that it has been. Has it been painful?
    You have certainly taken it in your stride and have gone about things as normally as you can considering the fact that it is all bandaged up. I am thankful that your prognosis is so good, your great attitude certainly makes a big difference, I know.
    Your nightstand turned out lovely, I really like the chalk paint and ombre, so what do you think went on with the drawers not fitting in the order they were removed? Furniture is a strange thing!
    Have a great weekend,

  2. I learned a lot from you regarding your ailment. I am impressed you kept on going with your projects too. I think your project turned out quite well even though you're not happy with the order the drawers fit into it. Looking forward to seeing it finished with the drawer pulls.

  3. Very strange about your arm but glad you are able to manage the symptoms. The drawers turned out great even if they aren't in the order you wanted. We lack space in the bathrooms too so any sort of little stand helps for storing things. Have a great weekend. Tammy

  4. I am so sorry that you are having to deal with this lymphedema but I want to applaud you for sharing it with us because then we can learn more and pass the information on. I hope that this round of treatment is successful. The oven mitt looks as though it must make your arm very hot, but if it does the trick the. It is worth it. Sending you all good thoughts and hoping that all will be well. Hugs. xx

  5. Sorry to hear about the lymphedema. It sounds like a terrible thing to have to deal with, but it looks like you are taking care of yourself and managing it the best you can. And maybe by sharing your story, you are helping someone else. On a happier note, I think your nightstand looks wonderful. It's not ombre with the drawers in that mixed-up order, but so what? Nothing wrong with breaking the rules once in a while. Maybe you'll even start a new design trend...

  6. I've known people with secondary lymphedema, but I didn't realize that it could be primary, Melanie. Hope this is the last treatment that you have to have. xo Laura

  7. I hope your treatment works - you sure seem to have a positive attitude about it.

    I can't wait to see the completed cabinet.

  8. Bless your heart Melanie, this must be so limiting for you. I do hope you have some improvement soon and they can extend the times between treatments. Take care my lovely xx

  9. Your painted furniture looks great, Melanie. The table is a perfect addition to the bathroom. I'm sorry to hear your medical condition continues. It sounds uncomfortable. I understand somewhat because I had a condition in my pregnancies which caused pitting edema, as one symptom. It was bizarre to see my skin that way, I looked like I was made of cottage cheese. I hope that with therapy and your compression garments you will see a lot of improvement. Take care and enjoy the weekend.

  10. I remember all of this woe hitting you and you have been and are an overcomer no matter what :)

  11. I feel so bad about this---you scared me when you mentioned stages. But you've done your research and that's good. Some people stick their heads in the sand, and we simply need more opinions and options than one physician. All the best to you.

    Mosquitoes...humidity. Actually we haven't had a lot of bugs yet, not sure why. We have been getting wasps in our family room and I've checked every nook and cranny and screen and simply can't believe they are getting in when we go in and out the door. Scary and no one has been stung yet.

    I love the chest---it's perfect as is, I like those colors. The same for the little stand in your bath...very cheery!

    Jane x

  12. I'm sure it'll be a relief to get your bandages glad your arm hasn't gotten worse, Melanie. The table and side stand you painted are adorable. Love the way the drawers are painted.
    Mary Alice

  13. Sorry you are having to go through that, Melanie...I hope it isn't painful, too. I have heard of it before, but didn't realize it could be a primary condition. Hope it gets under control again soon!
    The cabinet turned out great and I love the idea of using the little table for extra storage in the bathroom!

  14. Hugs to you Melanie! I'm sure it must be frustrating but you have a good attitude.

    Your painted drawers sounds like something that would happen to me! At least they fit! The colors look great!

  15. My stepmother has the secondary type, and she struggles with cellulitis. Just now she fell in our garage, and has a big raw, red rash right on her bad arm. We slathered it in neosporin, but I know that infection a real danger for her. I hope you both feel better soon!

  16. I think you're very positive about it and I do hope the mittens help!

  17. (((hugs))) I'm glad you have such a good attitude about the whole thing. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be.

    I think the drawers look cute that way :)


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