Just as I was about to think I didn’t have to do anything about my lymphedema, it would flare up! I noticed my arm had swollen during the past 2 weeks. I tried to recall if I had a cut anywhere on the arm or hand or even a sunburn. Well, nothing like that occurred. I asked the doctor if my kickboxing and punching had done anything to harm my arm. He said, “No, that wouldn’t do it.”


All I Need is Rehab
I just wanted a prescription to go to rehab so they could wrap my arm and bring the swelling down so I could relearn how to wrap it again. Well, that didn’t happen.


He saw my arm was now almost an inch larger that the other arm and fluid had accumulated in the lower part. I am having a hard time conveying how hard or how much angst I felt about the swelling taking place in my left arm. Even if it has been years since I had surgery, chemo or radiation, I still feel anxiety when I’m pulled into that vortex of thought about it again.


A New Sleeve
I also got a prescription for a new sleeve and gauntlet. I went to Compression Works and went through a couple of books looking at a lot of different styles and colors. It was kind of like going shoe shopping – after looking through all the books, I ended up ordering the first sleeve I liked!

The doctor ordered an ultra sound to make sure there was no blood clot and told me to take it to the area downstairs. So, I went downstairs to get it done. They scheduled me for Tuesday of the next week.


Chest Pains Mean What?
So, off I went in that same week – out-of-state. Upon waking, I felt a horribly sharp pain in my left arm with pain radiating across my chest. I called the doctor who didn’t know I was out-of-town without getting the ultrasound. He informed me I was to get that ultrasound the day I came to his office. (Who knew?)


When I told him I wasn’t in Charlotte,he asked how I got there. I don’t think he was happy that I drove. He advised me to call an ambulance and get to the hospital immediately. I was scared, coherent (yes, I mean coherent), but I just couldn’t stop tears from rolling down my face. I tried to call my husband and when that failed, I called our daughters. (No one was answering their phone!)



I Can Drive Myself
I started thinking about driving myself to the hospital. When my phone calIs were not answered, I put a message on our family GroupMe. I kept thinking, “What is it? Am I having a heart attack.” Most of the sharp pains I was feeling were in my left arm with a heaviness on that same side. The pain was not constant and I never could figure out what I was doing to make it hurt.


Our daughters, Renette and Camille called me back, prayed with me and walked me through getting ready and eating something, as only a mother would. Renette said, “Have you eaten today? Check the frig and see what looks good. Something you can grab.” A pear? Okay, you’re slicing it…” I was able to get dressed, put my pear slices in a baggie and start to calm down.


Edward made it home and took me to the hospital. I almost started crying when I saw the look of concern on his face. I am glad he was able to come and get me because I really didn’t want to drive myself. As we stood there waiting to get checked in I grabbed Edward’s hand, just to hold on to. He, of course, was cool and calm – a least one of us should always be that way. We have a running joke that both of us should never be mad at the same time. Oh, we can both be happy, but both of us in a negative space – not a good picture.


He kept telling me to relax, relax – flashbacks of when I was in labor and he kept saying that and lightly squeezing my knee. How is that supposed to make one relax? No knee squeezing since that time, (I told him it really wasn’t relaxing), but I think I’m ‘classically conditioned’ to react to him saying the word relax.


The ER staff were calm and professional. I was emphasizing my insurance company must be called to approve any images they would take before they took them. I think they understood? The ER doc was in Black scrubs shirt tucked in and very cheery from the beginning. Somehow he reminded me of that “mountain man”. When I arrived my blood pressure was 177/99, at the doctor’s office last week it was its normal 120/70. It gradually came down while I was at the ER.


Long story short, they did an ultrasound and EKG, found an accumulation of lymph cells that when touched caused a sharp pain. The best news was things were okay. Whew!  


Oh, they did give me a prescription before I left the emergency room. After looking it up I found it was an opioid. The doctor also said I could just take Tylenol if the pain persisted and it was off-and-on anyway. So yeah, I think I’ll just stick with the Tylenol!


What Counts?

I was pretty upset about going to the Emergency Department when it was nothing. The ER doctor admonished me after everything was over that although they found nothing, I was in the right place if bad stuff had happened. “Because we deal with bad stuff all the time! ” Thank you Paul Bunyon aka Dr. Annett.

It’s our response that makes the difference.”


“If you stumble, make it part of the dance!” TheLymphielife.com

My previous blogs on lymphedema – Lymph Moves   Seeing Issues Clearly



Dr. Harriette


Let me know what you think.