Monday, December 31, 2007


So the Friday before Christmas, ten days ago, I was carrying home a load of stuff from the office and a load of food and wine I'd bought to see us through that evening (we were having some friends over for the first dinner at mine after having finally spring cleaned the flat post-chemo and made it reasonably presentable again).

The next day, I had a pain in my upper right arm. Not bad, just like I'd over-stretched the muscle and it hurt to extend the arm fully. It reminded me of the feeling I had immediately post-op, when I had a bit of 'cording', when your muscles take time to get back to normal after they've just sliced through them...

The next day, the Sunday before Christmas, the pain had gone on my inner upper arm, but I had a new soreness around the base of my shoulder blade. I only noticed it when lying down in bed - I found it painful to turn onto my right side.

This feeling reminded me of the swelling I got post-op, the seromas which would form when my lymphatic fluid would not drain as well as before, while my nodes were 'readjusting'. This had to be aspirated (drained) with a massive syringe. Pleasant...

I thought about what it could be, then I dismissed it. It was two days before Christmas, I was miles from my normal doctors, and I was not in any real pain. Any, when I was on chemo, I would get this feeling intermittently when I was run down or tired and it would be gone within a couple of days. I thought these were still seromas, my breast surgeon reckoned it was nerve damage. Whatever.

Now, ten days on from when I first felt the pain, it's still there. It's tender to pressure, so I only feel it when I touch it or when I am in bed lying on it. It's not got any worse but then again, it doesn't seem to be going away either...

Knowing what I know about what I am prone to, post-op, post lymph node removal, I suspect it's mild arm lymphadema. An incurable condition that you can just take preventative action and palliative care treatments for. And could result in me developing a massively swollen fat right arm. Great.

Apparently 45% of breast cancer sufferers get it at some point, to some degree. I had hoped that I would not be one of them.



Bette said...

Arrrrgh!! I won't say welcome to the club until you are officially diagnosed. I daily try to determine what causes my arm to swell slightly in order to avoid that activity. So far, I have found that lifting anything over 15 pounds or so makes my arm hurt and makes the fluid build. Just wear your arm and hand sleeve (or get one now) when you notice a change and that will help.

georgie owen said...

I think you simply did too much. It's a reminder to be careful of too much lifting and cleaning while your armpit is still under repair. Nine months is early days ...
I had one node removed with a sentinel node biopsy and had swelling and puffiness under my arm for ages.
My breast surgeon said it was lymphoedema. However it didn't cause any major problems apart from worrying me.
It settled down. How much you can do and lift is something you'll get used to with experience.
Don't think lymphoedema at this stage; just take care.
Check out for info on lymphoedema. But my gut feeling is you're not in this category.

Georgie Owen

Claudia Gene said...

I hope this is all only a scare. It just is not fair - surviving the total shit of breast cancer then getting lymphoedema. I have what I think is bad upper arm lymphoedema though it is still only mild according to my nurse. I had my mastectomy and node removal at the end of August but developed an unrelated tumour on the same shoulder (sarcoma) - and then I needed a big shoulder lymphoedema was pretty inevitable. Hope yours is all nothing - but I agree with bette get a compression sleeve and use it if you are worried.