If you've read my book you may have come across a little confession about me failing high school biology. In other words I'm not (or at least I haven't been) very clued up about the human body. Let's just say, the extent of my knowledge was the bare basics. I knew we had bones, muscles, a bloodstream (although the difference between veins and arteries? Nope), vital organs (although I couldn't name them all) annnnd.............that's about it (embarrassingly enough!). I wouldn't call me dumb (*cough), just a tad uneducated and to be honest - just plain uninterested, which is probably the crux of the problem.
The first time I learned that I had a Lymphatic System was when they were telling me part of it needed to be removed due to the cancer spreading. Ok, so obviously THAT got my attention! As it turns out, the Lymphatic System happens to be that vital thing in your body that gets rid of all the nasties. Your system is connected via hundreds of lymph nodes, which are the engine room of the immune system. You know when you get a sore throat and the doctor checks for swollen glands under your chin/neck?....yeah those are lymph nodes. If they're swollen it means they are fighting an infection and may be in a little trouble - as they can often get blocked which stops the necessary flow of your lymphatic system. Basically, when your system is in trouble, EVERYTHING is in trouble.
Aches and pains, disease, viruses, bloating, poor digestion, fibromalgia, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndromeplus much more, are all indicative of an unhealthy lymphatic system. Oh yeah, obesity is also a symptom if your lymphatic system is sluggish. So, if you're struggling to lose weight, this may be the culprit!
Alas, as much as it annoys me in every possible way, weight gain is the least of my worries right now. I'm more concerned with making sure my arm doesn't end up like this:
No this is not photo shopped, and is not a joke. Basically, when you have lymph nodes removed from under your arm, there is nowhere for the lymphatic fluid to go. The body eventually finds a way (our bodies are an amazing creation!), but this kind of lymphedema is what every breast cancer survivor dreads, and once you've got it, its damn near impossible to get rid of.
The worst part about lymphedema is the medical profession haven't quite got it figured out. What the...!!? I know shocking right? Something about lack of funding for research etc etc. And yet the nasty little thing often comes as part and parcel of breast cancer, which by the way, affects one in eight women!! Surely those stats are bad enough to look further into it right? Wishful thinking I suppose.
So, armed with the limited knowledge we can squeeze out of the system, off we go in the hope that we won't wake up one day with an elephant arm. Literally.
I've learnt that the best way to prevent lymphedema is to keep your Lymphatic system flowing. You can do this by moving. Yes, that requires you to get your lazy bum up off the couch, or in my case - off my computer - to stimulate that flow. Now that's a lot harder than it sounds for some of us, and by no means fool-proof. Simply remembering to get off my computer is a mission and a half, and then there’s the fact that even the most active people can get lymphedema. So no guarantees in other words.
Self massage is another way to help, but that only goes so far as most woman battling this thing will tell you. Wearing a compression sleeve is yet another, but that just helps keep the swelling down it doesn't treat the root of the problem. There are other things you can do to help yourself - Click here to find out what. Apart from this, we are at the mercy of something that has so far gone quite unexplained in the medical profession. So what is the answer? Well the good news is, I wouldn't bother writing this blog if I didn't have it - or at least one of the elusive answers. Yes I know I've been known to have a rant every now and then, but today is your lucky day. I have discovered something that actually works!!
Introducing Joanne from The Lymphatic Clinic in Tauranga. This lady and her Lymphstar Pro/Fusion® machine, has kept me relatively free from the horrors of above. And on the occasion that my hand has started to swell up, her therapy has helped keep it in check. The machine she uses is a non-invasive therapeutic, vibrational, massage instrument, designed to stimulate the flow of lymph fluid, through direct application to the body.
Now I'm only telling you about this because the results for me have been absolutely undeniable. Admittedly I’ve never really thought much of natural/alternative therapy – again ignorance strikes again – but more than this, I’m the kind of woman who likes to see the facts/evidence especially when it comes to healthcare. I was quite sceptical when my friend first told me about it, but it was because I trusted my friend that I decided to give it a go.
Now we’re friends right??? Well, maybe not. I probably haven’t even met you. But for those who can’t take my word for it, how about a little evidence to help convince you:
First of all, I don’t have an elephant arm – which kind of speaks for itself. However, some women who have had the same surgery as me don’t get any signs of lymphedema so that’s hardly irrefutable proof.
No here’s the real evidence; The hospital has this machine that can measure your lymphatic flow and whether or not there’s an excess anywhere (lymphedema). They can’t help you cure lymphedema but they can tell you whether or not you have it. Go figure.
After several months of therapy from Joanne, I went to the hospital to get measured. If you are between -10 and 0 then your lymphatic system is working as it should. Anything from 0 – 10+ indicates that your system is starting to struggle. My first results came in at -3 which was flippin awesome and I was so stoked. I then went on holiday to Australia over Christmas, and didn’t see Joanne for a total of 6 weeks. Before I went back to see her I went to the hospital to get measured again. My results were +8. Now that’s a HUGE jump and the results told me I was in trouble. Suffice to say I got straight on the phone and booked another appointment with Joanne. I saw Joanne twice before my next hospital appointment, with the official results coming back at an even 0. Even the physiotherapist was surprised, and despite the usual skepticism you often find in the medical sector, there wasn’t much anyone could say about this as the results spoke for themselves. Evidence is evidence, and I thank God who gives us the right tools and opportunity to play our part in keeping our bodies well.
For the wee record, I didn’t write this to receive anything, I just want to help as many people as I can – and so does Joanne! So don't be shy, you won't regret it! You can contact Joanne through her Facebook page or her Website. Go get yourself well, and feel free to spread the word to those you think may need the same kind of help. Bex xx Join our Facebook Page Go back to the Blog Menu