Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Help, I need Somebody

Now that the glory of relief has settled down a little, the restrictions of the Nit are starting to become all too apparent. Its not so much the Nit itself - I feel I've mostly conquered that with my extensive bra research. No, this is the post-op effects of an axillary clearance. My new wonder surgeon recommended I have all my lymph nodes taken out, since a couple were a bit affected initially. The wonderfully good news is the rest were clean under closer inspection. The bad news is my excavated armpit has rendered me about as limp and useless as this cat toy.

Aside from recovering from quite a big operation, letting my skin knit back together (eurgh) and waiting for feeling and function to fully return to my left arm, I also have to be careful to avoid lymphoedema. Forever. My risk is higher since I had full node clearance, so I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than a small shopping bag. Great for getting out of moving house any time in the future, bad bad bad for cuddling my kittens. It's only my left arm that's restricted but Woody and Columbo are wriggly little buggers. I am taking them to the vet next week to have them weighed (with assistance, yes). I may take a small shopping bag for comparative purposes. I have also noticed a strange phenomenon whereby I can feel cold drinks in my armpit. I thought it was my overactive imagination picturing the liquid seep out of the stitches cartoon style, but then lovely reader Phoebe asked me if I noticed it like she did, so it must be a hilarious side effect. Its quite refreshing in this weather in fact.

So here I am, back to 'normality' in my flat. Which would be great except I have never been more aware of how much I CAN'T do. And its making me humph.

I'm not allowed to type. Imagine! This post is being bashed out haltingly and frustratingly, one fingered, like someones technologically repressed great aunt.

I can't wash my left armpit. This is frankly disgusting, considering it is hot outside, and is further compounded by the fact I can't really get dressed. My options are limited to things that don't go over the head. Now that DadJokes has gone back to work I have found myself in a few contorted situations where I've attempted something adventurous with buttons but without elastic. I have remained calm and somehow restored decency just before calling on a neighbour. Then I'll realise my choice was too hot or uncomfortable, and even though I've got it on, NO amount of physical prowess or mental aptitude will work out how to get it off. So I've sat and sweated/winced till DadJokes got home and rescued me.

I can't really sleep. This is particularly annoying considering I thought I finally could relax. I think it's like when you've finished your a-levels but you've crammed so hard that your head is still turning over equations for a good few weeks afterwards. I may need to consider Ovaltine. or Valium.

Chores are basically impossible - even cutting up my dinner is hard - but I just can't stop myself trying (smack on hand for me), so I'm shuffling around the place, half girl, half gorilla with a limp left arm and a bit of a determined scowl on my face. My brother in law finally utilised that secondary school red cross training and (sort of) made me a sling. The family thought it would stop people grabbing my arm forgetfully, or me doing things. It didn't.

This post will greatly upset DadJokes (he may attempt to give up work), my mum (she may attempt to move in) and Katie, (who can't give up work since she's covering me, and also, I am her boss), so I hereby take a vow of uselessness in their honour.

Even though my wisteria has become so overgrown since my op that I can't actually get out the back door. Even though we have a new desk arriving tomorrow that will require assembly and a spare room for it to go in that looks like a clothes avalanche hit it. Even though I am craving banana bread but don't have the ingredients.

Nope. I'm going to sit here cradling my arm, typing one fingered, and re-evaluating my wardrobe to avoid panic scenarios. Till the weekend? Till next weekend? Well, for now at least...

p.s. If there are any local friends who have even a slight green finger about them, I could really do with a (left) hand in the garden...

the view immediately outside


  1. Hugs on struggling xx My op was on my tummy and limited me hugely so I sympathise with your frustration. My sister had all her lymph nodes removed too. It will heal up, and you will be able to do stuff, but it does take time.

  2. You'll be fine soon, I was driving again after 4 weeks! Take care & don't rush it! Love Chez. xx

  3. I had a full clearance, and my arm is a lot better now 4 weeks later. Good thing too as I am right handed with a right sided op! Looks like I was told less restrictions than you though - I drove after 2 weeks and started lifting my kids after about 3 weeks - I carry on the left though.
    Anyway - that uselss feeling does pass pretty quick - but is very annoying overall.

  4. Gah, nothing is worse than to be forced into a couch potato. It makes all the difference to be able to choose to be lazy. There is no end to how independent we wish to be when we can't. Get well soon! No worries, it'll work out!

  5. I love reading your blogs Sophie, I was diagnosed 2yrs ago aged 34, I am pleased to report I am absolutely fine now. My advice to you is to move your arm as much as you can, I think I held mine stiff like a fragile piece of glass, I did do the stretches but even so, my arm was very stiff and still is much weaker than my other, I had to have physio on it to stretch it in the end and bloody hell that hurt. That said, take it easy. I understand your wardrobe comment, you will soon adapt. As yet I havent had reconstruction, the thought of more surgery just dosent appeal, Im quite happy with my foam insert(I found the silicone prosthetic very heavy!!) Get in touch would love to chat. Take care, Dawn xxx

  6. Hang in there Sophie, I had nodes removed and it took - a seemingly eternal - couple of weeks before my arm was useful again and a few more to get full mobility back. It's tempting but please take it easy, lymphoedema is no-one's friend. I did stuff I was told not to, it's hugely frustrating being out of action... lucky so far.

    I love your blog, you mirror my thoughts and feelings all the time (I'm a fashion/cosmetics-addict aged 39, diagnosed April 2011). No disrepect to older ladies but I think the whole BC experience can be different for younger women and it's great to read that I'm not alone.

    Sending virtual hugs xxx

  7. GREAT blog! if you get the chance to check out mine i would really LOVE your two cents on it, especially in the most recent post. you are so inspirational and your opinions would mean so much! Thanks!


  8. Sophie, you rock!
    My mum didn't make it, cancer took her away from us so quickly!!! After a year, it still feels like a bad dream... I'm doing what I can (Race for Life, SHINE etc.) to raise money so other people have got a chance of surviving! You DID and you give me HOPE!!!!!All the best girl!!!xxx