Wednesday 11th June
I have been coming to see my lymphoedema nurse for about six months now on a weekly basis, for lymphatic drainage massage on my left leg. It’s like gentle body brushing of the fluid, encouraging it up my leg, past the long scar at the top of my thigh, and then towards the nodes in my armpit.
Following surgery last November, I no longer have inguinal nodes in my left groin, so any lymph fluid in my leg has to be given a new pathway in order to disperse it. Wearing a surgical stocking every day has helped with the swelling too, and my foot and ankle are no longer as swollen as they were.
However from the inside of my knee to the top of my leg, there is still a certain amount of puffiness! In fact today the nurse measures my leg, taking a circumference every five centimetres. Her calculation shows that my left leg is carrying 1200 ml of extra fluid compared to the right limb.
That is a huge amount! A big bottle of lemonade! One point two litres!
I try to exercise by walking every day, I drink lots of water, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and have cut down on sugar, dairy and carbs. It really is quite disappointing.
For the remainder of the session I have my leg encased in the inflatable boot that delivers pneumatic, pulsing massage in a gentle, relaxing manner.
Keep on moving, keep on hoping, keep on believing.
Wednesday 4th June
The day after my hospital visit, I have an appointment with my GP. I feel as if I have a shopping list of requests!
Firstly I ask if I’m eligible for free prescriptions ~ all those being treated for cancer should not have to pay for their medications. I’m given a form to fill out, and my lovely doctor agrees to countersign it as soon as I’ve filled in all my details.
Next, I ask if he will prescribe sunscreen for me. Having malignant melanoma, and possibly taking drugs that heighten my sun sensitivity, some doctors agree to issue this free of charge. My doctor has no hesitation, and I’m given a prescription for Factor 50 sunscreen for body, and a facial one too.
Another item on my shopping list is a prescription for strong antibiotics, two weeks worth, to take on holiday. I am becoming increasingly anxious about infections, perhaps leading to cellulitis. A scratch or stray mosquito bite could have serious consequences. Again, my doctor agrees to give me the tablets as a precautionary measure. I’ll take them with me, but only take them if absolutely necessary.
Finally, seeing as I’m on a roll here, I ask if I can have some of the moisturising, softening cream that the dermatologist had given to me. No problem at all.
Fantastic! I leave my appointment with everything I need, all for free. Such an understanding, caring doctor. He takes the time to explain and talk through my fears. A few less things to worry about
Tuesday 3rd June
And off we go again to the hospital for my month five checks. Dermatology first, where everything is deemed to be fine and dandy; I leave with a couple of free sample tubes of moisturising cream. It has become a bit of a ‘knowing smile’ moment between myself and my husband: for the last few visits to the dermatologist, he has always commented that my back seems a bit dry ~ I don’t think it is!
We then drive to the second hospital where I meet with my trials nurse. She extracts four vials of blood from my right arm, takes my temperature, blood pressure, and weighs me.
We then have a break for lunch, and finally have the last appointment with my oncologist. All is as it should be, and I am issued with the next month’s supply of drugs.
All is as it should be! Ha! I wish it was.
I have malignant melanoma. This is not how it should be. Every time I visit the hospital for tests I’m reminded how things have changed. This is now the new normal. Stable is the best I can hope for. So, I build my bridge, and get over it. I must now be as positive as I can, have no regrets and enjoy every single day.