Don’t get the wrong idea!  Today was my first day of physical therapy, where I learned about the “Self-Administered Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage Technique” (herein after “SAMLDMT”).  I will return to this later and tie up my reason for my post title and why I thought of the Divinyls during PT.

First off, I am still unable to add any new progress photos to my blog.  I have been trying to add my progress photos from yesterday and pictures of my post surgery swag, and all I’ve been getting is this screen where it shows my new media is uploaded but “Crunching” followed by “Internal Error Message” then a sea of nothingness and frustration.  I will keep trying, though.

My physical therapy is at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.  My breast oncologist and surgeon, Dr. Javid, and I thought it would be best to have PT there since they deal with post-mastectomy and reconstruction patients all the time.  As I wrote in my post last night, I made my physical therapy appointment for first thing in the morning today.  This was mostly because I was worried that PT was going to be physically taxing, I would have pain and/or more swelling in the time after, and I would want to call or get in to see someone at the UWMC.  I couldn’t have been more wrong, which is nice. My physical therapist, Rachel, had me lie on the table and go through several arm movements so that she could measure my range of motion and limitations.  She also had me push and pull against her arms to test my strength on both sides.  She then slowly took me through a series of stretches and motions that I should do at home over the next few weeks to increase my range of motion.  She also showed me how to do “Scar Tissue Release” massage for areas where my abdominal scar is very restricted.   And then we went over the lymphatic system and the SAMLDMT.  I will focus my massages on the axillary lymph nodes, but at times when my swelling is increased (or I just want to move more of my fluid around), I should include the Inguinal lymph nodes.  Here is a reference image:

I didn’t hear the Divinyls until this point.  I remembered when my sister, Alyssa, was talking to me about her troubles with her seemingly incessant lymphedema and how she’s supposed to do these massages to decrease her swelling.  (NOTE:  I don’t have lymphedema; my lymph nodes were not involved in my surgery.  I simply have excess fluid in the area surrounding my lymph nodes on my left side.)  She told me that she was at home doing her Inguinal massage in bed one night and her husband walked into their bedroom and gave her a sideways glance.  If you’re lying down, in bed and doing this massage, the Divinyls will start playing in your head.  Not because you’re doing anything other than Inguinal massage, but because to anyone other than you that is exactly what it looks like you’re doing.  Don’t believe me?  You try it out and let me know how it goes.  I digress…

Rachel finished up giving me my instructions and reviewing the movements, massages, and techniques with me.  We decided that I would come back in two weeks for a progress check and to see how my ROM improves.  If it is much improved, I get to add strength building to my next appointment.  If that goes well, I get to go back to the gym (with limitations), but still have to go to physical therapy for 2 more sessions after that appointment.  If I don’t show much improvement after 3 PT sessions, then I will continue going to PT and not go back to the gym.

While this all seems like a long and drawn out schedule, it really isn’t long after my currently-scheduled-final PT appointment that I’m probably going to have Stages 2 and 3 of my surgery process done, which takes me back out of the gym and physical activity for a few weeks.  Time flies.

I wanted to announce that today I learned of my first non-family member or friend blog reader and follower!  She is just beginning this process and has a blog herself.  It is so strange that, to me, my recovery has gone so fast these past few weeks.  But when I was in her position (trying not to lose my mind and start planning), it seemed like this day (5 weeks post-op) was an entire lifetime away.  In some ways, it was another lifetime away.  I am now breast cancer risk reduced, through the initial hurdles of recovery, and on my way to semi-normalcy before the end stages of my reconstruction.  Then again, 35 days is a flash in the pan.  I can clearly recall and even feel the anxiety and heaviness in my heart in the last few days before my surgery.  The morning of my surgery I even got up earlier than I needed to just so I could cry before my husband was awake.  I felt alone in a lot of those moments despite knowing full well that my family and friends were here for me.  I was so worried about what life would be like in this reconstructed body (pretty good!, BTW).  I was also so worried about the impact all of this was going to have on our family as a whole and not just myself.  But here we are, making it through the recovery process and getting back to our day-to-day.  And it feels SO phenomenal.  So, maybe read along with her as well and pass the word on in case there are more of us out there scouring the Internet for information late at night, losing our minds, and planning for the rough days to come…

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller, wise young/old man.