Super special tights

No matter how hot the weather you’re now going to find me wearing thick black tights. Even sat outside in the blazing bank holiday sun at a country show.

These are no ordinary tights. They’re very special. They’re going to make me feel a lot less exhausted. I’ve recently been told that I have lymphedema and these tights will help ease the symptoms. This condition makes your legs ache and – surprise, surprise – it also causes severe tiredness.

Ever since my last lot of chemo my feet and ankles have been very swollen. It got to the point where most of my shoes didn’t fit. I thought it was just water retention, a side effect of the killer chemicals.

But it turns I have lymphedema. It’s caused by the massive operation I had almost a year and a half ago. At least one of my lymph nodes was removed. It may have been more, I can’t remember. Your network of lymph nodes act as a waste disposal system. They help to transport toxic fluid out of the body. If the stuff isn’t properly pumped through lymphatic system then it builds up and leads to swelling.

After the surgery I was told that my lymphatic system may not work normally, but what with all the nightmare of that time, I completely forgot all about it.

That was until The Professor reminded me and diagnosed the lymphedema. By that point it wasn’t just my feet and ankles but also my legs and hands were swollen.

Since then I’ve been having medical massages which have really helped although afterwards I feel totally wiped out. It didn’t take long for it to work its magic. I also need to do daily exercises. I’ve watched as the swelling has gone down.

Now I can see my ankles again and I can’t help admiring them. Lymphedema is something which you can treat but never cure. It means that I will have to keep on wearing the special black tights. For ever. So I’m really looking forward to winter!

Bloomin’ well

floIt’s been a while. Far too long since I last updated this blog. I’d like to say that I’ve been away on some grand adventure. But no. I’ve just been shattered. I’m glad to say that my radio silence is not due to being ill again.

It feels like I’m being stalked by tiredness. I can’t just shake it off. Whenever I think that I’ve beaten it and I do more, like have a sort of normal day, it comes back again and knocks me sideways.

Of course I’ve spent plenty of time over the last year and a half being exhausted. But this is a constant and enduring kind of frustrating fatigue. My bones and muscles feel hollow.

I haven’t stopped doing things but I tend to do less and at a much more leisurely pace. This gives you more of an appreciation of the simple pleasures in life. I’ve been enjoying spending time with family and catching up with friends including some that I haven’t seen for decades!

Also I’ve now found new ways of being active without moving much. I’ve started doing a bit of gardening. Well, pruning roses in my parent’s garden. I either stand or sit and chop away. I quite like cutting out the dead and dying parts of the plant and ending up with a rose bush that’s very much alive. I’ve been surprised at how therapeutic it is. Plus it makes my arms ache, in a good way.

Back in the day before all the cancer stuff happened I had a personal trainer. One of the things we used to work on was improving my fitness so I’d be better at netball. My PT used to make me work so hard that I’d swear at him which he loved as he knew he was doing his job properly.

I don’t see my personal trainer anymore but not so long ago he sent me a present in the post. Inside a massive cardboard box was a netball. Now I spent small packets of time throwing the ball in the air, sometimes when I’m sat in my comfy chair in the living room. When you’re so unbelievably tired being able to do small things means so much.

Despite being wiped out most of the time, I do feel well. It’s now three months since my chemo ended. I’m gradually beginning to believe that things may not turn out quite as bad as I’d expected. After my devastating diagnosis in December I thought my life would now be a relentless circle of cancer-chemo-cancer-chemo etc with little time to recover in-between. Now I’m daring to think the gap between may be long and lovely.

Recently someone asked me what happens next. I replied that I was just waiting for the cancer to become active again. But as soon as I said it, I knew that wasn’t right. I’m doing anything but waiting. It was at that moment I realised something special. While the disease is dormant I’m getting on with enjoying life even though it’s now a seriously slow pace.