The Mysterious Case of the Swollen Leg

I'll solve this one faster than Sherlock Holmes for you.

It's lymphodema.

It's just one of those things that can happen when they remove lymph nodes from your body, which they did 3 1/2 years ago. It makes sense, given that the tumor and those fateful lymph nodes were in my lower left pelvis, and now my left leg is swollen past the point of fitting into every pair of jeans I own.

My lymphatic system has done a great job of keeping up, but for whatever reason, it's time has come and it's not able to drain my left leg. 2 weeks of daily PT to massage and wrap this sexy beast will hopefully get the fluid moving, but I'm looking at a potential lifetime of wearing a compression tight on that leg. How often and how long I'll have to wear it is yet to be determined. That's up to my leg. But it could be a 24/7 addition to my wardrobe, or something that I can wear purely based on swelling. In the mean time, those maxi skirt wearing Duggar girls might on to something when it comes to keeping your legs covered. I might have to join them.

I officially have my first surgical complication.

Toe to thigh layers. Padding. Layers.


My Left Tree Trunk

The mystery of the swollen leg started in January, when I returned from a trip to LA with a plumpy left ankle. This also happened to be during my first round on the chemo pills - Xeloda. I blamed flying, and vowed to wear compression socks on all future flights.

The ankle never really returned to normal, and I just admired it every night when I went to bed. The swelling was usually so mild, that only a vain person like myself would even notice. I casually mentioned it to my doctor, he casually mentioned an ultrasound, and we both casually never brought it up again.

But the swelling never went away.

At the beginning of this week, I was sitting at work and could feel the swelling work its way up my leg. The pressure and the feeling of the skin pulling could only be likened to a balloon being squeezed all the way up to my groin. On went the compression socks, there went the thigh gap, and on went the swelling. For once I was able to walk into the doctor's office with a complaint that you could actually see.

The ultrasound showed nice, clear veins and arteries, so a blood clot was ruled out. And much to my disappointment, so were diuretics to help me flush this fluid away. The theory at this point was that all those bags of fluid I had gotten the week before were taking their time getting out of my body, and had taken up residence in my left leg - which felt like a tree trunk about to burst.

There were no skinny jeans or knee high boots on tap this week. It was all about stretchy and slip on for this girl and her cankle.

I was told that diuretic (or water pills) would not be a good idea since my potassium was still running a little low. One suggestion was that I eat more protein, and considering I have issues with meat, this could only mean an extra spoonful of peanut butter every night and more ice cream. Otherwise, it just was what it was.

Only I can't just accept this as a side effect of treatment or just the way it's going to be. Over 3 years of this and I haven't really had any major issues to complain about outside of the usual temporary side effects.

I had to do some real soul searching here, pop a few anxiety pills, and start pep talking myself back onto that Damn Pump. It didn't take a calculator for me to add up all the weird things that have happened over the last few months and align them with my switch over to the Xeloda pills. As much as I loved the pumpless freedom, I was starting to wonder if Xeloda and Irinotecan weren't a good combination for me. Perhaps I should go back to old trusty? Especially if I know a home care nurse can come unhook me and I don't have to drag myself out of bed and back into an infusion room. Maybe I'll go back on that Damn Pump just so I can at least look like I have a normal life every other week.

Things to ponder, while I use a vibrating frog from Merrick's collection of unusual gifts to massage my leg 5 sizes smaller. Vanity may win this battle.