I've been following Helen's blog (http://lymphnodetransplant.wordpress.com) since before she had her amazing surgery back in March. Before then, I had no idea that it was even possible to transplant lymph nodes and so I was very interested (and to be honest, excited) to see how she went. Helen has been very open with sharing the ups and downs of her surgery and has continued to bring information on lymphoedema, manual lymphatic drainage, exercise, self massage, bandaging, compression - all the important things when dealing with lymphoedema. I'm sure her blog has brought answers to many out in the real world who are looking at options to manage their lymphoedema, as there's not much available written from a patient's perspective, the info that is out there is all in doctor speak.
I received an email from Helen after my first week of Vodder training - she had calculated when I'd be back in the clinic after my training and wanted to come in to have some Vodder lymph drainage with me and to try my laser (http://www.riancorp.com/FAQ/frequently-asked-questions-ltu-904-laser-for-lymphoedema.html) to see if it helped with her scar. So we scheduled an hour and a half appointment so we could discuss her case history and have enough time to do some laser as well.
Yesterday was the day. I was very excited to meet her finally. It's always interesting to meet someone after only communicating in writing, you get to hear accents. Helen is originally English and I'm originally from Trinidad. There was so much to say.
Firstly we took some measurements of her transplant leg (I didn't tell her what the measurements were - there were times early on when Helen was measuring every day and it got a little disheartening for her when things didn't reduce as quickly as she imagined and the measurements were more for my information so we could monitor her progression). I have to say, her leg actually looks great, as does the scar, she feels the knee isn't working quite the way she'd like and she's still getting swelling after exercise (it resolves after a good night's sleep).
And away we went with treatment, creating pathways from the groin area up to her axillas (armpits) and constantly clearing fluid upwards towards them. I used the laser around the scar and medial knee where Helen says most of her issues are, then turned her over and worked the back of her thigh. Interestingly, the skin on her leg was soft throughout until I got half way down the back of her thigh where there was almost a line (not one that you could see, but one I could feel) where the texture changed to a slightly more "spongy" texture. Interesting. All the while I was clearing fluid up to her axilla. All too quickly we were out of time.
As Helen left she asked "so, who'll write the blog, you or me?". You guessed it - me. We have another appointment booked for next week so I'll find out then how she felt after the treatment, although I'm sure she'll post a comment on here before too long.
Thank you Helen for the opportunity to work with you and to be able to blog about it afterwards.
update 2020: Helen has shut down her original blog. She suffered complications from her cancer radiation treatment and is now confined to a wheelchair. This hasn't stopped her from embracing life and helping others.