***This post includes MTATM: Medical Terminology According To Melanie. I am not a Doctor and this is not intended to replace any advice from your Doctor***
When I was first told that I would need Lymph node removal I will be honest... I had little to no idea what the heck that even meant. What is a Lymph node? Why does it matter? What is the big deal? It is actually a lot more important that I ever imagined. It is basically what keeps up your immune system. It carries your White Blood Cells and brings all the "stuff" that shouldn't be there to the Lymph node to make your antibodies. So that is why when you start getting a cold or strep then your lymph nodes right under your jaw swell up... they are working overtime. (Yes, I am 34 and I just barely learned that those are Lymph nodes, I have always just called them "glands" but it all make sense to me now) So the average person has anywhere from 20-30 Lymph nodes in and around their arm-pit. Since I had 13 removed I am around half power. So if I injure my hand or arm or if I over work it so then it has a lot of work to do in order to get the fluid up my arm to drain and it has to "wait in a long line" to get through the node and get an antibody. So since it is not getting through fast enough then it just builds up in my arm. Kinda like a traffic jam on the freeway. If you have a road that usually has 4-5 lanes open in rush hour then you make 2-3 of those close because of an accident or construction then everything gets all congested. Same thing with your Lymph System.
Well after a while I started feeling some serious tightness and soreness in my hand and arm and it felt like it was swelling and at some times I felt like my skin and muscles would burst. Well I finally broke down and made an appointment with a Lymphedema specialist. That was the best thing I ever did. I initially thought that it would be a quick appointment of looking and making sure that what I was feeling was actually Lymphedema and then giving me a Rx for a compression sleeve. I was so wrong! In case you are wondering what Lymphedema is here is the Dictionary.com definition: