Cupping & Needling

I’m all sorts of out of order here, but I just found a picture in my phone and remembered that I wanted to talk about it here.

One of the things the PT did during my visits was cupping. Google it if you want more info, because I am absolutely not going to provide a technical description.

Basically there are these cup-shaped things they put on your problem areas, areas with cording, scar tissue, etc. There’s a little tool that sucks the air out so that the cups stick to you. They either leave the cup in place, or move it around like a massage.

This is one result of that.

Looks like a hickey, right? Or what I’d imagine my arm would look like with the vacuum hose attached for a while.

The first time I had this done, ouch! What she was trying to break up was tiiiiight, so it hurt something fierce. The second and third time, not so bad. And it definitely broke up some of that scar tissue in my right under arm, so that’s cool.

During my last visit to the PT before I had surgery, she did needling as well. They use a small acupuncture needle to do like a quick jab into the corded tissue, and it helps break it up. She compared it to a rope, so if the scar tissue was a rope pulled tight, then the needle goes in, it unravels the rope. Simple enough concept.

Anyway, the needling were all small pricks, and one definitely hit a nerve that made my finger twitch (all of the needling was happening in my under arm). I felt it much more later that evening, like a dull ache.

Physical Therapy

I’ve had a few physical therapy sessions now. We do various exercises to stretch my right shoulder, and then started doing the same with my left since I fell in the jump castle at my niece, Gabby’s, birthday party, and super stretched that side. They did say I probably increased the range of motion on that side, though…so there’s that. Everyone got a good laugh. Yay, I’m funny.

Anyway, the stretches feel nice, and they’re easy and practical enough that I can do them at home as well. They’ve also told me that they don’t usually get people who come in who are already exercising, so that’s pretty cool. I guess most of the time people are injured, so they can’t exercise.

I’ve been taught some simply lymphatic massage techniques, too. Ways to sort of wake up the lymph system, particularly on my right side where some of the lymph nodes were removed.

The exercises are not strenuous at all, but I can see how they may become so after I’ve had the surgery and am sore in the shoulder area.

So, surgery is just a few days away now and I’m doing my best to stay active and energized! And positive, of course.

Physical Therapy

I had a consult with the physical therapist last week. We did sort of a meet and greet, and she took some baseline readings.

Some different things to report, nothing incredibly exciting, but all new information!

  1. I learned about lymphedema, which is swelling associated with removed lymph nodes. Since lymph nodes drain fluid, having them removed may result in trouble draining. So I need to be careful if I get a sunburn, an actual burn, or any other kind of wound on my right side because the fluid build up (i.e. the stuff inside a blister) may not drain properly.
  2. I don’t have full range of motion in my arm/shoulder. Who knew? Apparently you can have 180 degrees, but I have about 140. Dr. P was able to locate some scar tissue in my under arm and played around with it quite a bit. It extends down my arm, not quite to the elbow. It hurts when it’s played with, but I’ll live. Anyway, the scar tissue could be a result of the lumpectomy, which is why they recommend seeing a PT after the mastectomy, since there will be a lot more scar tissue involved. Also…who knew scar tissue could spread? (Kerry, you can’t answer this one, it’s not fair!)
  3. I can’t fully extend my elbow. Again, who knew?
  4. I can’t bend my wrist to a 90 degree angle.

So those last two, wrist and elbow, were good for me to hear. Why? Well, I have been struggling with planks in my workouts. I feel too much pressure on my wrists, and a general awkwardness in the position. I feel strong enough to do planks, but I just don’t feel right. Anyway, Dr. P gave me some modifications for plank, some of which I already do, but others were new to me, so I’m looking forward to trying them out. But besides that, I was happy to hear about my elbow and wrist because it validated my issues with plank. I didn’t want the reason I couldn’t do them to be because I was a whiny baby wimp. So I’m glad there’s a bigger reason for it, if that makes sense? And a reason I can work with the PT to fix!

I mean seriously, check this out…


Is it any wonder planks are uncomfortable on my wrists? Crazy…

So I’m going to be cramming appointments with the PT into my already bananas schedule between now and the surgery (May 10th, if I didn’t mention it already). Then I’ll continue after the surgery.

I’m hoping to be up and moving fairly quickly, but we shall see!

Crazy Days of April

There is so much going on! Brad and I have two, possibly three, concerts this month. It’s the end of my semester at school, so everything that I’ve procrastinated about is due. I’m trying to cram as much work as I can, given my classwork and all that, since I won’t be able to work in May and probably June. I’m seriously freaking out about the lack of income during my recovery, but we’ll survive, we always do. This weekend is the Flowertown Festival in Summerville, and I think we’re going to try to hit it on Sunday. It just seems like too much to do and too little time.

In other news, I’ve been back to the chiropractor now that I finally feel well enough AND can lay on my front without my chest hurting. It’s been great. I feel like I’m making a lot of positive changes all around. 2018 will be a year of positive change for me. (There’s that mantra again…)

Oh, and I can’t remember if I mentioned during my pity party that apparently I’ll need to see a physical therapist post-op. I was a little too blah at that appointment to ask questions about it, so I did a little research. Yeah…I did research! I know, I know. I kind of swore off Dr. Google and all that…but I was genuinely curious about this one and didn’t want to wait. So I looked it up.

Do you know there’s such thing as a glenohumeral joint? There is, it’s also called the shoulder joint. Apparently women who have mastectomies have trouble in that area, which I can understand given the probable pain associated with moving the arms and pulling on agitated muscle and skin. So yeah, the couple websites I read focused on rehab of the arm and shoulder. I couldn’t find anything related to physical therapy and the tummy tuck aspect of the surgery, but I’m sure I’ll be doing something related to that as well.

So I’ve really been focusing on my core strength, because I figured that’s where I’d need the most help after the surgery. I mean, it never hurts to have a strong core. But now I’m thinking I might want to do some extra work on my arms and shoulders, too. They’re definitely the strongest parts of my body and I certainly don’t want my lack of strength to be a long-term hindrance. So I’m going to see what I can do about that.

So aside from my positive lifestyle changes that are making me feel good, I’m doing some other stuff for me. Like…binge-watching Gilmore Girls and hitting the library for some guilty pleasure reading.