Boosting the Lymphatic System 

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I want to share the links below and the importance of caring for our Lymphatic System. Have you ever wanted to know why you may get frequent colds, headaches and body aches? I have been doing some research on what foods can help my lymphatic system as I continue to heal from my last surgery, which was a lymph node dissection. What I have come across has opened my eyes afresh to the “hows” and “whys” certain foods effect the body.

This information totally makes since! Our lymphatic system needs to be understood! We can do so much to prevent diseases and many diseases are preventable! I remember hearing time and again as I was a child, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Let’s learn and turn around our habits so we can live with more energy, vitality, and freedom!

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Healthy Congruence

Who are we really? Inside each of us is our true, genuine self. Some of us shout it out loud and flaunt it while others may shriek back with shyness should anyone really see who they are or what they truly believe. It is my conviction that to be healthy, we have to be true to ourselves and we need to be congruent with what and who we are… being authentic. Hiding or throwing up a facade causes friction in our soul as well as when we don’t act from our principles or convictions.

Today’s writing prompt, that I pulled out of a little blue mesh bag created by artist and author Mary Ann Radmacher, said the following: “Be willing to be who you are in the full measure all day long.” Her quotes and prompts stirs my thinking about things that I have not expressed in the written word. I write in long hand when I contemplate. It allows me to slow down my mind and really think about the words and my reactions.

be-who-i-am

To be who I am, all day long, would not be an excuse to do or say whatever comes to mind, but to live and practice from my foundational beliefs throughout the day. It would consist of checking in and pausing to see if I am in congruence with what my soul’s desire is. Am I speaking and acting from love? Am I holding the highest thought for a situation? Am I speaking about other people with kindness even if they are not present in the conversation?

Throughout the day, I would remind myself often of who I really am – one who believes the best and anticipates the best and I would let that guide my next thought, my next word, and my next action even if I were alone. And, by seeing the highest good and visioning the best outcome, this practice has no room for negativity, drama, or constriction.

My life is always moving with the flow of the energy I place into it. I check in throughout the day to see if I am aligned with my true beliefs and exercise my willingness to be, in full measure, who I really am.

~ I AM ~

Healing an Awakened Heart

Over the course of the last 4 weeks, I have been using writing prompts by Mary Anne Radmacher in my journaling practice. These writing prompts have been very valuable in that they have allowed me to think about topics I would not have considered. They have also allowed the flow of creativity to come back to me as I heal from my two surgeries.

This past Monday’s prompt was “An awakened heart intentionally chooses what it will and what it will not embrace.” As I stared at the little card, I pondered the meaning of awakened-heart“embrace” or “to embrace.” To embrace (other than a hug) is to receive gladly or eagerly; to accept willingly, i.e., to embrace an idea. It also can mean to avail oneself to an opportunity. Other definitions include… to adopt a profession or religion such as to embrace Buddhism. Or, this can also mean to take in with the eye or the mind such as soaking in a sunset, or the feel of the air, or the scent of the surroundings. Lastly… embracing or to embrace is to encircle or surround someone with love or prayer, or to include or contain as in inviting someone into your space, or to shore up a plant with extra soil.

This all being said, as an awakened heart that is in the process of healing, I intentionally and eagerly and willingly accept into the circle of my atmosphere all ideas and opportunities that are filled with love, kindness, joy, abundance, beauty, healing of mind and body, and the upliftment of souls everywhere. Also, that everyone may be surrounded by peace; starting in their mind and shining outward into their lives. And, that each person feels contained and held up, supported and nourished by Life, and that this Love and this Oneness of life is experienced everywhere by every being.

May all beings be at ease, be happy, and be at peace with themselves.

I see this as part of my New Journey 2 Health.

XO

Sue

My New Practice… Lymphatic Care

Greetings! It’s November and my favorite time of the year. The sun is low but warm and the air is cool. Even the scent of the air is the same as it was when I was a teen and walkedbird-feeder through the leaves on my way home from school. There is something magical about this time of year when people and animals begin to prepare for the winter. The birds and the squirrels in my back yard are gathering the seed and corn I leave out for them. It is a joy to watch them play and chase each other in the trees and on the fence.

corn-cobsBut this season finds me with a new practice. As I shared in my last post, I needed to have a lymph node dissection to assure that I was “clean and clear” of cancer. The removal of 4 lymph node pods totaling 26 lymph nodes can bring changes to the body and to the way a person cares for themselves on a regular daily bases. Two hours have been added to my day. Well, not literally but, I now have to plan for two hours of extra care in the morning for my lymphatic system. I have been taught via physical therapy, how to give myself daily lymphatic drainage massages so that the lymphatic fluid in my abdomen, groin and thighs does not collect and stagnate, but is moved towards the heart. If you are interested, there is many You Tube videos on how to do this. Click HERE to view. It came with an article that is interesting as well. There are also exercises I need to do after I awake, and before the massage, to prepare the different areas of the lymphatic system to receive the fluid. I now wear workout leggings throughout the day to help compress the thighs and abdomen; therefore preventing the buildup of fluid. Soon, I will also be sporting specially made compression wear for those days when the lymphatic system needs extra care which includes being above 2000 feet, including flying or just hiking in the mountains. It is worn under my regular clothes and I may need it more or less as I learn how my body reacts to returning to work in nine days.

The swelling of my lymphatic regions of the abdomen, groin and thighs started about one week after the surgery when I started to get a little more active with my walking. Walking512px-lymph_node_regions-svg is also very important for healing, so this was something we needed to jump on right away. My doctor immediately put in a referral for me to receive physical therapy and my insurance will cover the specially made garments for which I was measured for just this week. I have mixed feelings about them as I have not been one to wear tight fitting clothes, much less two layers of clothes on top of increased hot flashes since the hysterectomy back in August. Can you just visualize me ripping off my clothes in public as I get warm!!! But, in all seriousness, I am so very grateful for this to be the only treatment  and this is because we caught the lymphedema at its onset and I am responding well to my new practice of physical therapy. The picture to the right is from Wikipedia. The lymph nodes that were removed from my body were in the Paraaortic area.

I already mentioned walking, but what is also very important is muscle work. I have started slow, using three, four, and five pound weights for my arms. For my legs, I do slow and gentle squats and calf extensions on yoga blocks. The re-building of my muscles will assist the lymphatic system to drain better. Different lymph nodes throughout our bodies help drain different sections of our bodies. So, when there has been a reduction of lymph nodes, the area that they used to support becomes taxed and thus, needs extra assistance.

“The lymphatic system is a network of specialized vessels (lymph vessels) throughout the body whose purpose is to collect excess lymph fluid with proteins, lipids, and waste products from the tissues. This fluid is then carried to the lymph nodes, which filter waste products and contain infection-fighting cells called lymphocytes. The excess fluid in the lymph vessels is eventually returned to the bloodstream. When the lymph vessels are blocked or unable to carry lymph fluid away from the tissues, localized swelling (lymphedema) is the result.” From What is Lymphedema

There are other things that can help or hinder lymphatic drainage. Below is a list that Kaiser Permanente gave me.

Tips to help the lymphatic system for the lower body:

  • Avoid high heel shoes or shoes that are too tight.
  • Avoid clothing with tight ankle bands or any clothes that bind.
  • Do light to moderate exercises on a daily basis but don’t overdo it i.e. straining or forcing.
  • Walking is excellent as is swimming which doesn’t stress the joints.
  • Avoid standing for long period of times and when sitting, do not cross the legs.
  • Elevate the legs for a few minutes a few times a day and again at night. This helps drain the excess fluid.
  • Keep the body adequately hydrated with water.
  • Avoid hot tubs and saunas and excessively hot baths or showers.
  • Watch the salt intake as that can help the body retain water.
  • Be careful not to get over heated.
  • Be very cautious in hot climates.
  • Keep the weight down. Obesity increases the chances of lymphedema and makes it harder to manage
  • Do not allow injections, blood to be drawn, or IV’s to be given to the legs.
  • Keep the legs moisturized to prevent chapping.
  • Protect yourself from sunburn.
  • Care for your feet especially when trimming your toe nails as not to cut yourself.
  • Keep cuticles soft with cream.
  • Treat all skin openings with antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin, Polysporin, or Kaiser’s double antibiotic. DO NOT USE Neosporin or any ointment that contains neomycin.
  • Recognize the signs of infection as there is a decreased immune response. These can be red streaks, warmth, tenderness and increased swelling.

So as you can see, this new practice has a bit more to it. Maybe you can see why I questioned having the second surgery as I shared in my last post. There were considerations and risks to be weighed.

It is a spiritual practice for me to walk this new journey. Just as I cared for myself before dooley-quotethe surgeries with meditation, visualization, positive affirming beliefs, and good eating habits, I now continue in that same mode; seeing my lymphatic system functioning with ease and harmoniously working with my entire body. Visualizing is very powerful and just five minutes a day with my eyes closed and seeing my body functioning and seeing my cells and membranes working at the highest level for my good creates the shift. This is why my health care professionals, friends and family comment that I look and act so good for what I have been through. It takes daily work of mind, body and spirit to get through any sort of health challenge.

If anyone reading this is going through something similar and has questions about what I have done and gone through, please feel free to contact me by commenting on this post. I would gladly share with you to help you with anything you now have to navigate through.

Big Choices: A Second Surgery

The day after I published my last blog post, I did what many folks do two weeks after a surgery… I went to my post-op appointment. I was pretty excited as I was doing well, walking better, continuing on my path of healthy eating and based on the findings during my surgery in late August, I was feeling hopeful and confident. I did have questions for the doctor about strange changes occurring in my body and what I learned was I was going through normal post hysterectomy fluctuations. What I was not ready to hear was that the doctor said I needed to have a second surgery. Second! What? What I then heard was that only so much pathology can be achieved during surgery. Post-surgery pathology is very aortic-lymph-nodesthorough and takes the organs that were removed and dissects them to review every millimeter. The first thing they found was what we expected, a very small non aggressive cancerous tumor, in my endometrial lining, that only invaded the wall of my uterus by 2mm. But, they also found some cancer cells in another portion of my uterus wall that invaded the lymphatic highways which travel to the lymph nodes. Therefore, the doctor wanted to make sure the cancer cells had not spread to the lymph nodes and this required a lymph node dissection of the paraaortic lymph nodes in the lumbar region. These are the sentinel lymph nodes; those that if the cancer had spread, it would show up here. Picture above is from Wikipedia.

Now, based on my age, the early detection of the cancer, the fact that it was not an aggressive type, as well as the small size of the tumor, I had really good numbers. I had an 89% chance that nothing traveled to any lymph nodes. But, the 11% risk, that remained, 11-percentwas just over twice the amount of the standard risk and therefore, a lymph node dissection was needed. I was shocked as was my partner. I said that I needed to think about this. I had concerns. I would be on disability for another 6 weeks and thus, recovering again. A second surgery came with another set of risks from having to remove lymph nodes and what I would later learn about, lymphedema and physical therapy.

The doctor and his staff understood my reeling thoughts and even my anger, but they were also solid in their beliefs of needing to know it had not spread even if it was only an 11% chance. They asked me to get back to them the following week with my decision. In that following week, I went back and forth with my thoughts. I talked to a couple of friends who have had cancer and what they thought about me choosing not to go through with the lymph node dissection. Their reply…. DO IT. The top reason was, if cancer had not spread, I will have a piece of mind that would not be experienced otherwise. The second reason is that, since this detection was so early, the amount of treatment would be less and I would be able to nip this in the bud sooner than later. I also discussed this with other cancer survivors and thus, I chose to go through with the second surgery.

second-surgery-prepOn October 5th, I had my second surgery. It took just under three hours. I went into it with the intention that nothing would be found. For 3 weeks before the surgery, I meditated to be calmer and to visualize me coming out of the surgery clean and clear. I continued to take the various herbs and supplements I learned would be helpful for my immune system and of course I had to stop taking them a week before surgery as many of them thinned the blood. This second surgery was harder on my body. It was the same type as before, a laparoscopic / robotic surgery reusing the 5 incisions from the hysterectomy. But, since I still had not recovered completely from the first in regards to the anesthesia and because they had to move around my intestines to get to the lymph nodes, recovery has been harder. I don’t have the same energy at the two week mark as I did after my first surgery.

On October 11th, my partner drove me back to Kaiser in San Francisco to learn the results of the post-surgery pathology report. When the first doctor came in, I said I had some new questions about things that were happening in my body and I would share them as soon as I heard about my “good news.” She replied back “you do have good news!” and she handed the pathology report to my partner as she began to examine my incisions. No cancer was found!!! Woooo Hooo! And there was that relief that comes with being told I was clean and clear. Had cancer cells been found, treatment of chemotherapy and radiation would be the next step. I am very, very grateful for knowing that we caught this very early and very grateful for my OB/GYN, Dr. Judith Hennessey of Kaiser, San Rafael, CA for knowing the early signs and encouraging me to have the uterine biopsy.

Through physical therapy, I am learning how to give myself lymphatic drainage massageslymph_system_solaris_1200_wide every morning to help my body absorb the lymphatic fluid from the torso and thighs which was building up due to the loss of a couple dozen lymph nodes. I am also learning exercises to do every day that helps the body move the fluid better. I am learning that I need to be patient with myself. I need more rest and especially after taking a walk. I am learning to go with the flow as sitting and lying down for long periods of time are not comfortable. Walking every few hours, even short little treks out to the yard, are needed. My short term memory will get better with time. It can take up to 6 months for anesthesia to dissipate from just one surgery. So to help with this, I am reading and writing to stretch the brain muscles and I am continuing to eat what is needed to stay healthy and boost my immune system for mind and body. Image above can be found at this website.

In the bigger picture, my friends, family, and health care providers are saying that I lookhealth-breakfast good and that I am doing well for all I have been through. I truly believe that since I was caring for myself with health, organic foods and supplements before both of these surgeries, I really gave myself an upper edge in my recovery. They can’t tell I am just two weeks out of my second surgery by looking at me. Inside I feel it though and I know what it takes for me to perform normal tasks. Yet, the comments are good to hear and they let me know I am on a good path.

beef-bone-broth-jarsSo…here I am, on my continued journey to health and healing and what I want to say to anyone, no matter what you are healing from, whether mind, body or spirit, is to eat healthy!  Stay away from processed foods. Eat those dark green veggies. Eat foods that reduced inflammation in the body. Drink bone broth and water and walk every day!!! Don’t think you can go without taking good care of yourself. Comfort yourself with things that benefit the body and what builds up your immune system. Most diseases of mind and body are preventable and we usually don’t know it until it is in our face. We all have the power of choice and we can choose to do the nurturing, preventative thing for ourselves… for our lives.

Google Maps, Health Choices, and Surgery

Highway to Health

Setting an intention or a desire for something to manifest in our life, is like putting an address into Google Maps. Life will show us various ways of how to get there, or how to GPS.Trackerachieve what we desire. And like Google Maps, we often set out on our designated course only to find that along the way there are detours due to traffic, construction, or accidents. If we listen to the app on our cell phones, we make appropriate course corrections, even when the current flow of traffic seems to be flowing just fine. If we don’t listen to the warning, we can find ourselves a few miles down the road, stuck in a backup, wishing we had listened to the digital voice of our mobile device telling us to go a different way.

Over the years, I have started on many paths to greater health in a desire to release extra weight, gain muscle, and feel more vibrant, energetic, and strong. I have done this with friends, and by myself. I have used gyms, worked out at home, and even creatively gone to places like the beach, parks, and mountains, to walk and be in nature while I do something for my higher good. Each time, I share my progress and try to encourage others to care for themselves, as I want those I love and care for to also experience a greater sense of health and goodness throughout their bodies and their minds.

After being in a program for a while, I found myself, each time, slipping back into older and more comfortable habits. I gave excuses, even logical arguments, to validate my straying off the path of healthy choices. We all know them:

  • My life is too busy
  • I was on vacation
  • It was a celebration
  • There was nothing better to eat
  • I just gave in
  • I can’t give that up
  • It won’t be that bad
  • It’s too hard to maintain
  • And so on…

And so the cycle continues, and I unconsciously slip into a pattern that is fun for a while, until my clothes are no longer fitting again, family is concerned, my energy levels and sleeping habits have plummeted into erratic expressions of discomfort and fatigue, and of course, my higher self telling me, again, this is not the road that I am to be on.

Course Correction

In February of 2015, my mom passed away after we learned, four months earlier, that she had bladder cancer. My sister cared for her most of the time, and I would go and spend 7 to 10 days each month in Southern California to be with her, and care for her as my sister took a break. To care for myself mentally, I would take a walk every day. My mom encouraged me to keep moving my body as she saw how it helped me. Yet, at the time of her passing I found myself, at 5’1″, 176 pounds, due to unconscious eating, lack of consistent sleep, and empty calories to pacify me due to the grief I was in. Something had to change as I found myself stuck again in a place I really didn’t want to be. I thought of all the times in the past that I set my intention to be healthy, and to eat well, and to care for myself in a more loving way. I wondered if my intentions were just fantasy or wishful thinking. But, I dialed in and set my internal GPS to a different direction. In March of 2015, colorful.chartI committed to my greater good by joining with a medical team to monitor my weight, health, supplements, exercise, and nutrition. I went to them every week and received counseling and guidance. They performed a body scan every 6 weeks to see how much fat was released, how much muscle was gained, what my water and bone weights were, and they formulated it all on a sheet of paper to show me my progress. It was very effective. I was not hungry, as I was eating nutritious foods, not skipping meals, and becoming conscious of what I was doing, what I was feeling, and learning about myself in new ways. I was able to release 26 pounds and keep them off. I was 150 pounds, and feeling better than I had for some time. I had new energy and was beginning to sleep better as well.

Road Block

Stagnation occurs when we don’t refresh our goals and dreams every few weeks or few months. And, towards the end of 2015, I just couldn’t seem to get past this hurdle of the 150 pound mark. My regular doctor had been telling me for a few years that she needed me to get to 130 pounds; that there are health risks of carrying the weight I had been holding roadblock1onto for so long. It seemed that in my past attempts to drop the weight, the 150 pound  mark was my barrier. What was keeping me there? What was I resisting? I was educated, I knew what to eat, how to exercise, what to do, and how to work out. The motivation waned. I still ate better than most, but through the excitement of buying a vacation home in Oregon and taking trips to New York and Ireland, I began to allow old habits to slip back into my life… but not for long.

Life’s GPS alarm rang loud and clear this time and there was no ignoring it. Two weeks after a routine annual visit to my GYN in June 2016, I received a call from Kaiser Permanente informing me that I had suspicious cells in my endometrial lining of my uterus which could be early cancer, or would become cancer unless I schedule a hysterectomy. SLAM! The next few weeks were all about education and waking up. My sister and I read and researched the pros and challenges of the surgery, as well as the cause of this diagnosis of “Complex Hyperplasia with Atypia.” It was too much estrogen in my body, causing the lining in my uterus to grow with suspicious cells. Women, as well as men, have too much estrogen in their bodies when they are carrying extra fat. Extra fat causes our bodies to create more estrogen than we need, thus complications and issues can surface. My GYN oncologist at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, confirmed that this was most likely what happened in my case.

After I got the call that changed my whole view of life, I immediately, without question, was able to make adjustments to my diet that I had not made before (or at least not sustained for any period of time). I dropped the coffee, the social cocktails, removed the added sugar and white starches, ate only organic foods, and began taking supplementssupplement that aided my body’s immune system, such has turmeric, holy basil, olive leaf extract, omega 3 and 6, calcium and magnesium, pro-biotics, a good multi-vitamin, and spirulina. I drank green tea in the morning, and in the evening I had either chamomile or lavender tulsi tea. I also made sure that my thoughts and emotions were cared for as I went to see my counselor to talk about all that I was experiencing. I made sure I was reading good things to focus my attention on, and I made sleep my priority, as it is the number one thing we all can do to allow our body and mind to heal. Another thing I did, through the advice of a friend who had been through a hysterectomy before, was to read the book “Preparing for Surgery, Heal Faster” by Peggy Huddleston. I also bought the meditation CD to go along with the book. For 4 weeks I would do the meditations twice a day, and read the book to help me prepare and see myself coming out of the surgery feeling comfortable and peaceful.

Seven weeks after I learned of my diagnosis, I had my hysterectomy with my sister, Debbie, and my life partner, Jo supporting me all the way. I was able to go home the same day and on the drive I learned that very little cancer cells were found in my uterus after it was removed. I cried with relief and I could not help but to think that some portion of what I did to prepare myself had some beneficial effect. I stand in gratitude now as I continue to recover.

Reset for Life

I see that this surgery was a wakeup call, a course correction, and a blessing. I gained from it an understanding of what carrying extra weight can do. There are a number of diseases that can come from too much estrogen in the body, which is just one of many issues that health-breakfast-2can come from being overweight. There are foods that we can eat and choices we can make which benefits our bodies for the longer term. I want to share about this with all my friends, and those I don’t even know. My intention for so long has been to be healthy, happy, vital, and strong, and it was not ignored, no matter how many times I didn’t make the right choice or take the right path. Life did not forget my desires, and the circumstances that came up were not to test me, per se, but were used to help me reach my end result; to be happy and healthy. Life can only do for me what it can do through me. Action and choice on my part is required.

Don’t wait for a diagnosis before you change your habits. Food, exercise, proper sleep, and a positive outlook on life are our preventative medicines! We are here on this planet, at this particular time, for a reason. I want each of us to live our best lives, filled with energy and vitality. We can change our habits and change our thinking to support us being here as Bandon Seashorelong as possible, to see the grandbabies, and fulfill our desires and dreams, and see the next sunset with a loved one. There is too much living to do to allow ourselves to be dragged down by a body and mind that is sluggish and susceptible to illness. Let’s choose wisely and consciously the highest good for ourselves, and in the process of doing so, we end up helping many more people by our presence in this world.