PART TWO: Osteopathy and Lymphoedema Nurse
Following a major operation to remove all the cancerous growths including and attached to my bladder and beyond in March 2015, as already recounted here, I am confronted six months later with a swollen leg especially my right foot!
This is not intended as an account of my physical symptoms but more about my coming to terms with a new form of treatment that has completely changed my concept of medicine and healing. My initial reaction to my swollen leg was disbelief that it could happen overnight and thwart my ability to drive to Cornwall. My GP was convinced it was related to my lymph glands being removed and referred me to the Lymphoedema Nurse at Dorothy House in Trowbridge. I completely understood why Prof Gillatt had removed all the lymph glands that were attached or linked to my bladder as this is currently the best way of eliminating any secondaries and establishing if your cancer has spread ~ the biopsies thankfully showed all of mine were clear.
I had already learnt how important it was to elevate ones leg so that it was higher than ones heart enabling natural drainage to start as per my amazing daughter-in-law’s advice. What I had not appreciated was that there are mechanisms that can be manipulated within one’s body which can ‘excite’ the lymph network!
I had little knowledge of the above nor of its huge role in the functioning of the immune system. You can see the amazing concentration of pelvic lymph nodes in the lower abdomen which enables you to understand how the removal of the bladder including the associated lymph glands might affect the organisation and distribution of fluids in that area and beyond, down into the leg and back up to the heart. My initial response in trying to interpret all of this was frankly ‘what the f’ck is going on’ ~ there is no pump mechanism ~ how on earth can it work? That was just the start of this journey which took me from lymphoedema nurse to cranial osteopath.
I met Moira, Lymphoedema Nurse, Reflexologist and Theatre Nurse, at Chippenham Hospital. Apparently tickling the surface of your skin is the easiest way of stimulating the lymph glands as they are adjacent to blood vessels and use the circulation to move tissue damage even from small cuts. My diary comment declares that I was really spaced out after the treatment! Being my first experience of fluids actually moving around my body in response to an external force was a real eye-opener as it had an immediate effect on the swelling in my foot. The following week I was pleased to hear that there was no need for bandaging, which had been a second option, as there was significant improvement and much less swelling proving that fluids were getting back to my heart and removed from my body! A few weeks later, following our holiday with leg “elevated”, we met again but did little more than chat only to be told that my next appointment would be a review with a discharge outcome!
With the prospect of my lymph glands being unable to maintain their normal functions I made an appointment with my wife’s cranial osteopath. She had resolved her back problems having also remarked that she couldn’t understand why her bladder seemed to be paralysed, which it is!! Remarkable. I provided her with a full medical history and explained that my main objective was to get my life back six months post op. My glands, circulation and immune system were out of snyc and I still had debilitating issues following the TB/BCG treatment especially breathlessness and coughing.
I was a bit apprehensive as to whether it would be effective but having laid down I couldn’t shut up! She quietly placed her hands on my feet and within a minute, ‘clonk’, a vertebrae in my lower back realigned making us both jump. “Was that you” I asked; “Maybe” she gently replied, smirking! The rest of that first session was frankly awesome ranging from pulsating internal recycling to infra red lamp syndrome! It is incomprehensible and utterly impossible to recount. “I am merely the conductor, your body does the rest; parts are not singing in harmony, some are not in tune, lots of post-op debris and your right groin area is a bit higgledy-piggledy”!! The following day I was utterly exhausted and I recorded in my diary: ‘I have no idea what has been going on in my legs last night but the discomfort at times even woke me up!’ I knew my immune system was shot to pieces but this was alarming.
A week later and I landed on her couch and within half a minute ‘clonk’ went my back so loudly that we both laughed aloud ~ I didn’t even know I had an issue with my back!!! She moved around to my right hand side where all the debris seems to collect and within minutes my legs are zinging up and down, sensational but difficult to describe. I recall that after quite a few sessions I remarked that it was very similar to having pinzen’needles inside out but moving quickly along my limbs; you can really feel parts of your body beginning to work but don’t ask me how, not yet! Mary is a very quiet, gentle mannered lady whose skills should be acknowledged by the NHS; her medical knowledge and professional manner is remarkable and should be recognised by GPs and Medical Consultants as a positive interface with their patients without recourse to invasive medical drug therapies.