Saturday, August 24, 2013

Melanoma update

The healing from melanoma surgery on my upper arm went very smoothly--I had hardly any pain.  I went back to swimming a few days after two weeks on the advice of the lymphedema specialist, and I think my scar may have ended up a little more stretched out and raised than it otherwise would have been, but I didn't lose any range of motion in my shoulder, which is what I most cared about.  And I didn't use the scar sheets to minimize the scar because they didn't stay on as much as I move my arm. I had tightness and cording keep starting up in my arm for the first 6 weeks but I kept swimming and it went away.

Hearing that I had several long plane flights coming up, the lymphedema specialist (occupational therapist) ordered me a custom compression
 sleeve.  She warned me that lymphedema can develop when only one or two lymph nodes have been removed and often takes more than a year to appear.  I haven't worn the sleeve full time, but I wear it for 2-4 hours most days and for air travel.  She says she feels some fluid retention and I notice my arm sometimes feels strange (heavy maybe fits) so I want to be cautious.  I did see another lymphedema specialist (this one a physical therapist) who didn't think I had a problem at all, but she gave me the exercises I wanted to fight cording.

It doesn't feel over because at my 3 month appointment with the dermatologist he removed two moles, one of which came back atypical.  And that one was at the edge of the scar from the melanoma wide excision.  So I had a wider excision of that mole a few days ago. 
It was done by the dermatologist with local anesthesia only, so it wasn't a big deal.  But it is bigger than they had made it sound and hurts more than the first one did.  I think he may have cut more than expected in order to not leave tissue cut on both sides, but he didn't say anything.  My guess is that the surface stitches, which I didn't have the first time, make it hurt more.  They come out after 9 days.
It is not serious--there is still no evidence that the original melanoma has spread.  But it does make me worry, make me feel I can't count on my health.