Friday, August 1, 2014

I Am Not Supposed to Be Here

By Linda Rodriguez

I’m not supposed to be here—on the computer. Mainly because I have post-surgical lymphedema in my right arm and am supposed to be keeping it elevated constantly until my custom-made compression sleeve arrives. So, once I’ve posted this blog, I will be back in my living room with my arm lifted above the recliner arm by two fat bed pillows until it’s even with my shoulder.

I have discovered that I can write in longhand with great difficulty from this position, but I cannot operate a computer. So I am trying to write my novel-in-progress with pen and notepad. It’s slow going, but I’m happy with what I’m getting. 

That makes three things I didn’t know that I now do—that lymphedema exists, that there is such a thing as a compression sleeve, and that I can write, by hand at least, even with my arm stuck up in the air.

This has been a time for learning new things, so here are some others that I’ve learned recently, sometimes the hard way.

Your insurance company can dump your surgeon right before the operation, and you can be operated on by a complete stranger, who will then turn out to be a nightmare to deal with. And a corollary: If enough people all over the country raise enough fuss about a bad insurance decision that affects thousands, the insurance company will finally get its head out of its nether regions and do the right thing so that your second surgery can be with your actual, sweet, kind, understanding surgeon.

It does no good to tell phlebotomists that you have bad veins in your arms, and they should start out with your hands. They simply view that as a challenge and have to hit you an average of three times, leaving huge, painful bruises on your arms, before they give up and get the necessary blood from your hand.

Nurses are a divine gift to undeserving humans. (Seriously, people, treat those great nurses better! I don’t care how much you’re hurting. There’s no excuse for taking it out on a wonderful human being who’s trying very carefully to help you.)

There is such a medical doctor as a lymphedema specialist. Also, lymphedema educators. And occupational therapists who specialize in lymphedema. A whole medical industry for swollen limbs! And I’ve been referred to all of them, which will be extremely expensive, I’m certain.

Since I am not supposed to be here, I will not be online to respond to your comments, and I do beg your forgiveness for that. But of course, that gives you the option of really trolling me with hate-filled insults like “Linda has a fat arm that they’re going to put in an arm girdle” or “Look at all those track marks on Linda’s arms—she must be an absolute junkie and a bad aim with the needle, too.” I’ll never know. So have at it, pals.

Just, please, don’t tell my doctors I got on the computer to write and post this blog.


  1. Okay, you've posted. Now put that arm back where it belongs before you do yourself an injury.

  2. Linda, I hope you're doing well. After breast cancer, I got lymphedema in my left arm so I've been dealing with that for a few years. It gets better and worse. I tend to put the arm behind me in pics so only my skinny arm shows. :) Take care of yourself and good luck with your writing. :)