27 May 2011
Other than a few car trips to Missouri to see Allyson graduate or visit her in St. Louis, the last real vacation I had was in June 2009, a wonderful trip we took to Springfield, IL, and then several days in Chicago. Before that, Tim and I took my parents and their friends John & Nancy Anthony on a Blue & BBQ road trip through the Mississippi Delta. But it’s been over two years since I’ve been on a plane trip.
Today I feel like a kid in a candy store, as in a few hours I’m boarding a flight to Washington, DC – my very favorite place in America! I’ll attend a conference on America’s competitive workforce Wednesday through Friday. But between now and then, I’m looking forward to several days of rest and great fun with longtime friends from college.
Used to for me, living meant traveling. I’m kind of like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life when he said that the three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles. But travel hasn’t been in the cards for me in quite a while. So I’m very excited about getting on a plane and taking off for a new adventure.
Traveling in my new normal world is quite different. Anytime I get on a plane, it now requires wearing a lymphedema sleeve on my right arm. The sleeve reminds me of a wet suit for the arm – a very tight compression garment to prevent the onset of lymphedema.
Most people don’t know what lymphedema is until they have it. For me, it's something I'll hope to prevent the rest of my life. Lymphedema is caused when there is trauma caused to the lymphatic system – in my case, cancer in the lymphatic system that required surgically removing 17 lymph nodes. Lymphedema, or lymphatic obstruction occurs when there is blockage of the lymph vessels that drain fluid from tissues throughout the body and allow immune cells to travel where they are needed. Cancer patients who develop lymphedema do so usually in the first four years after surgery. It's another post-cancer complication I certainly hope to avoid.
The physical discomfort is usually fluid retention and swelling in the arm, and sometimes the swelling is constant and horrific. But the really bad news is this . . . Once you have lymphedema, it’s very difficult to get rid of it. So, the secret here is PREVENTION.
Today I have my house sitter well supplied, the dogs fed, bags packed, my ticket in hand, and I’m wearing my very important lymphedema arm sleeve that will be my new companion every time I board a plane. I sure hope this thing works.
After landing, I’m ripping this sleeve off to enjoy several days in my safe place – with very best friends who allow you to share your most personal self and not feel afraid. Our plans are simple – good food and wine, updates on our lives, and mentally traveling on our time machine to recall special days gone by.
As Thoreau said, true friends cherish one another’s hopes and are kind to one another’s dreams.
I’m very excited about boarding this plane, but even happier about spending the days ahead with cherished friends.
I hope you enjoy a very memorable holiday weekend too.
Posted by Stacy Sells at 7:58 AM