Lymphatic Congestion or One Boob is Bigger Than The Other

Good afternoon, everyone! Hope you all are well. Yes, that is a very unusual title. Took me by surprise, too. I don’t know if I told everyone…or anyone outside of Facebook (good place to keep a secret) but I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year soon after I retired from hospital work. I was so caught up with getting things ready for retirement that I forgot about scheduling my mammogram so as soon as things settled down I went in for the mammo.

My heart sunk when I was told I needed more views of my right breast. After the tech took the pictures I knew an ultrasound and possibly a biopsy was in order (she let me look at the pictures. It didn’t look like a cyst). Well, after all was said and done it turned out that I had a 5 mm tumor…an estrogen feeding tumor that didn’t belong. Surgery was indicated followed by radiation treatments….more about that later. The surgery was a partial mastectomy or lumpectomy. “No problems,” they  told me. “We didn’t do anything to your lymph nodes” they said. “Your chances of lymphedema are very slim” I was told so I went on my merry way.

I completed my radiation treatments early November, went up north to visit family for turkey day, then on to Haiti on a medical mission (which was awesome, BTW). Shortly after returning home I noticed swelling of my right boob along with discomfort and dull pain to the axilla (underarm) and around the nipple. I had doctor appointments coming up so I told the doctors about it. They passed it on….did I tell the other oncologist? (Like why would I? I am here!) I finally had enough and called the radiation nurse who said “It sounds like lymphedema.”  WTH! My slim chances became 100%. I then called the lymphedema team at the VA.

What I do have is lymphatic congestion. It is not in my arm, just my right breast. I was taught how to do Lymphatic Massage Drainage (look it up on You Tube. No, you will not see my breast). I already had high impact sports bras (keep the girls in place with a bit of a squish) which helped. I also sleep in a compression t-shirt (Under Armor, short sleeve). I even bought an abdominal binder to really squish the boob and that helped a lot. Reminded me of the movie “Victor/Victoria” with James Garner and Julie Andrews where Julie Andrews played a woman who pretended to be a man who pretended to be a woman. She wore a binder. Kept the girls in place. Good idea.

Well, the congestion is still present but much better after help from my team at the Malcom Randall VAMC in Gainesville, FL so all is well, or better. And why am I telling everyone about this? you might ask. Because I was on Facebook the other night and noticed a post about similar symptoms. I can’t diagnose but I sure can tell her about my experience and use the blog to tell others, too. After all, one boob bigger than the other and holding about 4 pounds of water weight is not normal by any stretch.

Well, that’s all for now. Got to get back to posting patterns on Etsy. I have a bunch of new, uncuts ready to go….and some incredibly cool Hawaiian prints from, where else, Hawaii that I picked up my recent trip.

Love to everyone….and go get your mammogram done. And here is a quick shout out to Alice, the wonderful nurse at the North Florida Cancer Center. She is fabulous. Love my nurse!

Post by Eileen of GoofingOff Sewing at Etsy.



Recognizing the Signs of Stroke

I wrote this a while ago but the information is still good so I thought I would publish it again. It’s too important not to share.

Not too long ago I went to one of my favorite thrift shops, you know, the one with all the stuff crammed into every nook and cranny? So much stuff it spills out to the sidewalk?  Yeah, that one. Good shop. Well, anyway, there is a nice older couple who run the shop. Well, when I stopped in the last time there was a younger man at the register. I thought “Maybe they took a trip and he’s filling in” so in my small talk way I asked what happened to the woman who runs the store. “Oh, that’s my mom” he said. “My dad had a stroke about a month ago and she’s been taking care of him.”

OMG, the poor man and his wife. The son proceeded to tell me how he stopped at the store one morning and found his dad trying to make coffee but couldn’t figure out how to do it. Being a good son he helped him make the coffee then went on his way. He checked back with his mom later that afternoon and she said his dad wasn’t much better. She thought it was a cold. Anyway, to make a long story short, the man didn’t see a doctor or go to the hospital for a week. It took the hospital a few more days, a CT scan, and an MRI to figure out he had a stroke. He spent another week in the hospital. When I found out about it he was just starting to talk again.

I feel terrible about the whole thing. I don’t place blame on the son for not taking him to the hospital or the man’s wife for the not calling an ambulance. I feel bad because they didn’t recognize the signs of stroke, so being the good nurse that I am, I decided to blog about it. Maybe someone will remember what I wrote and the signs. Time is so precious. “Time is muscle” is the saying for a heart attack. For strokes it is “Time is brain cells.” So, here goes, a nursing teaching moment.

A stroke is called a brain attack just like a myocardial infarction is called a heart attack. There is a lack of oxygen to a portion of the brain.  How bad the effects are depends on a few things but it is important to do something about it. What can you do? CALL 911!

I borrowed this from the American Heart Association. It’s good, sound advice so please read this:


  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Be prepared for an emergency.

  • Keep a list of emergency rescue service numbers next to the telephone and in your pocket, wallet or purse.
  • Find out which area hospitals are primary stroke centers that have 24-hour emergency stroke care.
  • Know (in advance) which hospital or medical facility is nearest your home or office.

Take action in an emergency.

  • Not all the warning signs occur in every stroke. Don’t ignore signs of stroke, even if they go away!
  • Check the time. When did the first warning sign or symptom start? You’ll be asked this important question later.
  • If you have one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don’t delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical service (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can quickly be sent for you.
  • If you’re with someone who may be having stroke symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or the EMS. Expect the person to protest — denial is common. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Insist on taking prompt action.

For stroke information, call the American Stroke Association at 1-888-4-STROKE or visit their Web site.

Now, I love to see my friends but I sure would rather see y’all in a thrift shop or yard sale than in the ICU. I wish I could have taught the man and his mom to recognize the signs of stroke. Might have changed the recovery time and changed his outcome. I can’t do much about what happened but I can affect what will be by teaching and telling others. OK, I did my part, now you do yours.

Thanks for reading.

Post by Eileen Patterson.

Food Fun for Halloween

Halloween has always been a challenge for me……not only what costume to wear or make but how to keep the fun in Halloween and control the amount of sugar in my house. When my daughter was little I made special Halloween candy and had fruit available but admittedly, the fruit was plain and no fun at all. Check out these easy to re-create ideas from the  Eat Smart blog. 

Vegetable skeleton....good for adults, too! A spooky take on the vegetable platter.

Vegetable skeleton….good for adults, too! A spooky take on the vegetable platter.

I love this guy! Great idea for the kids and grown-ups. Serve with salad dressing for dipping. Great for a Halloween party table.

Clementines are yummy and sweet. Great for the kids.

Clementines are yummy and sweet. Great for the kids.

There’s lots more to make and a thousand ways (or so it seems) to add sugar to the diet…..just the same, I don’t need to eat more sugar and having little ones jacked up on sugar isn’t my idea of a great time. Offering something healthy and yummy is a way to make a change.

Post by Eileen of GoofingOff Sewing….who cooks, too. The kitchen is just another place to Goof Off.

Create Magic With Every Stitch!