Just thought I'd post a few of the hot weather LE tips from the Natonal Lymphedema Network so we can all play it safe this summer.
(Those of you in Australia, try not to gloat!)
We need to limit our outdoor time in the hottest part of the day, and if we do get overheated, to cool our whole body as soon as possible (ahh -- nice cool shower, or a dip in the pool). Or you can cool your affected arm by wrapping it in a cool damp towel and elevating it. (Okay, or ONCE IN A WHILE you can run your arm, with the sleeve and glove on, under a nice cool faucet and sorta pat it dry with a towel -- feels great! Don't do that often, or at all if it's so humid that it doesn't dry in a reasonable amount of time -- fungal infections we don't need!)
Avoid putting insect repellent on your skin and then wearing a garment over it. Instead, wear a long-sleeved shirt if you're going to be out when the nasties are biting. For insect bites, prompt treatment with a benadryl or hydrocortisone cream (or one containing aluminum sulfate) will lessen the swelling effect. Then wash and dry and apply antibiotic cream, just like any other break in the skin.
We don't want sunburn, so we need to use a sunscreen. And you know that thick, opaque fabric our sleeves are made of? Well, there's no guarantee it will protect us from sunburn, so by all means protect that arm with sunscreen as well. (And for us rads ladies, remember our radiated skin remains especially susceptible to the sun.)
Swimming is great exercise (not recommended: the butterfly stroke), and you may not need a compression garment in the water, as the water itself provides pressure. (If you do, you can wear an old garment while swimming.) When we get out, though, we need to dry off and put our garments back on promptly.
Traveling is always an adventure, and LE makes it moreso. Sleeves and gloves are great for prevention when flying, but most of us who already have LE find wrapping a better option. Leave it wrapped after landing for an hour or so. And don't forget exercising your arm at intervals throughout the flight, staying hydrated and avoiding caffeine, and being careful not to jerk luggage around (wheels are good, and pushing it is even better than pulling.) Andy, our all-time frequent flier record holder, finds that with her wrapped arm there are plenty of offers of help with her luggage -- nice! (If you wait to retrieve your luggage from the carousel until the crowd has thinned, your arm is less likely to be bumped and shoved.)
Going by car requires some adjustments too. If you're driving very far you'll want to wrap, and when you're not driving try to elevate your arm. Use air conditioning to avoid overheating. Exercise frequently and stay hydrated. On our last longish car trip I used my night garments instead of wrapping and found it easier (and even weirder-looking for the gawking public at rest stops and restaurants.) My therapist suggested that if the night gear was not enough I could wrap over them with just the short-stretch and leave off the gauze, foam and stockinette layers.
Which brings us to the topic of packing along supplies: bring enough. I've seem recommendations to bring along a prescription for antibiotics in case of emergency, but if you're going out-of-state I don't think that'd work. My onc has insisted all along that I keep a supply of antibiotics on hand at home, and traveling is no different. You can talk that one over with your therapist and medical team and decide what'll work best for you. At any rate, we don't want to take any vacations from vigilance, as an infection can quickly wreck all our plans.
Okay, that's a start. What other tips do you all have that work for you?
Hope your summer is restful and refreshing. (That goes double for those of you still in bc and LE treatment. Hang in there -- next summer's gonna be terrific!)
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