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Topic: Hurricanes and Lymphedema?

Forum: Lymphedema — Risks, tips for prevention, and info about products that can address the symptoms of lymphedema.

Posted on: Sep 8, 2017 12:32PM - edited Sep 8, 2017 08:50PM by Binney4

Binney4 wrote:

I'm hoping those of you with experience of extreme weather events will take a moment to add some tips for dealing with stresses like hurricanes, tornados and the like. Awhile back one of our gals here closely missed being smacked by a tornado and came here to report that the approaching storm had caused disabling pain and swelling in her arm. (This would be due to the sudden changes in atmospheric pressure which directly affect lymphedema. Most of us are more familiar with changes of altitude affecting our LE control, but that too has to do with pressure change, so it's a similar effect.) I have no idea how an approaching hurricane would affect someone with LE, but almost certainly the atmospheric pressure would be a factor. Once the storm passes control should return to "normal," but the immediate loss of control could be confusing (and frightening!) if you aren't expecting it.

Another aspect of weather emergencies is all these images we've been seeing of evacuees wading through waist-deep water, which brings to mind the importance of planning what to bring with you to a shelter or wherever you're heading to get out of harm's way. Be sure to include at least a couple changes of day garments and a night garment or wrapping supplies (and instructions for wrapping if you haven't practiced it in a while!) And don't forget your kit for dealing with cuts and scratches: wet wipes for cleaning, topical antibiotic, bandaids and, if you have them, a supply of oral antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor in case of suspected cellulitis. Put all that in a waterproof bag, for sure. A sturdy ziplock bag with as much air as possible left in it when sealing it may help keep it afloat if it gets dropped.

When Hurricane Andrew hit in Florida (goodness, have I been hanging out around here that long!!), one of our gals in the affected area had just started her LE treatment with a therapist there. The hospital where she was going for treatment was flooded, but the PT found another building, invited all her patients to meet there, and with her supervision they practiced their MLD and wrapping on each other until her clinic was again operable. Her treatment went forward uninterrupted despite the chaos of the storm. Or, as Mr. Rogers so wisely put it, in any disaster, "look for the helpers." Creative thinking and compassion go hand in hand to find solutions that inspire us all!

For those of you facing the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma, my thoughts and prayers are with you--stay safe! Thanks to anyone who can add ideas for coping in extreme events.

Gentle hugs,
Binney

(p.s.--edited to note it wasn't Hurricane Andrew I was remembering, it was Hurricane Charlie in 2004)

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Sep 8, 2017 01:45PM Freya wrote:

Great post Binney. The changes in atmospheric pressure is something I never would have thought about, but it is well worth knowing and being prepared.

Off topic, but we had quite a few people die in Australia last year when a storm affected their asthma. The weather can play havoc with our health.

Thunderstorm asthma, 8 people died and 8500 attended emergency rooms.

Dx 2009, ILC/IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver, Grade 3, 14/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 8, 2017 02:04PM - edited Sep 8, 2017 02:04PM by Freya

If you have a chronic illness, leave early to a safer place if possible. Everything can be replaced, you can't.

Organise your medication into 2 separate bags/containers, just in case 1 is damaged or lost. Take any prescriptions you have with you, and have a list of all medication you are taking and the names of your medical team and their contact details. Have any medical equipment, garments and a well stocked first aid kit ready to go.

We live in a bushfire zone and keep packed bags ready with a list attached of things to add before we go.

Dx 2009, ILC/IDC, Right, 6cm+, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/liver, Grade 3, 14/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 8, 2017 07:24PM Spookiesmom wrote:

Thanks Binny, great post!! I'm next to Clearwater on the west coast. So far, my arm is normal, but the fibro is acting up. I'll try to keep posting if I have power.

Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Sep 9, 2017 06:13PM Kicks wrote:

Andrew was in '92 - Charlie in '04. Charlie hit my home town, Punta Gorda really bad - destroyed the building I had had my Salon in at the corner of Marion and Nesbit, that had stood through many 'canes for about 70 yrs, flattened.

Back to the reason I'm posting. If you have a Medic Alert bracelet - wear it! If hot write on your LE arm "Do not use - LE" or something like that. Or could use one of the 'over sleeves' you can get for when heading into surgery (IF time allows or plan ahead and get one for the future).

On your other arm, write your SS number and a phone number for a contact person out of the area so that if you become injured, you can be identified and someone can be contacted for any further needed info can be gotten from them and to let them know you are accounted for and the location. If you are afraid of some unscrouples person seeing your SS # (and yoir contact person's phone #) on your arm, then write it across your stomach where the only time it might be seen is by appropriate personnel.

In your first aid kit it is very good to have H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) and betadine.

I have a Dog Tag in my 'Bug Out Bag' (survival bag that is always packed just 'in case') to put on when/if problems present. No matter where 'you' live there can be issues that can cause problems.

Prayers for all who are about to be 'slammed' by Irma. I'm hoping it does what a Hurricane did back in the early '70's and totally 'fizzled out' between Naples and Ft. Myers. It had done a lot of damage in the Caribbean and was forecasted to go right up Charlotte Harbor to do major damage to Punta Gorda. It totally 'fizzled out' while still in the Gulf between Naples and Ft. Myers so there is always hope that might happen again!

Dx 8/7/2009, IBC, Stage IIIC, 19/19 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Chemotherapy 8/24/2009 AC Surgery 10/20/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right Chemotherapy 11/10/2009 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 2/3/2010 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Sep 10, 2017 02:45AM JWoo wrote:

every time the barometer moves my LE acts up 😫 I can't imagine it near a hurricane! Sookie, stay safe ❤️

effitall
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Sep 10, 2017 12:28PM Spookiesmom wrote:

Thanks J, will try. Weather will deteriorate rest of today. So far arm is ok.

Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Sep 10, 2017 03:40PM Castigame wrote:

I feel quite tight in my bad arm. Slight general discomfort in my limbs. Guess I should wear my sleeve till i go to sleep

Mimi

Mimi Dx 1/11/2017, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, 0/2 nodes Dx 1/11/2017, IDC: Papillary/IDC: Cribriform, Right, 3cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 2/15/2017 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy Chemotherapy 3/21/2017 Radiation Therapy 7/31/2017 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Sep 12, 2017 10:49AM amygil81 wrote:

Jwoo, I sympathize with you. I have the same problem, with my LE flaring when the weather acts up. Whenever I see the evening news forecasting a major storm, I think, "Uh-oh, here comes another day in full bandages."

BTW, I love your signature line, "effitall". All my cancerversaries are coming up in the next few months. I was sitting in my shower last night, contemplating my scars from my cancer surgeries – my leg, my breast, my pectoral muscle – and thinking yes, effitall sums it up nicely. But as my BF always reminds me, "I may not be all there, but I'm still here." Best to you.

Osteosarcoma in left leg at age 13. DCIS in left breast at 33. IDC recurrence in left chest wall at 42. Dx 12/2000, DCIS, Left, 1cm, Stage 0, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR- Surgery 12/9/2000 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left Dx 12/2009, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIIB, 3/10 nodes Surgery 12/17/2009 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary Chemotherapy 1/10/2010 CMF Chemotherapy 5/30/2010 Taxol (paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 10/31/2010 External: Lymph nodes, Chest wall
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Sep 12, 2017 09:29PM Spookiesmom wrote:

Irma is gone from Florida thank dog. 2 day no power, no a/c, and no damage to house.

Arm may have swollen up a bit, seems ok now.

Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Sep 12, 2017 09:35PM Binney4 wrote:

Spookiesmom, whew! So glad to see you back here. And with good news too! Fur babies okay too? Bet they hated that storm. Thanks so much for letting us know, and really good to hear the LE is all okay.

Stay well!
Binney

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Sep 12, 2017 09:38PM Spookiesmom wrote:

We went to my daughters house about 15 min from us. Took both dogs, she has a cat. That got interesting twice. She never lost power so maybe by staying cool the arm stayed down.

Dx IDC, Stage IIIA, Grade 3
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Sep 18, 2017 03:13PM glennie19 wrote:

Only lost power for a few hours, so had AC most of the time. But the changes in the barometric pressure did cause some increased "puffy feeling", although I seem to be back to normal now!

Fibromyalgia and Truncal Lymphedema,,, some of the fun things I live with. Total hysterecomy 9/29/14 Dx 6/27/2013, Paget's, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 8/7/2013 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left Dx DCIS
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Sep 18, 2017 04:08PM SpecialK wrote:

I experienced discomfort in the classic axillary web diagram, but didn't notice a particular increase in swelling. Once the storm passed and the rain stopped the discomfort went away. While technically I have bi-lat LE, I only had issues with my worse arm

BMX w/ TE 11/1/10, ALND 12/6/10. 14 additional surgeries. TCHx6 2/17-6/2/11. Herceptin until 1/19/12. Femara 8/1/11, Arimidex 6/20/12, back to Femara 6/18/13-present. Dx 9/27/2010, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/14 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC) Dx 9/27/2010, DCIS, Stage 0, Grade 3
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Sep 18, 2017 05:23PM Binney4 wrote:

Thanks, Glennie and SpecialK--really helpful updates, and SO GLAD all's well for you both! Now just stay out of Hurricane Maria's way!

Hugs,
Binney

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