The first week in January, I had a squamous cell skin cancer removed from the inside of my foreleg. You could nearly drop a marble in the hole when the cancerous tissue was removed. A vertical incision was done so the edges would come together for healing. Unfortunately, it did not stay that way. I developed blisters, sloughing, excoriation, and eventually an open and deep wound.
Healing with chronic illness
The surgeon asked me if I had other medical problems besides having thin skin, a history of cellulitis, Raynaud's, and idiopathic edema. Other than having Hashimoto’s, fibromyalgia and ME/CFS I didn’t have an explanation, I didn’t have an explanation. I don’t know if I will ever know why my body reacts this way. I do not take a medication that would cause skin thinning, poor healing or easy bruising. I wonder if the immune factors elevated in my FM/a test might play a role. But, whatever it might be, I needed to manage this wound successfully. As a nurse, I knew it was going to take time and careful attention.
Stagnation and movement
I was sedentary with my legs elevated for two months, and it was grueling. I knew the importance of keeping blood and lymph moving and this is a perfect example of why I write about it. Lack of movement was not only detrimental to my leg healing, it also caused my fibro, arthritis, and myofascial pain to flare. I had to find a way to get the blood and lymph moving for my general health and for this leg!
The second heart pump: a win-win motivation spin
In my search I found many ways to keep circulation chugging along like the little engine that could. Most I already knew but none was as motivating as thinking of my legs as a second heart pump. It made it easy to include mindfulness and visualization with movement and help with mind/ body balance.
*These movement strategies are also helpful for restless leg cramping and more.
Dr. Sam Robbins’ You Tube video gives relatable information on how our legs, as a second heart pump, are important to our health. He gives us three valuable exercises that no doubt help with healing. Once I was able to start my daily walk again, my leg wound began to heal at a faster rate.
So, how did I go about moving while tethered to a chair?
· Exercise on the hour.
· Three repetitions. The number three is my start-low and go-slow strategy. Repetition is not my friend because of myofascial trigger points. So when I progress any routine, I increase the frequency, not the repetitions. Maybe that doesn’t work for you, but whatever you prefer, the goal is to stay movement motivated.
· When up to the bathroom, I swung my leg back and forth and kicked the air while holding onto something. The “pumping” motion helped return blood and lymph back into circulation. Dr. Robbins inspired me with his information on “rebounding”, which works something like bouncing does for astronauts.
· In the chair, I did leg lifts, bicycle peddling, flexing and extension of my ankle, etc. These are essential elements for those of us with leg circulation problems.
This has been a great learning experience for me. Sure, I wouldn’t ask to have this happen again, but it did happen. I practice T’ai Chi, but the conscious awareness I now have for my second heart pump has added a new meditative movement that will help all of my leg problems and I hope sharing my story will do the same for you.
“When confronted with challenge,
I discover my inner strength.”
"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."
~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~
Celeste Cooper, RN
Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com
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All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.