Deep Oscillation Feedback by Gaynor Leech LWO Founder
"Imagine my delight in July when talking to Mary Fickling through one of our many conversations she said “I have a brain wave” we were discussing Deep Oscillation Therapy (DOT) and the many reports to the success of DOT and how it could be beneficial to someone living with Lymphoedema. At the time Mary was busy writing her first Newsletter and I was getting ready to launch our Families website, so both extremely busy. I had asked Mary whether she would write a piece for the Management and Treatment on deep oscillation and whether DOT was suitable for Children.
Mary recalled the case of a young person who has learnt to use the personal DOT unit themselves and the parents had written a glowing report of the journey and the progress of DOT in 2017. This year the family have updated their story which is truly inspirational.
The brain wave “why don’t I loan you a unit for a month and you can see for yourself”. Wow!
I then spoke to her sister Julie Soroczyn over the phone and 10 days later I received my DOT Personal Unit. This review I will approach from two different angles the first will be on a personal level and the second will be as a patient advocate and Founder of L-W-O Community.
In October 2010 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer through a routine mammogram and I cannot stress enough the importance of women going for their routine mammograms. The reason for this is that my Breast Cancer would not have been found as early because mine was a Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS). This was explained to me as tiny grains of sand in the tissue. No lump, not something I would find on my own in self breast examination. In medical terms a DCIS means that some cells in the lining of the ducts of the breast tissue have started to turn into cancer cells.
Mammogram, ultrasounds, a biopsy, and blood tests followed, and our amazing NHS moved quickly to take care of me. A small operation called a Wide Local Excision followed as it was deemed that a mastectomy was not necessary. For approximately two and a half weeks my feet did not touch the ground and there was not too much time to think and dwell on what was happening. My consultant was pleased and announced that my prognosis was good. However, he did suggest being 100% sure that there were no cells lurking I had a course of radiotherapy. A couple of months later I started my 15 days of radiotherapy treatment and to all intents and purposes I appeared to sail through treatment apart from the extreme tiredness. My skin did not break down like that of many of my friends so all seemed good or so I thought.
May 2011 a check-up with my oncologist was the day my life changed beyond all recognition and took a completely new direction. I asked the oncologist how long it would take for my boob to feel like normal. At that time, it was beetroot red, hard, and uncomfortable, like I was carrying a rugby ball on the end of my chest. The oncologist said, “I am sorry my dear, you have lymphoedema”. “Lymph What?”.
There were many health challenges ahead, this is where the depression kicked in big time here I was a cancer survivor, although the thought never totally goes out of your head even after 10 years every new twinge sends the mind in to freefall. When you are diagnosed with secondary lymphoedema then all you hear is ‘lifelong and incurable’, you do not hear manageable and can be treated with good skincare, a healthy lifestyle, good hydration and to keep moving.
Other Health Issues
Before I move on to talk about using the DOT, I have many other health issues far too many to list here and not relevant to this review. However, what is relevant is that in the 1990’s I had my gall bladder removed by open Cholecystectomy; keyhole surgery was still not the norm at that time. Sadly, the skills of the surgeon were not good, and this is me being kind. I was left with horrendous scarring both inside and out, to this day I still suffer with internal infections were the whole area blows up. The scarring inside I was told about after a subsequent operation not related to the gall bladder where the surgeon was so concerned about the state of my abdominal area inside, but the damage had already been done. The consequence of this is that my abdominal area is big, often extremely hard and my right side is larger than my left side resulting in a lopsided abdominal area which is hard to disguise.
My deep oscillation unit arrived and there were conversations with Julie on how to set it up and we were good to go. To give it the correct name my lymphoedema is breast, and posterior chest wall. I was lucky that mine cannot be seen, it is not obvious, and it has not been officially diagnosed in my arm, so I do not wear a compression sleeve. I suspect however, I have small amount in the top underside of my arm as well as my abdominal area, my compression is a good bra, self-lymphatic drainage (SLD), good skincare, hydration and regular hand and arm movements. I do have a compression sleeve which it was suggested I use for ironing and computer work but due to lots of different neuropathies plus a degenerative cervical spine my hands are weak, with a noticeable tremor and I cannot get the sleeve on.
Julie phoned me and talked me through the setting up of the unit, then rang back to see how I was getting on. I started with the treatment which I used religiously once a day before bed for the first 10 days. There were two Oscillator heads to choose from (hand applicators) one of 5.0 cm and 9.5 cm head. I decided the small hand applicator was best for me because of my weak hands. I did find it difficult to hold both the hand applicator and the titanium neutral element (TNE) please remember this is something personal to me most patients would not have this problem. Speaking to Mary she suggested I placed the TNE between my toes which did work and therefore when the hand I was using became tired I could alternate the oscillator head between hands without too much interruption of treatment. I found using a light layer of talc, as recommended, helped the circular movements from the hand applicator rotate easily across my upper body, which I found soothing.
There were parts of my body I could not reach because of my decreased mobility; however, it did reduce the golf ball of fluid on the side of my boob and the inner side of my upper arm there was a significant reduction. I will add here that I did apply treatment to both the inside of both arms to keep the size the same. To my surprise I found the hand applicator was also very effective on my swollen tummy; it softened the area around the scar tissue and reduced the swollen area significantly.
I used the DOT for 10 days then reduced the use to three times a week and then to twice a week. I understand that this treatment can be used everyday but for me I found that difficult with my busy lifestyle.
I pride myself on good skin care which I was introduced to at an incredibly young age and I have continued with my skin care routine throughout my life and because I do this everyday it takes little time. However, after using the DOT my skin was exceptionally soft and supple. I found a reduction in pain levels, and the stubborn areas of fluid were significantly reduced. In the beginning I said I would approach using DOT from two different angles.
Having had access to the Personal Unit I feel that I can now talk to L-W-O Community members more confidently about the use of deep oscillation therapy not as an alternative to Manual Lymphatic Drainage or Simple Lymphatic Drainage but alongside the lifestyle changes, skin care, hydration and movement that are all a part of living with a lifelong condition like lymphoedema.
I would like to thank both Mary and Julie for giving me the opportunity to see for myself how deep oscillation therapy works and the support I received from both through using this unit."