Getting lymphedema wasn’t my choice. And yet, nearly every choice I have made since getting lymphedema has been made with the condition in mind.
Shoe shopping? Lymphedema is there to guide me to the non-binding, sensible flat. Sadly, no Jimmy Choos for the fat feet.
Groceries? Lymphedema makes the responsible low-sodium, low-fat selections for me (Although I sometimes manage to slip a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips into the cart).
Naturally, when it was time for Luke and me to pick out a new car, my lymphedema was included in the decision-making process.
Car choice is important, especially for people with lymphedema. Americans spend nearly three hours a day in their cars (That’s a lot of time for lymphatic fluid to collect in the feet, ankles and legs.)
Car manufacturers offer loads of amenities designed to keep drivers and passengers comfortable – like heated seats, power adjustable lumbar support and dual zone climate control. While these “add-ons” are attractive luxuries, the only features that lymphedema cares about are seat height and leg room
Let’s take them one at a time.
Seat height. The higher the seat, the steeper the incline of the legs, and the more gravity takes its toll on the lymphatic system. Which vehicles have high seats? SUVs (sports utility vehicles) and trucks. The SUV trend of the last 15 years? Bad for leg lymphedema. Which is why I regretted our car choice of three years ago – the Toyota Rav4. Thankfully, it was a lease. The contract was up this month. At the top of our wish list was a vehicle that would keep my legs more parallel to the car floor.
- Leg room. There’s a reason I call my stockings my “iron legs”, and it’s not because they make me feel like a superhero. It’s because they are thick, heavy and unyielding. For example, when I bend my leg, the fabric of the stockings pinches behind the knee. It’s not debilitating, just one of the annoying things I’ve learned to tolerate. But I’ve also learned to make things easier on myself when I can. That means looking for a car with ample leg room, so I can stretch out and keep my legs straight.
What car did my lymphedema choose?
But apparently it hasn’t hit the market yet (I can dream).
My lymphedema, Luke and me happily settled on the 2014 Subaru Outback.
A station wagon by design, the Outback’s seats are much lower than an SUV’s, allowing my legs to rest more horizontally. Plus, with 43 inches of front leg room and 37.8 inches of rear leg room, the interior is more than spacious enough for my 66 inch frame.
What’s best is that the Outback has the qualities of an SUV with all-wheel drive, roof rails and plenty of cargo room. You won’t see me strapping a kayak on the top of my Outback and going camping like in the commercials, but I will be driving more confidently in New York’s harsh winters.
If you are riding comfortably in a station wagon or sedan, stay on course and don’t be tempted by the SUV fad. If you’re like me, and you unwittingly put added pressure on your lymphedema by going with an SUV or truck, keep an eye out down the road for an opportunity to make a change.
Your lymphedema will thank you.
Disclaimer: Neither I, Luke nor my lymphedema have received compensation from Subaru or any of its subsidiaries. Quite the contrary. We’ll be brown-bagging it for quite some time in the name of lymphatic health, after this car purchase.