If you are living with lymphedema (LE), you know that heat is our kryptonite. It expands our blood vessels which increases the amount of fluid pushed into our tissues, straining our impaired lymphatic system and causing swelling. If we don’t manage this swelling our lymphedema progresses, causing more pain and creating more vulnerability to infection.
In my case, LE has affected my lower limbs. Since my first lymphedema symptom when I was 13 and my left foot began to swell, I adopted a strategy. This strategy has helped to reverse the impact of heat on my body and to slow the progression of the disease. My secret: I end all my showers with cold water on my LE-affected areas.
Today is Memorial Day in the United States, a day in which we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Visiting the graves of some of these brave men and women at Arlington National Cemetery this weekend put my daily battle with lymphedema into perspective.
They paid the price. And so did their families.
This image shows the back side of the headstones where the name of the soldier’s spouse is engraved. I noticed that often, several decades separated the two before they were re-joined in this final resting place.Continue reading “Their sacrifice, our duty.”→
Dry brushing is a detox method touted in many health and beauty publications for its ability to encourage weight loss, reduce cellulite and stimulate lymphatic flow. But is dry brushing a good idea for lymphies?
Watch this video to find out how many butterflies dry brushing earns on Lymphedema Diary’s five-butterfly rating system. (The butterfly is the international symbol of lymphedema)
As the clock strikes midnight this New Year’s Eve, it will mark the beginning of my 20th year of living, coping and, yes, thriving with lymphedema! In this video, I share the resolution that will help me not just to survive, but to THRIVE, with lymphedema.
While prying the latest dump of holiday catalogs out of my mailbox, a bright red postcard escaped onto the cold pavement. As I knelt down to pick it up, I could hardly believe my eyes – “Storewide Sale!” on all compression stocking brands. The postcard was from my stocking provider, BrightLife Direct. It was a Christmas miracle!
I have been purchasing compression stockings for nearly 20 years. And never in that time have I been offered a holiday discount.
Behold, it is true. This week only – BrightLife Direct is offering 10-20% off discounts plus free shipping on all of their brands. There are no kickbacks coming my way – promise. Just sharing the joy of the season with fellow lymphies.
Sexy is usually not a word that comes to mind when you think lymphedema. Compression garments. Pneumatic pumps. Bandages. Accessories like these are not likely to be spotted in Vogue’s Fall Fashion Preview.
But last weekend, I met a woman who can make any lymphie feel attractive – and improve their lymphatic flow – by starting with one of the first things they put on in the morning – a bra.
When you have lymphedema or are at risk for developing lymphedema, it is suggested that you avoid clothing or jewelry that restrains lymphatic flow. One of the biggest flow offenders? Underwire bras. The wires, intended to support and shape the breast, can dig into lymphatic vessels, encouraging the buildup of lymphatic fluid in a limb.
So what’s a fashion-forward lymphie to do?
One option might be to let the “girls” go free. At home on the weekends? Absolutely. At the office presenting in front of your staff? Not recommended.
Another option is a well-fitted, wireless bra. Finding a bra – any bra- that fits comfortably is a feat. Finding one without a wire that fits well and looks sexy? That’s gold medal worthy.
Meet the Olympic champion of wireless bra fitting – Ilissa Manes of Peach.
Memorial Day in America is a solemn occasion, but it marks the unofficial start to summer in the United States. As most Americans shed heavy clothes and head for the beach with their family and friends, those of us with lymphedema brace ourselves…and feel isolated.
Our enemy – heat – has arrived. We scour the stores (unsuccessfully) for summer pants that aren’t cropped or in some other way designed to reveal our compression stockings and swollen legs. We seek shelter in air-conditioned rooms. We hope and pray that our “summer swelling” will go back down when the cooler temps return in the fall.
Lymphedema can make us feel like a prisoner in our own bodies. Especially in the warmer temps. This summer – try not to let it.
It’s hard to believe that growing up (pre-lymphedema), summer was my favorite season. But I didn’t love summer because of the heat. I loved it because summer was freedom. I could do what I wanted with my time. Be with my friends. Practice with my synchronized swimming team. Go out on dates. Go to the movies.
Thanks to Winter Storm Jonas and the nearly 30” of snow he left in his wake, I and millions of others along the east coast have been holed up in our homes for 36 hours and counting.
With nowhere to go and a new book awaiting me on my Kindle, I decided to give my legs a snow day too. No compression stockings. Bare legged. A break from the normal 16 hours a day spent cooped up in tight, thick nylon-spandex, from toes to tummy.
What a glorious day! Toes wiggling. Thighs rubbing against cozy Cuddl Duds softness. No pinching, pulling, or squeezing. Freedom!
Don’t wait for a “Snowmaggedon” to give your legs a day off. If you are able, try letting them “air out” for a day, a day of freedom, while still maintaining lymphatic flow.
Take a load off. Limit the time you spend standing. Keep your legs elevated above your heart as much as possible. The natural effect of gravity will facilitate lymphatic flow. When cooking and preparing meals, try sitting on a stool or chair. Logically, spending significant time on your feet without compression is not recommended.
Kick your feet up. Literally. Find a chair that lifts your legs up while taking pressure off of your back. Watch a movie or read a book while compression-stocking-free.
Hydrate your legs. Pampering your skin is a luxury you don’t have while confined to compression stockings; so take advantage of this time. Every few hours, apply lotion to your legs, working it in with upward strokes to encourage lymphatic flow. And don’t forget your feet! I recommend Eucerin Smoothing Repair for Dry Skin or Medi Night Creme.
Wear cozy socks. Let your feet experience what normal feet do – the luxury of soft fabric directly against the skin. Choose a style of sock that does not bind at the top, cutting off lymphatic flow. Diabetic socks are made with this in mind. Non-binding socks made by Sockwell (pictured right), Soft Fit and Softop are available through Footsmart.com or Amazon.
Although June 21st is the calendar start of summer, Memorial Day (in America) marks the unofficial start. For the average person, the season means fun, sun and sandals. For those of us with lymphedema, it can mean swelling, sweat, and praying for September to come early.
When you are a lymphie, heat is a four letter word.
Putting on and then wearing thick, tight compression stockings all day, every day is challenging enough. Add eighty-plus-degree-heat and a bucket of humidity, and we are ready to volunteer for the crew of ‘Ultimate Survival Alaska.’
For women (like me) who must wear full-pantyhose compression stockings, the most unpleasant hazard of the summer heat can be yeast infections.
Yeast infections are not listed as a side-effect on stocking product materials. Neither is your regular doctor likely to warn you about them, because (GROAN) the medical profession lacks focus and funding on our field of study.
Yet I assure you, yeast infections and pantyhose compression stockings go hand-in-hand. Yeast thrives in warm, moist places, causing a fungal infection resulting in itching, redness, swelling, burning and a discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Summer fun, it is not.
So what can you do to avoid developing this uncomfortable medical condition on top of an already uncomfortable medical condition?
Victoria isn’t the only one who knows this secret. Some manufacturers, for an extra fee, can remove the crotch from stockings. Juzo offers this as a regular option in their Soft product line. Unless Dr. Ruth is on the board of Juzo, one would surmise there was a medical function to this design.
An open crotch promotes a cool, dry and airy — how shall we say….”environment.” Don’t negate these positive effects by wearing tight pants or synthetic panties. In hot and humid weather, skirts and cotton panties (or none!) are the way to go. In addition, be sure to change out of wet swimsuits and gym clothes immediately after a workout.