Tag Archives: Wrapping

Managing Lymph-tivities

3 Sep

Idina MenzelFor most women, getting ready for work is like preparing for opening night on the Broadway stage. All of the makeup, hair and costume acrobatics performed on a daily basis before 7 a.m. would give even Idina Menzel pause.

For women with lymphedema, getting assembled for the day is even more challenging. Our routines include more than the application of foundation, blush, mascara and hairspray.

What are among the most common activities for lymphedema ladies? Remove compression bandages (5 minutes), roll up compression bandages (10 minutes), shower/dry-off/moisturize/elevate legs (30 minutes), conduct manual lymph drainage (20 minutes), don compression garment or garments (15 minutes), choose the least restrictive ensemble for the day – from the feet up (10 minutes). With all of these added lymph-tivities, it is a wonder anyone with this condition ever makes it out the door!

As a working professional who has been living with lymphedema for 16 years, I am continually looking for more efficient ways to manage my health situation. One lymph-tivity that I have eliminated from my morning routine, saving me valuable time: morning shower and post-shower leg elevation. Continue reading

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There’s no place like home

19 Nov

I owe my lymphedema an apology.  Over the past 60 days I have put it through the wringer.  I’ve done just about everything we are told not to do as lymphedema sufferers.  Work 12 hour days, 7 days a week? Check.  Subsist on pizza, coffee and Halloween candy? You bet.  Exercise?  Nope.  Meditate?  Nah-uh.  Wrap?  Not a chance.

Why did I put my lymphedema though this abuse?  My chosen profession is politics, which means that every September and October is a test of endurance.  The last two months before election day are a sprint with much at stake.  This year, the future of the county in which I live (as well as my own immediate financial well being) hung in the balance.

Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray BolgerFilm SetWizard Of Oz, The (1939)0032138

Everybody needs help getting back on the Yellow Brick Road. After times of stress, try to surround yourself with people who will help you heal.

Thankfully, this time we came out on top.  My boss handily won re-election, and I still have a job. My lymphedema, on the other hand, came in dead last.  My body had been so neglected that my lymphatic fluid felt more like lymphatic solid.  I was so stiff, I made the Tin Man seem like Stretch Armstrong.

Subsequently, my immune system surrendered to a cold that had been lying in wait for weeks.  Getting my body moving  and whole again would take more than an oil can.

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I’m so progressive (medically, that is)

12 Aug

When the medical professionals say that lymphedema is a progressive disease, they aren’t kidding.  In the 15 years that I’ve had the condition, the development of my lymphedema can be tracked by the compression garments I have worn to manage it.

"The Grandma", as I call it, in Juzo's advertisement

“The Grandma” compression stocking, as I call it, as pictured in Juzo brand’s advertisement.

Compression garments are stockings or sleeves or some other type of clothing that provide gradual compression that pushes the lymphatic fluid towards the heart (meaning the garment is tightest at the bottom of the limb, i.e. the ankle or wrist,and loosest at the top of the limb).

Some lymphedema patients can’t fit into compression stockings due to the severity of their swelling.  I don’t know how they can function or bear the pain.  For myself, I cannot remain in a standing position for more than a few minutes without my stockings on before I start feeling discomfort.  Within a matter of hours swelling would follow and my legs would be back to day one of my onset.  Without stockings, I could not function day-to-day.  I could not go to work, go for a walk, or do any of the necessary and normal activities of life.  These stockings do the work that my lymphatic system is incapable of doing.

So over the past 15 years, I’ve gone from a school-girl knee-high stocking, to a sexy thigh-high length, to a full pantyhose style that extends past my belly button that I have dubbed “The Grandma.”

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