Friday, February 12, 2010
Embracing the Inner Mummy: Information on Bandaging
This post will review the stages of intensive treatment. This is such an important part of getting better. I was seeing a physical therapist for two months who did not do any of the necessary treatment steps for Lymphedema. The result of her lack of knowledge about the condition cost me hundreds more on top of my already mounting medical bills, caused my leg to worsen to the point that walking was incredibly difficult and painful. You must educate yourself about the condition so that you know whether you are receiving the correct treatment. Verify their background also!
There are three layers of bandages:
Foam and or padding
The bandaging must be taught by an occupation or physical therapist because they will know the correct way to wrap your leg and teach you as well.
I had two amazing occupational therapists that wrapped my leg and taught me how to do it myself.
First, I put on the stockinette so that the short stretch bandages do not come in direct contact with my skin. Then I put on my foam padding in my problem areas (this will be a later post). Then I start at my foot with the smallest bandage and work my way up to my hip. I wear 5 to 6 short stretch bandages. I have to wrap my leg every single night and perform the manual lymph drainage massage. The entire process takes about 45 minutes to an hour and is and will always be a pain in the butt. The reward: your affected limb smaller and less painful. I sleep in this every single night.
The first several weeks of wearing the bandages to bed will be rough. Sleep will be scarce because it is heavy and hot and you can barely bend your leg. It becomes typical to you after a while and soon not an issue. Also, when you are starting to learn how to wrap, there will be the nights where you were a bit too overzealous during wrapping and wrapped your leg a bit too tight. You will wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to feel your foot. This is not good. Take it off immediately. I suggest trying to rewrap which is not fun at 3 in the morning when you have to get up in a few hours BUT it will help your leg so it is worth it.
In short: wrapping is obnoxious and tedious and time consuming but your leg (or arm) will get better because of it and will be less swollen. Stick with it, it will pay off.
IMPORTANT: DO NOT USE THE METAL CLASPS THAT COME WITH THE BANDAGES, THEY CAN PUNCTURE YOUR SKIN AND CAUSE AN INFECTION!!!
I will post some pictures of my mummified leg shortly!