Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Lymphedema Products I Swear By

Hi all,

I wanted to share a fantastic product I've found to help reduce fibrosis which is the hardening of the skin and tissue, as I understand it. These little squares of sponge are amazing and have helped me to find my inner ankle bone and knee cap. I use it for short stretch bandage wrapping. Also, if you're not familiar with Bandages Plus, they are a wonderful company to order from. They have a lot of products with reasonable prices and I'v never had any issues with my orders.

Another product I use every day is this lotion, Lymphoderm Body Lotion. It helps maintain PH and reduces chances of infection. I use it on my Lymphedema leg and foot daily. It also has a cool feeling on the skin which is wonderful on our hot and swollen limbs.

Feel free to share any other products you've found that you can't live without!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Moving beyond the diagnosis

Last Sunday, I ran my first 5k and it also marked the first time in 5 years that I ran for 3 miles straight – the first time since being diagnosed with Lymphedema. Can I just say woooohoooo!! When I was diagnosed, my doctor and occupational therapists warned my life would be different and I heeded their advice and knowledge. I also limited myself to what my body could do because I had a medical condition. That may not have been the right approach either. It wasn't easy to get here. There were many very painful nights after spinning and jogging. When I felt that pain, I'd slow it down or reduce the number of days of heavier exercise. I didn't give up; I just slowed it down so I could work up to the level I wanted to be. Before Lymphedema, I loved running. To me, it was utter freedom. No matter what limits you feel in your life, there is no limit when you're running. I have missed that so much over the years so to me, it was one goal that I really wanted to achieve. I didn't think it was possible for so long until I started spinning. It built muscle in my legs without the impact. It also made running easier because I had muscle built up already. Years before when I tried, it was painful because I didn't have any muscle mass. I don't think running a 5k should be everyone's goal with Lymphedema. I do think working toward a goal and accomplishing it in spite of Lymphedema transformed my opinion of myself. Are there things you felt you had to sacrifice when you were diagnosed? Maybe it is time to re-assess and see what can be accomplished rather than what cannot be accomplished. I also want to add that a big reason I met my goal was through the support of my husband. He has been there through the pain and tears and he was there at my side when I was running the 5k. It was hard and it was getting painful. I was really ready to just give up. The muscles in my Lymph leg lost control and my leg started thumping on the ground. My right leg was carrying the left and I was getting tired. But then my husband started saying that we’re almost there and to hold on a little while longer. He said that I could do it, to just slow it down but don’t stop and that we’ll get there together. And we did get there together. If you feel you don’t have that sort of support, there are many Lymphedema groups out there that are a community of support. There are several on Facebook and they are such a huge support system for each other. I am also here for support if anyone needs it. That’s really why I started the blog. I am not always so great about being on top of this blog (is there a way to get notifications when people comment???) so feel free to email me at

Summer heat and exercise

I’ve been jogging and walking outside a lot this summer because well, it’s the summer and soon it will be abnormally cold because I live in Chicago. The last several years, I avoided exercising in the summer outside because of the heat and my leg. I overcame my fear of ‘what will people think’ and wear only stretch capris now. Before, I was always wearing these long, heavy cotton black pants. My world of exercise opened up when I started wearing capris. For one, it is lighter and less hot and two, it is just so much easier to move in them. I don’t know if people stare at my leg when I’m jogging past them but it doesn’t really matter because I’m out there for me, not them. I have always found very affordable pairs at Marshalls and Forever 21. Yes, I still shop at Forever 21 and I am 30 years old. Their tank tops, workout pants and workout tanks are fantastic and better than anything, they’re cheap! Not to mention, nearly all of the pants have a pocket for your phone or I pod. I also look more stylish and it’s fun to get a new workout outfit. Something about it makes you more excited to get out there and jog or walk. If you find yourself having a hard time in the summer heat but want to exercise, try capris. Just remember when you get self-conscious who you’re working out for and it won’t matter if you think someone is looking at your compression stockings.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Lymphedema" is only a word

There are times when I feel defeated by my Lymphedema, times where the term ‘disability’ applies to me. Some days are so painful that I am limited to lying on the couch and propping it up. Some days, it’s like the limb fatigues my entire body and I just don’t have the energy a healthy person would have. I tend to get sick often, I tend to be in pain often and I tend to feel tired often. As I’ve been exercising more, my body and leg feels stronger, the pain has lessened and I’m not getting sick as often. Spinning increased the muscle mass in my Lymphedema leg and now I’m jogging and sprinting again. So my old buddy is back, running. Now that I’ve built up more muscle, running doesn’t cause as much swelling and pain as it had before. I want to see what I’m capable of and what my leg is capable of. I’m going to train for a 5K at the end of July. A small feat to some but a giant leap for me. Wish me luck!

Summer Temper Tantrums

To many, the start of summer brings warmth, sunny days, sandals and sun dresses. My summer typically starts with a temper tantrum because if you're like me with Lymphedema, the start of summer means increased swelling and decreased comfort and clothing options. I realized I have a temper tantrum every year and it starts with getting ready to go out to bars or dinner and soon every item of clothing has been tried on, is lying on the floor and I'm in tears. My jeans don't fit the same, my foot is bigger so wearing heels is more painful and knowing what to wear to feel confident is incredibly difficult. This year was a little different as it was the first summer I’ve lived with my husband and he had a front seat to the crazy show. To his horror, I resembled a 5 year old who isn’t getting her way. It was somewhat of an eye opener to see it from his point of view. I also realized I didn’t listen to my own advice to wear what feels comfortable and don’t dwell on your swollen limb. As I tried on each outfit, I stared at my leg as if the swelling would magically disappear. Well, it won’t. But what can be done is to not focus on my leg as all of me and to dress in a way that I’m comfortable and confident. If my leg is too swollen to fit into my skinny jeans, wear the stretchy trouser pants. If my leg can’t wear heels, wear a maxi dress with sandals. The idea of going out for dinner with your spouse and friends is to have fun. Focusing solely on your flaws when getting ready is unhealthy and harmful. Instead, focus on why you’re going out, to have fun so dress however you feel best. And as I’ve realized, it doesn’t hurt to have some plan b outfits that you feel good in and will be dressy enough for the occasion. My lesson of the summer is to accept who I am and my body, Lymphedema and all, and to focus on enjoying the laid back summer time with family and friends rather than harping on my flaws.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

My newest obsession: spinning

I know it has been some time since I last wrote a blog entry. My boyfriend of nearly five years proposed around my birthday last May 2012 and we were married March 16, 2013. It has been a busy year with a lot of changes like a new job and planning the wedding so time has slipped away. My condition has remained about the same but I do notice that my leg is slightly larger than it used to be which probably means that I need to revisit physical therapy. One big change that I have made within the last several months is my obsession with spinning. One of the women that I’ve met over the years through Lymphedema sites told me how she enjoyed cycling and was improving her Lymphedema. I live in Chicago and am also horrendously klutzy so being on a bicycle in the streets of Chicago sounded like a death sentence. I opted for the safer gym version of spinning. Running had and still is, too painful for me. Many women with Lymphedema can jog and enjoy it so don't hesitate to give it a shot but unfortunately, I have to quit running. My leg would get very swollen and painful after running and I was having more hip pain than with just walking. That's when I decided to give spinning a shot. I started going to one particular instructor who is gifted in instructing a spinning class and plays great music like deadmau5. The workout is much more challenging than my typical elliptical routine. My body quickly got back into shape and in better shape going to spinning 3 times a week than doing the elliptical for 5. The classes are intense and past paced so you don’t feel like you’ve been working out for a long time. I also have noticed that my hip pain is nothing like it used to be. I still have flare ups but nothing like the pain I had when I was jogging. The various positions of spinning are likely what’s ideal for our legs. In spinning positions 2 and 3, you are raised up from the seat which allows for more lymph circulation than in the seated position. Another wonderful aspect about spinning classes is that you control the resistance and speed. If you start feeling pain or like your Lymphedema leg can’t keep up, you can keep the resistance low and go at a slower pace. Like always, please remember that while you are strong, you also have Lymphedema. There are good days and bad. Sometimes will be more challenging than others. Some spin classes I feel like I don’t have Lymphedema and others, my leg finds too exhausting. Just be careful with any exercise and adjust to what your leg is telling you.