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.