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.