Here we are half-way through August and my leg is still swollen! I remember telling myself last October that I would take the winter off and get my leg back to normal. Then October turned into June and I was still swollen. I started physical therapy in June with high hopes that my swelling would disappear or be greatly reduced. Unfortunately, that was not the case. While I did learn some exercises and tips to help with swelling it didn’t take the swelling away.
To be honest this whole swollen leg is really depressing. I really enjoy being active but lymphedema makes it hard. Every time I go on a walk I get swollen. Especially if I try to jog. I have only done one race so far this year. I have another one coming up this weekend and that may be it for me this year. The swelling is affecting my right knee as well. At times my knee is very painful and it makes it hard to do every day tasks. Being four years post-surgery I never imagined that a wasp would bring lymphedema into my life. When you are going through surgery and other cancer treatments you just keep pushing forward. You don’t really think of the long-term effects. I just wanted to live to see my daughter grow up. Don’t get me wrong I am so happy that I am still here. But the side effects of surgery and chemo can be difficult to deal with.
I really did learn a lot about lymph nodes and lymphedema at physical therapy. We tried to re-route the fluid and get my other lymph nodes to pick up the slack. It worked somewhat but as soon as I got on my feet for an extended amount of time I was swollen again. (Laying down with my foot propped up doesn’t really work with an active four-year old.) After six weeks of physical therapy I was discharged. I still continue my exercises at home and I started re-training my leg so fluid doesn’t automatically fill it. I have invested in some new compression wear. As much as I love my nude colored nylon stockings (insert sarcasm here.) I have traded them out for some purple knee-high socks and a black knee brace. When I would wear my nude nylon stockings they would wrinkle. Then the fluid would get stuck wherever the wrinkle was. (Mostly, in my ankle.) As much as I would love to lay in bed with my stocking on, it just isn’t possible. So, I broke down and ordered thermal compression stockings. I always shied away from thermal because summer in Wisconsin can be miserable. But I am glad I ordered them because they don’t wrinkle. So, no more fluid getting stuck in my ankle! But they are only knee-high so I have to wear the compression knee brace as well. I have been looking for thigh-high compression stockings that are not nylon but so far no luck.
This is another time in my life where I get so mad at cancer. I was finally at a point in my life where exercise was a part of my routine. Now I am trying to figure out how to workout twice a week. It is another example that cancer never really leaves after treatment.
On a positive note, I am still here. I can still do the things I enjoy even if it is a limited amount. My lymphedema can never be cured but I can do my best to live with it. Things could have been a lot worse and I will take stockings over the alternative any day. I am so hoping that I will be able to go back to 5k’s next year. (This summer I have been doing two-mile run/walks.) I have been doing yoga which has been great for my arthritis in my hip. It hasn’t been as relaxing as it should be since Avery is usually doing it with me. By doing yoga with me I mean requesting food, literally knocking me over while she is running around or crawling on top of me while I am doing things on the floor. For now I will work with the things I am able to do and build up to the bigger things.
My knee brace, stocking and knee sleeve. And they have color!! Sorry for the poor photo editing 🙂