So at the time of posting this “3 month follow up” its actually more like 4 months post-op now…! I’ve been incredibly busy and haven’t had the time to blog- apologies!
A few weeks ago I had my follow up appointment with my surgeon, Dr Corinne Becker, which took place in the front seat of her car. I love how this story is starting already…
We met in a little french city called Toulon and had lunch together on the harbor. Unfortunately there was nowhere private for us to “inspect the fatty leg,” we moved outside to her car and had the consultation there. Luckily for us lymphies, the dashboard in a car is our favourite place to elevate so I was feeling quite at home.
There were a few main things that came out of my appointment:
- Bandaging to be changed: Dr Becker recommended I buy a Circaid Reduction Kit because my current bandages keep slipping and bunching around my knee (thus having the opposite effect of bandaging and cutting off the flow of lymph fluid). I haven’t had great results from my traditional bandages- they slip, the don’t compress very well, I need to re-wrap after an hour and most annoyingly, the ankle/ foot part always comes unravelled and gaps appear.
- SWIM SWIM SWIM! She said to swim as much as possible, every day if I can. She said this is not even negotiable! On the days I can’t get to the pool, she said to buy a small little pedal exerciser and put it in the bath and pedal! Swimming and biking are probably the two best things that can be done for the lymphie leg.
- Start living more normally: This shocked me a bit I have to say! Dr Becker told me to start trying to live a bit more normally, like take off my compression stocking for a while during the day and let the air/ light onto my leg, stop bandaging so much, put some sun onto my skin… Like all the stuff we are told not to do! She said that if things are feeling very swollen at the end of the day (which will be normal) then put the Circaid bandage on for the night and when I wake up it will be better (which I have been trying and has been working well). I hesitate to take my compression stocking off, so I only do it every now and then, but wouldn’t go a whole day without it.
Three months post surgery isn’t very long for this kind of procedure. She said I won’t start seeing results until around 6 months, so I need to be really patient. The patients who have arm lymphedema and get the VLNT have quicker results than leg patients, because an arm is shorter than a leg and takes less time for the lymph system to grow into it. There is no difference in success rate between arm and leg VLNT operations.
So! In the weeks following my appointment with Dr Becker, I’ve been swimming as much as I can, I have my new Circaid reduction bandage (I’ll do a separate post about this) and also ordered some Juzo compression stockings (which are specifically for lymphedema, because I was told that my Sigvaris ones are more for vein problems??!!!)…
Now about my leg…
I definitely notice a difference in size- its not heaps smaller but there has been a small reduction already in my upper leg and around my knee is a bit smaller too. My calf fluctuates a lot, some days it can be good, other days its as tight and big as anything. My ankle and foot fluctuate a lot too- but mostly its very swollen here. This is the last area to change apparently. The Circaid bandages have been making a difference too. I’ve only had them for a few days so its too early to see any dramatic changes, but I can definitely see an improvement since having them.
One thing thats been happening since my operation is lower back pain. I wake up most mornings feeling extremely stiff and achy in my lower back. It goes away by the afternoon but is really quite painful during the day. I read somewhere that feeling sore and stiff in the morning is due to lymphatic congestion, so I’m wondering if this is to do with my leg.
It’s a full time job this Lymphedema thing, but I feel like its getting easier now that I’m using the correct materials to manage it (proper bandages, physio, swimming, new compression stockings) and have professionals guiding me (who know what they are talking about!!).
Keep on fighting everyone! X