Good lymphedema management is not something that happens overnight. It requires a multifaceted approach to a very complex issue and differs according to the person who lives with it.
It’s taken me a long time to understand my lymphedema and how to manage it best. In the early days of my diagnosis, I followed by caregivers advice blindly and did not realise I was doing a lot of things wrong (eg: wearing the wrong compression garments and using long-stretch bandages!!). Over the years I have researched a lot, asked many questions to professionals and other lymphies on social media in order to shape my current treatment tools, materials and practises.
One thing I always swear by and encourage others to engage in is ‘trial and error’. Do not stop yourself from trying something new to help reduce your swelling! You learn from the mistakes and you understand better how your body reacts to certain things. Who cares if you have a temporary flare up! Testing new materials or treatments will help you narrow down what works best for you! There is so much unexplored terrain out there in LE world, so I really encourage you to not be scared and change up your routine often if you feel like things are not working 100%.
This is particularly important to keep in mind because LE is constantly evolving. Something that your limb loves and responds well to today may be awful and cause a flare up the next day! So you always need a backup plan or second option.
How I manage my lymphedema
In this section of my blog, I have outlined in detail the things I do to take care of my leg. My treatment will certainly differ to yours because there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to LE management. My management is based on trusted and proven therapies that are recommended by trained lymphedema therapists that have been tweaked to suit my personal needs and lifestyle preferences.
For those of you who are new to the LE world; please don’t be overwhelmed with the information I will present to you! I have no doubt that you will totally freak out when reading it initially, so rest assured that my routine has become so integrated into my lifestyle that I barely realise I do it anymore. It’s become like second nature to me and I just get on with it because I know I have to!
I have not included any information about surgery in this section- what you will read here is simply the day-to-day management of my leg.
(Note: I’m currently updating this section as we speak (last edit: 11th March 2018), so there is more to come!)