OK, I’ve used a typical tabloid headline to draw you into a column about dealing with lymphedema. Well, the topic is not exactly sexy!
Though my calves are now extremely toasty due to being effectively embalmed.
Lymphedema has been plaguing me for years now. There seems to be a possible link between the condition and multiple sclerosis (MS). My first column about my experience with it elicited 58 responses, more than any other I’ve written. Finally, after persistent hassling, I managed to get myself seen at a lymphedema clinic, one of only three in the U.K., despite the Lymphoedema Support Network’s estimate that there are 240,000 of us suffering from the condition here.
To save you from plowing through previous columns, I was informed by my lymphedema specialist — sotto voce — that they think MS is connected to the condition. As yet this is unproven, but research is ongoing into this possible link. I mentioned this to my neurologist last week, and he immediately replied that there was no proof. Don’t shoot me; I’m only the interdisciplinary messenger.
Lack of movement exacerbates the build-up of lymph fluid. Yet I notice my feet begin to swell despite walking, swimming, and zooming about playing wheelchair tennis. When my activity was severely curtailed by a relapse last February, the lower halves of my legs already resembled those of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the “Ghostbusters” movies.
So another layer, fittingly, of rigmarole has been added to my post-shower routine. It can take me an hour to get my compression stockings on; that’s after liberal quantities of athlete’s foot cream and various lotions are applied. I never thought that I’d have to adhere to the strict foot discipline of a First World War soldier — the small battles often need to be won before anything else.
Then over the top goes — and this is a bit of a mouthful — multi-layer lymphedema bandaging, or MLLB for short. It took me a few days to get the hang of it; get the right bandages on the right leg, rather than the left. I also have had lymphatic massage, though at my initial assessment the doctors weren’t overly keen on its effects.
This seems to be the best treatment option, and so far it is highly effective. After a few days of the wrapping routine, the appearance of my left foot and leg were practically normal. For the film buffs among you, I won’t attempt to paint with it.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.