When it comes to lymphedema, treating it doesn’t begin or end at the foot of the PT clinic’s entrance. Lymphedema therapists have heard it all: “Lymphedema takes dedication and commitment 24/7.” and that means not only attending all treatment days, but also being committed to making some adjustments in our daily lives. The fact of the matter is that once you have lymphedema, it doesn’t go away, here at Paloma Wellness and Rehabilitation we want to help you through it all. Here are some tips and things to remember when you are living with Lymphedema.
Be consistent with your treatment
We know it can be frustrating trying to fit in yet another medical appointment in our already busy day-to-day schedule, but it is worth it to come to every single visit. Diligence is key when managing lymphedema. In the words of our current lymphedema Deanetta White, “It’s like a stubborn child.” Your body resists change that is out of our comfort zone. Once you skip a day of treatment or self-care, you may regress back to a level four, even when you have already brought it down to a level three.
The more you move the better
Mrs. White is the Secretary to the Principal at Coronado High School, and she tries to fit in as many steps as she can while she’s on the job. “I already move quite a bit, you’d be surprised, but every time I’m working at my desk or something, I try to get up fifteen minutes at a time.” In general, being engaged in physical activity helps us improve our overall health, both physically and mentally. It is especially beneficial for lymphedema patients because it helps to increase the flow of lymph fluid and to move it away from the swollen area. Their are plenty more options to choose from for your physical activity, so find something you enjoy! Certified lymphedema therapist Dr. Imelda Palisoc says that living with lymphedema, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re limited to just walking and basic strength training. You could join a pilates class, dance, or being part of an ultimate frisbee team to play with, there are endless options to choose from!
Be smart about your food choices.
Remember that what you eat also plays a major role in managing lymphedema. Lowering your sodium intake, eating antiinflammatory foods, and having discipline for portion control are all good measures to take. Not only for managing your lymphedema but to also preventing other chronic conditions and to improve your overall health.
“It’s a journey.”
When it comes down to it, once you have lymphedema, it does not go away, but always remember this: You have lymphedema. It doesn’t have you. Sure, there are days when your lymphedema make life a little harder, but a simple change of determination can do wonders. In the words of Mrs. White, “For the most part, I rely heavily on God. I ask him to remind me daily that I am so fortunate to be here because I had survived cancer. It’s difficult, but I have to remind myself that I’m here and that I’m healthy.”
March is Lymphedema Awareness Month
Always remember that you do not have to go through lymphedema alone. It may take some time for family and close friends to get used to your new routines, but don’t be afraid to reach out to them. You know they only want the best for you. You may also want to try searching for a Lymphedema support group in your area. Deanetta White is the founder of one of El Paso’s very first lymphedema support groups. They meet every first Saturday of the month here at Paloma clinic. Lymphedema may be difficult to manage at first, but there is a whole community ready to support you. Let’s raise awareness to those going through with this condition.