Having Lymphedema is a lot of fun, isn’t it?…said no one, ever. Any lymphie could write at least a few pages about things that make us crazy. Lymphedema is with us every day – it’s here to stay but it doesn’t define or own us. We could live in a state of regret, which is like walking around with an open wound, or we can acknowledge it, make peace with it, dress it up, and move on. Let’s choose the upside of Lymphedema.
I attended a mindfulness lecture earlier this month, in which the presenter suggested setting the tone for the kind of day you want to create, not by ruminating on everything that wasn’t going your way, but by asking yourself, “What’s good today?” So I ask myself, “What’s good with Lymphedema?”
Not to diminish in any way what we as a community don’t like, or what we feel, or the impact the lymph system has on our lives, but I encourage you also to look for the good. The list below is my personal list, but I’d be curious to hear where others find positivity.
The Upside of Lymphedema:
- Compression thigh gap. I was born with athletic plow-pulling legs, my relatives south of the border would say. My desired thigh gap was more of a collision, but the compression creates space for an almost-gap, for the win.
- I’m tan, toned, and flawless. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, including but not limited to cellulite, spider veins, and blinding whiteness. Under these tights, my legs are flawless. And I’m saving the GDP of a small island’s-worth on self-tanner.
- Who wears short shorts? I wear short shorts! Given points one and two above, I was never partial to short shorts, opting more often for knee-length lady golfer shorts even in my early 20s. With tights, you can highlight your physique and maintain your decency.
- A country girl’s B’donk. My mom once told me that as you age, your butt falls into your thighs. Guess what, there’s no room for derriere in my thigh-highs stockings, so something miraculous happens. The rear-end is propped up proudly where it was 20 years ago.
- Doctor-prescribed me-time. When I’m sitting with my Flexitouch pump, no one can argue with its necessity, and no one wants to hang out in my room without a television. Medically-necessary me-time. A time to write, think, or collect my thoughts, or sit quietly and look at photos of birds with my mini.
- A renewed appreciation for my health. Granted, it’s not the bill of health of my dreams, but despite fatigue, sausage toes, and burlap tights, I am healthy. Even when I feel down, I bounce back. I am grateful for resilience, strength, and a hearty constitution. I value what I do have.
- The community of fighters and survivors. I felt alone and helpless following diagnosis until I found some really amazing groups online (the most notable led by Lymphie Strong), full of athletes, survivors, and every-day kind and caring individuals all over the world. It’s a family.
- Advocacy and education. To a certain degree, I feel like the universe cherry-picks us for the lives in which we might be most useful. After four years of struggling to find a diagnosis, I don’t want to overlook the opportunity to help advocate for and educate
people who may be afflicted and the health practitioners they trust for relief.
Living with Lymphedema is no walk in the park, but I choose to have a good (or at least tolerable) relationship with it. Focusing on the positive frees me mentally and emotionally so I can see the light in other aspects of my life and concentrate on what really matters (hint: not my thighs or fat toes).
What is your experience? Are there aspects of living with Lymphedema that aren’t all bad? Or that you actually like? What’s good with Lymphedema? Leave me and others in the community a note in the comments below.