Saturday, 10 March 2018

Lymphoedema Awareness Week 2018 Day 7 ~ Tamsin

"What have you done to your arm?"


As we bring our lymphodema feature to a close, I thought I would come clean and share "my truth" about the reality of my life with lymphodema:

It's not 'just' an arm sleeve - it causes pain; it impacts on mobility and dexterity.

I don't only have lymphoedema in both arms and my right hand - I developed it in my upper body after surgery to remove an implant.

"No, I didn't do it playing rugby."

Marigolds have become my new best friends.

The biggest challenge, on a practical level, is using my right hand in a 'normal' way, doing things I used to take for granted like writing, brushing my teeth.

"No, I'm not an athlete."

Black my not be ideal. But while sand and beige have their place, a beige handpiece looks rank after a week of continuous wear, even with daily washing.

Wearing black compression hoisery isn't easy. Its a striking colour (if only I had the fashion sense to carry it off!) I wish I hadn't let one person's insensitive comment about it undermine my confidence for years.

Pebbles and Lymphadivas do not cater for those of us who need made-to-measure garments.

PS have you seen the price?!

"No, it won't get better."

I have more compression sleeves than I do pants.

Cellulitis can be mild or feel as horrible and frightening as neutropenic sepsis. I'm almost as afraid of infection as I am cancer.

I'm frightened of mosquitos.

Putting on my compression sleeves is my new morning workout.

I put my sleeves on just before I leave the house otherwise it's impossible to brush my teeth and apply make-up or plait my daughter's hair once my sleeves are on.

Sometimes I'm late for work because I can't get my sleeves on.

I wear marigolds to cook and wash my hair.

I used to wear a marigold over my sleeve in the toilet, but I've taught myself to negotiate a toilet completely left-handed. If I'm in a public toilet I put my right hand in my pocket!

If you use disposable gloves instead of marigolds, don't buy the ones with talc inside......

A massage ball will keep hand swelling from going hard.

Manicures are a thing of the past - I constantly break my nails putting my sleeves on.

Ditto nail polish. Do not, repeat do not, apply nail polish in the morning.

When I'm self-conscious about going out, I think about how cool Rey looked in the new Star Wars film and pretend I'm wearing arm tights.

Now I can no longer wear rings or bracelets, I treat myself to unsual earrings that catch the eye.

Incredibly, and I never thought I'd say this, but the time has come when I count down the days before I can re-order new compression hoisery, and receiving not one but two, new made-to-measure compression sleeves in the post is thrilling!

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