I have been living with Lymphedema for the past nine and a half years. In the beginning, I was only eighteen years old trying to understand why I had this lingering pain in my inner thigh. After two weeks the pain did not go away, and my mother thought we should ice the area and followed it up with a massage. When my mother began to massage my inner thigh, I remember screaming and tears rolling down my face. She had said she felt a ball and once she put pressure the ball now felt like the texture of a bean bag. A week went by, and I noticed my foot and ankle were swollen. My mother and I decided that I should come along to my little brother’s doctor’s appointment that same week to get his opinion.
My brother’s doctor immediately said, ” it’s not just your foot and ankle that’s swollen, it’s the entire left leg”. He ordered multiple MRIs for me to get done just so I could be pushed around by various specialists without any answers. I remember feeling hopeless and scared, wondering if these specialists were not able to figure out what I have then who will? I continued to look for answers here in New York City and in the Dominican Republic. It was actually in the Dominican Republic that I found out I had experienced a vascular thrombosis that damaged my lymphatic vessel. I was told that the lymphatic vessels are extremely tiny and cannot be repaired.
I had to wear a compression stocking to help control the swelling. At that time, I was not happy about wearing the stocking because it made me feel dizzy and would cut off my circulation. But I continued wearing it since it was the only solution given to me at the time. After three months, I gave up on the stocking and continued my search for a solution. Through that journey, I gave the holistic route a shot, by incorporating a plant-based diet and movement. That was when I started to see the effects food had on my swelling and the pain associated with it. I also decided to share my story on Instagram something I wanted to do for years but struggled with finding the courage. I was afraid of being judged for not wearing a compression garment with a community of people with lymphedema who all wore one.
Until the day came when someone commented where was my compression stocking? I honestly felt uncomfortable by the question and at the time took the question offensively than how I think about it now. I had told that person my previous experience with wearing compression stockings. This person then suggested to me I may have May-Thurner Syndrome. I began to Google what the condition was and found the symptoms related to the signals my body was giving me throughout the years. Fast forward to the end of 2021, I found a vascular surgeon who had experience with May-Thurner. This doctor scheduled me to get an MRV. Once the results of the imaging came in, I was finally given answers.
I had May Thurner and the restriction of blood flow to my left leg was causing the swelling. After the surgery, my calf went down two inches and my circulation improved. I was finally seeing little changes that I was hoping for, so I wanted to give compression garments another chance. I got measured for a custom compression stocking. The flat knit helped me avoid tightness in my leg and my calf always felt jiggly when I took my compression off. But having the option to have the individual toes improved the swelling in my foot area especially when I started CDT therapy.
Using the stocking after taking off the layers of foam and bandages helped smooth out my swelling to where my left leg is now starting to get its original shape back. I’m thankful to medi® for making compression stylish and effective at the same time! But I want others who suffer from lymphedema who have been judged during their journey to finding help to never allow those experiences and words to make you give up. Use it to fuel you and take the time to learn the signals your body gives you and you will find a solution!