And not for the usual reasons you might hear about these days- such as crowded security lines at airports, uncomfortable seating on the plane, delayed takeoffs and landings. That is certainly enough to make the average traveler weary. But no, my reason is very different. I have primary lymphedema and plane travel is about the worst thing I can do.
What is lymphedema?
From the Mayo Clinic: Lymphedema occurs when your lymph vessels are unable to adequately drain lymph fluid, usually from an arm or leg. Lymphedema can be either primary or secondary. This means it can occur on its own (primary lymphedema), or it can be caused by another disease or condition (secondary lymphedema). Secondary lymphedema is far more common than primary lymphedema.
My leftie lymphie life
Since childhood I have had lymphedema in my left foot/ankle but I was not properly diagnosed until my 40’s. Still, I have been lucky to have a mild case and for the most part I have managed. I know what makes me swell up. After a lifetime of a faulty lymph system I generally know what to avoid and what to do to keep my lymph system from blowing up. I don’t sit for long periods of time with my foot dangling down, I am on an anti-inflammatory diet, I am careful to wear loose fitting clothes, including undergarments, I drink plenty of water, I take very few prescription or over the counter drugs, the list is endless. Oh, and most importantly, I go for Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage at least twice a month.
What doesn’t work for me
Compression garments just don’t work for me. At all. Period. I know that is counter-intuitive, but I have tried several times over the years and every time I end up worse than without the garments. The last time I wore a garment was on a plane. I used to travel for part of my job- going into cities for a couple of days to facilitate workshops- and I noticed over time that I was becoming more and more sensitive to flying. The cabin pressure on the plane really activates lymphedema. I noticed that while I had mostly only had lymphedema in my left foot and ankle, after a flight and especially with a change of planes, I would be swollen to some extent all over. So I decided to wear a garment I had been measured for and that I occasionally wore at home. When I got off the plane I had to take the garment off because it was cutting into my skin. The next day I woke up with a swollen neck and jaw. At the time I thought it was a toothache because it hurt like a toothache- like an impacted wisdom tooth. I even went to the dentist when I returned home. And while I did have an impacted wisdom tooth, that was not what was causing the problem. Facial lymphedema had set in. I tried a garment a few years later with similar results. So I said no to compression garments and airplanes.
The spread of lymphedema
That blow up flight was 4 years ago. It took regular MLD massage every few days for several weeks for the swelling to leave my face and it has never completely gone down. Now I show signs of lymphedema in both arms and my torso. I am lucky because as I said, I have a mild case. To look at me you wouldn’t necessarily know. But I feel the effects of this disorder everyday. And it gets complicated because I also have sarcoidosis, which also effects the lymph system. I was born with lymphedema and I acquired sarcoidosis 20 years ago after exposure to black mold.
The importance of a wellness lifestyle
Dealing with chronic health issues is nothing new to me. Living an intentional wellness lifestyle is not new to me either but my lifestyle is ever evolving and changing. Rome wasn’t built in a day so when I went “all in” 20 years ago, I thought I was all in, but I wasn’t. Now I am into green living as much as I possibly can be- non-toxic personal care and house cleaning products in addition to clean and organic food. Throw in healthy doses of spirituality, intuition and community and you the foundation for my Essential Wellness Wheel.
If you resonate with my story and would like to consult with me, I am here to be of service. Just sign up for a Private Session and we can get started!