Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An interesting medical turn.....

Here's a little background: I have big ugly tree-trunk legs. I do not lie nor kid. It's not just cankles. It's all over bulk, and just ugly. But hey ... that's how it is.

A couple of months back, one of my doctors suggested I go ahead and consult with a plastic surgeon about possible removal of the huge amount of bulk down on my lower legs. Okay, I'm hip to that! So I met with the plastic surgeon, who suggested waiting until I'm a bit closer to goal weight before we even consider surgery..... but in the meantime, she said to get myself a good pair of firm support compression stockings -- which would also have to be special-ordered because of the strength she suggested (and the size of my legs, no doubt).

I found a medical supply place near work, stopped in there to buy the stockings, and the lady took me to a back room for measurements. When I pulled up my pants legs, she immediately about had a cow. Turns out she has a background in people with lymphedema. She suggested that before we order the hosiery, I get MLD -- manual lymphatic drainage -- a massage that will help get rid of all the excess fluid that has built up and can't work itself out because of the insufficiency.

So, I got back in touch with the plastic surgeon to see if she would do the prescription for this therapy (since I can't just walk in and say, "HEY! I'd like some MLD today!"). She enthusiastically agreed, and last Friday was my first physical therapy appointment for MLD.
On Friday, Debbie (the therapist) gave me some interesting news, some hope, and reason to smile about my legs. Turns out that I have primary lymphedema, which means that it is something that didn't develop properly in my lymph system either in the womb or during my developing years. Upon further research, I learned that I probably have lymphedema praecox (Miege's Disease), meaning that it didn't manifest itself until after puberty but before age 35. I had told Debbie that the last picture I remember of myself with normal looking legs was somewhere around age 14. So we decided on treatments 3 times a week at least for the short term (one or two months). The only downside to all this is that even after I eventually have alllllll that extra skin removed, I will still have lymphedema to deal with. I will always have to wear some kind of support hosiery, even if it's just light hose for special events. Maybe a sleeve to sleep in, or wear during the day.

So I was in some light support tubing this weekend -- the same weekend that God decided to flip the "Hotter-n-Hades" switch across the south. But I was determined to make it work. On Monday, I had my first MLD treatment. I got to lay on a table, put my feet up on a wedge, and get worked over. Then I got wrapped after it was over --- Borissa Karloff, from the knees down. I looked like The Mummy. I had a stocking thing (like you'd put on a broken leg before they put the cast on), then some padding over the affected area, and then bandaged from mid-foot to just below the knee. Speaking of casts, I have to treat these like a cast ..... yep, I put my legs in trash bags and tape 'em closed tight.

Today was my 2nd treatment -- and Debbie was extremely pleased!! Apparently, I already have some good results on the horizon. My legs were starting to wrinkle a little, meaning all that excess fluid is finally draining out!!!!

This is just yet another interesting turn in the road of my life. I can't wait to see how it will all turn out!


Kate/Susan said...

Wow, that is so interesting!!! Thanks for sharing this condition. I hope you continue to see improvement!!

Talmadge Gleck said...

Awesome ... I'm sure it must feel wonderfully to know there's a reason behind that situation. And that it's being dealt with so well.