Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Drowning In My Own Body

Water retention! UGH! My nightmare for over a decade!! For 10 years I've known that there was something else wrong with my body that the doctors weren't addressing or seeing. And, sure enough... Lymphedema. When I walk into any doctors office, the first thing they see is a morbidly obese woman. Understandably. However...please look past that and LISTEN TO ME!! Listen to me when I every appointment...that my main issue, the main reason why I have such a hard time losing weight and getting motivated is the fact that my hips, butt and legs feel like BRICKS...blown up, tight, unflexible bags of cement. Try lugging that around everywhere. Try lifting those up stairs or into a car. I get it...I get that I am obese. I get that I need to lose weight. But...PLEASE help me when I tell you that this water retention is pissing me off! And quit popping me with water pills...they obviously aren't doing the trick.
When I got pregnant with Sydney, I was already over 300 lbs. Needless to say my health was a main concern. Everyone was worried about me and rightfully so. It was a MISERABLE pregnancy. I had all kinds of issues from the get go. During the first trimester, my whole body blew up with fluid. I couldn't even bend my knee back to sit on my leg on the couch (if you can visualize that). I felt like a blown up water balloon wobbling around like a penguin. It was so bad that when I scratched my leg it would ooze water. NO JOKE! It would come out like a steady flow to the point that we had to get a rag to stop it. And, I just recently found out that the oozing of water is called "Weeping" a sure sign of Lymphedema. So it started way back then. And, not only did I suffer from that my whole pregnancy, but I was also diagnosed with Sleep Apnea during the second trimester. So on top of being physically unable to move, I had to learn how to sleep with a stupid mask on my face. I HATE things on my face! I had anxiety trying to get used to that thing. My nose was always stuffed up, so I would breathe through my mouth most of the time. The mask covered my nose and mouth thankfully, but getting past the 'feeling of suffocating' was difficult. I asked my doctor for something to calm my nerves, but with being pregnant, the only thing he could suggest was taking Benedryl. Luckily that helped. From that point on, I had to sleep in a recliner. Which I ending up breaking down several of our reclining chairs in our sectional sofa during that time...those springs can only withstand a constant weight of over 300 lbs on the springs for so long. lol. Now...onto the third trimester...let's see what else I can get. How about...Gestational Diabetes?? Why not. I love a challenge. So, I dealt with that too. Poking my fingertips every couple of hours to check my blood sugar, eating a restricted diet for the rest of the time. I managed...barely. But, unfortunately that Gestational Diabetes turned into Type 2 Diabetes after Sydney was born. Yay me.
After I had Sydney, I expected my swelled up legs to go back to normal. Well, they didn't. I talked to my doctor and she gave me a water pill. Ok. We'll try that. Nothing. Other than peeing every 5 minutes. Years pass by...still nothing. A new doctor. Same complaint and pleading to help me get rid of this water retention. New pill?? Sure. Why not. Nothing. More peeing. By this point I am searching for anything that might give me some relief. Everything that helps ends up being temporary. Let me just tell you how much this affects my mood, my desire to do anything outside of the home. I am exhausted just thinking about walking around with these dead weights. It's so frustrating. 10 years. 10 years of this crap. I have missed out on so many things while my kids were little because it was so draining to move. Makes me mad!
But, I am pleased to say that I am FINALLY seeing a light at the end of the tunnel! By mistake actually. I was doing normal chores and I threw out my lower back. Earlier that week I had done a lot of housework that was hard on my back and it caught up with me. I was down for the count for quite a while. I went to my doctor and he directed me to start seeing a Physical Therapist. I went to see her and explained my issues and also told her about my water retention and how that makes it hard for me to get a good range of motion and be active. She asked if I had ever seen a Lymphedema specialist. ' What is that?' So, she sent in a request to my doctor for me to get a consult with one and he then signed off on it. Thankfully.
I went to see the Lymphedema specialist and we talked about everything that I have been going through for the past 10 years and she confirmed that I have had Lymphedema since my pregnancy with Sydney. She explained that we have lymph nodes in our body to help regulate and move fluid around to flush out waste and toxins and such. And, the lymph nodes in my groin area no longer function so that messes up my lymphatic system and therefore pools fluid in my lower body. There is no cure, there is only treatment to reduce the retention and redirect the flow to the functioning lymph nodes. That is what we're doing now.
The treatment that I am going through to flush out the fluid that has built up over the past 10 years is called wrapping. There is also a special massage that's done beforehand to stimulate the lymphatic system and open up the passageways and redirect the flow. It's trial and error right now. We're watching the progress and making adjustments as needed. Currently I have one leg wrapped thigh high and the other wrapped knee high. She doesn't want to overwhelm the working lymph nodes. I am already seeing a lot of progress, especially in my feet, ankles and lower legs. I am feeling the affects of it too. Which is SUPER exciting and tremendously helps my state of mind. Right now it's hard to address the areas above my lower thigh because of mobility, so a compression garment will be needed for that. There is also a special compression massaging device ($5000-$7000 😨) that we will be buying to use at home. This will cover my entire leg, hips, butt and trunk area. I put it hour for each leg and side of the body. There are chambers within the device that inflate and deflate all up and down which creates a wave like movement to stimulate and flush fluid out. It's actually very relaxing and feels so good to feel things moving.
There is a lot of extra attention that is needed right now just to get my body to a level of focusing on only maintenance and keeping things as normal as possible. I will forever be in support hose to keep a constant compression on my lower body.
As tiresome and awkward and restricting as this is, I am still so grateful for it. I can't express enough how relieved I am to see and feel progress. I am so blessed to have the professionals available to treat my condition and thankful to have finally come across the individuals to look past the obese woman and address the problem. Not to mention a husband that has turned into my home nurse to take care of me during off hours. He is a saint...helping me with my Physical Therapy stretches and the massage and wrapping needed for my legs.
I am so excited to see what the each month will bring with the steady and forward progress I'm already experiencing. I'm getting my freedom back! No more drowning and being a prisoner in my own body.