Thursday, 1 August 2013

Approaching a stranger with Lymphedema

About three weeks ago I passed a lady on my way home, she had really big legs. As in humongous! Her lower legs must each have been the size that my head is, if not more! For some reason that I don't understand she was wearing capris – and no compression stockings. My heart almost skipped a beat and I slowed down and got off my bike. I wanted to talk to her but she was on the phone and also looking like she was waiting for her lift to show. She kept talking and meanwhile her lift turned up and off she went. What a disappointment! I was upset as I carried on not having talked to her.
Next day I printed some of my Lymphedema flyers, looked up six doctors in her area (I saw her outside a building that I imagine she lived in) that she would be likely to belong to and posted them. From then on I cycled that way home every day, hoping to see her again.
Weeks passed and I didn't see her, until Monday this week. I couldn't believe it and nearly fell off my bike! I was SO close to chicken out and leave but I knew I would have been so disappointed if I did, so I went up to her and said "Hi, I can see that your legs are quite swollen, I wonder if you have ever been checked out for Lymphedema?". She said no!! I said that I thought this was what she had and that she could get treatment. I quickly explained that it was a condition in the lymphatic system and that I had it myself. It didn't seem like she had ever heard the name Lymphedema before. I wrote it down for her and she said she would ask her doctor.
I was in a state when I saddled up and cycled home. Ecstatic for having talked to her but also very angry at her doctor for not knowing about Lymphedema and not helping her. She must have been late 30'ties or early 40'ties and her legs looked like they had been neglected always.
Anyway, I am glad I got to speak to her and I really do hope she will get treatment now.

6 comments:

  1. Good for you! I hope it does help her.

    I've seen people in the supermarket etc that I suspected might have lymphedema, but here in Japan it's very hard to talk to strangers in general and especially if you're a foreigner! Still, if it looked as obvious as that I might try it anyway.

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    1. Hi Elaine,
      yes, especially being a Gaijin it would be difficult to approach a stranger with Lymphedema in Japan.
      Even though it was mindblowing for me to do it I am glad I did. What if it was me and no one ever saying anything even if they knew. We gotta help each other. I really hope that she will take action and get help.
      Cheers,
      Liz

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  2. I've also been tempted to talk to people whom I suspect have lymphedema, but I have yet to muster up the courage to approach anyone. I admire your caring and courage to prepare information for this lady and also to look out for her until you found her and approach her. I think that is awesome. I hope you're able to meet her again to follow up.

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    1. Hi Monique, thanks for writing. I must admit I was very close to turning around and carry on instead of approaching her but I am glad I didn't. I too hope I will find out how she is doing, hopefully she has started treatment by now, but who knows.
      Liz

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  3. Way to go LG! I believe that my sister has Lymphedema. I have talked to her about it a couple of times, always talking about my experience and explaining how the compression hose have helped me tremendously. She has said that her doctor insists she does not have it. My mom has it and I believe my maternal grandmother had it also. For me, it just showed up around puberty as Lymphedema Primary.

    I get so angry with these doctors. Mine even had the nerve to tell me that Lymphedema does not hurt. HA! It does when my legs are super swollen, it's hot out (Yes, I live in "Hot Lanta!)," and I've been sitting all day for my job. Hope they catch a clue!

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    1. Hi there, thanks for writing :-)
      I too get angry when doctors are so ignorant! How can your sisters doctor ignore the fact that you, your mom and your grandmother has/had it? With Lymphedema we sometimes have to be our own doctors. I hope that your sister will take your advice and get some stockings.
      Take care,
      Liz

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