Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Guinea pig


The week before last week I was a guinea pig for future Lymphedema therapists in training. It went well and they were all very sweet. Upon arrival I had a chat with the teacher, a Lymphedema therapist from a clinic in Germany, so she knew a little about me and my Lymphedema. Then I undressed and the students had the opportunity to look at my leg and ask questions. Then they took turns touching my legs, feeling the difference between the good and the bad leg and they had a go at manual lymphatic drainage (MLD). They were very gentle with me and often asking me if I was OK. Finally the teacher did a quick bandaging demo on me.
As a thank you I got the beautiful bunch of flowers on the picture, I thought that was a nice gesture.

You would think it would be slightly intimidating to lie only in your underwear and being looked at and groped by 15 strangers but it wasn’t. I felt completely at ease. Afterall they were physiotherapists and accustomed to dealing with people in a warm, non-judging and understanding way. That's what's so great about professionals working with hands-on treatment. They like people and are not repelled by abnormalities. They are aware of the person inside.

At the Q&A session with the therapists one of them said something like "so you don't have any major inconveniences of it?". I was a bit taken aback by that one. Having Lymphedema is for me one huge problem. However, I don't have pain, restlessness or a feeling of heaviness like many others and I have also only had Cellulitis that one time last year. I heard myself saying "no, it's mostly minor things." I guess it is but it doesn't feel so. For me it is a sorrow that I can't wear a short summer dress, sandals, smart long boots. That I can't just go swimming in the sea. That I must be careful not to get Cellulitis. That I have to buy two pairs of shoes each time and they still don't fit. That something happened to my body so that it now looks different and I can't do anything about it. That I feel like an elephant. Compared to lifethreatening diseases I am whining over nothing. No one can see that I have Lymphedema, at least not from a first glance. (And no one can see what a job it is to create the illusion that nothing is wrong...). Perhaps this was a reminder to once again try to turn down the selfpity and look at all the things I still can and maybe even explore new possibilities (now with valuable learning curves - and antibiotics - in my pack...).

I hope you all are well. Tomorrow I am going on a little trip with my parents to the western part of my country, just for a couple of days. It's been nearly 30 years since I was in that area so it's going to be good. I am also looking forward to spend some time with Mum and Dad.

I lost my job through more than 11 years. My workplace is closing down and from early August I will be looking for new opportunities, as they say. I do hope I will find something soon but I doubt it. Hard times in many professions including mine (graphic design). I guess it was about time for a change. One that I couldn't get around to make myself but now it has come for me.