Nighttime is not my favorite time. Sometimes I actually dread it. Most of us look forward to lying down in bed and getting our rest and our sleep which keeps us healthy and readies us for the next day. Me, I have some issues which keep me from enjoying bedtime. I have lymphedema. That means that my lymphatic system doesn’t work as well as it should anymore and doesn’t remove the fluids from my lower extremities like it needs to. Untreated, that means my legs can swell, sometimes to twice a normal size, fluid can build up within the tissues and I can develop cellulitis which is an infection of the skin from the “leftover” and stagnant fluid left in and under the tissues. Sounds nasty, right? Well, now I wear compression hose to help keep all that in check. I haven’t had a case of cellulitis since I was diagnosed with lymphedema and spent a while in the hospital about 4 years ago.
I also have an “overactive” bladder, or leaking problems. When you lay down at night, that is when the lymphatic system can work better, using gravity to help, and that’s when my body can work to remove some of the fluid build up. Add my bladder problem to that equation, and I make a lot of trips to the bathroom instead of sleeping. Normally, I get two hours when I first lie down to sleep. Then my bladder wakes me up so I struggle to the bathroom. Struggle? Well, I also have bone spurs in my knees which prevent me from straightening my legs, so when I stand or walk, it is from the position of a low squat. The knees also need replacing, so what I have left doesn’t work too well and that is the struggle. Now if I’m very lucky, the next lie down sleep time will last an hour and a half, maybe two hours and I’m up again. After that, I’m up every hour. I’ve learned to fall asleep again quickly, but some nights I get really cranky. When that happens I tell myself this is my exercise time and say thank you prayers for that. Getting up on an average of 6 times every night during my 8 hours of “sleep” makes me look forward to my weekend when I can stay in bed an extra hour if I want and not have to worry about how tired or crippled I am from my nightly exercise and how that will affect my work day.
The point of all of this? There is no point. I felt like whining a bit. And then after I whine, I have to back pedal and recognize that there will always be someone with more physical problems or disabilities than I have, so I can be thankful. I wear the hose that feel like support hose on steroids to keep my legs healthy. And that keeps me out of the hospital. And I can still walk to the bathroom by myself. And I can still work 4 days a week and be productive. I’m trying to lose some weight which can only help all the above. The end result, life is good. No matter what is wrong, or how difficult life is, there are always positives to find. We just have to look for them.
- A Family Doctor’s Tale – LYMPHEDEMA (ken-med.com)
- Primary Lymphedema.. Jessica’s story.. (lymphnodetransplant.wordpress.com)
- Relax, Detoxify and Heal with Manual Lymphatic Drainage (studio13bymbsworks.com)