Hot topics in Lipedema
Posted on 11 August 2019
This year two ladies with advanced lipedema . Or lipo lymphedema, or stage 4 Lipedema passed away. This blog is dedicated to Katia Page and Lilith Nix. Both ladies I met through facebook support group and then through conferences.
The first question I ask is: What do you see when you see an advanced stage Lipedema Woman? Many would say they see non compliance, obesity, health risk etc.. Since most dont even know what Lipedema is and how to treat that is one conclusion.
Here is what I see:
1: I see our medical community not understanding nor having the means to take care of plus size let alone a Lipo Lymphedema pt.
2: I see deep down their struggle is real, their fear is real, the loneliness the frustration of knowing where to turn for help is real.
3: I see clinic after clinic closing their doors to these patients. And if they are open most therapists are lost at how to treat. Let's face it, let's address the elephant in the room. It is difficult to treat. It is hard work. It is frustrating. How do you wrap a limb of that size and keep the wrap up and effective? How do you have time to treat the whole person. How do you make progress when insurance only gives a few weeks. And many patients miss their appointment why they have mobility issues. So yes to those that treat it is a challenge to figure out how to treat. But you dont abandon or judge a cancer patient. To them you give compassion, support even if you cant cure. This population is asking for the same respect.
4: I see Lymphedema educators lecture about how unsafe it is to take these patients. They teach gastric bypass is the answer. They teach about the frustration of compliance. But maybe it is us that cant figure out the right tools for people to maintain. I believe this type of education leads to fat bias and fat phobia. And when those two biases assert onto the advanced lipedema patient. What happens to that patient? PAIN, ANGER, SADNESS, HOPELESSNESS, GUILT, SHAME, DOUBT erodes the soul of the lipo lymphedema advanced stage. This becomes a tragic reinforcement. If you see diet failure, then you project onto the patient. If you cant offer some hope then some will project what you see.
5. I see manufacturers not making compression that fits and is affordable and helps. It's not a money maker. We need more sizing, more choices, and affordable compression.
6. I see Medical Issues that are deeper than what our naked eyes can see. Perhaps this person suffers from More than just lipedema? Maybe a chronic inflammation that takes lipedema way beyond stage 3. Maybe a combination of several problems. But we need research to figure and understand more. Judge less be curious to understand the why!
7: I see that all of us have so little control so we become hamsters on a viscous cycle going around and around and around but not gaining traction. Why is that? How can we take control and gain better perspective?
What is this message: I'm begging our community to work together.
Hospitals get the needed equipment, for goodness sake. We need plus size cat scans, plus size MRI machines, trained therapists and time allotted for the more severe.
Teachers. Teach about compassion. Teach about giving hope and problem solving. Teach advance techniques.
Dont look at patients as hopeless and suggest surgery or close the doors. Look at this as an opportunity to collaborate, to learn, to teach, to provide hope even when its overwhelming.
I beg our lippy community to quit being divided.
Stage 1 be thankful where you are at to learn so early on. Reach out to the more advanced. Are you able to give support? C an you lend a hand to your neighbor? Can you lend an ear?
Advance stages dont be envious and angry at the early stages instead become their protective mother bear, teach them what you would have wanted them to know. Nurture them and be thankful they aren't advanced as you are. Be happy when they have small victories. Katia and Lilith were all inclusive. They welcomed all stages into their lives.
We are a small community. May these deaths give us a surge to be better advocates and better sisters. We take these deaths and ask ourselves what can I do to make a difference?
To our therapists, our doctors, our nurses, our educators, Please advocate for our needs. Please open the door of communication. Thank you for your skills. Thank you for not judging Help me have hope to manage better.
Can we become a team help those out there that is scared and overwhelmed?
It's a big task. But the Katias the Liliths and even me Yvonne stage 3 Lipo-Lymphedema patient needs your support on this path.
Katia and Lilith may your bodies and souls be in a peaceful joyful and pain free state.