Full-time Leg – A Hybrid by Kate Dowling

Full-time Leg

Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes swelling in the body’s
It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs. It
develops when the lymphatic system does not work properly.
Symptoms: Swelling (medical)

Swelling in one leg

Uncomfortable. Hot. Heavy. Painful. Tiring. Dragging. Tight. Burning. Unbalanced.
Strange. Worrying.


Referral. Hospital. Examination. Scans. Tests. Faults. Genes. Chronic. Incurable.


Specialist. Support. Help. Awareness. Self-management. Work.

Less swelling

Find a compression stocking that fits. Wear it on rising. Take it off again when you
go to bed.   When laundering your stockings, don’t dry them with direct heat.  Don’t
snag them on your nails.   Don’t rip them when you pull at them when they fall down
your leg throughout the day.   Don’t let them crease around your ankle. Don’t forget
to reorder stockings when they get old and lose their elasticity.   Persevere when your stocking of choice is no longer available.  Start again when you lose weight and they no longer fit.

Less discomfort

Avoid pooling of lymph. Limit swelling. Avoid pain. Don’t stand still too long. Don’t
sit down too long. If sitting, keep your leg raised, level with the hip and supported at
the knee. Keep moving. Do not let the tissue fibrose. Do not carry access weight.
Exercise. Try to stay cool.

No sickness

Avoid infections. Keep clean. Keep your skin as a barrier to the protein-rich lymph.
Don’t let bacteria in. Don’t allow yourself to get nicked by razor blades. Moisturise.
Don’t get bitten by insects. Wear insect repellent whilst gardening. Wear insect
repellent to bed in the summer. Don’t let your shoes rub. Don’t let your
compression stockings rub. Don’t overlook any abrasions or abnormalities. Treat
any rashes and monitor any scratches. Don’t ignore spreading redness or areas that
are hot. Do not let infections take over. Do not get cellulitis. Do not need
antibiotics. Do not need hospitalisation.

Do not forget

To work at being well.

Kate Dowling is based in Sheffield in the UK. She has written all her life. Kate was diagnosed with lymphoedema in 1998. She is the creator and editor of The Failure Baler literary zine. Twitter: @TheFailureBaler

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