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Monday, April 1, 2013

Splitting skin from Lymphedema

Ahh, another yucky side effect for lymphedema.  Your skin cannot always take stretching due to increased fluid and at times will split.  Wow, is it painful and dangerous.  Between and under my toes is normally where my skin will split.  Others, it could be behind the knees, in skin folds, or really anywhere that has too much stress from increased swelling.  I met with a Flexitouch rep last week and she suggested I only needed to do my machine for 2 cycles a day, instead of the 3-4 I have been doing for 5 years.  When I originally started using the machine, there was not much data on patients, like me who had lymphedema all over, so we were not sure how many cycles I could do, so I started doing 3-4 a day.  Well, since last Thursday, I started  only doing 2 cycles and 3 days later my weight was up 10 pounds and all of my toes on both feet had split open.  I guess my body has gotten use to all of the cycles and depends on it to remove the fluid, so while I will try and move down to only doing 1 leg and the opposite arm, I need to decrease the use slower, so I can get my body use to the decrease help the machine before I automatically go down to only 2 cycles.  In the meantime, my immediate focus will be to get the swelling down and get my skin to seal back up before an infection sets in. I will at least do both my leg cycles to pull fluid away from toes, use antibiotic cream on all open skin splits and keep moving to get rid of the increased fluid.  Most of the increased fluid is either in my toes or in my trunk, so as uncomfortable as my compression vest is, I will be wearing it everyday for extra compression.  The vest is a class 1, but phew is it tight.  No overeating when you are wearing this vest, because it feels like you are wearing the tightest pair of pants you can zip up, but the pants go all the way up your chest.  I can tell you I feel like I can finally breathe a full breath when I take the vest off at the end of the day!!  I will do an update, if anything changes and once I have gotten this setback under control, hopefully, in just a couple of days.
UPDATE:  I was able to heal my split skin back up in 2 days, by using antibiotic cream and using my lower leg flexitouch pieces for both legs everyday.  Increased fluid in trunk is still an issue, but I will continue to work on getting this under control; however, I am happy that my skin is not split anymore, since that puts me at a huge risk for infection

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