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Monday, July 8, 2013

How I went to Key West without Lymphedema compression hose for a week.

 My week of vacation without wearing compression hose and how I came home with only minimal swelling.

My husband and I went to Key West, FL for a week June 26-July 3, 2013 and except for wearing my compression hose on the plane, they stayed packed away for a week.  This is the second year that I have given myself a week vacation from my compression hose, and I caution you as you read this to look at the possibilities and see if you are able to build up to this or even go a couple of days without your hose.  I was diagnosised in 2004, and very closely monitor and maintain my full body lymphedema on a daily basis.  This works for me so that I know what I can get away with at times and also so that I know if my LE swelling is maintained.  Closely monitoring your measurements and skin condition, is a must for lifetime management, because you have to know what works and doesn't work for your body, as it is different for all of us.  

Several days before my vacation, no matter if I am riding in a car or flying, I take it easy and do not schedule any appointments or big chores.  I wear my reid sleeves more around the house and keep my legs up.  If I am flying I wear my reid sleeves on the flight.  This year we took a Delta flight instead of Southwest and it was the first time I did not have room to wear my Reid sleeves on my flight and the pain was horrible and almost unbearable, the worst was when the plane was decending.  Extra pain meds did not even help, so from now on I don't care what I need to do, I will wear my Reid Sleeves, because it makes the flight bearable.  When I go by car I keep my legs up on the dash or in the backseat and stop frequently for stretching.

As soon as I got to my room in Key West, FL it was hot and the hose had to come off.  Key West is very humid and the temperatures are in the high 80s or 90s, so humid that we sweated thru everything we had(yuck).  The island is very small--only 2 X4 miles, so we did not rent a car and chose to walk and bike everywhere.  We remained active thru the week, but by closely monitoring my limbs for swelling, taking breaks, and sometimes just not pushing it if my pain became too much.   I was able to be comfortable the majority of the days.  I was in the water a lot and when you are in the water, the water acts as compression, so stay in those swimming pools, lakes, and oceans.  Also, another added benefit is that the salt water is great for killing bacteria on our LE limbs.  I normally take 2 Extended release 40mg Ocoytins a day and take another as needed pain medicine.  During vacation since I know I want to be active and I only allow this once a year, I take extra as needed pain meds, so that I can enjoy my activities.  I normally do not take many as needed pain meds, but my doctor told me long ago, if you need to take them to do an activity you would miss doing otherwise then that is what the pain medicine is there for.  During this week I was able to snorkel 3 times, learn to scuba dive and take 2 one hour scuba dives to the Key West Reef(3rd largest in the world) jet ski, parasail, lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, walk around and sightsee, and bike.  I can honestly say, this was the best vacation of my life and worth sacrifices I made to enjoy myself.  I brought my flexitouch machine and my reid sleeves with me and while I was in the room I wore my reid sleeves and kept up with my daily cycles on my flexitouch machine and was able to come back with only 1/2-1 inch difference in my limbs, which I have been working on since vacation to get them down to where I try to maintain them.  I did have another glitch in this plan because of Delta.  They left my bags with my flexitouch and reid sleeves outside in the rain and they were all soaked when I got home and it took 2 days for them to completly dry out, delaying me working on getting my limbs back down to size, but now that they are dry, my swelling is coming down again.  I will continue to take these yearly 1 week vacations from my hose, as long as I am able to manage this treat, without putting my body in jeopardy. For me, knowing my body and what it needs, allows me to effectively manage my Lymphedema, while still living my life.  I know I need to wear my hose and daily management is very time consuming, it is worth it when I can take a little holiday and get back on track.

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