Kimmi Katte

NUTRITIONAL SYNERGY

Every day for the month of March 2024 I made a series of social media posts about lymphoedema for Lymphoedema Awareness Month. I’ve had it all my life (primary lymphoedema) and it was subclinical until I was 24. I’m 59 now and spend some time every day making sure that it doesn’t progress.

My primary methods to prevent progression revolve around compression, drainage, movement, and of course because I’m a Clinical Nutritionist, nutrition. I have a few other tricks up my sleeve as well that I implement reasonably regularly, but those primary ones are my mainstays!

Here is the collection of those social media posts … I hope you find them helpful!

What is Lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a condition where lymphatic fluid transport in the body is impaired or faulty. Symptoms and signs progress over time when effective management strategies are not implemented.

In the subclinical stage (stage 0) there are no symptoms, but testing reveals impaired lymphatic fluid flow.

Stage 1 – swelling subsides with affected limb elevation.

Stage 2 – limb elevation alone is not sufficient to reduce swelling and “pitting” is evident.

Late Stage 2 – swelling is persistent, pitting may or may not be present depending on the degree of fibrosis.

Stage 3 – swelling remains persistent, the swelling is hard due to fibrosis, skin changes (thickening, hyperpigmentation, development of fatty deposits and overgrowths). Sometimes this stage is referred to as elephantiasis.

An area affected by lymphoedema can exhibit more than one stage.

What are the different types of lymphoedema?

Primary lymphoedema is caused by a genetic or congenital malformation of the lymphatics. It may not be obvious at birth, and often becomes apparent at adolescence or in adulthood.

Secondary lymphoedema is caused by damage, removal, or destruction of lymph nodes or lymphatic vessels. This can happen with surgery and/or radiotherapy related to cancer treatment, recurrent cellulitis, or following injury (trauma or surgery to other organs or structures in the body).

If lymphoedema is left untreated or unmanaged, it will progress over time and leave the sufferer at risk of reduced mobility and life-threatening infection.

What are the causes of lymphoedema?

Yesterday I told you about the different types of lymphoedema – let’s take a look at those again and expand a bit.

PRIMARY lymphoedema is pretty self-explanatory. Some of the most heart-breaking cases are babies born with obvious swelling usually in the limbs, but swelling can also occur in the head, neck, trunk, and genitals depending on where the malformation is located. Symptoms of PRIMARY lymphoedema can wait to manifest in adulthood when the lymphatic load exceeds the lymphatic system capacity. This is what happened to me.

SECONDARY lymphoedema is probably more identifiable these days as the unwelcome and unexpected result of cancer treatments. One Australian study estimated that lymphoedema occurs in over 20% of all cancer patients treated for gynaecological (vulvar/vaginal, ovarian, uterine, and cervical), breast, prostate cancers, or melanoma. Annoyingly, many oncology surgeons do not effectively prepare their patients for the risk of lymphoedema.

Other causes of SECONDARY lymphoedema are physical traumas to the body (such as a car accident, or surgery), recurring infections (cellulitis and fungal infections), venous disease, lipoedema, Dercum’s Disease, filariasis, obesity, immobility,

SECONDARY lymphoedema occurs in areas in reasonably close proximity to where the trauma happened – for example, people do not develop leg lymphoedema from breast cancer treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Lymphoedema

There is a difference between signs and symptoms of a condition. A symptom is a manifestation of disease that’s perceivable to the patient, while a sign is a manifestation of disease that the physician perceives via testing, observation, or interview.

Symptoms of lymphoedema:

  • Swelling
  • Heaviness
  • Tightness
  • Pain or a burning sensation
  • Aching or tingling feeling
  • Reduced ability to fully flex and extend the limb
  • Skin changes (with advancing stages) – pitting, thickening or hardening, discolouration, development of fatty deposits and overgrowths

Signs of lymphoedema:

  • Measurement of circumference
  • Water displacement
  • Positive Stemmer’s sign
  • Bioimpedance testing
  • Imaging – lymphoscintigram, ICG scan, MRI, ultrasound, CT

Where in the body can lymphoedema appear?


Because lymphoedema is a condition where lymphatic fluid transport is impaired or faulty, anywhere in the body where you have lymph nodes or lymphatic vessels, lymphoedema can develop.


The most common place to develop lymphoedema are in the limbs, but there are nodes and vessels throughout the body so it really can occur wherever the system is impaired.

Kimmi’s Lymphie Tips – Part One

  • Early diagnosis and treatment of lymphoedema is crucial to prevent progression, improve symptoms and create ease in management.

  • Check unexplained or prolonged swelling, heaviness, or tightness with your doctor by asking “COULD THIS BE LYMPHOEDEMA?”

  • Compression garments are the number one tool in the lymphoedema toolbox – make friends with them!

What are the problems with having lymphoedema?

Infection – lymphoedema increases the risk of life-threatening infection in the affected area. This is the most serious problem with having lymphoedema and most people who have this condition will have at least one experience with cellulitis at some point.

Expensive – compression garments and manual lymphatic drainage (both gold standard in lymphoedema management) are costly. Garments often need to be custom made and need replacing every 6 months, and manual lymphatic drainage should be performed regularly.

Time consuming – management of lymphoedema is a daily exercise and if it is not attended to daily, progression is certain.

Unsightly – many people with lymphoedema feel self-conscious of their appearance and often feel as though people are staring.

Ways to Manage Lymphoedema – Compression Garments

Some form of compression technique is essential for the management of lymphoedema. Good quality and appropriate compression worn consistently is a clinically effective treatment for people with lymphoedema by improving lymphatic drainage and skin integrity while reducing lymphatic fluid accumulation, reducing inflammation associated with lymphoedema, and reducing the risk of infection.

Typically, lymphoedema patients do best with daytime compression to prevent further swelling during the hours where we are active, and also with night time compression to help reduce lymphoedema. Daytime and nighttime compression are made from different fabrics and provide differing degrees of compression.

Lymphoedema patients need the help of a properly qualified fitter and measurer to ensure compression garments are appropriate for their needs. In Australia, there are various compression garment funding schemes that can contribute towards the costs associated with this kind of equipment. More information about those schemes is here:

https://www.lymphoedema.org.au/about-lymphoedema/compression-garment-schemes-/

How Lymphoedema can be Managed – SKIN CARE

Your skin is the barrier between you and an infection in the area where you have lymphoedema. ANY break in the skin is opportunity for bacteria to get in and proliferate in the lymphoedematous area. It’s important to note here that dry skin is a series of breaks in the skin and so this means it’s very important to have healthy skin where your lymphoedema is located.

Diet is primary in the battle for healthy skin because the quality of your skin is determined by the food you eat. Moisturising can help, but no amount of moisturising will replace a healthy diet in the support of making healthy skin. Skin is built inside your body using the foods you eat – good quality protein, foods rich in zinc, and fatty fish are all good building blocks to make great skin.

 

Compression can also ensure that your skin stays healthy as it improves circulation and prevents further build-up of lymphatic fluid.


Learn how to treat wounds and scratches, and get specialist wound management if you can’t clear up wounds, or if your skin begins to leak – this is called lymphorrhea and needs priority treatment.


This is an excellent resource about the management of cellulitis (infection) in lymphoedema (ironically cellulitis can also CAUSE lymphoedema):

https://www.lymphoedema.org.au/public/7/files/Position%20Statements/ALA%20Consensus%20Guideline%20Cellulitis-Rebrand%202019(1).pdf

How Lymphoedema can be Managed – MANUAL LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE

Manual lymphatic drainage is a specialised type of massage that encourages lymphatic fluid to flow effectively through the body so that it can be released. The body is constantly producing new lymphatic fluid so it’s important that areas that are congested due to faulty lymphatics find a way to be cleared every day.

My best suggestion when it comes to manual lymphatic drainage is two-fold.

Find a properly trained lymphoedema therapist who can teach you how to do manual lymphatic drainage by yourself.

A properly trained lymphoedema therapist is one who has spent years in training – a weekend course, or a few months in training is not sufficient to treat lymphoedema. Ask about their qualifications, they should be trained in one of the major drainage methods – Vodder, Casley-Smith, Klose, or Foldi.

Learning how to do it yourself will mean that you gain a degree of autonomy and empowerment in managing this relentless condition. You’ll save a lot of money, and you’ll be able to do something every day to decongest the lymphoedematous area. Once you have lymphoedema it’s important that you do whatever you can to prevent progression on a daily basis.

How Lymphoedema can be Managed – COMPLETE DECONGESTIVE THERAPY

The gold standard treatment for Lymphoedema is complete decongestive therapy (CDT). I underwent 8 weeks of CDT in 2015 and it was transformative. I’ve maintained the reduction I achieved during that 8 weeks ever since and would not hesitate to go through it again if I needed to.


It’s very intensive and expensive. It combines four treatment approaches – MLD, compression bandaging, specific exercises, and skin care. Ideally these treatments are applied every day for 4-8 weeks, depending on the severity of the lymphoedema and the responsiveness of the patient.

 

The benefits of CDT are:

  • Reduced volume of lymphoedema
  • Improved mobility and range of motion
  • Reduced risk of infection (cellulitis, sepsis)
  • Improved condition of skin
  • Improved quality of life
  • Opportunity to learn how to manage the condition at home

 

CDT as I mentioned is very intensive. There are two phases of treatment. The first is where the lymphoedematous area is reduced, and the second is where that reduction is stabilised and maintained.


It should only be undertaken by a properly qualified lymphoedema therapist, that is, somebody who has been trained in lymphoedema management and CDT as part of Vodder, Casley-Smith, Klose, or Foldi training. Don’t permit any person not sufficiently trained to apply CDT.

Kimmi’s Lymphie Tips – Part Two

  • Look after the skin on your lymphoedematous area and get professional help from a wound care specialist if you’re unsure what to do.

  • Find a properly qualified Lymphoedema Therapist and develop a good long-term partnership with them.

  • Consider Complete Decongestive Therapy to improve the staging of your lymphoedema – this is gold standard treatment for lymphoedema and has many benefits.

How Lymphoedema can be Managed – NUTRITION

Food choices absolutely change the way your lymphoedema shows up. I work almost exclusively with people who have lymphoedema and / or lymphoedema in my clinic, and invariably these people do very well on a reduced carbohydrate way of eating with careful attention to electrolytes and food choices.

3 nutrition tips that you can action today:

  1. As much as possible, consume unprocessed or minimally processed foods whenever you have a meal. This is just good advice for humans in general, but specifically for people who have chronic health conditions, it just makes sense to eat real and fresh foods at every meal.

  2. Do not be afraid to include fats in your diet. There is an uninformed rumour in the lymphoedema world that because fats are processed via the lymphatic system, they are bad for the lymphatic system and make it function poorly. Biologically, this makes no sense at all. In fact, dietary fats stimulate and nurture the lymphatic system and are essential for overall health. Include healthy fats at every meal.
  1. Do not be afraid to include protein in your diet. There is another silly rumour that because lymphatic fluid contains waste proteins that if we minimise dietary protein, this will reduce the lymphatic load. This also makes no sense at all – waste proteins are not the same as dietary proteins, and dietary protein is essential for humans. Include healthy protein at every meal.

How Lymphoedema can be Managed – PSYCHOLOGICAL MANAGEMENT


One of the most unhelpful things I was told when I was first diagnosed with lymphoedema was that it was going to progress, and there was nothing I could do about it. As a proactive, solutions focused person, I’m still so furious that those words were spoken to me. And even more furious that they are still being spoken to people who may not be so proactive, and solutions focused.

 

I felt disempowered for only a moment until I settled into “I’ll show you” mode and got on with searching high and low for things I could to that would help.


However, there is no denying that lymphoedema brings a heavy psychological load with it. This condition requires daily attention to avoid progression. It’s tiring, intensive, expensive, and time consuming. It can be painful, and it demands attention on several levels.

 

If you feel as though you need somebody to talk through the psychological load of having a chronic health condition like lymphoedema, find a good psychologist who can help you navigate your grief and other complexities that present themselves. Life can be beautiful with lymphoedema, and a properly qualified psychologist can be another piece of the beautiful life puzzle.

How Lymphoedema Can be Managed – Exercise

The lymphoedema body likes to move and the lymphatic system works best with movement. However, it’s very important to get professional advice when it comes to movement and exercise when you have lymphoedema.

I’ll speak here to my own experiences with movement, exercise, and lymphoedema.

I consider movement as the basic functions of walking, getting up and down from either the floor or a seated position, and other movements involved in everyday life – picking things up, stepping over things, carrying objects, etc.

I consider exercise as something more deliberate than those basic functions. I’ve had lymphoedema for 36 years now and have played a lot with exercise intensity and form. I’ve been a runner, a weightlifter, a Pilates student, a yoga student, I’ve done HIIT, steady state cardio, plyometrics, mobility training, and kettlebell work.

At the moment my exercise involves mobility exercises every day, HIIT 3 times per week,, and strength training 2 times per week. I do a leisurely 30 minute walk every morning and some evenings as well.

I ALWAYS wear compression when I’m exercising – those last three words were unnecessary lol. It’s so important to wear compression all the time with lymphoedema, but ESPECIALLY when you’re up and moving or exercising so that the lymphatic fluid doesn’t build up.

Nutrition for Lymphoedema – Myths

There are a lot of myths surrounding nutrition and lymphoedema, but by far the most damaging one is that that your diet doesn’t make a difference. Most lymphoedema patients are told that sodium and saturated fats are bad for lymphoedema, I’ve also heard people say that lymphoedema patients should not drink much water nor eat healthy amounts of protein.

Sure, your diet is not going to grow you some new lymphatic vessels or new lymph nodes.

But what your diet can do is provide nutrients that support the health of the lymphatic system, nutrients that support skin health, nutrients that can interrupt a chronic inflammation cycle, food choices to support a healthy body fat percentage, optimising gut health and immune system health, and ensuring adequate hydration to avoid adding a fluid retention problem on top of a lymphoedema problem. These are achievable nutrition goals. Never give up!

Wonderfully many of us are walking talking proof that these are indeed myths, and we can attest that diet makes a HUGE difference, and sodium, saturated fats, water, and protein can be healthy components of a diet that is supportive to the lymphoedema patient.

As a Clinical Nutritionist and a sufferer of primary lymphoedema, I know professionally and personally that your food choices absolutely alter the way your lymphoedema shows up. Food is a powerful messenger in your body and because you eat several times each day, every meal is a potent opportunity to help yourself.

Nutrition for Lymphoedema – Lymphatic System Nutrients

The lymphatic system absorbs fats and fat-soluble vitamins from the digestive system and then transports these vital nutrients to the venous circulation. Additionally, the lymphatic system requires fats for repair and growth – this is a nice article that explains the discovery of this mechanism https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-12-fat-fuels-road-cancer-cell.html?fbclid=IwAR1ayPPsIJ-eg6OtvDrBq9ECCyAcLH5x_jeHjDWoA-cEDrS2bT8yhdXMlzg

And if you’re interested to read the actual paper, it’s here in Nature, one of the highest ranking journals: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature21028

The kinds of fats that are naturally accepted by the lymphatic system are saturated and present in animal fats and coconut fats. Consuming these kinds of fats ensure they are collected by the lymphatics as per our human design, so that the lymphatic system can function to the best of its capacity.

What’s so great about being a Clinical Nutritionist willing to embrace staying up to date is not being tied to any particular dogma. When we know better, we can eat better.

Kimmi’s Lymphie Tips – Part Three

 

 

  • Send me an email (kimmi@nutritionalsynergy.com.au) if you’d like to book a nutrition consult with me for individualised Nutritional Medicine recommendations for your lymphoedema.

  • Consider several sessions with a psychologist to help you navigate the grief and load associated with a lymphoedema diagnosis.

  • Keep moving with lymphoedema – a sedentary lifestyle stagnates the lymphatic fluid even more and can exacerbate lymphoedema.

Nutrition for Lymphoedema – Fight Inflammation

 

Lymphoedema is an inflammatory condition and the foods you choose can have an impact on the degree of inflammation your body experiences.

Usually when people think about lymphoedema and inflammation they think of times when there is an acute infection, however lymphoedema creates a chronic inflammatory process in the body that can be improved and / or exacerbated with your food choices.

Removing the obviously inflammatory foods is a no-brainer – things like alcohol, sugar, highly processed foods, gluten, and industrialised fats can easily be eliminated and this can make an enormous difference to the way your lymphoedema shows up.

Ensuring that your meals are comprised of unprocessed or minimally processed foods is something we can all do to help reduce inflammation. Additionally, making sure that those foods are nutrient dense with anti-inflammatory components is a bonus.

Choosing foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids like oily fish and pastured beef, lamb and goat will help your lymphatic system to function as optimally as possible as well as reduce inflammation.

Green tea is rich in epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and is another well-established way to fight inflammation in the body – I love making a jug of green tea in the evenings and chilling it overnight in the refrigerator to enjoy the following day.

Nutrition for Lymphoedema – Ketones and Inflammation

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know I’m a big fan of healthy low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets. The ketogenic diet has been very powerful in helping me and many others with lymphoedema get ahead of the chronic inflammation that comes along with lymphoedema.

One of the mechanisms at play here is the production of ketones. Ketones are anti-inflammatory molecules your body makes for you under certain dietary conditions. One of those dietary conditions is reducing the amount of carbohydrate you eat to a point where your body makes an alternative fuel source for you (ketones).

A ketogenic diet is simply one that causes your liver to make you some anti-inflammatory ketones.

A HEALTHY ketogenic diet is one that causes your liver to make you some anti-inflammatory ketones AND supports your metabolism and overall health. Getting into a state of ketosis in a healthy way has the potential to reduce inflammation, stimulate the growth of lymphatic vessels, provide a positive impact on disorders of the lymphatic system, normalise body fat levels, and improve energy levels.

The ketogenic diet might feel a bit scary to you, particularly if you think you MUST eat a lot of bacon, a lot of dairy products, and drink a lot of coffee to be able to do it. And nothing could be further from the truth. Personally, I don’t eat bacon, I eat dairy occasionally, and yes, I’m a daily coffee drinker but not because it’s imperative to get me into ketosis. There are so many healthy ways to “do” keto!

Be Careful When You Have Lymphoedema

There are several ways you really need to be careful when you have lymphoedema. Protect your lymphedematous area by:

Looking after your skin – your skin is your best barrier against infection so keeping it healthy and free of scratches, dryness, and other injuries is very important. You should understand that you make your own skin with the foods you eat – foods rich in protein, zinc, and fatty acids help a lot. While you’re waiting to grow your own great skin with your food you can improve the circulation in your lymphedematous area by wearing your compression (which provides another layer of protection), moisturising, and moving your body regularly.

Protecting the skin on your lymphedematous area from blood pressure cuffs, blood draws, insect bites, and other injuries reduce the risk of infection and progression.

Understanding your own body and its limitations – this one is a bit less specific because you must do the figuring out of this on your own. Some people with lymphoedema do really well with heavy exercise, most need to work very gradually towards an exercise routine. Some have lots of energy, many become tired very quickly. Don’t feel badly if you need to adjust any part of your life because you have lymphoedema, and don’t let your lymphoedema prevent you from living your beautiful life. Understand your limitations, adjust, but don’t avoid life because of lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema and Lipoedema

Many people have secondary lymphoedema due to lipoedema – this is referred to as lipolymphoedema. This paper https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7784769/ goes so far as to say that lipoedema may be on the spectrum of lymphoedema, but we can leave that discussion up to the experts!

Lipolymphoedema occurs with lymphatic failure in the lipoedema patient as the lipoedema progresses. It should also be noted that lymphoedema can be present at any stage of lipoedema but usually shows up in later stages.

Management of lipolymphoedema is similar to the management of lymphoedema in that compression garments, MLD, exercise, and good nutrition can all make a difference to quality of life. If you have lipolymphoedema or lipoedema, all my recommendations during Lymphoedema Awareness Month can also help you!

Lymphoedema & Mindset

Developing a solutions focused mindset about lymphoedema is important, but it can be quite the journey getting to that point. I know for me, I spent many years working through the stages of grief around having primary lymphoedema – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance (although I’d still rather NOT have it thanks all the same). Grief is an important acknowledgement to make with any chronic health condition that is as life altering as lymphoedema – your personal journey with grieving this condition is worth holding space for.

When you get to the layers of acceptance, you can begin to develop a mindset where solutions can be a helpful focus. And in my experience, when you get to this point solutions show up for you, and lymphoedema is just another part of your life that requires some management rather than the overwhelming beast it used to be. The sting of it has softened if that makes sense.

I do still have the random day here or there where there are some tears and frustrations around having lymphoedema, but 99% of the time now it’s just matter of factly doing the things I need to do to stay on top of it and those things have become as integrated in my life and normal as brushing my teeth. I don’t have any internal bargaining over garments, or MLD, or nutrition, or exercise because these solutions are non-negotiable so that I can get on with my beautiful life.

Kimmi’s Lymphie Tips – Part Four

  • FEED YOUR LYMPHATICS (don’t starve them!) with the nutrients they were designed to absorb and function well with.

  • Eliminate obviously inflammatory foods (alcohol, sugar, highly processed foods, gluten, industrialised oils). Everything in moderation is a crock of sh*t … inflammatory foods in moderation are still inflammatory!

  • Divorce yourself from harmful relationships with foods that hurt you. Never stay in an abusive relationship with ANYTHING.

Best Resources for Lymphoedema

While there are many people on social media speaking to lymphoedema, in my personal and professional experience your best resources for lymphoedema management are going to be people who are appropriately qualified to speak into your individual circumstances and presentation. It’s a lifelong condition without a cure (yet!) so we need to settle in with good quality help for the long game.

This is because lymphoedema has such a different presentation in every case and our own circumstances all vary so much. There is nobody in the world who has the same areas of lymphatic backflow as mine, nobody who has lymphatics that prefer the same direction of flow as mine, nobody who has the same areas of fibrosis, nobody who has the same degree of fibrosis, nobody who’s body has the same response to the pressure and pace of MLD as mine.

Your best resources for YOUR lymphoedema are going to be your (properly qualified) lymphoedema therapist, your nutritionist who knows your history and blood work and dietary nuances, your exercise physiologist, your qualified garment fitter, your wound care specialist. Find and partner with these important people in your life as you figure out how to become solutions focused in the management of your lymphoedema.

Silly Advice I’ve Been Given for Lymphoedema

It’s been 16 years since I was officially diagnosed with lymphoedema but I’ve been looking for an answer for my lymphie legs for 36 years, so you can imagine how many therapists, doctors, specialists, surgeons, naturopaths, dietitians, nutritionists, herbalists, homeopaths, TCM practitioners I’ve seen during that time. I have been even more relentless (if that’s possible) than these legs of mine!

I wanted to share with you some of the silly pieces of advice I’ve been given over the last 36 years that these people insisted would help:

The specialist who diagnosed me told me to elevate my legs frequently during the day – keep in mind that when I got this advice, I was a working mum of three young boys with a husband who travelled for work most of the time. As far as elevating my legs, the very best I could do was overnight while I slept. I know a lot of healthcare professionals still give this advice, but at least in my case, it was extremely unhelpful and unrealistic.

Herbal diuretics – all diuretics are contraindicated for lymphoedema, pharmaceutical as well as herbal. They strip away the water component of the lymphatic fluid, dehydrating the tissues and causing a concentration of lymphatic fluid that decreases capacity to flow normally. If you’re getting professional advice about herbal prescriptions, make sure you ask the practitioner if they understand that lymphoedema is not the same as all oedema’s and diuretic herbs are contraindicated.

Water intake and protein intake – I had a naturopath tell me to slash water and protein intake (who interestingly also prescribed herbal diuretics to me). The thinking behind it was that because I had oedema, if I cut back on water then the oedema would subside. Her thinking about the protein was based on lymphatic fluid being “protein rich” therefore cutting back on protein would prevent the build-up of lymphatic fluid. A sheer lack of understanding in biology and pathophysiology in both arguments. Please, don’t slash water consumption nor protein consumption – they are both essential for a healthy body.

My Lymphoedema Routines

I thought I’d share with you today my own routines that relate to managing my lymphoedema. I’ve spent many years fine tuning everything so that it all feels like it’s running on autopilot and not like a burden. It looks like a lot, but it doesn’t feel that way – it’s just how I roll now to ensure I stay well reduced.

Daily routine:

  • Daytime compression upon waking
  • Glass of water with electrolytes
  • 30-minute early morning walk
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Self MLD
  • Skin and swelling check
  • Protein rich breakfast
  • Mobility exercises
  • Meditation
  • Protein rich lunch and dinner
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Daytime compression off, nighttime compression on

Weekly routine:

  • MLD with Gwen (@lymphatica_face_body)
  • Infrared sauna and ice bath combo (one or twice per week)
  • Low level laser therapy (3 x per week)
  • Red light therapy (2 or 3 x per week)
  • Nighttime garments and sequential pneumatic pump combo (3 x per week)
  • High intensity interval training (3 x per week)
  • Strength training (2 x per week)
  • Evening walk (4 or 5 times per week)

Every 6 months:

  • Replace daytime compression garments
  • Leg measurements

THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT LYMPHOEDEMA

I wish I’d known that …

  • I’d one day be able to accept the diagnosis,

  • I’d find strategies that would help (and that I’d be able to apply them!),

  • I’d be my own best advocate and find my voice for health care appointments,

  • One day I’d appreciate my compression garments,

  • Lymphoedema wouldn’t stop me from doing anything,

  • Not all lymphoedema advice is good lymphoedema advice,

  • Lymphoedema can be life threatening and to live a long and healthy life prioritising care for my lymphie legs would be very important.

SOME NIFTY LYMPHOEDEMA TRICKS

When you’ve allowed lymphoedema to take up as much room in your brain as I have, you come up with some very nifty little tricks to save time and maximise the results you get from the effort you put in.

NOTE: Some (or all) of these may not be appropriate for you – please check with your lymphoedema therapist or lymphoedema informed health care professional first!

  1. I wear my nighttime garments when I use my lymphoedema pump – nighttime garments are designed to reduce swelling, wearing them while in the pump can really help the flow! I have a LymphaPress pump, and my nighttime garments are Comfiwave by Haddenham Health.

  2. I use a timer when I put my garments on. I do this because I always feel as though it takes FOREVER, but really (depending on which ones I’m putting on) it only takes anywhere from 45 seconds to 4 minutes. Timing myself provides a little reality check, and it also feels a bit like a game.

  3. During the early years of having MLD I always asked a lot of questions during the sessions, and (thankfully) all my therapists have been very happy to educate me! Learn at every opportunity that comes your way, particularly from people who have been properly trained in treating lymphatic disorders.

  4. Go for a walk or do your lymphoedema exercise routine before you have MLD or get into the pump. This makes your MLD and the pump session even more effective.

THE LYMPHOEDEMA GADGETS I LOVE TO USE

Many of us with lymphoedema have spent a small fortune on gadgets that are purported to help or even cure our conditions. We’re frequently sucked into the lure and promise of these bits and bobs because we remain hopeful that one day soon, we will find a cure or at least some help.

I have a massive box full of gadgets for my lymphoedema alone. I thought I’d share my three favourites with you!

Comfiwave nighttime garments – these are the best nighttime garments I’ve ever tried. They provide great lymphatic fluid clearance overnight and can be used during the daytime too if you are a bit sedentary for a few hours at a time.

LymphaPress pump – I’m a big fan of getting a good quality sequential pneumatic pump for lymphoedema. It doesn’t replace MLD, but it’s good to use between MLD sessions. It works exceptionally well for me when I wear my nighttime garments in the pump!

Riancorp laser – I have a tiny fibrotic spot at the base of my little toe on my right foot which softens up very nicely with the Riancorp laser. I bought it a long time ago and use it weekly on that area and the areas I know are prone to backflow.

You can also read my wordy blog post here about my lymphoedema and lipoedema gadgets!  https://kimmikatte.com/my-lymphoedema-and-lipoedema-gadgets/

Kimmi’s Lymphie Tips – Part Five

  • Consider creating your own anti-inflammatory molecules (ketones) by using a ketogenic diet – chat with me about this!

  • Ramp up your solutions focused mindset with lymphoedema – I’m not talking about a Pollyanna attitude; I’m thinking more along the lines of MacGyver.

  • Develop an “autopilot” type of lymphoedema routine that you can incrementally build on over time.

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