Hospice at Home West Cumbria has a long established specialist Lymphoedema service which is the only service of its kind in West Cumbria.
Our team of specialist nurses can provide a comprehensive assessment and an individualised treatment plan based around the specific needs of the patient. The Lymphoedema team provide ongoing support to patients to help them manage their condition, which includes advice, compression therapy, skin care and compression garments.
Gemma Scott from Arlecdon, was referred to our clinic after suffering from intermittent leg swelling. The problem had developed gradually over time, impacting on Gemma’s ability to live a normal life. As a chef, Gemma’s work involved standing for sometimes 12hrs a shift leaving her legs tired and achy at the end of each day.
During assessment with us Gemma was diagnosed as having what we call ‘secondary’ lymphoedema which means the swelling had occurred as a result of another issue, which we concluded was a condition called ‘lipoedema’. Lipoedema is a chronic condition where lipoedema fat accumulates below the waist causing the hips, buttocks and legs to be disproportionate to the rest of the body. For many years, Gemma had tried diet and exercise to manage the excess fat but whilst the upper body would change, there was always very little change to the lower body.
At this present time the only ‘treatment’ for lipoedema is liposuction, which unfortunately requires specialist funding as it is not available on the NHS. Fantastically for Gemma, following her assessment and careful consideration of her health status we managed to secure the funding with the support from her GP and she has now had 2 of the 3 surgeries needed to treat the lipoedema.
Part of the long term care following these surgeries is management of the lymphoedema. Gemma is required to wear daily compression to manage the swelling and prevent the condition worsening.
It has been a HUGE pleasure supporting Gemma through her life changing journey. She really is a success story.
Alana Vine, Lymphoedema Nurse Specialist.
Five years on and Gemma is now managing her condition by following all our advice, below Gemma has shared with us a typical day for her…
What time does your day start?
My alarm goes off at 06:30am and I get right out of bed. 3 mornings a week I get ready and go swimming for 45 minutes as it’s important to keep active. Plus I was advised swimming is the best form of exercise when managing lymphoedema. Once I’m home I apply cream to my legs to help manage the skin and after a short spell, apply my compression stockings. Then I head off to work.
How are your legs when you get up?
My legs usually feel ok when I wake up as they’ve been rested for around 8hrs. Sometimes I feel a little stiff in the morning but on the whole I am generally pain free.
Do you manage to get your stockings on independently?
I do try to manage my own compression although this hasn’t always been the case. I have needed help from others in the past but as I’ve gotten used to applying them over time it’s just become second nature and I do it without thinking. It takes less time now too as I’m used to it.
Do the garments impact on your day in any way?
If anything the garments help. I found it very difficult to stand for any length of time in the past meaning I had to leave a job I’d done for years. I find that since my surgeries I am able to stand for longer and feel supported by the garments. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without them.
What does your job entail?
I work 5 days a week as a baker in a busy café. I start at 9am and finish at 5pm. I have a wee stool at work to sit on if I need to relieve the pressure in my legs when they start to feel heavy.
Does your oedema stop you doing anything?
It may take me a little longer to do things but it doesn’t stop me. I do have to be careful though, as anything too vigorous can cause bruising to my legs which is a symptom of lipoedema.
When do you remove your garments?
As I’ve just recently had surgery I am sleeping in one thigh high stocking but normally I would remove the compression about 19:30, before putting cream on my legs again.
I finish my day around 21:30 and 22:30 when I’m relieved to get my legs up!
Do you have a specific regime to manage your lymphoedema?
I do see my lymphoedema nurse regularly and my legs are measured for size and growth. I follow a skin care regime to prevent breaks and infection and I obviously wear my compression for at least 12 hours a day. I also try and control my diet to stop me gaining weight and to prevent a lot of inflammation.
How do you feel about your condition?
I feel ok about my condition, it took a while at first for it to sink in that I’ve got a condition that cannot be cured, but I’ve received the best treatment possible from Alana my lymphoedema nurse, the support is there whenever I need it.
To find out more about our Lymphoedema Care please call our Lymphoedema Team on 01900 705200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information can also be found HERE.