A to Z Blogging Challenge 2020 Health: E is for Edema

Over the years I’ve had some problems with swollen ankles and hands, but that really became a problem last summer. My feet swelled so badly that I couldn’t wear shoes. The skin on my feet and legs felt so tight, I thought it would rip open and in a sense it did… I developed a radiation ulcer on the back of my leg where I had had two Lymphoma tumors, treated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In the past year and half, my feet and legs balloon up and excess water drains out of the ulcer. I’ve had to resort to cut apart diapers to absorb the moisture.

My doctors, wound specialists and I have tried a variety of things to attempt to get this thing to close up and heal, but nothing has worked. First we tried topical oxygen therapy when it was thought that an hyperbaric chamber might help, but there wasn’t one close enough to go to four days a week for 10 weeks. After 6 months of this, not much had changed. We tried Juzo compression wraps but they were hot, uncomfortable and a pain to put on. They also didn’t stay up very well and slipped down until they were bunched around my ankle. I dislike wearing socks so these were not a favorite.

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After the Juzos, I discovered Air Compression Boots, that not only felt better, worked even better. Sitting with my feet up on an ottoman while the boots did their work was relaxing and calming and did even more than wearing the Juzos for 12 hours.

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I’ve also now accepted that I’m going to have take Diuretics on a daily basis, something I resisted for months. When I was in the hospital they gave me Lasix. Now I’m on Bumax. When I first started taking this drug, I was up every five minutes to pee. I guess my body is adapting because now I can go for 10-15 minutes before each potty break.

I’ve also come to terms with the idea that all of this for treating edema in my legs is going to a long term project. Edema happens when your small blood vessels leak fluid into surrounding tissues. Between the damage from the car accident, treatment for two cancer tumors and now this ulcer, the circulation in my legs ain’t what it use to be. I’m due to see a vascular surgeon eventually to see if surgery will help with this, but I have my doubts that it will. There is just too much damage on that one leg.

So, for now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing along with the other guidelines of fighting edema; Movement, Elevation, Massage, Compression (the boots help with these last three), and Reduce salt intake. I’ve been on a low salt diet since last summer and it helps. I’ve also discovered that salty foods now taste awful for me… I can’t eat pizza or fish and chips anymore. I’ve also discovered one other thing.

Getting old sucks!!

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2 thoughts on “A to Z Blogging Challenge 2020 Health: E is for Edema

  1. Edema is common for people with kidney failure, because the body can’t process fluid. So before my husband’s transplant, the doctors were always very concerned about edema. He only ever had mild swelling, luckily. But I’m very familiar with medications like furosemide and colchicine, which did double duty to act as a water pill and a gout preventative.

    When he had his last two surgeries (thoracic and transplant), he came out of the operating room with something similar to those boots. It was like an air massage system for his lower legs. The point being to reduce/prevent swelling from circulatory issues.

    Sometimes modern medical contraptions are bizarre (even if they *do* make sense).

    Besides the inconvenience factor, do you feel your diuretic is working?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first time I ever experienced those boots was also after surgery, after I had a hysterectomy. I thought they were wonderful and wanted to take them home. Fourteen years later I finally got my own and they were definitely worth the time and expense. Yes, I think the diuretic is finally working, but I sure fought against it. I think my body is finally adapting to it and so I’m able to adapt to it better emotionally. I have a love-hate relationship with the scale, so it’s been a hard struggle having to weigh myself each day. It took me years to stop doing that and now I’m back at it. I now realize the weight isn’t to record my body size, but to watch for spikes of water weight that could indicate more water around my lungs and heart. So far no problems with my kidneys and bladder so I guess I’m doing everything right. I read about your husband’s challenges. I hope he is doing better now and you both can get back to the fun stuff.

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