Lymph is Good
chronicles the journey of an active 30-something Dallas-ite trying to keep her head up while grappling with primary lymphedema.


Last week I wrote about Option B and the mindset of resiliency. Sheryl Sandberg writes about the 3 P’s in her book, borrowing the framework from a professor at UPenn. Permanence is the third of the 3P’s. Sandberg defines it as “nothing will ever be the same again.” (Forgive me, I’m taking these P’s out of order.)

I recall receiving my diagnosis and then looking at my life and wondering “what is one thing that doesn’t change?”... and … “can the room just stop spinning… please?” I recall lying down on the floor wondering if I would be able to make it through the next few minutes without a leg-oriented thought/issue. My entire life appeared to be affected. 

Almost six months later I recall having the conversation ticking off the routines of my day that were affected inclusive of my workouts, meals, self-care / morning and night, seating arrangements, transportation options… the list seemed endless with no activity escaping. 

But then, after a few weeks where everything in my life felt changed (aka rocked) I started to build new routines… as one does… naturally. Looking back on those first few weeks, I was definitely in the mindset of “nothing will ever be the same” until I figured out how to incorporate the newness of the situation into everything. Everything was different, but the same. 

The diagnosis of a chronic condition (one without a cure / one that will invariably be a part of your life for the rest of your life) has been equated to a death in the family for me. The feelings that I feel are ones of grief. You can never go back to having that person in your life… much in the same way that my leg will never return to the size and feeling that it once was/had. I’m grieving. 

Sandberg talked about Jewish traditions, which resonated for me, and how long grieving periods were supposed to last. (I’ll give you a hint… they aren’t forever.) At some point, depending on if the deceased is a family member or a spouse, traditions ask you to move on and get back to the rest of your life. 

For me to build resilience, I have to seamlessly incorporate my condition into my life: find compression that I like to wear for workouts, find activities that keep me fit, create a relaxing environment for my daily compression, seek out clothing that fits and flatters my body without compromising my style, and make the appropriate adjustments to my lifestyle to accommodate my elevation needs… not even mentioning the accommodations to my diet. Under no circumstances was I expected to do this all at once… nor without processing how much this condition sucks. But, for me to build the resilience necessary to thrive with this condition, it must be done. 

Primary lymphedema will not affect everything in my life… as long as I take control of the things that need to change and make the choices to change what’s necessary to change. Everything will go back to “normal”... it will just be “the new normal.”