The 'PhysioPod' - A Lifeline in Lymphoedema Self-Management during the COVID-19 Situation
"On March 12th of this year, I had my last swim for what may be a very long time. With my growing awareness of the COVID-19 situation, it felt as though self-isolation would be a sensible precaution for me to take. Alarmed and alert, but not panicking. All of us with long standing Lymphoedema know how important it is to take good care of ourselves, we’ve developed our strategies and we’ve taken them into our daily stride, haven’t we? And we deal with it.
I had Lymphoedema diagnosed first in 2004, several years after my first treatment for breast cancer. But it took another ten years before I realised that it wasn’t just affecting my arm, but was affecting my neck and trunk too.
I don’t think that mine is an uncommon story.
A second occurrence of breast cancer resulted in a mastectomy in 2017.
It was a bit of a set back (in so many ways!) but it had marked effects on the status of my Lymphoedema. We had to up our game!
So until the COVID-19 pandemic, my daily routine included swimming – which I love –with resistance exercises, also in the water. The water pressure is the equivalent of whole-body compression suit, you can work out without getting into a sweat, it keeps your muscles supple and flexible, it keeps you fit – yes, it does all the things that we know are great for managing Lymphoedema.
I kept it on an even keel, with MLD from Anna, my therapist, every three weeks – and I would love to have more if I could afford it!
And as these things weren’t always quite enough, I had my Deep Oscillation Personal (aka PhysioPod).
I had come to recognise those subtle signs that tell me that things are building up – the heaviness, the tightness, the actual pain if you don’t get your act together. The immediate effect of the machine on pain relief are scarcely believable - oh, but please, do believe it! The visible signs that the lymph has moved are incredible, the immediate softening of the taut, full uncomfortable skin, and the immediate remedying of those very firm spots that probably signal impending fibroses. It deals with all those things. It puts control back into my own hands, and that's really, really important for me.
But since my self-imposed lock down in March, I received a shielding letter on 24th April, because I'm considered vulnerable. I know I am not alone in this, and like many of you, I suspect, I felt sort of shocked by the reality of it. But the practicalities of it mean that I'm grounded until at least the end of June. So no swimming. And no MLD massage. And I wonder when I will be able to resume either of them, safely or at all.
Once again, a re-think of the self management!
I can do the necessary: the gentle stretches, the lightweight resistance exercises, the simple lymphatic drainage, and the deep breathing that I have been taught. But I know that even taken together, they won't do the whole job.
The PhysioPod will be my lifeline in this.
I have always rated it highly as part of my self-management routine.
But I know now that I can rely on it absolutely.
I'm so very grateful to have discovered it."
Patient Name Withheld
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