So my time at the Foldi Clinic has come to an end and I go home tomorrow. I’m excited to be going home after 5 weeks but I’m also nervous. I have worked so hard and achieved a great result – I have lost almost 8 litres of fluid from my legs!!! I’m delighted. But to maintain this I need regular manual lymph drainage massage and bandaging. And this is not available to me, to the level I require, in Ireland. My fellow German lymphoedema sufferers have this treatment twice a week. They get 3 pairs of shoes per year and leave Foldi with all the bandages they need, all financed by their health system. Ireland is far behind this.
So to maintain as I am, I need to bandage my legs every evening and keep walking. It won’t be easy, as I work full time, but in 5 weeks I have gone from not being able to walk to walking 3 miles yesterday with relative ease. This is amazing and I’m not going back to the way I was. I was really ill all summer, in hospital twice with sepsis but now I feel really good. My doctors here have advised me that this is just step 1 and I still have a lot of fluid in my legs. They want me to return in 6 months or no later than 12 months to further improve. So as soon as I’m home the battle starts again with the HSE to return.
I hope I’m not being too pessimistic here, I don’t mean to be but I do want to highlight the struggles lymphoedema patients face in accessing treatment and compression garments. I have learned that lymphoedema is a life long condition but it can be improved and maintained. 5 weeks in Germany is not easy but I leave here knowing how to bandage myself, 8 litres lighter and with two sets of compression stockings that fit to the millimetre.
Onwards and upwards….until next time.
- Foldi Klinik, Germany
- Wittlinger Clinic, Austria
- HSE Travel Abroad Scheme
- MLD Ireland – find a Therapist