Huge knees due to lymphedema:
Now I’ve got my life back
Lymphedema:Esther Soegaard is 77 years old. She suffers from lymphedema and is unable to raise her own legs. Esther got a RotoBed® three years ago.
Due to lymphedema, my legs are so swollen that the perimeter of my knee is 92 centimeters, and I can’t lift my legs up into bed by myself.
For many years, my life was controlled by the caregivers’ schedule. Before I was approved for a RotoBed®, I had help from caregivers in my home up to six times a day. Their schedule said they would arrive at 12:30 to help me get into bed for my nap, which meant I had to finish lunch before that.
In the evening, I was put to bed between 21:30 and 22:30 depending on what suited the municipality’s program. It was frustrating not being able to go to bed when I wanted and even worse if I had guests. They would have to leave the house before the helpers arrived no matter if we were having a good time and I might be in the middle of a game of cards with a good hand. When I had my night-toilette, I often sat and waited for the helpers to come and get me back to bed. This resulted in really poor sleep quality.
When I got the RotoBed® fully automatic, I could suddenly get into bed without help. I stopped having a nap every day since I slept much better at night, and assistance from caregivers has been reduced to twice a day. Now I eat when I am hungry and not because the caregivers will soon arrive.
The RotoBed® has given me great quality of life. I, not the caregivers’ schedule or the municipality, control my life. And when I calculate what this bed saves the municipality in hours of care, I expect everyone is happy.
What is Lymphedema?
The lymph system is an important part of the body’s immune system. It is a network of lymph nodes, ducts or vessels, and organs that work together to collect and carry clear lymph fluid through the tissues to the blood. When the lymph fluid circulates in the body, it brings with it white blood cells which help the body fight infections.
If the lymphatic system is damaged, the lymph fluid is not transported away adequately and a swelling called a lymphedema can occur.
A distinction is made between primary and secondary lymphedema:
Occurs due to malformations in or deficient development of the lymphatic system. The swelling is most often seen in adolescence or when the patient is 30-40 years of age. In rare cases, primary lymphedema is seen at birth.
Occurs if the lymphatic system is damaged e.g. after surgery and / or radiation therapy. This could, for instance, be in an arm after breast cancer surgery where lymph nodes in the armpit have been removed or in a leg after surgery in the abdomen where lymph nodes in the groin have been removed.
In the Western world, most cases of secondary lymphedema occur as a late consequence of cancer treatment. The swelling can occur right after the treatment or several years after.
Symptoms of lymphedema
The first symptoms of lymphedema may be swelling, heaviness and tension, discomfort, tingling, pain or stiffness in the affected part of the body. In the beginning, the swelling will subside at night, but if left untreated, it becomes permanent.
A lymphedema is not dangerous, but can cause major discomfort if left untreated.
With surgery and chemotherapy, you may experience a transient swelling that is not necessarily a sign of lymphedema.
Compression is the most efficient treatment of lymphedema. The goal of the treatment is to reduce the swelling and thus the discomfort by means of compression bandage (bandaging). Also massage, scin care and exercises are part of the treatment.