Alexia's Story: "This will be the making of you..."
The shock of being told I probably had lipoedema floored me and reassured me at the same time.
Relief that my ‘Thunder Thighs’ nickname, though visually correct, was not my fault: years of finding random bruising explained, frequently contending with ‘heavy and tired’ legs to the extent that I often just didn’t want to sit down as the effort to stand up again was too much to bear, understanding why I would find ‘sock-marks’ around my ankles even when I hadn’t been wearing socks.
Floored because this diagnosis and subsequent google searches revealed that there was nothing I could do to prevent its inevitable progression. There were options of compression garments, but only if I could persuade my GP to prescribe some, and the very tough and rough choice of liposuction, probably abroad, at vast expense and not guaranteed to work, at least for a long time.
‘This will be the making of you’, quipped my husband who received a withering look through my tears. Little did I know that he would turn out to be right, and some.
Within a week or so, I attended a roadshow organised by Talk Lipoedema in Edinburgh where I heard lectures about food choices, liposuction practicalities, and other areas to do with the management of this adipose tissue disorder. Whilst there wasn’t much to learn that I hadn’t already read online, it was comforting to feel I wasn’t alone. It also gave me a determination that I would prove ‘them’ wrong about the inevitable progression.
This was over five years ago. I feel that I have read every study, science paper, blog, I have studied therapies, tried treatments, experimented with Chinese herbs, taken supplements available, you name it, I’ve done it!
This need to learn more encouraged me to formalise my health education - I qualified as a functional medicine certified health coach in 2021, learning about motivation and positive psychology on top of my nutrition background and then in September of last year I embarked on a two year Masters-level diploma in Integrative Medicine.
Being a nutritionist, I already understood about inflammatory foods but I started to experiment and noted effects. I realised that everyone is different and we will all have certain foods which cause the most problems: mine are, in order of severity, cow dairy, sugar, seed oils, gluten.
What I hadn’t realised until now was the physical effect stress can have. It is normally a couple of days before I notice my legs being inflamed.
Fasting has been a miracle for me too…even a simple 16 or 18 hour fast with only water can have a positive effect on my swollen legs. Snacking is a disaster for me, it plays havoc with my blood sugar levels and causes me to crave rubbish.
I concentrate on different forms of exercise, ensuring that I include stretching and mindfulness exercises, e.g. yoga and pilates, as well as cardio and strength routines. Walking fast up hill helps my lymphatic system and of course exercises my heart!
My journey of staying on top of my lipoedema will never be over but I feel I am in control of it. I no longer have sock marks and only very occasionally have heaviness when I have been in an unavoidable situation with food and/or stress. I am definitely happier and more confident than ever before my diagnosis…..am I ready to tell my husband that he was right all along??!!!