Yesterday, I had another breakdown. One of those shoulder-shaking, sobbing-your-eyes-out, keening sort of ones that had me weeping on my mom’s bed, holding my face in my hands, cursing myself and my leg for almost an hour. I’ve since gotten over it and have moved forward, but I figured I’d talk a bit about it on here.
There were several factors that brought it on, the first being my various appointments I had that day; therapy and the fitting for my garment. I was overwhelmed with this sense of permanence, a feeling of never escaping this routine, that I couldn’t stand it. I began to panic, worrying that I’ll never be “normal,” that my life will be defined by my legs. Obviously, this is not the case. I know that I – we – cannot let the lymphedema dictate our lives or how we live them. If I’ve learned anything from you guys, it’s exactly that! So after some rational discussion with my mom, and my own personal reflection on things you all have said, I was able to breathe in, breathe out, and move forward.
The second reason was a little harder to get over, and although I’ve gotten past the emotional explosion, I’m still grappling with it intellectually. There is a program I wish to take part in, where I would be traveling to a developing country (most likely in South East Asia) and helping out with the communities there. For me, it’s important because I’d be doing something worthwhile, seeing the world, and developing myself spiritually. Excited, I pulled up the website for my mom and told her all about it. Instead of enthusing with me, however, her immediate concern was how this would affect my lymphedema.
“Alexa,” she said, looking at me with worry. “It’s really hot in those places. And the bugs… if you get bitten, it’s different from if somebody else were to get bitten. You really need to be careful.”
Aaaand cue breakdown.
I think I got so upset because I felt like the lymphedema was holding me back – yet again – from doing something. Or having the freedom to do anything. Freedom from garments and extra planning, freedom from constant treatment. Lymphedema feels, instead, like a shackle keeping me in one static place.
Where I am now is a lot better than where I was yesterday, however. I’ve accepted that this is something that won’t go away, so I have to treat it accordingly. It’s a part of me, yeah, but it’s not me. I am separate from it. So… I’m going to continue discussions with my parents about traveling with this program, and talk with a doctor about what it means to go abroad with my lymphedema. I’ve traveled a lot before, but never to developing countries or tropical areas, so I’m not sure what extra precautions there will be for me. But I want to do this, so fingers crossed!
I’m going to have the lymphedema work for me. I’m going to take care of it, yes, and I’m going to make sure I don’t put any unnecessary stress upon it, but I’m also going to do the things that are important to me. I won’t let it keep me down or hold me back. Yes, it’s okay to break down now and then – everyone needs a good cry sometimes – but in no way will I allow that to be the way that I deal with the unchangeable.