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Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema Online & in the Community

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This article was first produced in LymphLine and was also posted to Facebook, written by Andy Wilson

 

At 13 years old, a simple sprained ankle caused swelling in my right leg. This swelling never went down and after months of research (by my dad) we finally met Dr. Keeley. I owe so much to this doctor and he has been with me for 19 years and I dread the day he retires. He diagnosed me with primary lymphoedema. From that day and every day that followed I wear support bandages on my whole leg to help reduce the swelling!

At 17 a dislocated knee cap (4 in total) caused swelling around the knee which spread down my right leg. This meant wearing bandages below my knee and over my foot. The swelling, constant pain, daily stress of the bandages and trying to find jeans that fit my legs is part of it and with time you find a way around it. For me personally there are three major issues that I have and were a lot harder to deal with and still to this day I can't find a way around it.

  • I'm prone to infection.
  • A little knock, cut and stubbed toe leads to cellulitis.
  • A form of blood poisoning which with antibiotics and rest passes.

Well in most cases anyway. I am fine one minute but then a burning pain comes in my leg. Now I know I'm in trouble. Luckily, I have the person who knows me better than I know myself, my wife. She knows when it's an infection or I'm just tired and achy. Within half an hour I need to be in hospital on IV antibiotics. I get very poorly. On one occasion ending up on intensive care with pneumonia after being admitted with cellulitis. Months spent in hospital and many tests we are still unsure why I'm hit as hard as I am. This is terrifying not just for me but for my young family.

I'm a strong lad and have a great family and friends who support me so I will keep coming back stronger. The second issue I have is I battled with depression. How can a sport mad 13-year-old with dreams of becoming a sportsman have all his dreams shattered by a condition no one has ever heard off? I just got on with it at a young age but 5 years ago it hit me and I struggled. Again, with the right support from doctors and my family and friends I got through it and I'm stronger now than I was then.

My final issue and one I'm not sure I will ever beat is my confidence. Yes, people know I have lymphoedema and know it makes me ill but very rarely do I let people see my legs. Wearing trousers in summer just to hide the "tights," "stockings" I wear because of the cruel judgmental people who would rather stare than ask. I have always been confident and as some would say cockey when I'm on a sports field or in a bar but when it comes to my legs I hate the idea that people stare at me.

The pictures I have put with this post are the first time I have posted pictures on Facebook. This is a long post and some won't read it and I don't care if they don't.

I have had the honour of attending several events and speaking to parents and young sufferers of this horrible condition and if I can inspire just one person then it's worth the hassle. I played football to a very high standard, I travelled the world playing cricket whilst fighting the condition. I will keep doing what I do and pushing myself to the limit. I take strength from my family (especially my beautiful brace little girl) and friends! You must live your life and make the most of it because you never know when it will be taken away. I ask my fellow lymphies to share this and pass on my details to anyone who wants help. I'm proud of me, I'm proud of what I have done and most of all I'm proud of being a lymphoedema ninja!!!

Thank you to Andy Wilson for allowing me to print his article.

    

 
Photographs published with the permission of Andy Wilson the sportsman, happily married and family man, he is truly inspirational and the photographs show despite having lymphoedema he leads a full and happy life.
 
 

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