MAKING SELF CARE A HIGHER PRIORITY
My new year’s resolution is to make self care a higher priority. Working with lymphedema patients I’ve seen time and again how self care improves the quality of one’s life. I have never been very good at self care. I’m really good at taking care of everyone else. Being a caregiver is part of who I am and I doubt that will ever change. What I would like to change however, is my willingness and ability to take care of myself, to improve the quality of my life. My customers have helped me come to this realization – self care is self love.
PRIORITIZING YOUR HEALTH
One of my customers called the other day to order new ReadyWrap garments. The first time he had placed an order, we worked out a payment plan for him to help him purchase these garments. However, this time when he called he had saved up enough money not only to buy the wrap garments, but four pairs of extra liners so he didn’t have to do laundry every day. Now that’s what I call self care! Prioritizing his health, his well-being. I could tell that he was so proud of himself for saving and making his health a top priority – for taking care of himself.
PRESCRIPTION FOR LYMPHEDEMA
Compression garments can be expensive, I understand this. However, in the case of lymphedema, compression is comparative to a prescription drug. It should not be taken lightly. Knowing compression is part of the health care plan for lymphedema and that garments need to be replaced on a regular basis, setting aside a savings plan is one way to make it less painful. “Small, daily, seemingly insignificant contributions when done consistently over time lead to stunning results,” said Robin Sharma, [The 5am Club]. Isn’t your health worth it? Aren’t you worth it? I believe you are – I believe I am.
IF WE DON’T CARE, WHO WILL?
If this man can make the effort to take such good care of himself, why can’t I? Self care is such any easy thing to put off when you’re not in pain, isn’t it? So easy to skip that walk when it’s gray and cold outside. So easy to overeat and eat poorly during the holiday season. However, if we don’t care, who will? I heard the other day that relying on procedure is better than relying on personality. In other words, if we wait until we feel like doing it (personality), instead of doing what is scheduled (procedure), it will most likely never get done. Lymphedema is a progressive disease. The care you give to yourself now can make all the difference in the long run.
NOT JUST COMPRESSION GARMENTS
It’s not just the replacement and care of compression garments that constitutes self care for lymphedema, but it is a big one. Compression wears out – and when it does, it is not as effective as it once was. Usually a person can tell when their compression needs replacing: the stockings start to get way easier to get on, the Velcro no longer sticks as well on a wrap garment or the garment begins to slip on a regular basis. In general, if a stocking is worn everyday it should be replaced every four to six months to get optimal compression therapy. Wrap garments last a bit longer, as many users are able to get a full year of good compression out of a wrap garment.
BEYOND COMPRESSION GARMENTS
Beyond the compression, self care for those dealing with lymphedema should include care of your skin, especially in these dry winter months. Exercise to move lymph fluid is beneficial to all, but especially to those dealing with lymphedema. Other tactics, like being involved in a support group, helps to know you are not alone. Many local hospitals have support groups that you can join, but if not, check out the groups on social media. There is a lot we can learn from each other. Reach out!
SELF CARE = SELF LOVE
Self care is self love. To ignore caring for your lymphedema is sending a message to yourself that you are not important enough. Our attitude toward ourselves and our self care needs to improve. Only we can make this a priority in our lives. When we put ourselves last, no one benefits. If we truly want to be caregivers and help others, we must help ourselves first. You and your health are worth it, aren’t they? I believe mine is, what do you think?