My name is Georgia. I’m from rural northern California, and I’ve had primary Lymphadema since I was about 6 months old. The majority of swelling is in my legs and feet, but my hands and arms are swollen as well. As a kid, I didn’t let my swelling slow me down much. I ran and played just as hard as the other kids. I couldn’t always keep up, but I sure could throw, and I wouldn’t hesitate to slow my brother down with a well-aimed pebble. My lymphedema wasn’t a major concern. At 10 years old I started compression therapy for the first time ever. This is where my lymphie story really begins. At this point, my calves were quite literally the size of basketballs. For a year my dad drove us twice a week to the city, a 3-hour round trip, for my appointments. There I would have my legs measured and wrapped up like a mummy with compression bandages and foam.

The wrapping went all the way up my legs and made it impossible to walk or dress normally. I wore them all week every week for over a year. It was stressful, it was painful, and I didn’t feel much like a kid anymore. That was a very hard time in my life. On the bright side, my dad would take me to get a new book after every appointment. I would finish an entire novel before we even got home. That’s how I learned to find comfort in stories. I’ll always be grateful to my dad for that. After we finished lymphie boot camp, we were left to manage my swelling at home. My dad would wrap my legs and help me do the lymphatic massage. He would try to convince me to wear my compression stockings, but the stockings and I never did get along. I eventually became a teenager and I flat out refused to do any of it. He couldn’t make me, and he couldn’t convince me. It was to hard and I just wasn’t interested.

I think that must have been so hard for my dad. So, from about 15 to 22 I did absolutely nothing to treat my lymphedema. My legs returned to pre-therapy basketball size. Over those years I had countless cellulitis infections. I even had Toxic Shock Syndrome and Sepsis from a strep infection in my leg. By the age of 22/23 I was really starting to feel the limitations of my condition. I wanted to hike, swim, explore, and travel. I wanted to enjoy my life, and having the equivalent of two-gallon size water jugs attached to each leg was making that difficult. That drove me to start doing the bare minimum to care for my legs, at least. Something is better than nothing. My quality of life did improve, and my infections became less frequent. My real wakeup call was coming, though. I had another cellulitis infection, so I thought. I’m a bit of a frequent flyer at my local hospital. With my first few infections they flew me out to a bigger hospital, but by now this was just a run-of-the-mill thing and none of us were alarmed. We did the usual things, but I got worse. That wasn’t normal. It turned out that I had a staph infection that had spread through my entire body. It took a while to beat it but thankfully we did. When I got home from the hospital my entire body, even my face, was so much more swollen than I had ever been before. My whole family was shaken. I think that was the first time that we really realized what could happen, I know it was for me. I had been in the ICU with toxic shock as a teen, but the gravity of that experience didn’t really sink in at the time. This was the first time that I realized that my life literally depended on my willingness to care for my body.

So, anyway. I’m 27 now. I wear my Circ Aids all the time, and I’d say we’re friends. I even dabble in flat-knit compression garments. I just got my very first ever pair of lace-up hiking shoes, I even get to wear denim jeans. I haven’t had a serious infection since 2019, and even minor ones are rare. I get to look forward to all the same possibilities as my peers, and my life is not dictated by my lymphedema, rather lymphedema is just part of my life. That’s my lymphie story so far, every day is new and different.