A short narrative I wrote a few weeks ago when I first started to think about making a blog:
I’m home for the weekend and my mom and I decide to go to the grocery store. What would usually be a normal experience feels anything but. In my new Tevas you can clearly see my larger left foot which is covered in a beige compression garment. It’s never been my favorite thing to look at but right now I feel content.
My mom and I are going to what is basically the only grocery store in my small hometown, which is often known as the place you will see everyone you know. This is my first time openly wearing my compression garment in such a familiar place. Typically, I’d avoid letting my swollen left leg be shown at any cost. I’d rather not get the questions about “What happened?” or “What is that you are wearing?” but this time, that all doesn’t matter. I’m thinking, “People can ask me questions, people can stare and wonder but it’s not going to change how I feel.”
At this same time a year ago, I was wrapped from toe to thigh in bulky, hot foams and bandages. This is a necessary component to treating what causes the swelling in my leg, lymphedema.
I had to take a month off work so I could drive an hour away daily to get manual lymph drainage treatments (a gentle massage that moves lymph fluid out). And in all honesty, it was just plain hard. The wraps were uncomfortable, making it hard for me to sleep at night and they were hot during the day when all I wanted to do was hang out in the summer sunshine.
Although the physical discomfort didn’t make things easy, the most painful part was the emotional discomfort I experienced. Never had I felt so alone. I’d often hear about my friends latest outdoor adventures together while I found it hard to walk from one side of my house to the next in all the bandages. Most of all, I didn’t feel worthy. I felt abnormal, not able to do normal things, I felt stuck.
There was so much shame, even a year ago, that I’ve struggled to overcome my whole life, and here I am sitting here in the car and it all doesn’t matter?
I think about what’s led me to this point of acceptance and there’s a powerful experience behind it with many supportive people along the way who have offered nothing but unconditional love, acceptance and empathy. And still, the most impactful change has been the way I look at myself – not the way others look at me.
Does this condition make me beautiful or does it make me imperfect?
The answer is both. I am beautiful because I am imperfect. I am beautiful because I’ve reached beyond what could have otherwise been devastating to find purpose through my flaws. And most importantly, I am beautiful because I am willing to be myself.
I’m here to share my journey to foster connections with others who might be feeling alone and to spread awareness about life with a chronic condition.