Lipoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition where there’s an abnormal build-up of fat cells in the legs, thighs and buttocks, and sometimes in the arms. The condition usually only affects women, although in rare cases it can also affect men.
Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell.
We spoke to Face of Yours winner – Khristie Marie Lawton about her life and what it’s like to live with Lipoedema and Lymphedema.
My diagnosis hasn’t been easy sailing, it took me years to finally be diagnosed with Lipoedema and Lymphedema. My legs would swell up 5x the size and I was unable walk, yet I was told I had been bitten by a bug or that I’m too young to have this condition. It was a hard fight to find out what was actually wrong with me.
Some days I was left unable to walk, the pain was so severe my legs would give way and I physically couldn’t stand. I’m an extremely hard worker, at the time of my diagnosis I was working five jobs as well as earning my degree. Now I’m unable to work like I did, because I physically cannot do it anymore, the pain is unbearable. The Doctors tell me I need to find a job where my legs can be elevated at all times to help with swelling, yet they tell me I need to go on a strict exercise regime. Finding exercise that doesn’t leave me bed bound for days and crying in pain is easier said than done.
However, no amount of exercise will ever make my legs slimmer, in fact, the reality is my condition will only get worse and my limbs will get bigger.
I’ve never been one to moan to people about my condition because I have so much to be thankful for. However, it really does affect my every day life. Finding clothing to fit me, being brave enough to wear a swimsuit on holiday, fighting trolls who don’t understand there’s nothing I can do, and physically and mentally dealing with the pain on a daily basis.
My reason for mentioning my condition is to raise awareness, for those who may have the condition but haven’t been diagnosed, to those who have been diagnosed and to those who are completely unaware.
I want to change the stigma of the condition, I no longer want people to refer to it as people who are ‘fat and lazy and don’t want to lose weight’, because if you know the struggle I’ve had to lose it, you would understand this isn’t the case.
If you struggle with the above, Lymphoedema Support Network is here to help. “Please know you are not alone, over 240,000 men, women and children in the UK live with lymphoedema/chronic oedema. Whether you are newly diagnosed, are concerned that you may be at risk, live with or care for someone with the condition, or are a Health Care Professional interested in Lymphoedema, the LSN is here for you.”