“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss,
you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

Most of us are told growing up, if we are lucky, that there are no limits except those we impose on ourselves. We are encouraged to be independent, pioneering individuals; free thinkers who take the initiative and make our own paths in life. On the opposite end of the spectrum, those of us with Lymphedema are given strict limitations and told to confine ourselves to them while staying positive which can seem like a contradiction.

My right wrist has been stiff for the last few days and won’t pop. It is difficult to pick things up and my range of motion is limited. It’s a little swollen, all because I did something I normally do and didn’t think about it till after the fact.

Theatre de L'Elephant

I have been converting a box into a paper theatre for a Kickstarter video featuring a book project I am launching soon. I used my awl to poke holes into the top of the box. No big deal, but my wrist hasn’t been the same since. It was within my ability to do, and I didn’t want to wait all day for my husband to come home to ask him to do it for me. I don’t have an issue with asking for help if I really need it, but I don’t like piling more on my husband when he gets home from work. He’s a huge support, and would do it without complaint if I asked him, but I don’t like being a burden. So what it comes down to is the fact that I need to rearrange my own way of thinking about all of it, not his. It’s my insecurity about it, so I’ll reevaluate.

It is hard to reign yourself in when you have been so used to doing the simplest tasks for yourself. You feel like a burden, even to yourself, and it can add to the already potentially depressive lifestyle of LE. You have to rework your thinking, though, and be gentle with yourself. LE is a definite lifestyle disrupt, but you have to reset and reevaluate, pick your battles.

Taking my own advice, I came up with a few things.

Breaking Things Down

Some of the things I can do for myself to make it a little easier next time…

  • Make a list of all of the things that I need to get done, then figure out what my daughter could help me with and what I’ll need to ask my husband for help with. Most things, when I look at the list, my daughter could probably help me with so I won’t feel bad about hitting my husband with all of it.
  • Plan out projects ahead of time and schedule work sessions around the availability of help. In other words, don’t start on something I need help with in the morning when my husband is at work. It will just make me antsy all day and I’ll end up doing it myself so that it’s out of the way. There’s plenty of other things that I can do in the meantime. I’ll feel productive, I won’t endanger myself, and I won’t make myself crazy waiting.
  • Schedule help ahead of time for larger projects. Let my daughter and husband know that, for example, I want to move furniture on Saturday. That way they know how to plan and it is less stressful on everyone.
  • If you have a lot of little tasks that you need help with, schedule one block of time to get it all done.

Working on the paper theatre, there were several elements I should have had help on. Gluing and cutting paper, no problem. Scanning, no problem. Cutting the box and poking holes, ask for help. Using a pair of scissors to cut cardboard seems minor, but it can make hands and forearms swell. I have to look at what I can do, though, not what I can’t.

Photo Credit: angus clyne via Compfight cc

Being Like Water

All in all, the sky is still the limit. There is still so much we can do, even with LE, we just have to adapt and readjust. When I think of adaptation, I think of water. I am a water sign and adaptation has been a lifestyle for me, whether because of outside forces or my own doing. One of my favorite quotes about water that sticks with me is from Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha.

“Water is powerful. It can wash away earth, put out fire, and even destroy iron. (…)
Water can carve its way through stone. And when trapped, water makes a new path.”

Being like water means adapting to your environment. We all live in our own little biospheres inside of a larger world of organized chaos. Ever changing, we have to be able to adapt in order to survive. And, sometimes, no matter how much we plan, things happen and that’s ok. It is what it is. You learn, you adapt, you move forward.

Keep Moving Forward

Even if your pace is slow, as long as you keep moving forward you will see progress. Be gentle with yourself, it’s ok. Do what you can, plan ahead around the things you can’t to minimize frustration, and realize there are other ways to save the world.