‘Lipedema will always be part of my life’
Lipedema patient Anna tells us about her liposuction and about what’s changed for her since.
Being ill was something Anna initially didn’t want to admit to herself. Way too often she was told: ‘being fat is your own fault.’ – until she believed it herself. It was only when another person with lipedema addressed the issue that Anna allowed herself to consider the illness a possible reality. However, she still shied away from going to a specialist. After one terrible night during which she hardly got any sleep due to the pain, it was her husband who made the decision for her: ‘We’re going to the doctor!’ He continued standing by her side during all subsequent decisions and gave her a feeling of self-worth: ‘For him, it was never about my body but about me as a person.’ Today, Anna is glad she had all this support. That’s also why it’s so important to her to share her experiences with others.
She’s been living with her lipedema diagnosis since 2008. After the first short relief of knowing she wasn’t responsible for her illness, a tremendous anger overcame her. Anger at her own body because she had attached her self-worth to it for way too long.
I built myself a protective shield to block out all the insults and pain.
In order to learn how to deal with her illness, Anna first went to a rehab clinic for lymph issues where she was introduced to conservative therapy. Regardless, it was still quite difficult for her afterwards to receive prescriptions for manual lymph drainage and compression stockings. She sometimes even had to wear her flat-knit compression stockings at night to tolerate the pain. Despite a lot of exercise, such as ballet or workouts at the gym, her condition worsened. The symptoms got so bad that they started having a major impact on her private life and her job: ‘I work in a nursery where you constantly have to sit down on the ground and get up again. That was extremely demanding. Every touch by the children hurt.’ Before long, more problems came along: hip, knee and joint pain, high blood pressure – let alone the emotional burden. Anna came to the decision to make a change. She wanted to look forward to her future again and pursue her passions like travelling and sport without having to suffer major physical and emotional pain.
There are still certain things that feel special: every breeze of air on my skin which I am now able to feel and every touch that doesn’t hurt anymore.
Having a healthy body is a gift
She kept thinking about liposuction more and more, spoke to her medical consultant and considered the different surgical options. Eventually, she decided upon a waterjet-assisted liposuction method. A few months later, she had her first operation. Through the liposuction, she did not only lose her lipedema fat, but also a lot of the problems. Finally, she was able to move freely again without having to suffer severe pain; she was able to exercise again and wear whatever she felt like. Since then, a lot has changed for Anna: ‘I have realised that the illness had an impact on more than just my body. Apart from the physical changes, I have finally found inner peace and continue to savour this! It was only once I was rid of lipedema that I could truly see my real self.’
Coping with this change was no easy feat. Anna first had to learn to trust her own body. She doesn’t take her newly acquired freedom for granted: ‘There are still certain things that feel special: I love going for walks – back in the day, I could only manage about 20 minutes before the pain kicked in. There are still certain things that feel special: every breeze of air on my skin which I am now able to feel and every touch that doesn’t hurt anymore. Having a healthy body is such a beautiful gift. I am incredibly grateful for it.’
Today, Anna doesn’t only want to encourage others with the illness. She also hopes ‘that the mental burden and repercussions will be taken more seriously and might one day also start being addressed during treatment.’
A real #LipödemMutmacher
In Anna’s Instagram posts, mindfulness, self-love and a zest for life play a major role. Her body has been cured of the lipedema, but the illness is still a part of her life. That’s why Anna supports the initiative #LipödemMutmacher with her posts. Here, she shares the small things in life which are worth fighting for – friendship, love and the path to finding your inner peace.
The initiative #LipödemMutmacher is aimed at women who share their daily challenges with lipedema. By collecting posts from different people who are affected by lipedema, we’re creating an information platform that is unique in its kind.