Sunday, January 22, 2012

Frustrations over John's health--Lymphedema

John has had swelling of his legs for at least a year. I think it is related to the stiffness that comes from the Parkinson's, but I can't find any literature on that.  His family practitioner said his heart was fine and prescribed diuretics to be taken when needed, but after 6 months or so those stopped working.  If his legs stay swelled he gets sores on his legs because the skin is so tight it cannot heal.  Finally he ended up at a physical therapist who seemed to know what to do, though she said it wasn't any of the usual forms of lymphedema.  She wrapped his legs in pressure bandages and told him to order velcro-closed leggings which he hopefully can put on himself (at considerable expense--medicare pays for the therapist and her wrappings but not for the leggings).
She saw him twice, then told him he should take off the wrappings when he showered over the weekend and then put them back on.  Or rather that I should.  No instructions.  I guess I should have gone with him.  It actually didn't take as long to do as I expected, but I can't figure out how to do the feet smoothly.  For the first time I am thankful he refuses to shower more than twice a week.  His legs are much better.

That was Saturday afternoon, since it takes him about two hours to shower and soak his feet between unwrapping and wrapping.  This morning he needed my help to catheterize himself, as he had gone out to dinner with a friend and become unable to urinate.  He left a message for the urologist about that last week, and the urologist said it sounded like a bowel problem triggering it and he should get a gastroenterologist to help him with the bowel problem.  Only there isn't any fixing John's tendency to swing between constipation and diarrhea, so that isn't realistic. 
Then this morning he needed a lot of help getting dressed, as it is harder to put on his pants and shoes over the bandages. It takes care, and our son who usually helps him isn't good at that. We did get out to lunch with his 100 year old aunt.


Update on the Lymphedema.  The wrapping works!  The wraps are easier, but he can't do them himself.  The therapist knew he wouldn't be able to do pressure stockings himself.

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