A question to the medical profession about lymphedema (and other diseases)

If any medical experts read my blog, tell me one thing, please, I am not sure about how to think with the following. Actually, it is not only lymphedema but can be applied to a big majority of physical illnesses.

My big question to the medical profession, using a real life example of lymphedema:

If a secondary lymphedema is due to lymph nodes being removed during a surgery, then I understand that the lymph system can’t be perfect any more, and “casual” swelling or lymphedema might develop right away or over time. Alright.

BUT.

How do you explain that even after years of such a surgery, with the not-so-well-working lymph system, a person’s leg can be much better than ever before in life, for months and months? And then some swelling every once in a while, and then again, legs will look fantastic, for another long period, with the defunct lymph system.

What happened?

In my case, lymph nodes were removed from the right side of my pelvic area in a cancer surgery in 2008.

Since then, my legs have gone through in very various phases. There were weeks or months with one or both feet and ankles or legs swollen, and there were times when there was no any swelling at all for months. Pretty mini skirts, sandals and heels, yay!

Andrea happy - legs happy... May or June 2009
Andrea happy – legs happy… May or June 2009

What I could definitely observe, was and is this: in each of those “happy leg” times, there was one thing in common, regardless of any other factors (given that diet or other lifestyle changes did influence it to some slighter degree): I was very happy about one particular circumstance in my life, and which had nothing to do with whether I had some lymph nodes in place or not. 

But then a bit later at some point, that circumstance has changed in a way that I did not like it, and my legs would swell up spectacularly and almost immediately.

Happy again about that same life situation: my legs were very happy, too.

Unhappy change in that situation again – legs swelling up unhappily again. And so on, and so on, in circles like these. In fact, my lymphedema started last summer a few days right after that this life situation I am talking about, has changed from a blissful one into something that has been giving me stress ever since.  

Andrea unhappy - legs unhappy... January 2015
Andrea unhappy – legs unhappy… January 2015

You can say that “it was not a causation, only a coincidence”, but I can confirm it with certainty that it was a causation. The two reasons for that I dare to claim this boldly, although I am not a doctor or any other “expert”, are:

  1. Please allow me to say this affirmatively about my own body that I have been observing for more than 40 years, and therefore to know that it reacts very well to changes, most often within days, hours or even minutes. (Within minutes, true! The other day, for example, I was walking home in the evening and I clearly remember the very moment when I was thinking about this problem in my life that made me more and more sad right there, and by the time I reached the other side of the river, I could feel my legs blowing up. If now anyone would call this “just a coincidence”, then there is no causation in this world.)
  2. This very same cycle (happy about one certain thing in life –> happy legs –> unhappy about the same thing –> unhappy legs) had been going around and around in my entire life, already way before my lymph nodes had been removed.

To which you might say that I had already had primary lymphedema, and the aftermath of my surgery in 2008 only added to the burden. Yes, that might be true, although I was never diagnosed with that.

Even if that would be the case, in my past 40+ years that I can recall, it went always like this: upset in legs began immediately after a certain type of emotional upset. Always, always, and always.

So tell me please,

and here is the question:

Doesn’t this make lymphedema a stress related disease, first of all?

How come that the only reason given for a secondary lymphedema in such a situation, is the missing lymph nodes? And therefore it is said that there is nothing that can cure the condition, because those small pieces of tissue in the body, are not there where they should be?

I can’t blame those small pieces of tissue that were gone missing from the right pelvic area of my body in January 2008, for the upset that that particular life situation has been giving me and apparently causing some kind of blockage in my system, life force, energy or whatever you call it, for more than four decades, can I?

Hence, if we suppose that I am not the only person on Earth with leg problems who have some kind of stress as well, we can also suppose that there can be emotional factors for developing lymphedema (or probably generally: swelling in the legs).

Therefore, wouldn’t it make it sense to look for the solution of curing lymphedema, in the direction of healing the emotional/mental reasons that might have caused it?

And why this area is not addressed by standard medicine?

“The cure of many diseases is unknown to physicians because they are ignorant of the whole… For the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” – Plato

Big questions of life. 2009 April.
Big questions of life. 2009 April.

Now, I had been already ridiculed a couple of times for asking such questions, by people who are all for Big Science and Conventional Medicine – but can somebody please give us answers from there? It is indeed known by conventional medicine (see for example this from Mayo Clinic: Chronic stress puts your health at risk), so why is the subject of emotional causes of diseases is handled just on the side, if at all?

Thank you in advance.

Related: 
Motivation Monday: Skeptics
How happiness makes you healthy – and how I really faced my cancer

Andrea GerakAndrea Gerák (also spelled as Gerak) is a Hungarian artist, mostly known as a singer. She is also photographing, dancing, writing, and forever learning through her journey in the world, living out of a suitcase. Her attention turned to healthy living after a cancer surgery in 2008. Proud mom of a big boy.

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4 thoughts on “A question to the medical profession about lymphedema (and other diseases)

  1. Maybe you can send these questions to the Lymphatic Education and Research Network.
    Stanley Rockson is a doctor at Stanford University that is doing a lot of research to find a cure for lymphedema.

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  2. Hi, Andrea. Great question/observation. I am not a doctor, but I have observed first-hand that our emotions DO manifest in our physical bodies. Here is an excerpt from my memoir that recaps my experience. I have come to believe that healing begins in our thoughts. I hope you will enjoy the following excerpt from my memoir, http://bit.ly/1UtGASQ, which exemplifies the power of the mind to heal.

    EXCERPT
    “Attention is what you focus on and for how long,” my psyche 201 instructor had said in class. “Remember it. It’ll be worth 10 points on your midterm.” But I didn’t get it.

    “You MUST main-tain FO-cus,” I repeated in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice every time I peered over the edge of a skyscraper.

    The power of positive thinking, the thought crept in from somewhere unknown.

    The phone rang again.

    “Hello. You have reached the technical support line at Energy Software. This is Gabrielle. Can I have your serial number please?”

    Between calls, I went to a search engine and typed in ‘the power of positive thinking,’ which directed me to a site that quoted Norman Vincent Peale. Interesting. I had no idea he founded Guideposts, the magazine Grandma Williams had been subscribing for me for Christmas for years, but like the old Readers Digests, they soon gathered dust in a stack on a bookcase.
    I began to read something about how our minds are not just in our brains as some tend to think. Our minds permeate every cell in our bodies. And whether real or imagined, our bodies react to every positive—and negative—thought. What we think is our reality.3

    ~ ~ ~
    The next morning I felt like shit. I looked like shit, too. As my tiny, crusty eyes peeked out over mounds of cheek, I noticed the tips of my bra crinkled without enough flesh to fill them. I must have finally lost a pound. Whoop-de-doo. As I looked at my reflection in the mirror I played back the quote I read from the power of positive thinking website: What you think permeates every cell of your body.

    “You create your own reality,” I spoke out loud to the mirror.

    Oh, my god! I think I finally get it! …

    ~ ~ ~

    During my layover in Detroit, I sat at a deli counter sipping a beer, waiting for a cheeseburger. A little old man hobbled in with a walking stick and looked around. I would have ignored him, as if he didn’t count in the world, the old me. But it occurred to me that God created him, too. I moved my bag off the seat next to me and smiled at him with a nod.

    He winked at me as he mounted the stool.

    “It’s a beautiful day in America,” he said.

    I listened to the charming man tell me delightful stories about his adventures in London. I smiled and laughed as I ate my cheeseburger, the whole thing, without gagging at all. The anxiety that had long ago spun its cocoon in my belly, randomly hurling itself against the lining of my stomach, rattling my rib cage like an erratic Mexican jumping bean, hatched at last into the most beautiful yellow butterfly. I felt utter peace and joy, perhaps the sensations I’ve heard baby-faced preachers talk about when they’re drumming up donations, feelings I usually associated to baloney.

    Word got out to every cell in my body: Running to and fro, from body to brain to soul, my blood cells rejuvenated me, healing the pink veins in my eyes, erasing the blotches and smoothing the wrinkles from my face, reshaping my eyes, draining my bloated lids and bags, drawing out the tension that had long been stored in every nerve and muscle of my body, untying the knots in my stomach, flashing beams of light into the darkness of my heart, and watering the parched desert in my soul. Looking and feeling like a new person, I returned to my father’s house in the springtime feeling like one who had just returned from a long winter storm. As the plane began its descent over Dallas, I heard Adrienne Rich’s voice.

    I go down…
    I came to explore the wreck…
    I came to see the damage that was done

    And the treasures that prevail.7

    I had never heard of the illness before, until I read your post, so keep up the good work.
    I wish you the best of health.

    Sincerely,
    Gabrielle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Gabrielle! I am happy to meet yet another person who knows about the power of mind over the body!
      What a story…

      I am following you now on Twitter, from my main account.

      Be well!
      Andrea

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