As I sat at the table doing my regular research and writing tasks, I noticed a disturbing occurrence. I peered down at my feet to see a gathered puddle, at which I immediately thought, “That dog has peed on the floor!” I was perplexed because we regularly walked the dog (God bless his departed soul) and he rarely had an accident. I got up and quickly got a paper towel and cleaner to wipe the tile floor, wondering what had gotten into Bobo for him to have such an unforeseen problem.
I sat down again and continued my work. After an hour or so passed by, I looked down, and to my amazement, another puddle of liquid had gathered there. I checked the table, over and under. Had something spilled of which I was unaware? There were no glasses or cups on the table and nothing wet on or under the table. Then I realized, one of my legs had issued a straw-colored fluid that had accumulated at my feet. Shocked, I began to put two and two together. As a result of my lymphedema, my leg was leaking!
This was not the first time that I had noticed lymph fluid coming from my leg. I had seen bilateral leg wounds with mild seepage that had been generally cared for through the compression wrapping process at my lymphedema treatment clinic. When left unattended in the past, those wounds would ulcerate. Until I was diagnosed with lymphedema, I wondered why I had often incurred cellulitis, experienced elevated white cell counts, and faced multiple hospitalizations.
When associated with lymphedema, this leaking process, I later found out, is known as lymphorrhea, and often accompanies this condition (Zuther, 2019). Also known as “weeping edema,” it can also be a symptom of other conditions to include diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney damage, cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, and weakness or damage to veins in the legs (Yaneff, 2018). Because of the multitude of possible causes, it is best to consult a doctor as early as the condition occurs.
I was amazed that my condition had been prevalent for so long without anyone in the medical field directing me for treatment. Christine Heptig, occupational therapist and certified lymphedema specialist at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia writes, “Many people go undiagnosed with lymphedema for significant periods of time, allowing the condition to quickly advance, even potentially leading to infections — due to the lack of blood flow and increased swelling — and other severe complications. Education and early detection are essential for effective lymphedema treatment.” (Heptig, n.d.).
I had to apologize to my dog for wrongly accusing him but I did have a revelation of how important it is to consider this health issue. I hope that my experience will help to inform someone else who might be wondering why their leg, arm, or other parts might be leaking in what appears an abnormal way. We encourage those who are having such issues to be part of our Spark Team, Lymphedema Supporters, where we can discuss how to stop the leaking and prevent more pets from being scolded.
Heptig, C. (n.d.). Q&A: What is lymphedema? Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 10, 2020, from https://www.inquirer.com/healt
Yaneff, J. (2018, January 31). Weeping Edema: Causes, Symptoms, and Diabetes Link. Doctors Health Press - Daily Free Health Articles and Natural Health Advice. https://www.doctorshealthpress
Zuther, J. (2019, May 29). Leakage of Lymph Fluid, a.k.a. Lymphorrhea. “Lymphedema Blog.” Retrieved August 10, 2020, from http://www.lymphedemablog.com/