Q: I've been diagnosed with lymphedema of the leg — a swelling caused when your body's lymph system doesn't drain properly.  My right lower leg has swollen to the extent that I can't see the ankle.  It's really getting me down, as even getting into a pair of shoes is difficult.  I wear compression tights, but is there anything else I can do to remedy this condition?

A: Your emotional response is entirely understandable — anyone in your situation would feel the same.  Talking to a close friend about how you feel might help. For the lymphedema try the Sun Ancon Chi Machine: you lie flat on the floor, place your feet on the machine and it rhymically wobbles your legs.  It sounds odd, but it's actually extremely relaxing — I've tried it — and its been clinically proven to help reduce they symptoms of lymphedema.  It isn't cheap but it's a worthwhile investment.

Dr Mark Atkinson's Health Page
NOW magazine, 16th March, 2005, p.54
I tried a Chi Machine that the hospital (Royal Hallamshire, Sheffield) were trialling.  I was very impressed with the machine and bought one for my own use which I now use twice a day and wouldn’t be without.  I don’t think it makes a vast improvement to the shape of the leg in the short term although I have a feeling that this will probably improve over a much longer period of time.  But what I do find is that the limbs feel differen.  If I don’t use the machine for some reason then my leg reverts to feeling full and tight, so the machine definitely helps with my mobility.
Hazel Lockwood
Sheffield, UK

Hazel kindly gave permission to use this testimonial (an extract from a talk she gave to around 100 healthcare professionals at a Lymphoedema awareness day.)

Six years ago I was diagnosed with Milroy’s Disease causing lymphoedema throughout my body, and in that time I have gained twenty-five kilos of fluid in the tissues, which has caused toxin build-up and other problems.  Two years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and sleep apnoea.  Three months ago I was depressed and desperate, as all treatments I had tried for the pain and swelling had failed and I was getting bigger.  I was in complete agony with my back and legs to the point where I could not stand for more than twenty minutes or walk for more than ten.  Each morning it would take me about two hours to get mobile, and I would constantly fall asleep if I sat down for long.

Having always been an active person who loved tennis and dancing, and having been in the entertainment profession all my life, I found it absolutely heartbreaking not to be able to pursue these activities any longer, not carry out normal duties, and my work was taking a dramatic dive as well, as I could no longer handle the commitments.

Then a miracle happened, and thanks to a kind and caring neighbour, I obtained a Sun Ancon machine.  I can’t believe the improvement in only seven weeks!  I no longer wake up with blinding headaches and feel so full of energy—it’s amazing.  I can now stand for a lot longer, and in fact I am on my feet for hours at a time, and two weeks ago I was able to visit a local market and managed to walk for an hour without stopping to rest.  Now I am able to do my own shopping again in one hit and do all my own house cleaning in one day as I used to.  I no longer fall asleep when I sit down, and am back working in my profession two or three nights per week.  I have not had a sinus attack since using the machine, and my hair and skin have improved greatly.  The best news is though, I have lost two kilos in fluid, already.

My seventeen year old daughter recently contracted a severe dose of glandular fever.  After spending four days in bed extremely ill, she used the machine and was back at work within two days, completely recovered.  The best way to describe my Sun Ancon machine is that it is like a battery charger for the body, and using it for fifteen minutes two or three times a day suits me fine.  I couldn’t be happier, it’s given me a new lease of life.

C L Goodall
From Erna Leathly, a 74 year old in Sheffield.  Her daughter has ME and she gets a lot of relief from her Chi machine.  Erna has angina, oedema of the legs and chest (pulmonary oedema), and a bad back.  Erna used the machine at her daughter's house several times and really liked it.  She decided to order one in March 2003.  This is what she wrote in June 2003...

"I must say I find the Chi Machine absolutely wonderful.  I have much more energy, the fluid retention is really under control which has a knock-on effect on the angina.  I could really see myself going down the road of "watertablets" which I did NOT want.  So, yes, wonderful, worth every penny!  All thanks and good wishes to you from Erna Leathley."

Multiple Sclerosis-related Oedema

The Chi Machine has been a revelation to me. I have been having two fifteen minute sessions each day for around two months and in that time have lost two inches from both my hips and waist and have noticeably toned the rest of my body.

The benefits of using a machine were explained to me by my reflexologist who had noticed I was suffering from oedema in spite of eating healthily and taking regular, if limited, exercise - I have MS. So I borrowed one, then quickly bought my own because I could immediately see the difference it made.

I even hired a machine when I went to Canada because I could not bear the thought of being away from it for two weeks.

Alison Davey
Selby, North Yorkshire, UK