Lindsey Sosovec is a personal trainer and ski mountaineer. She has lymphedema in her lower limb, but that isn’t holding her back. Personal training, health and fitness are not just her job, they are her life, passion and purpose. By sharing her story, she hopes to show others what is possible.
No one warned me about lymphedema. No one told me it could happen to me. I honestly didn’t even know the definition of lymphedema…
While celebrating my birthday in the Guadalupe canyon outside of Tacate, Mexico, my right leg began to swell. Assuming I was bit by a bug, or had a strange reaction to something, I continued exploring, jumping off waterfalls and canyoneering. As I left the canyon for the U.S. border, my leg elevated on the dashboard of the rental van, I realized my next stop needed to be the emergency room.
Knowing my medical history (including cancer, a radical hysterectomy and lymph node removal) the ER doc cleared me to leave the hospital and cleared me to fly to Indonesia where my next adventure awaited. The doctor physically checked off a box that said I was negative for lymphedema and negative for blood clots. Off I went!
Over the next few days, I flew from San Diego, Salt Lake, Seattle, Shanghai, Bangkok and finally Denpesar. My professional photographer companion and I were on a mission to explore Bali, Java, Lombok and Flores. Our overall goal was an above and below water photo documentary of hiking, climbing and diving in Indonesia. Our final expedition would take us to the summit of Mt. Rinjani.
Upon arrival, my leg was at least double in size. I was afraid, confused, and half a world away from home. I hopped on the motorcycle anyway. The next few weeks, I motor scootered the islands of Bali and Lombok, hiked to beautiful waterfalls, snorkeled and scuba dove. I decided not to climb the volcano because my leg so swollen (actually, if I could have fit into my shoe, I might have attempted the climb).
From a small hut on the tiny island, I Skyped Huntsman Cancer Hospital and the nurse told me I should come home immediately and get re-checked. Many miles and dollars later, I went from Denpesar to Incheon to Seattle, and finally got to Salt Lake City. It was an uncomfortable and scary journey.
It was almost three months from that journey before my decongestion phase was over. Decongestion was hard, hopeless and at times quite depressing. Fear of the unknown and of a “lifelong” condition haunted me.
I was full of hope finally being “free” of my foam and bandages. With the help of my PT and some lymphedema experts, I tested and retested compression garments until I found one that would comfortably contain me and my active lifestyle. Through trial and error, I am able to continue my life as an adventurer, athlete and personal trainer. It isn’t easy, some days are better than others, but I am managing my lymphedema!
My recipe for success: exercise, wear my compression sock, daily MLD (manual lymph drainage), stand – don’t sit, and regularly check in with my PT for measurements and professional MLD.
I haven’t let my diagnosis be my prognosis – and I hope you aren’t either. Together, we can adapt and overcome. I am here to help, whether you need inspiration, support or fitness ideas. Follow me on Instagram, @sosovecl, or leave me a comment below.