Chapter 27 – Going Pear Shape

Chapter 27 – Going Pear Shape

March 15

You know that expression … things have gone pear shaped?  I’ve always sort of enjoyed the visual that expression conjures up. But who is to say what it actually means? I mean, one can sort of get the drift from the context, but…

Well, I am here to tell you … I now know what it means, and I am not so sure I like it so much anymore.

On my road to recovery things really have gone pear shaped, I’ve gone pear shaped … and contrary to what you might be thinking, it has nothing to do with ice cream, chocolate or any other form of refrigerated indulgence. Thank God!

In fact, it has to do with my lymphedema. When they took out those little lymph nodes for testing, and removed the organs that were occupying the space needed for my new bladder, they compromised the ability of my body to filter and remove lymphatic fluid from the area.

Apparently, the lymph system is like the rubbish removal system of the human body. And, like the streets of New York during a garbage strike, my internal streets are beginning to clog up. And until there is some sort of resolution, the dreck will continue to accumulate. In the same way, lymphatic fluid is collecting in my abdominal cavity because there are no lymph nodes to carry it away.

So… hey presto … my new pear shape. My tummy has become a landfill … the non-transfer station.

While the same lymphedema is occurring in my left leg … there I am able to compress it and prevent it from swelling by wearing what are euphemistically referred to as compression garments.

So, the garbage strike has been resolved in the suburbs. However, my midtown area is still involved in the labor dispute, and the garbage continues to accumulate as the strike goes on … because there is no way to compress the area adequately.

In addition, the process of adapting my new bladder into the abdominal cavity has been compromised by the lymph fluid occupying the same space. The result is that the progress to normalizing my new plumbing has come to a standstill. I am hopeful I will be able to get a new pumping device that will wrap the leg and abdomen and actually pump out the fluid. Fingers crossed that this will work.

For now, I am forced to dash off to pee without warning, because the valve controlling my plumbing is being pressured from the wrong direction causing it to open unexpectedly.


As a result, I find it necessary to wear some form of padding to absorb leakage, and the padding, of course, only adds to the whole pear shape thing. Crappy, I call it!

Crappy … Unfair …Nasty … and really, really, really aggravating! Sigh … Thank heavens chocolate and champagne are not to blame for this setback. I have developed a healthy respect for their healing qualities.

On the bright side, we are living in the era of leggings and tunic tops … perfect for a pear-shaped fashionista such as I. I may be a bit rotund and damp around the middle, but I shall never give into the forces of evil that say I have to look like a little old lady!


The never-ending problem of controlling my lymphedema became an all-consuming preoccupation during this time. By the middle of February, it was obvious the lymphedema was also effecting my abdominal cavity. Fluid was accumulating in my groin and abdominal cavity. In fact, the symptoms that were making my belly balloon out of control are more correctly referred to as gynecological lymphedema.

Oh goody … another title contender!

The control and management of my Bloated Bothersome Ballooning lower half came with some serious challenges, not the least of which was the abdominal scarring from my surgery … now almost a year old. The only really effective way to treat the condition is through abdominal exercise, and I was still unable to do the sit ups and crunches needed for this course of action. Instead I went to Ruth for massage and instruction on specialized breathing techniques to mimic the effects of massage. I also used the expensive pump that worked the leg and abdomen for an hour, and helped to reduce the swelling. All in all, it proved to be a very time-consuming undertaking, and oh so boring!

However, the thought of living forever with this uncontrollable distorted lower body freaked me out. And remember, fluid weighs a lot … I gained 10 pounds and then 15 … OMG!!! The whole thing was getting out of hand. I hope to live a nice long time with my bum knee and fake bladder. But the swollen leg and distended belly had to go. So, I invested a lot of time in getting the lymphedema under some sort of control.

So, I walked and pedaled and twisted and swam. I stretched and yoga-ed and kicked and danced. I exercised and kept moving as much as time and energy would allow … at least until I became too bored to continue.

By June, I had determined what kind of activity could cause my leg to swell, and what form of exercise could bring it down to nearly normal size. Unfortunately, it turns out that standing to paint is the worst, followed by sitting at my desk paying bills …well, okay, maybe the last is just a coincidence … but the fact remains there are some activities that aggravate the condition. In the end, I have learned to anticipate the outcome of a day’s activity and on those days, when possible, allow time for either, swimming, pumping or doing some deep stretching exercises as well as bandaging the leg to control the swelling.

Like I said … really, really, boring!

But I am here to tell you my body and I have reached a policy of detente … an easing of the strained relationship caused by the battle with the foul and obnoxious Lymphedema. I have realized that indeed I can control the monster, but like any really successful ceasefire, it requires constant vigilance and never-ending work.

Given how panic stricken I was at the beginning of this year, it is truly amazing that I am now comfortable with my ability to live with the condition. This is about the rest of my life. I want to spend it enjoying other things, so I have figured out how to keep it all moving along as smoothly as possible. And while there are still a few kinks to work out, I am really getting there. Now I seldom worry about the leg, and check in with it only as I wake up and when I shower. Periodically I buy new bandages, and I check in once a month with Ruth to have my leg measured and to order new custom stockings as the old ones wear out. So, you could say that I have had my chasse modified and the engine overhauled, and am setting out on a new road trip.

Take that …you big fat bully, you bloated beastly lousy skanky nasty godawful Lymphedema!!!

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