My favorite summertime chore is mowing the lawn. Walking, the vibration (which is said to be really good for those with Lipedema), music via headphones, singing and dancing on my lawn for all the neighbors to see (and with new neighbors that should be even more interesting this year).
I'm always reminded how grateful I am to be able to mow the lawn. I'm grateful for every step I take, and at times I still get emotional as I make my way around the lawn and realize how far I have come.
To fully understand the level of gratitude I have for being able to walk again, you must know where I started. Lipedema has a way of making you feel isolated. It starts with feeling like you don't "fit" in. From the basic and literal sense of not fitting into a chair with arms, to the more emotional and figurative sense of not fitting into society because you look differently. Add to that that you start to feel your mobility slipping away, and your legs getting heavier, and you fear how Lipedema will continue to make you feel weaker and weaker.
I was told early on in my diagnosis that Lipedema did not respond to diet and exercise and the best thing I could do was keep my legs elevated (so they didn't fill up with fluid too much (lymphedema), and stay out of the heat as much as possible to keep the inflammation down. I was also told that exercise could make my Lipedema worse. The fear of making my already progressing condition worse kept me listening to this advice for many years.
I sat with legs up and watched my world go on around me. Walking a few feet was painful, as was just standing for a few moments. My husband was like a single parent because I couldn't go to school events, I couldn't go to the fair in the summer, or trick or treating in the fall. My life was work during the week (which was a race from house to car, car to office, office to car, and finally car back to the house every day with the hope I would be able to physically be able to walk the distance between each destination) and recuperation on the weekends (which involved legs elevated and resting most of the time).
Finally I said enough. I had been listening to them say nothing you can do, I had been listening to the fear in my head of making my Lipedema worse, and my Lipedema had been progressing still the same.
It was a long, slow climb back up the mobility ladder, but the best part is that each step up was amazing. I didn't go from barely being able to stand to mowing the lawn. It was gradual, but every new step, every new ability, to stand a little longer, to walk a little further, was so amazing that it kept me going.
It is hard when your goal seems enormous, or unreachable; to plan your attack, to fight back when you feel weak or afraid. But focusing on one step (one rung) at a time can make that an easier journey. And it is not only good advice when you are just starting, when that ladder seems to go on forever, it is good advice when you are in the middle of your journey, too. Because think about it, everyone, everywhere is always somewhere in the middle of their journey.
So if you are out driving one day, and see someone mowing their lawn, with a dance in her step, realize she is in pure joy and filled with so much gratitude that she can do this activity. This "chore" is a gift she is forever grateful for. And know as I stand on the lawn mowing rung of my mobility ladder I wonder what other great rungs are ahead, and I look back often at the rungs I took to get where I am in this moment and I say thank you.