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Lipo-lymphedema – the patient Back in the game with compression

Issue 03/2019

Kathi Schanz loves playing table tennis. She has been the German women’s champion multiple times. But severely painful lipo-lymphedema in her arms and legs nearly forced her to quit. It took medical compression stockings to give the young mother new freedom of movement – and, above all , pain relief.

Table tennis is primarily a mental sport”, says Kathi Schanz. “If you are experiencing pain, it’s actually impossible to focus and play well. There were times where I thought I wouldn’t play table tennis again. That was awful to imagine, since I really love it.” Since her youth, the 28-year-old has suffered from lipedema that has worsened increasingly over the past four years due to hormone shifts during her two pregnancies. Now she has Stage 2-3 lipo-lymphedema in both arms and legs. However, no one was able to clearly diagnose her condition for many years. “The worst part for me was hearing again and again that I should get more exercise and change my diet. Since my childhood, I have been playing table tennis and eating a balanced diet. At some point , my frustration just turned into rage.” But quitting was never an option for the athlete, who has won the title of German women’s table tennis champion several times. “In this kind of situation, I adopt an attitude of ‘Now more than ever’.”

Compression gives Kathi Schanz greater freedom of movement. The young mother never leaves the house without it now.

“I can’t manage any more without compression”

Currently, the 28-year-old regularly goes to manual lymph drainage and wears VenoTrain curaflow compression products on her hands, arms and legs. “I’m incredibly grateful for that. Compression just gives me more freedom of movement. Everything works better. And what really matters is pain relief. I can’t manage any more without compression.” For Kathi Schanz, the lipedema pain became unbearable after the birth of her second child, and everyday routines were barely manageable. “It feels like you have multiple sores on your body and you’re reaching your hand right into them. On top of that , my legs were often very heavy and I could hardly walk. Compression offered me relief for all these symptoms.” Thanks to the stockings, Kathi Schanz ventured back to table tennis. The young woman currently trains two or three times a week and participates in competitions. “I do everything with compression. I can finally concentrate on the game again without experiencing pain.”

Vicious cycle of diabetes

Since Kathi Schanz has also suffered from Type 1 diabetes since the age of 20, her lipedema poses a particular challenge. “If I inject more insulin, the mutated fat cells grow more intensively. And the more of them I have, the more insulin I need.” To break out of this vicious cycle, the young woman has now requested her first liposuction. “The insurance company rejected my request. This means that for the upcoming operation, I have to make an advance payment. I am just hoping for improved insulin sensitivity and more pain relief.” Kathi Schanz also hopes for a holistic approach when treating patients. “A lot more knowledge and action is needed, especially when it comes
to the interaction of multiple illnesses.”

Better quality of life for all patients

Kathi Schanz also shares her experiences with lipedema and Type 1 diabetes through social media. In addition to two successful Instagram and YouTube channels, the 28-year-old gives talks as a diabetes ambassador all over Germany. “I would like to help people and encourage them. That is my passion.” She advises other patients: “It is important to keep yourself informed so you can be a responsible patient and an expert about your own illness.” Another piece of advice: never lose your motivation. “This is a very important point , even where compression therapy is concerned. Of course, it doesn’t make lipedema disappear, but it provides relief and restores your quality of life. It puts you ‘back in the game’.”

 

Bilder: Conny Kurz


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