Last weekend we returned from a fantastic family holiday to France and it was a wonderfully chilled out few weeks where we spent time enjoying the sun, the pool, the food, the area, some precious time together and, of course, the football! We headed off with a few other members of our family and a friend as the boys in the group had got tickets to Northern Ireland’s qualifying matches in Euro 2016. Our little country got the last 16 which was a fantastic feat and as you can see from the cover pic we were very proud!
We all came home feeling well rested as we really enjoyed having nothing to do except put sun cream on, play in the pool, decide when to have lunch and whether we would barbecue or head out for dinner…no routine, no timetables, no deadlines. Just chill time (and football time!).
The lead up to the holiday was a bit manic and stressful as there had been a lot going on with day-to-day life, including the continued nightmare with Lucia’s compression garments. Without getting into it all we are still having difficulty getting new compression tights. We had hoped to have new garments before the holiday but things didn’t work out. So the day before we left, as I sat on the floor in a mixture of panic and helplessness, we had to figure something out. And our wonderful therapist came to the rescue.
She came to our house to give us a crash course in a variety of different techniques we could use should Lucia’s Lymphoedema flare up when we were in France, complete with necessary supplies. She showed us how to bandage her toes and foot, how to continue it up her legs, how to use kinesio tape and some multi-layer bandaging. She also sent us you tube videos showing us what to do, printed out diagrams and let me video her actually carrying out the wrapping on Lucia so we could copy it.
Lucia has been wearing the same pair of compression garments for around eight months now (there’s barely any compression left in them and I have sewed them in a least 12 places on numerous occasions) but they had to come with us. We also found another old pair made at the same time that still fitted ok, but also with holes which I patched up – they went with us too. As did the Physiotouch machine of course, all of the extra supplies and our massive first aid kit. (The pic below is just a very small sample of our first aid kit!) At least half of a suitcase was filled with Lymphoedema stuff!
France here we come!
So we headed on our way at 3am with bulging suitcases and the hope that all would be ok. And it was.
France is only a two hour flight but we still made sure Lucia got up and had little walks down the aisle as well as drinking plenty of fluids as we flew. Our caravan site was then only an hours drive from the airport and when we got into the hire car we took Lucia out of her compression for a bit of a breather as she had been in them since the middle of the night.
Daily life French style!
Our normal routine went out the window and holiday mode kicked in pretty quickly. Our mornings were lovely and lazy but we usually tried to get Lucia into her garments for a few hours while we were enjoying croissants, pain au chocolats and playing games in the caravan. We would then get ready for the pool so off came the garments and on went the swimming costume. We also put a type of Kinesio tape with holes punched in it called Cure Tape on Lucia’s foot and ankle and it worked wonders when she was out of her tights. (We used to use this when she was just a toddler, pre compression.) Basically it lifts the skin a little to help the fluid flow better and it definitely helped to keep the swelling down in her foot and ankle where it would tend to pool when she has no tights or shoes on.
The caravan site had a brand new swimming complex and both Max and Lucia absolutely loved it. They played for hours in the different pools before getting wrapped up in towels and having a snack on the sun lounger. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise for Lymphoedema as the water acts as natural compression, so having Lucia spend a few hours a day kicking and splashing like a mermaid was so beneficial for the condition. We could really see the positive effect it had on her, particularly her little leg.
After we had spent a few hours at the swimming pool we would come back to the caravan and shower the kids to get all the chlorine off before deeply moisturising Lucia’s legs and feet. We would then usually put her back into her tights for the evening, particularly if we were heading out for dinner or for a play in the park on site.
We also brought ‘the machine’ – otherwise known as the Physiotouch – with us too. You can read about it in more detail here. It’s a great size to travel with so we carried it as hand luggage and we took time out most days to have a session since Lucia was having a lot more compression free time than normal. It kept the fluid moving and the swelling down in combination with the swimming, kinesio, compression and the extra elevation during rest periods.
As an added bonus we could charge the Physiotouch up and use it outside on the decking meaning we could still enjoy the sunshine while carrying out her therapy!
We had one evening where the fluid gathered in a ball on the inside of her right ankle – we hadn’t done anything different that day so have no idea why – but it was really quite bad. Enter the Physiotouch which really helped to break this fluid down and get it moving again.
We also had a few other instances where her little toes were more swollen than normal so we would carry out a bit of manual work to try and move it, though it is a nightmare getting fluid to move from toes. A few nights we wanted to bandage her foot but Lucia wasn’t keen and we didn’t want to push it.
Everything was going so well until one morning in our second week Lucia complained of having a sore foot and not being able to walk properly. So I had a look and found she had a splinter in the heel of her most affected foot. It was very red, angry and inflamed all around it and I was immediately on edge – especially because Daryn was already away to one of the matches. I got our trusty Savlon antiseptic cream out and treated the area, as I knew we couldn’t start poking at it in case we aggravated the infection. Thankfully my sister, who was also on holidays with us, took a drive straight to the pharmacy to try and get some magnesium sulphate to draw it out, but to no avail. Instead, we went down the old fashioned route and she made up a bread poultice. It took a bit of persuading but Lucia finally allowed us to put it on her foot for a few hours that morning and the difference it made in that short space of time was unreal. The redness and swelling had calmed making a it a little easier for her to walk on.
We then put the poultice on again at bedtime (again it took a bit of coaxing) and she kept it on all night – and by morning the splinter was out! Thankfully no infection took hold and everything calmed down. Another learning curve and big thanks to my lovely sister!
We love holidays!
All in all we had such a fantastic time. Max and Lucia loved the adventure of flying on a plane, living in a caravan, sharing a room, playing in the pool, staying up late and we also did a few day trips including a safari park, zoo, dinosaur park and beach. We have always said we would never let Lucia’s Lymphoedema hold us back and we really don’t. We just have to think ahead, consider our options, make wise choices that will fit our needs and ensure we are well prepared for every eventuality.
Our experience over the years keeps adding to our confidence and we are continuously learning new ways of managing things. And loving living our lives at the same time.