The look of LE vs. the look of extreme obesity

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OriginalCyn

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To summarize:
1-Over the years, I've seen photos and illustrations of 300+ and 400+ pound women on this and other sites and in print, along with comments by FAs as to how attractive these women's physiques are. OK--so far, so good.
2-Then, a bit over two years ago, I developed one or more clots in the veins of one leg, which caused that leg to swell. (I've been treating that condition--both conventionally and with self-administered treatments--with limited success.) I've always had periodic, hormonally-caused (and occasionally exacerbated-by-hot-weather) swelling in my ankles, and this has been going on for about 20 years. I wasn't too worried about it at that time. My doc prescribed diuretics, which were not too effective. A podiatrist suggested compression hose, and my response, at that time, was that that seemed to be just covering up the symptom, rather than curing it. Looking back now, I wish that he'd told me that I was "full of it" and that compression hose, would, indeed, provide some actual therapy for what I now realize was a developing case of lymphedema (LE). LE is, from what I can gather, a progressive and incurable--but somewhat treatable--disease.

Given that I have this new perspective on certain types of swellings, I can now see that many of the photos/illustrations that many FAs seem to find very attractive are, in fact, the results of very severe cases of LE and not of obesity per se.

I'm not one of those folks who sees obesity, in and of itself, as being indicative of being in a "diseased state." But LE is a disease. I've come to the disconcerting conclusion that many FAs are therefore fetishizing a disabling disease.

A side note: Several months ago, I was out and about--as usual, as I'm either on the bus or on foot--and I passed a lovely woman, who appeared to be about my age (perhaps a bit younger) in the crosswalk who was riding a scooter. I walk just fine--sometimes several miles a day--and I sometimes have a bit of a limp in the afflicted leg, but I wasn't limping that day. I was wearing my usual long skirt, but my lower legs and ankles weren't entirely covered-up. She looked to weigh about 100-150 pounds more than I do, she was nicely-dressed, and we exchanged smiles as we passed on another on the crosswalk. She said, "Oh, you poor THING!" as we passed, indicating my afflicted leg. And I was thinking, "At least I don't need to ride a scooter to get around"--'though it honestly had not occurred to me to "pity" her until she'd expressed pity at my condition.

Any thoughts from members of the Dimensions community about living with/treating/finding attractive/fetishizing lymphedema? Any and all input is welcomed.
Thanks!
 

Mini

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Well, I can say with all honesty that I wasn't even aware of the disease, let alone if I've been, as you say, *fetishizing* it.

Chalk that one up to ignorance on my part. >_<
 

SamanthaNY

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This is fascinating - and although I am certainly aware of lymphedema (that and cellulitis are two things that, as a fat woman, scare me most) and what it can do, I had never connected that indeed, others are probably unaware that they are focusing on - and attracted to - an appearance that is actually caused by disease.

I think that LE is something that a lot of fat people are not aware of - even those currently suffering from it, and many medical professionals who encounter it overlook it as well, I fear. I can recall seeing pictures of people posted, and thinking that the swelling in their legs was probably LE, yet they knew nothing of it, and waved away my concerns, saying just said it was 'the way they were'. In a couple of cases I've known of, LE was a complicating factor with other illnesses and resulted in serious hospitalizations.

I wish there was a full-on health forum here- where we could discuss things like this in more detail. There are so many issues that we're at higher risk for - and advance knowledge of what to look for can saves lives. Sadly, we have to take care of ourselves more than the 'lesser-sized' - the general medical community is just not up to speed.
 

Emma

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Maybe you should post the same pictures here so we know what you're talking about?
 

ThatFatGirl

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SamanthaNY said:
This is fascinating - and although I am certainly aware of lymphedema (that and cellulitis are two things that, as a fat woman, scare me most) .....

I wish there was a full-on health forum here- where we could discuss things like this in more detail. There are so many issues that we're at higher risk for - and advance knowledge of what to look for can saves lives. Sadly, we have to take care of ourselves more than the 'lesser-sized' - the general medical community is just not up to speed.

Yes, yes, yes!! I wish there was a health forum here as well. We need it.

I live in fear of developing lymphedema. I still don't know much about it, but I've read a bit here and there. It seems like it can be so dibilitating. I've had cellulitus in one spot on my left leg a couple of times, but (knock wood) all seems well there again as of the last two years. I try to elevate my legs every day for at least a few minutes and every once in a while I wear compression hose around the house. Varicose veins run in my family, so this helps with those as well.

My main thing I need to focus on is exercise. I simply don't do enough.
 

Carol W.

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I'm going to weigh in on this, Cyn. I am sure most people who view the pics of the women here have NO idea what lymphedema is, or even that it exists. I know I didn't....until I got it myself in early 2001, following a really severe case of erysipelas, which I received from the scratch of a semi-wild cat we had just taken in. My case, which covered my left leg from my knee to the tops of my toes, was so severe the docs were worried they might have to amputate, or even that I might die. I have never known what it was to be that sick before, and was on morphine for 2 and a half months for the pain. Indescribable. After months of recuperation, I was left with a lymphedemic leg. And yes, it has worsened and progressed over the last 5 years. In the past year I have had two episodes of regular cellulitis, which, although no picnic in the park, is tinker toys compared to erysipelas, and I do not feel they have worsened the lymphedema in any perceptible way.

Some of the largest women we see here do NOT have lymphedemic legs. I have two friends who both outweigh my current 365-ish weight, one by a significant amount, and both have lovely smooth shapely legs. And neither have ever had erysipelas! (I cannot imagine any man fetishizing this leg; it's purple and grotesquely swollen and has the surface texture of the moon. It is truly approaching hideous, and I'm not one to put down my appearance. I think the sight of it could only invoke either pity or horror or both.) I am not going to condemn, judge, or label any man who enjoys looking at fat women when he probably doesn't even realize he's possibly looking at an illness or a diseased limb. And hey, some people just have really fat legs, you know? with no lymphedema involved whatsoever.

Living with lymphedema is a bitch, and I am the first one to agree on that. And I think it can be so easy to confuse and overlap the antifat messages we are inundated with in our society, the incredible difficulty in accepting and dealing with a disfigured part of our body, and the attention we receive from men who find us sexually attractive. But pathologizing that attention makes me very uncomfortable, and I am inclined to cut the guys slack on this one, you know? I do wish you luck and peace in this, Cyn; I deal with it every day too and it's NOT easy.
 

SamanthaNY

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Carol - Wow, what a history you've had. I am impressed with your strength for having come through the erysipelas [a type of cellulitis, for those wondering], and dealing with lymphedema. Thank you for telling your story - not only is it inspiring, I hope it can perhaps help some others here, if only to give them information.

Carol W. said:
I am not going to condemn, judge, or label any man who enjoys looking at fat women when he probably doesn't even realize he's possibly looking at an illness or a diseased limb. And hey, some people just have really fat legs, you know? with no lymphedema involved whatsoever.

But pathologizing that attention makes me very uncomfortable, and I am inclined to cut the guys slack on this one, you know? I do wish you luck and peace in this, Cyn; I deal with it every day too and it's NOT easy.

My interpretation of Cyn's post was not to comment on/judge anyone who found themselves attracted to legs that happen to be large through lymphedema... the way I understood it, she was just remarking that most people weren't aware what they were looking at. I found it interesting because I try to keep myself informed about medical concerns, and even after being around these parts for many years, I'd never made the same connection myself. D'oh.

And for anyone interested, lymphedema, cellulitis, erysipelas, etc., are all easily searched terms, with pics of each condition readily available. I recommend MedlinePlus.

Any chance we could have a poll to see if a medical/health board would be a welcome addition?
 

Carol W.

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Samantha, I thank you for your kind words to me. I am just very recently coming to grips with the realities of life with LE. I have even weeded out a lot of clothing, shoes, etc. which I know I will never be able to wear again. (which sadly included a lot of my goth wardrobe, but oh, well)

And I do agree with your take on Cyn's post. Do you know that not one member of the medical community TOLD me I had lympedema? The word was never used!! I did the research and I am the one who discovered it and diagnosed MYSELF. Now I have to tell THEM that this is what I have. And erysipelas? Forget it! You'd think I was talking about something seen only in a Sci Fi novel. Grrrr.
 

AnnMarie

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I have to work on something, so I can't post in the way I'd like right now, but I do want to touch on this.

I've been "accused" (if you can call it that) of having lymphedemic legs. I do NOT have lymphedemic legs, nor are my fat legs as result of fluid retention. They do swell a bit sometimes, but it's just like anyone's swelling... they get uncomfortable, the skin might get tight, etc... but it's VERY rare for me (1-2 times a year maybe, usually when doing some hard core traveling).

I can see how my legs could be mistaken for that though- and even Sophie, a dear/close friend of mine who suffers from lymphedema, was very convinced I had edema until she finally fondled my leg and figured out it's just fat - not fluid. :)

Point in all of that - as Carol said, most of the women you're seeing with very large or folded legs probably are NOT suffering from lymphedema, etc. Some could be, sure.

Now, the FA side of things. I know a few FAs who cringe at a lymphedemic leg. It LOOKS painful usually, as Carol noted also. It's not something they enjoy seeing, and it really only serves as a nasty reminder of what weight can occasionally bring on (not that it causes it, as we all well know).

On the other side of the FA coin you have guys who love rolls and big legs and all that good stuff, but they have no clue at all that there are any medical conditions that could cause/exacerbate those things they enjoy. So they're just seeing a big hot leg and digging it - I'd certainly not go so far as to say they're fetishizing the medical condition.

Are there some guys in the world who get off on medical conditions? Sure, there's something for everyone. But I think to make the rather large connection between liking generally large legs and enjoying a medical condition that makes them so is to big a leap to take.

(I'm not saying that's exactly what you're stating, seemed you were more asking if we thought that was the case....)

**I have no time to read over this, please forgive any weirdness**
 
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AnnMarie said:
On the other side of the FA coin you have guys who love rolls and big legs and all that good stuff, but they have no clue at all that there are any medical conditions that could cause/exacerbate those things they enjoy. So they're just seeing a big hot leg and digging it - I'd certainly not go so far as to say they're fetishizing the medical condition.

Thank you for recognizing this.
I certainly like big legs and an essential aspect of their beauty is health.

Formerking
 

OriginalCyn

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Well, the pix that I've seen posted on the LE boards are of the members' own legs, so even if I were to copy them over and then crop and alter them, I feel that I'd be invading someones privacy to post them here. And my own afflicted leg isn't in the shape that I have in mind, so posting a pic of my own leg wouldn't be helpful for this discussion ('though I'd be happy to take a pic and post it here sometime in the future to illustrate a case of [so far!] mild-to-moderate, non-crippling LE).

So, instead of posting a photo of someones legs, I will describe what I'm talking about. I'm sure that you've seen illustrations of such legs by some of the very talented FA artists. The lower legs are swollen to the point where the skin literally bulges downwards, draping over the ankles and the tops of the feet (which seem quite dainty and petite in comparison to the legs).

As for the suggestion that a "health topics" board would be a good thing here: I totally agree. However, it's possible that we could run into some resistance to that notion, as "the party line" is that obesity is both attractive and healthy, and any admission that all is not 100% wonderful 100% of the time in FatLand could be interpreted as giving fuel to the arguments of our health-fanatic/thinness-fanatic detractors. So if we do this thing, we'll need to frame it in such a way as to emphasize that many fat people just happen to have health problems and those health problems are not necessarily directly caused by their fat...and that, furthermore, many health problems CAUSE weight/size gain in folks who otherwise might be thin(ner) (such as PCOS and LE).
 
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OriginalCyn said:
As for the suggestion that a "health topics" board would be a good thing here: I totally agree. However, it's possible that we could run into some resistance to that notion, as "the party line" is that obesity is both attractive and healthy, and any admission that all is not 100% wonderful 100% of the time in FatLand could be interpreted as giving fuel to the arguments of our health-fanatic/thinness-fanatic detractors. So if we do this thing, we'll need to frame it in such a way as to emphasize that many fat people just happen to have health problems and those health problems are not necessarily directly caused by their fat...and that, furthermore, many health problems CAUSE weight/size gain in folks who otherwise might be thin(ner) (such as PCOS and LE).

First I believe that if we have a party line, is that "Being attractive, healthy and fat are not mutually exclusive things. "

Anyway, I always believed that we need to address health concerns like this.
 

TheSadeianLinguist

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EtobicokeFA said:
First I believe that if we have a party line, is that "Being attractive, healthy and fat are not mutually exclusive things. "

Anyway, I always believed that we need to address health concerns like this.

Disagreed. Ever see a fat chick with the flu? Totally hot! :smitten:
 

OriginalCyn

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...illustrating a non-obese woman who has been afflicted with lymphedema in one leg from an early age. (Notice how otherwise-thin this woman is on her "normal" side. I don't know what happened to this young woman, but I can tell you the LE is a not-uncommon side effect of having surgery for breast cancer [in which case one or both arms may swell]. I've also heard that most insurance plans don't USUALLY cover treatments for LE unless the LE is a result of the patient's having had a disease or injury that IS covered by insurance, such as cancer. This is a BIG PROBLEM for many lower-leg lymphedema sufferers, as LLLE is increasingly-more-common in folks who develop venous insufficiency as they age.)

Pictures%2Fprimedema.jpg
 

OriginalCyn

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...what LE is, how it may be exacerbated by other conditions, and how it's treated.

http://www.elymphnotes.com/detail.asp?ci=256&it=ICI

I'm sure that other articles on that site could be useful for some of us here, as well. But the article, above, is good for starting with the basics, especially for those of us who don't know what LE is.

As for me: I sort of ASSUMED that I had LE (the only thing that I knew for sure was that I'd developed one or more clots in some of my lower leg veins). I've self-diagnosed a lot of things tentatively, without having had actual medical confirmation. (I know, I know: Just like the person who acts as his own lawyer having a fool as a client, the same thing can be said about acting as ones own doctor.) But I was at a drop-in clinic last week, for an unrelated issue (I'd cut my hand and needed to get a tetanus booster), and the doctor casually mentioned something about my lymphedema (I'd only told him that I "had issues" with poor lower limb circulation and that I'd been taking antibiotics prophylactically to avoid cellulitis). At first, he was 100% disapproving of someones self-treating and taking antibiotics without a prescription, but he asked to have a look at the leg, and then he said that I did have a problem with LE and that I was as risk for cellulitis and that antibiotics could keep such problems at bay. But he STILL disapproved, on general principles (and also because taking antibiotics constantly can cause a host of other problems--most of which I was already aware-of and which I'd decided were worth the risk.)
 

Elfcat

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I don't know if my former wife technically had lymphedema. She did have poor venous return - explained to me by a physician as the failure of valves in the veins of the leg, possibly associated with her belly resting on the front of her thighs - and that did give her bouts of edema in her legs. I didn't notice them getting very much larger, but one could tell by feeling when they were relatively good and soft feeling, and when they were swollen and the skin felt less flexible and more stretched, literally waterlogged. I saw the effect it had on her. She would sometimes take on 20 pounds of water retention, and it seemed to effect her far more badly than 20 or even it seems 200 pounds of fat weight would. Lots of time in bed with legs elevated when she wasn't actively walking.

When walking or jogging or running the mechanics of the foot steps presses the blood back up the veins, but while sedentary there's nothing to move the blood but the pumping of the heart. This is why making someone stand for a long time without moving is a form of torture which we have widely seen in the recent pictures.
 

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