Hi, my name is Pery Pantelidis, I am 34 years of age from Melbourne Australia. I am married with two young boys and work as a Manager at one of the big 4 banks in Australia.
I was diagnosed with primary lymphedema at the age of 15. At the age of 12 I first noticed that my upper leg was slightly more swollen than the other. Over the next couple of years, I didn’t take any notice of it until I fractured my ankle. After a month, I noticed that the swelling in my ankle wasn’t going down. Later that same year I had surgery on my knee and my entire leg swelled up. After seeing several doctor’s I was diagnosed with lymphedema.
At the time, I didn’t know what to think, I thought that it would go away and get better over time. It later kicked in that it wasn’t going to go away and that it was something that I would have to live with for the rest of my life. At first I was confused, then frustrated and then angry as to why it had happened to me.
Over time I started to become more confident and playing football (soccer) with friends helped me with this. I also met my now wife at 17 which aided in being more social and comfortable in talking about my situation. At that point, I had decided (with a gentle push from family and friends) to not allow lymphedema to prevent me from doing the things that I want to do in my life.
I have vesicles on my toes which burst and lead to cellulitis. The compression assists with keeping these under control. I have had recurrent cellulitis over the last 10 years (at last count it has been roughly 30 times) with each occurrence requiring intravenous antibiotics. I have been taking different oral antibiotics daily as a prophylaxis over the last 6 -7 years but that hasn’t seemed to work.
I have tried different antibiotics and the most recent one has seen me go without infection for almost 5 months now (Yay). Last year I had surgery, lymphovenous anastomosis, which looks to connect lymph vessels to a vein to assist with the drainage of fluid from my leg. This has helped in reducing the amount of swelling in the lower part of my leg.
Today I do anything I like to do. I am comfortable with myself and talking to others who may have questions after they see me. I am passionate about sports, particularly football and enjoy playing and potentially coaching in the future. Having this confidence and ability to discuss with others will help create greater awareness of lymphedema.
Three items that I cannot live without are my compression garments, bandages and exercise.
Best Lymphedema tip is bandaging my toes with simple crepe bandage every morning.