Updated: May 21, 2021
So, you have lipedema. Or maybe you're just pretty sure you have it after hours of research and that huge sense of relief after discovering that your weird symptoms don't mean you're crazy. When you finally have an explanation for why you can't lose weight, why you have pain, fatigue, decreased mobility and all the other things lipedema brings to your life there, often there is another challenge. Because not everything going on with your body can be explained by lipedema.
Today I have the leftover effects of a migraine and tingling fingers. Most likely this is a dip in my B12 levels due to a gene variation I have. Last week I had severe abdominal pain and felt bad when I ate. Is that food sensitivities that I need to address? Maybe, but probably not, because I have rare bouts of diverticulitis and that lower left quadrant pain and other symptoms pointed to more than a food reaction. These two recent health struggles reminded me that it's hard to differentiate the cause of pain sometimes. I had to become intentional to discern the cause of aches and pains so I could better address them.
Two weeks ago my hip joints were in agony to the point where I could barely take a step. I've heard from many lipedema ladies who say they have joint pain, but does lipedema alone explain it? I thought so until I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroid disease and realized that once I got support for my thyroid, the hip joint pain (and shoulder pain) went away. Other times I realize my joints have shifted due to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is very common with lipedema, and that makes my joints ache and adds tension on muscles and surrounding tissue. Inflammation can also make me achy so I have to pay attention to overexertion, hydration, and other things like whether I'm getting enough minerals, and, as always, nutrition!
My muscles are achy and tight very often. Lipedema? It is a very common symptom reported, but if I pay very close to how my muscles feel, there is a different ache that is relieved by magnesium. It's true that lipedema ladies tend to be deficient in magnesium, but paying attention to exactly what the pain feels like gives me clues about how to best address the pain.
There are days I seem to feel nauseous after everything I eat and everything unsettles my stomach, including plain, filtered water. Food sensitivities are very real and I have severe reactions to a lot of foods so I am very careful about what I eat and this has both affected my lipedema and been affected as lipedema worsens. It's also true that new sensitivities creep up. But exactly how does MY body react? Without careful attention to what's happening, and without research and investigating all the conditions I deal with, I might have missed that low stomach acid is common with two conditions I have (Hashimoto's and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome). If I simply drink some lemon water throughout the day, I usually can avoid the nausea. This is important because it not only helps me feel better and have better digestion, but then I can determine if I'm truly reacting to something I ate.
We need to not be too quick to adopt the mindset that we have pain everywhere and achiness and it's all lipedema. As we give up parts of ourselves and watch our bodies rebel, it is easy to fall into the trap of "I just feel bad all the time." If we are mindful, we can separate the symptoms and the aches and pains and figure out that they may feel different and have different root causes. That can be important when trying to get help from a therapist or doctor, especially when we know comorbidities like those mentioned above occur so often. Chronic illness is so overwhelming, especially when we have several, so we need to step back and look at the big picture in order to help ourselves live our best lives.