About the only good thing you can say about lymphedema is that its international symbol is the butterfly. Graceful, colorful, ephemeral! It's an emblem we all wish we could emulate as we lumber through the day with our unwieldy wrapped arm or our awkward gloves.
So we've been searching for the history of this symbol and, while we've uncovered some interesting theories, we still don't know whom to thank for this bright spot in our lymphedema experience. Our search continues, but in the meantime we thought you'd enjoy knowing what we've heard so far.
Ann Erlich over at Lymphnotes tells us that her first lymphedema therapist used the expression "gentle as a butterfly kiss" to describe the soft hand strokes of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). Of course if your therapist is also doing massage to deal with those tough areas of scar tissue and fibrosis, that butterfly image might flutter right out the window. But it's still a good reminder for us when we do our own self-MLD to keep our touch light and graceful.
Even more cheering is the meaning behind the butterfly symbolism: exquisite new life emerging from the clumsy and colorless cocoon. Hang in there! Right through the wrapping, the grief and the steep learning curve of therapy, that beauty remains within us, hidden for the moment perhaps, but ready to emerge eventually with all our dreams and passions still intact.
Then again – there are those days. . .
Reprinted by permission of Gary McCoy Copyright 2008
Please visit our page History of Lymphedema to read how this condition existed back in the days of early Egypt, and even affected Royalty.