Live your best life with Lymphedema.

Jeff D.

“I hope to inspire others with Lymphedema to keep or get moving. There is something that everyone can do regardless of what kinda shape you are in. Moving, from what I have seen, is one of the key components to keeping the lymph fluid from pooling.” – Jeff.

My name is Jeff Davis. I am from Birmingham, Alabama and yes, I Roll Tide!!! I have been married to my amazing wife, Kelli, for 16 years and we have 2 amazing Godly boys who are 14 and 11. I am a personal trainer, amateur triathlete, and Kelli and I are pre-marital coaches for our church. My purpose in life is to help others realize and achieve their fitness goals and a healthy lifestyle. I am a huge baseball fan, Dodgers, Reds, Braves, Angels, Alabama. I used to play a lot golf as a hobby, but training for triathlons and a half Ironman in the fall of 2017 have taken over my hobby time. I love spending time with my wife and boys.

I was first diagnosed with Lymphedema in the fall of 2015 even though I believe I have had it a lot longer. In the spring of 2014 I underwent tibial-talar fusion in my right ankle, which after the surgery created more swelling than expected. Stepping back a little bit, this was the 12th surgery I had on this ankle due to osteoarthritis and several other issues. Okay, back to 2014, a few weeks’ post op I developed an infection, that thankfully was caught early enough that oral antibiotics knocked it out. About 4 months post-op I noticed a large lump started developing in groin close to my hip joint, inguinal area. In the fall of 2014 I went to the doctor about the lump, because it manifested from 1 to 3 lumps. My internist sent me to a surgeon suspecting a possible hernia. The surgeon said no hernia and sent me immediately for a CT scan of abdomen and chest. Within 30 minutes of finishing the CT, the doctor called me and said I needed to have surgery right away, because the lymph nodes were enlarged from my groin all the way into my chest and he suspected cancer. This was on a Thursday and I had surgery on that following Monday.

The surgeon told my wife in post op that he removed 2 of the largest nodes and that by the looks of it he was 98% sure I had cancer and I would be seeing an oncologist within a week. Well, praise God the biopsy came back negative, no cancer. That is when things went south though, the lymph fluid started leaking into my leg, because the surgeon didn’t close things up well. I suspected from my research that I had developed secondary lymphedema, but when I mentioned that to my surgeon, his response was that he didn’t want to curse me that diagnoses for the rest of my life. So, after having the pocket left by the node removal, needle drained 3 times a week for 3 weeks and my leg almost tripling in size, I asked my internist to refer me to someone else.  She sent me to a vascular doctor. He confirmed that I indeed have lymphedema, recommending surgery to seal up the leaking lymph vessels in my groin. That surgery was done in January of 2015. Of course, the incision was very slow to heal, but the new surgeon kept me on antibiotics and it finally healed. No one could tell me the cause of the lymphedema however.

It still took almost a month to find out we had a CLT in Birmingham and at that point I started MLD, taping, pumping and really started learning the things I could do to treat and maintain my LE. Then in the spring of 2015, I was told that my ankle fusion didn’t not take and that I needed a revision done. In April of 2015 I had the revision done and despite all the precautions taken to minimize swelling and keep the lymph fluid out, by 6 weeks’ post op my leg was swelling so bad that I could no longer be in a cast and the incisions on both sides of my ankle exploded open and got infected. I then spent a week in the hospital, needing more surgery to clean out the infection, putting a wound vac in and then ended up with a Hickman port in my chest to receive antibiotics. The reason no PIC line was due to the fact I was still non-weight bearing and on crutches.

The turning point for me was happened when I met my CLT. Fortunately for me I go to church with my CLT so I already knew her and she knew my story. She taught me so much about what to do and how to do it. I was also in the process of trying to be healthier, both from a fitness stand point and a nutritional stand point as well. My CLT told me one of the best things I could do for my LE was to get healthier and exercise. She also recommended that I try the many things that are out there for LE treatment because everyone is different and I needed to find what worked best for me. The other large turning point for me was finding a doctor that specialized in lymphedema and finding out what possibly could have caused my LE. Turns out that all the trauma to my ankle over the years, surgeries, infections, the hardware placed in my ankle, and the removal of the nodes in my groin, destroyed my lymphatics on the right side of my leg and abdomen. Knowing that this was the cause, allowed me to move forward without any worries.

My main motivation now is to be the best I can be for my wife and kids. During my process of changing my lifestyle and getting fit, God showed me that my purpose in life was to help others with LE, arthritis, cancer, etc., realize that they too can live a healthy and normal lifestyle. In the winter of 2015 I became a Certified Personal Trainer and got a job with a local gym and began my journey of helping others. I had also been told that because of my LE and ankle fusion that I would never be able to run again. Being as stubborn as I am, I decided that I wanted to run a 5k and then a half marathon, just to prove that I could. During training I decided to scrap the half marathon and run a triathlon instead. In 2016 I ran 2 5k’s and 2 triathlons. My goal this year, 2017, is to compete in 2 half Ironman races and 3-4 shorter triathlons.

I hope to inspire others with Lymphedema to keep or get moving. There is something that everyone can do regardless of what kinda shape you are in. Moving, from what I have seen, is one of the key components to keeping the lymph fluid from pooling. Don’t let this or any obstacle keep you from achieving your potential.

It is difficult to narrow down my top materials to maintain and treat my LE, so I am going to give you all them that work for me:

Compression, day time and night time (can’t live without it), exercise, kt tape, yoga, running, biking, swimming, triathlons, walking, flexi touch pumping, and nutrition.

My biggest thing I have discovered that has helped aid my lymphatic flow has been exercise. Regardless of the type, walking, running, biking, swimming, strength training, group fitness classes, and yoga, exercise seems to move the most lymph fluid for me. If I take more than a couple of days off from exercise, I notice an increase in fluid in my leg and abdomen.

Where you can find Jeff:

Instagram: @lymphietriathlete

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