‘My giant leg won’t stop me dancing’: Woman, 38, with a condition that causes fluid to build-up in her right limb refuses to let the disorder hold her back
- Ada Thompson was born with lymphoedema, which causes tissues to swell
- Left her unable to work, wear trousers or leave her apartment
- Refuses to let her condition dampen her spirit and is open to dating
A woman who has battled with a giant right leg her entire life refuses to let her condition stop her dancing.
Ada Thompson, of Tyler, Texas, was born with lymphoedema, which causes the body’s tissues to swell.
Miss Thompson even had to wear extra-large nappies as a baby when her leg became too large for regular diapers.
Now 38, Miss Thompson is unable to work, cannot wear trousers and only leaves her apartment a few times a week.
But despite everything, she refuses to let her condition dampen her spirit and can often be found dancing around her living room with the music turned up loud.
Ada Thompson refuses to stop smiling despite suffering from a giant leg all her life. She is pictured at her apartment in Tyler, Texas, which she only leaves three-to-four times a week
Miss Thompson (left) was born with lymphoedema, which causes the body’s tissues to swell. She even had to wear extra-large nappies as a baby due to her large right leg (seen right)
‘I sing, I dance, I turn my music on and I’m all around the apartment dancing because my situation could be worse,’ Miss Thompson said.
‘I hope I can inspire others with lymphoedema [not to] give up on yourself.
‘It’s a struggle but you just have to toughen up, get up and slay ’em.
‘I have to accept the things that I cannot change the things that I can change strive to change.’
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Although she tries her best to stay positive, Miss Thompson admits lymphoedema does not make life easy.
‘It is a struggle,’ she said. ‘Sometimes I have a walker.
‘I have my good days and I have my bad days.
‘When I have a pretty difficult day, I have my electric chair.’
Miss Thompson – who weighs 460lbs (32st 12lbs) – also blames her condition for her obese frame.
‘If I didn’t have lymphoedema, I wouldn’t be the size I am,’ she said.
School bullies would call Miss Thompson ‘fat’ and pretend her condition was contagious.
This drove Miss Thompson to think her appearance meant no man would ever find her attractive.
‘I have actually messed up a couple of situations where the guy was genuine, but I was stuck on to the way I look and the way I am,’ she said.
Now armed with more confidence, Miss Thompson is open to meeting someone this year.
Miss Thompson’s disorder has left her unable to work and means she has never met a partner
Pictured left when she was younger, Miss Thompson’s lymphoedema only affects her right side. Her condition has worsened over the years. She is pictured right as a teenager. At 19 she had a grapefruit-sized mass removed from her leg, but the swelling returned
Miss Thompson is known in her local area for her sunny disposition despite all she endures
Miss Thompson, who has had the condition since birth, is only affected along her right-hand side.
‘You can get it further on in life – me I was born with it,’ she said.
‘It’s where you may have a blockage or damage to your lymphatic system.’
Miss Thompson’s mother tried to help her daughter but nothing eased her suffering.
‘My mother, when I was little, she took me to all kinds of doctors’ offices trying to get me answers and try to get help to where I just kept on and kept on, never giving up but the condition has worsened over the years,’ she said.
‘When I was younger, I could wear pants, all kinds of clothing and shoes but now I can’t be comfortable wearing just a regular pair of jeans.’
She calls being unable to wear jeans a ‘stinker of lymphoedema’.
At home on March 14, Miss Thompson is open to meeting someone this year
Lymphoedema has no cure, with treatment focusing on minimising fluid build-up via compression stockings and a healthy lifestyle.
However, Miss Thompson’s case is so severe, these therapies have had little impact.
‘I have tried several types of alternative treatments and therapies,’ she said.
‘I have tried to look into liposuction for people who have lymphoedema but Medicaid [health coverage for low-income people] weren’t going to pay for it – they just offered the compression socks, which I have tried and didn’t work.’
Miss Thompson underwent surgery at 19 to have a grapefruit-sized mass removed from her leg.
While her mobility improved initially, her lymph fluid continued to build up, affecting her ability to walk.
Despite all she has endured, Miss Thompson is well known in her local area for her sunny disposition.
Her cousin Sharman – who lives five minutes away – said: ‘She just keeps going, she does a lot of things.
‘I know sometimes it may bother her when she is alone, she may think about it, but when she is with other people it doesn’t phase her.’
WHAT IS LYMPHOEDEMA?
Lymphoedema is a long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues.
Lymphoedema is a long-term condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues
It usually develops in the arms or legs.
Lymphoedema affects up to 10 million people in the US and more than 200,000 in the UK.
It occurs when the lymphatic system does not work properly.
The lymphatic system is a network of channels and glands that remove excess fluid and help fight infections.
As well as swelling, which is often worse during the day, other symptoms may include:
- An aching, heavy feeling
- Difficulty moving
- Repeated skin infections
- Hard, tight skin
- Wart-like growths
- Fluid leaking from the skin
- Folds developing in the skin
Lymphoedema can be inherited or occur as a result of infections, injuries or cancer treatment.
Around one in five women with breast cancer and half with vulval cancer develop lymphoedema.
There is no cure.
Treatment focuses on minimising fluid build up via compression stockings and a healthy lifestyle.
Source: NHS Choices
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