The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


September 20, 2012

Living with lymphedema: Lyons determined to succeed

TARBORO — Have you ever known someone that was determined to overcome any obstacle? Meet John Henry Lyons, a Rocky Mount resident who has lived with a condition called lymphedema since childhood. Lymphedema is a chronic condition in which excess fluid collects in tissues causing edema, or swelling. It can be very debilitating. This condition commonly affects one of the arms or legs, and is incurable, yet with diligent care can be managed by the patient with proper education given by a certified lymphedema therapist or other trained healthcare provider.

Last March, his physician, Dr. Arul Vigg, at Vidant Multispecialty Clinic-Tarboro, referred Lyons to occupational therapy at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital. From March through July, Lyons worked tirelessly with occupational therapist Alex Measamer, a certified lymphedema therapist, and lymphedema occupational therapy assistant Artina Lomas. Lyons attended therapy three days a week for a two-hour session, and also had a home exercise regimen that was tailored specifically for him. Determination, perseverance, and a strong work ethic led Lyons to the point where he is now able to successfully manage and control his lymphedema in his lower leg.

“I was so pleased with Mr. Lyons’ progress,” Lomas said. “He was so compliant and did every exercise we asked. That is partly why he’s had so much success.”

During therapeutic sessions at the hospital, therapists would work with him on specific exercises, massage the lymphatic vessels and do a series of wraps on his affected leg.

“Over the course of my therapy at Vidant, I have seen much success,” Lyons said. “I think I’ve lost about 30 to 35 pounds of fluid, which is remarkable.” When asked about what he would say to other people that may suffer with this condition, he said, “it really does help. I advise anyone to get the therapy that’s offered. It does work.”

“I believe the therapy he’s received and his drive has been the key to his success,” said Lyons’ wife, Evangeline. “In order for anyone to have this kind of success with this condition, they have to really want it for themselves. I believe the whole experience has made him a happier person.”

Although he’s completed the occupational therapy program at Vidant Edgecombe, Lyons still maintains a daily home exercise routine, day and night.

To more accurately portray the success Lyons has had in controlling his condition, he shared his “before” and “after” leg measurements. At his first therapy session with the occupational therapy team in March, his lower leg measured 27.5 inches in circumference. And, on August t, he was proud to see that his leg measured a significantly smaller 21.25 inches.  

 “When I see success stories such as Mr. Lyons’ happen right in front of my face, it makes me love my job even more,” Measamer said. “Hard work and determination pays off, and I know Mr. Lyons will continue to do well. We’re here to help, and are grateful that we’ve earned our patients’ trust when working towards positive outcomes.”  


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