Page last updated:
5th June 2023

Living with Lymphoedema – Dennis’ story

Dennis' story
Read Dennis' cellulitis and lymphoedema story – “A blister turned into a skin infection that wouldn’t heal”

Retired taxi driver Dennis is 68 and lives in Salford with his wife Kate. Dennis has lymphoedema in both legs, but his leg problems really accelerated in 2015 with what started as a blister that wouldn’t heal:

“I noticed this blister on my leg that wasn’t going away. It got bigger and started weeping – enough to soak through my trousers. I went to the GP and they said it was cellulitis and prescribed me a week-long course of antibiotics. I hoped that would clear it up but it didn’t. The blister was just getting bigger and bigger”

Coping with cellulitis

This was just the beginning of Dennis’ ongoing battle with recurrent cellulitis:

“I went back to the GP surgery and they gave me more antibiotics and bandaged my leg from toe to knee. The bandaging helped a bit but as soon as they took the bandages off, the cellulitis would come back. I’d have maybe a week before I had to go back and get the leg rebandaged and get more antibiotics. It was really starting to get me down.”

By this point, the cellulitis infection was 75cm in diameter and really affecting Dennis’ day-to-day life:

“It made it very difficult for me to walk so I couldn’t go to the shops or anything like that. I had to swap my manual car for an automatic car because I couldn’t press the clutch. I was lucky that I wasn’t on my own and had my wife to help me. I’m not sure how you’d manage if you were single and didn’t have anyone to support you.”

Delayed lymphoedema referral and inadequate compression therapy

Dennis was eventually referred to a lymphoedema specialist who quickly established why Dennis was not healing. The specialist explains:

“The reason a lot of people, including Dennis, have problems is because they’re treated only below the knee. The swelling moves above the knee and when the bandage is removed, the swelling falls back down and the whole cycle of infection and swelling starts again.”

Dennis was given thigh-high compression therapy garments in a higher compression class then he had previously, which controlled his lymphoedema. He also had a longer course of antibiotics and was prescribed prophylactic antibiotics.

This treatment approach has led to a large reduction in the size of both Dennis’ legs and he has begun to feel much more in control of both the lymphoedema and the recurrent cellulitis:

“I’ve got my mobility back and am much more active now. I don’t have as many leg appointments any more, so I’ve got more time to do things I enjoy. Me and my wife are even thinking about going away on holiday for the first time in years. I feel like I’ve got my life back.”

Need to know more?

Find out more about leg ulcers including what to look out for

Read more about leg ulcers

Other support

NHS Choices the official NHS website, which provides vital information and support about leg and foot signs and other symptoms.

Contact details
Call 111 - for non-emergency medical advice
Find out more on the NHS Choices website

The Lindsay Leg Club Foundation Promoting and supporting community based treatment, health promotion, education and ongoing care for people who are experiencing leg-related problems - including leg ulcers and other wound care issues.

Contact details
01473 749565
Find out more on the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation website

The Circulation Foundation The Circulation Foundation is the UK’s only dedicated vascular charity. They fund and promote research into the causes, treatment and prevention of vascular disease.

Contact details
020 7205 7151
Find out more on The Circulation Foundation website

Society of Tissue Viability (The Society of Tissue Viability) aims to provide expertise in wound management to all healthcare professionals.

Contact details
Find out more on the Society of Tissue Viability website

Mind Mind is the UK’s leading mental health charity. They're there to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone you can call or text for free anytime.

Contact details
0300 123 3393 or text 86463
Find out more on the Mind's website

Samaritans Samaritans are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress. Call them free any time, from any phone.

Contact details
116 123
Find out more on the Samaritans' website

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