Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lymphedema, the TravelScoot, and Flying 150,000 miles/year

Dean and his lovely wife

From Dean Hughson:

Lymphedema after 15 years

About 15 years ago I began swelling in my one leg and couldn't figure out why. I shouldn't have been surprised because my daughter had came up with lymphedema when she was 9 but I didn't put the pieces together.  The doctor tried to inject dye into my ankle and it just hurt too much. Then I realized....drats, I have primary lymphedema which is the type that you inherit. I got to looking at pictures of other old men in my family and realized that my great grandfather had it and even my mother perhaps.  in the beginning it wasn't too much of a hassle. I just had to buy larger shoes but slowly it got to be a problem.  The proper way to handle it is to get manual lymph drainage massage and to do compression bandages but living in warm areas it is miserable to do that and I travel. So I do periodic 'tuneups' and do my best.  Approximately  10 years into it my walking got difficult. I can walk but not long distances. I started using the scooters at the grocery store and Walmarts and found that helped me so I bought first a large one, a Celebrity X model. It weighed 190 pounds and I had to drive it up a ramp into our van. Airports hated it because under ADA rules they must load it but it would take 3 or 4 people to do it. I then ran across a mobility scooter at  I am now on my second one. It weighs 34 pounds with the lithium battery in it and I can lift it out of my van with one hand. Airlines like it.  It took some training; ANA Airlines in Japan took it completely apart down to the last screw to see if it was dangerous and assigned a man to run along aside me in the airport; his name was Rabbit.  He quickly got tired of running and the next time, no runner. I have flown on many airlines and they 'get it' now.  They know me and actually are happy because the scooter isn't a bother. SAS Airlines actually took it into the baggage in business class and I was the first person off but usually it goes into the hold of the plane.  I also have become an expert on batteries and have learned much about how to keep the travelscooter running. You need a 'pit crew' if you fly more than 150,000 miles/year like I do.  The thing is that no longer am I forced to not go when people want to go to wine tastings or music concerts. I go right along now.  It has taken some 'emotional' work to accept being handicapped but I now understand I am just using a tool.  Like a hammer, it is what I need to do my job.   If you too are in need don't by shy; take the help that is available.  Life is good.


  1. Dean, thanks for sharing your story and for speaking to me on the phone this past spring about your TravelScoot. Thanks to you and Elizabeth I ordered my own in May and have since fallen on love with it. We've been to Myrtle Beach shopping numerous times, including yesterday and visited Philadelphia and the Liberty Bell in June.

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