Arvin's Lymphedema Story - Pella Regional Health Center

Certified Lymphedema Close to Home

Patient Story: Arvin

The day before Thanksgiving in 2016, Arvin Vos had emergency back surgery. He was home by mid-December and then suffered from a blood clot on Christmas day. While he recovered well overall, his one concern was the swelling and weakness in his right leg. 

This problem continued and got worse as time went on. His physicians continued to recommend giving it time. In spring of 2018 the swelling was so bad that his skin broke and he got an infection. At that point, he was referred to Dr. Jackson, rheumatologist who practices at Pella Regional, thinking Arvin may have arthritis. 

At his appointment with Dr. Jackson, Arvin was diagnosed with lymphedema. Lymphedema is chronic swelling caused by a buildup of fluid that occurs due to injury, trauma or congenital malformation of the lymphatic system.

While there is no cure for lymphedema, it can be effectively managed. Arvin started going to Therapy Services at Pella Regional three times a week for treatment. At that point, Arvin was in a lot of pain and it took everything he had to walk. 

Kara Groenenboom, OTA, is one of the few certified lymphedema therapists in the area and got right to work on getting Arvin’s pain and swelling under control.

Arvin started using compression socks which worked well for him. “I start at a size F,” shared Arvin. “Now I’m down to size D which is as small as it goes. They work well and are not a hassle like other things I’ve tried.”

Arvin progressed down to two appointments a week and then down to one appointment each week. Appointments include massage and Kinesio tape to encourage lymphatic system drainage.

“I’ve made significant progress,” said Arvin. “My pain is gone, my skin color is returning to normal and I’m up to 50-60% of strength in my leg now. I even walked up the stairs for my last appointment without using the hand rail.”

Arvin shared that he was pleased to be able to find an expert in lymphedema in Pella so that he does not have to go to Des Moines. “They are also able to be flexible in their hours,” shared Arvin.

Arvin is doing a lot better and is hoping that he continues to get better. “I’ll need to deal with this a little for the rest of my life but I’m thrilled with the progress I’ve made.”