Hello. My name is Josh Baker: a 24 year old that knows far too little about the world.

In June of 2017 I caught cellulitis in my left leg. I was in hospital for nine days with the infection and came very close to losing my leg and at one point I even had a little dance with death. Luckily, he didn’t know the steps.

I am one of the many who suffer with Lymphoedema. It’s not a fun disease, but if you take care of yourself, it’s also not the end of the world. In most cases, you can make a real go of life and all its pleasures.

Learning to live with Lymphoedema is essential to maintaining your physical and mental health, but we’re only human after all, so a push in the right direction can be required to get to grips with the condition.

I learnt this the hard way when the cellulitis struck. All my plans were cancelled whilst on my hospital retreat which gave me a lot of time to think – but as we all know, too much head time can be a bad thing. Fortunately the NHS staff were wonderful, as were my family and especially my girlfriend.

My world hadn’t quite come crashing down, but it had become unclear and my former life ambitions seemed a tad pointless. The idea of travelling was terrifying, but the thought of going back to my day job made me feel even worse.

If you have spent a bit of time in ill health you’ll know your priorities quickly change. Even though I had hit rock bottom it was abundantly clear there was more to my life than rush hour, rushed jobs and rushing in general.

I left hospital with one very sore leg, a rather relieved family, but no real idea how to treat the condition going forward. Fibrosis (hardened lymph) dominated my leg making it difficult to move, so I didn’t. I felt isolated and it seemed no one I spoke to quite understood my situation in a way that brought me comfort.

Weeks later I was introduced to a Lymphoedema therapist. Within minutes it became very clear that she knew what she was talking about and for the first time since the infection took my leg I felt relieved – I was in safe hands. During my treatments I learnt how to manage my condition and consequently, how to live with it. Living with Lymphoedema is the key. Don’t simply put up with it: understand it, own it, and accept it as a part of who you are.

That’s why I started this blog. Left Leg First represents three things:

  • Take baby steps and don’t rush. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Your condition is unique to you and time is needed to learn what it is and how you can make it work for your lifestyle. Remember learning to walk? No. Me neither, but you get the analogy.
  • Walking is a large part of backpacking and there is no part of me that will sacrifice this element of travel, not even a debilitating disease in my left leg. But for this to work, one needs to be smart with preparation and self-care.
  • Some people have a dislike towards ketchup. Some people have a permanent disease that can be life threatening if they don’t look after it properly. Life has an interesting way of chucking curved balls in our direction, but the reality is, we all experience it, Lymphoedema or not. To make a real go of life, us Lymphies need to work with our condition, not against it. The sooner you grasp this, the sooner you can crack on with the finer things.

I hope you find my posts engaging and informative, maybe even inspiring. I would love every individual diagnosed with Lymphoedema to feel hopeful, not fearful – that’s what it’s all about.