Traveling is like a final exam for me: I have to apply all the things I have learned about managing Post-Omentectomy Fluid Retention Syndrome (POFCS). At home, I can stray with relatively minor consequences … a little more salt here, a little less exercise there. But not when I travel.
Most restaurant food has enough salt to send me into several days of an uncomfortably, swollen abdomen, and excessive bathroom activity. At home, I prepare most of my food, pack my lunch, and eat dinner out once or twice a week. I know which local restaurants rely on spices for flavor, instead of salt - a Moroccan restaurant and a Thai restaurant are particularly reliable. I can order off of the heart-healthy menu at our local Chinese restaurant without any consequences.
When I travel, I plan and prepare ahead so that I make two-out-of-three of my meals each day (I travel with a small cooler). Eating only one restaurant or host-prepared meal each day seems to give my digestive track a fighting chance. When dining out, I find a local, non-chain restaurant the best bet. Ethnic restaurants and farm-to-table restaurants are especially good choices (taste good and unlikely to cause a flare-up). When dining out, I ask if side dishes are made in-house as even pricey restaurants regularly use commercial products, especially for side dishes such as rice pilaf and sweet potato mash.
Exercise-wise, I stay at a hotel with a pool, whenever possible. Getting in the water every day for 20 to 30 minutes helps tremendously (see links below). If the pool is big enough, I swim laps. In smaller pools, I tread water or do exercises in the shallow end. When a pool is not available, I take a tub before bed; still some water pressure, just not as much as in a pool. A little yoga and Pilates in the morning leverage the ability of both gravity and exercise to help move lymphatic fluid.
And I pack plenty of Kinesio tape (KT tape; see links below) when I travel. I wear KT tape faithfully every day when away from home, otherwise, I usually wear it just two or three days a week. KT tape has made a significant difference in my life. The first time a lymphedema specialist applied KT tape on my torso, I immediately felt gurgling and several hours later, experienced the first normal, healthy, well-formed bowel movement since my cancer-staging surgery – a glorious thing worthy of celebration! The value of a well-functioning digestive track is underrated and often taken for granted.
On a recent trip, my son and I traveled to Florida to spend a few days with my folks and then my step-daughter. I packed food for the plane, and bought some food for the hotel room. I swam every day and wore KT tape. Away from home for six days and all AOK, yay! I passed the final exam!
I hope my strategies are helpful for other cancer survivors living without an omentum. In future blog posts, I will provide more specifics about the suite of three strategies that help me manage POFCS:
The Suite of Three Strategies:
Eat Strategically [“homemade from scratch”, 12-12; hydrate]
Exercise Daily [move often; cardio; gravity/water pressure]
Energize Lymph Flow [Kinesio tape; manual work; other]
If you have found strategies that help you, please share them either in the comment space below, or join the closed Facebook group, “Living Without an Omentum”.
Coming soon to the recipe page – recipes for food that travels well.
For information on aqua therapy for lymphedema, visit:
For information on Kinesio tape and lymphedema, visit: