Carina Schmalenberg is a lipoedema patient, blogger and recently also a model for medi
Her home is Dinslaken, in the “Pott (Ruhr region)”, but the 29-year-old feels just as at home on the Internet: Carina Schmalenberg has been reporting on life with lipoedema as the “Ruhrpott Fräulein (Miss Ruhr)” on the blog www.ruhrpottfraeulein.de since 2015. In the meantime, the fashion-loving IT project manager has also become one of the faces of the mediven flat knit campaign “Enjoy every moment”. Besides her job as an IT project manager, writing is her great passion. In an interview, she talks about her path to a diagnosis of lipoedema and why education about the disease is so important.
Miss Schmalenberg, how did you get diagnosed with lipoedema?
I have been affected by hot, humid weather and weather changes since I was a teenager. Then I got severe pain in my arms and legs, often accompanied by numbness or a tingling sensation. It was also hard for me to climb stairs or walk longer distances – my legs felt as heavy as concrete. In 2015, a friend of mine advised me to see an angiologist. The vascular specialist diagnosed a stage II lipoedema in my arms and legs.”
Has the diagnosis changed your life?
“Only positively! The diagnosis provided an explanation for the many unexplained symptoms I had. I now understand my body much better, live more consciously since the diagnosis and pay more attention to my health. I also learnt more about the disease lipoedema. That meant I got to know a lot of great people – other affected people, medical specialists and “medical fairies”, who motivate and inspire me again and again with their energy and vitality. I have made some really great friends by regularly sharing our stories.”
What do your friends and family think of the blog www.ruhrpottfraeulein.de?
“My family and friends give me their full support. So far there has only been positive feedback. That encourages me to continue to pour a lot of love and energy into the blog. The focus is on lipoedema. However, I also deal with other topics, for example, I am currently reporting on how it is for me stopping the contraceptive pill, and I write a lot about the menstrual cycle. But you can also find beauty and fashion topics on my blog, because make-up and fashion are another passion of mine.”
What do you think of the colour and design selection in the compression treatment?
“The current range of colours and designs is great: There is something for every patient to create their personal feel-good outfit. At present medi are the only company offering four standard colours and then nine more trend colours. In addition, there are the design and fashion elements that provide even more variety. Sometimes I am really spoilt for choice when I have to decide on a new fitting – but of course in a positive sense. I am excited about the possibilities I have as an affected person to integrate compression into my personal clothing style. It’s simply awesome!”
Have you tried the new flexure functional zones for knees and elbows?
“Yes, they have really proven invaluable in my everyday life! When I’m cycling, I enjoy the greater freedom of movement thanks to the flexure functional zone for the knees and when I’m working at the desk, the flexure functional zone fot the elbows provide additional comfort. The soft fabric is gentle on the sensitive crook of my arm and hollow of my knee.”
What message do you have for others affected?
“The diagnosis of lipoedema doesn’t decide who you are, how happy you are or how great you look. You are much more than the disease. Don’t let lipoedema control you. Stay strong, brave and beautiful – stay as you are, because you are simply great.”