I had just turned thirty. We had just moved to Dallas, TX. My husband, the love of my life, had just started his new job at UTSW. I had just launched my consulting company, non-profit, and new life “brand.”
I was an active 30-year old urban-going Dallas-ite ready to take on the world: biking to meetings, walking around downtown, and enjoying life. Life was good. My lymph system was good.
My usual Saturday morning workout was an 8-mile run. I loved the run, the mileage, the time, and my ability to be back in an hour. #humblebrag
In March 2016, without incident, my knee started to hurt during my run. Perhaps I knocked it somewhere. Perhaps I stepped on something incorrectly. Perhaps my shoes were wearing thin. I changed my shoes. Nothing. My mysterious knee pain only started to hurt me after mile six. Odd.
A couple months later, also known as shorts season, still with the mile six pain, I noticed that one thigh was bigger than the other. Strange?
Then my knee pain hit me while on the elliptical, and then while walking down the street. “Ok, fine.” I said. “I’ll go to the orthopedist.”
MRI of my knee: fine. FYI your thigh is swollen.
Mediraldospac + minimal exercise: no change.
“I give up.” He said. Go see a vascular surgeon.
Ultrasound of both legs: fine.
CT Scan (abdomen/pelvis): fine. FYI you can see some swelling here.
“So I am super healthy sick person with inexplicable pain in my knee, plus swelling in my thigh, but you don't know why?” Next!
Two months working with a kinesiologist: no change.
Two months in single leg compression stocking: groin irritation (aka. The swelling progressed)
Physical medicine and rehabilitation: "... you may have lymphedema."
“But that doesn't make any sense! I am an active, healthy, weight-appropriate, 31-year old who hasn't ever had surgery or been in any type of traumatic accident. The swelling is in my thigh and only recently extended to my calf, ankle, and toes.”
Ultrasound (2) of both legs: fine.
MRI of thigh: fine. FYI your thigh is swollen.
Blood work: fine.
November 30, 2016 I started seeing my occupational therapist (better know to me as my Advisor) to begin lymphedema treatment. I had not accepted the diagnosis, but was prepared to do what she told me to decrease the swelling. 5-weeks of full-time bandaging and the swelling decreased.
January 9, 2017 I spoke with Dr. Nguyen at the Integrative Lymphedema Institute. “After reviewing all of your test results. My diagnosis is primary lymphedema. Lymphedema is a diagnosis of exclusion. You ruled out all possible causes.”