So more about me…I think I said I’m 40. I’ll be 41 in July. I spent the first 18 years of my life in rural Indiana. It wasn’t always a happy childhood, but I survived. It made me a fighter. I moved around a bit in my early 20s mostly living in Ohio.
I moved to Maryland in 2004 after I graduated college. I worked hard and partied harder. I usually went through days on four to five hours of sleep. I ate terribly and I smoked. Other than moving around at work, I didn’t exercise much. In 2006 I decided to quit smoking and succeeded. I just noticed my legs swelling and getting tight in my work pants.
I had to call off work one morning, because I couldn’t get my pants over my calves. (This had happened a few times before in my early 20s. The doc said I had a kidney infection and sent me on my way.) I made a doctor appointment. Doc said she didn’t know what was wrong with me and was going to send me to a vascular surgeon. I had a few varicose veins and she thought that may have something to do with it. Long story short, my legs went back to normal and I never made the appointment.
My legs started swelling again, but I could wear work pants and didn’t give it much thought. It was Christmas season and I was working a lot of double shifts, on my feet, on a cement floor. I mentioned it in checkup, but my weight was mentioned and my unhealthy lifestyle.
February 18, 2007 I felt weird. I passed out while putting clothes in the dryer. I came too and felt really weird. I tried to make it to my bed to lay down and passed out again. when I came to the second time, I tried to call my fiance at the times’ mother. (we were living in her basement.) She didn’t answer thinking it was a butt dial. I somehow crawled up the stairs and made it to the hallway. Finally got someones attention. 911 was called, but I refused to transport, because no one would call my fiance.
I felt odd for days, but managed to go back to work. I passed out a few more times, but nothing too significant. I went to the doctor, but she was on vacation and had to see the nurse practitioner. My Bp was through the roof and my resting heart rate was insane. NP said I had bronchitis, my legs were huge because I’m over weight, and sent me on my merry way. The next day I ended up at the ER and was in the hospital for a month. I had a Large saddle pulmonary embolism. I almost died.
My point of this long story is: I had an undiagnosed blood clotting disorder (Factor V Leiden). Undiagnosed Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is what caused my secondary lymphedema.
I had to almost die to find out I had lymphedema.
Let that sink in folks.