It wasn’t until I hit puberty that I noticed my legs gaining weight, I didn’t think anything of it at first in all honesty. I hadn’t particularly put any weight on anywhere else and I wasn’t overweight either.
I was about 14 or 15 when I started thinking they looked horrible, feeling insecure about how my legs looked. I stopped wearing anything that would show my legs…. bye bye femininity, I thought. Braving it, I visited my local GP, they prodded, looked and turned to me and said “it must be water retention” I felt relieved thinking phew they will be back to “normal” soon. They didn’t.
At about 16 I was really insecure about my legs, I wasn’t far off being an adult and my legs were still big. My bottom had got rounder, my thighs were chunky and my calves didn’t look like anyone else I knew. I had no ankles, it was like they had been removed. I started to lose weight. I got myself a job as a cloakroom attendant in the local nightclub, the rails were too high so I had to use a crate so I could reach. Well that was perfect! I thought yes, all of this exercise was bound to shift this weight!! But it didn’t. My waist got smaller, my shoulders and arms got smaller, my bottom and thighs also got a bit smaller, but my legs stayed the same. At this point I was beyond despair as I had just been accepted into college to study beauty therapy, my stomach churned when I found out that the first year required me to wear a dress. What was I going to do? I attended, but I got changed in a toilet or in the classroom if I could but a lot of the time I had to brave being seen in public with my dress on, my legs on show. I had never felt so nervous or uncomfortable before. I tried my hardest not to look at anyone incase I noticed them laugh at me. It got easier because I didn’t see anyone stare, until we had a makeup competition. We all had to do it in the entrance of the college in the big foyer. My sister came along for support and whilst sat down to watch she heard someone commenting nastily on my legs. When I found out I was crushed. I was a freak in my eyes.
Moving on to when I was in my twenties I had got away with not having to show my legs off. I had massive insecurities and they didn’t help when it came to relationships, even though none of my boyfriends seemed to care I still couldn’t face them seeing them. It proved difficult at times.
That horrible embarrassed and ashamed feeling came flooding back when I was 23 and I was in hospital after I had just given birth to my first son, a midwife came in to check on me. She took one look at my legs and gasped saying “you should get someone to look at those, they shouldn’t go like that after birth” I felt sheepish trying to explain “they have always been like that”. She must have felt awkward because she muttered “oh” and rushed out of the room without another word.
I often wondered if there was anyone else in the world with legs like mine. I’d always be looking at others peoples legs when walking in busy streets hoping to see someone else with similar tree trunks type limbs, but I never did.
Late last year, November I think it was, I was watching This Morning with Philip Schofield and there was a lady on there talking about her legs, they were 10 stone. I was watching with my mouth wide open as the shape, the description and side effects sounded all too familiar but this lady’s condition was more severe than mine, it was Lipoedema. That was the turning point! I knew now what it was that had made me so insecure, it had to be right? I went straight to the GP who had no understanding of what Lipoedema even was. He researched and recommended I get measured for compression tights with the practice nurse. I tell you what but fate certainly was on my side when I went in for measurements that day as she looked at my legs and said “You have Lipoedema, you need special compression garments” she was part of a leg clinic and specialised in Lymphedema which is similar. Every wednesday they hold a clinic to help people with leg problems and I was sent there to be measured for specially made compression tights, I felt so nervous because I was much younger than the other patients in the clinic but I felt so much better knowing I wasn’t alone. They told me they had never seen anyone as young as me with Lipoedema.
After numerous visits to the doctors in the past complaining of constant leg aches and painfulness, just to be told “that’s just they way they are” or “it’s your kidneys”, I felt a sense of freedom, which i’m glad to share with you all. I hope this helps someone else that may be suffering in silence. If you are one of those people and are reading this…. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.