Honeymoon hell: Woman left with ‘fake’ leg after illness triggers limb to double in size
A woman has been left with a ‘troll’ leg after a honeymoon illness triggered the limb to double in size.
Kelly Roberts, 35, from Maidstone, Kent, was diagnosed with a severe water infection just two weeks after her dream wedding.
And despite it ruining her honeymoon with Stewart, 33, in Loch Ness, Scotland, it wasn’t until she got home that her leg started to rapidly swell.
Baffled doctors first thought Kelly was suffering from a blood clot but she was later diagnosed with lympheodema – an incurable condition that causes swelling in the body’s tissues, normally affecting the lower limbs.
Since her diagnosis she has worn a skin coloured compression garment to control the swelling of her larger leg – something that has led to cruel strangers taunting that her leg is fake.
But she’s sharing her story to educate others and raise awareness about the condition in a bid to break down stigmas attached to those with physical differences.
Kelly, a Procurement Manager for the County Council, said: “I was a newlywed enjoying my honeymoon when I fell ill with a severe water infection.
“I was completely knocked off my feet but it wasn’t until I got home that my leg doubled in size.
“I knew it wasn’t normal but not being a worrier, I assumed it was an insect bite or something.
“After visiting our local hospital, just to be on the safe side, I was diagnosed with a suspected blood clot and given blood thinners.
“But nothing helped, and after MRI and ultrasound scans came back normal, doctors were left baffled.
“Thankfully my mum, Christine, 62, worked with someone who had lymphoedema and I had all the symptoms, that prompted my diagnosis six months later.
“I was so upset when I realised nothing could be done to help me, I just had to wear a compression garment and get on with my life.
“My lymphoedema is thought to have been triggered by the water infection on my honeymoon, I later found out I had weakened lymphnodes in my groin because of an internal birthmark which is why the swelling has started in my left leg.
“I took just one week off work and now I never hide my leg away, despite people staring and pointing.
“I hope my story educates those who don’t know what lympheodema is as it’ll help break down the stigma attached to those with different sized limbs.”
Despite being heartbroken at first, Kelly has dealt with her diagnosis extraordinarily well and has even nicknamed it as her ‘troll’ leg.
Kelly added: “I’ve named it ‘troll leg’ because I’m slim everywhere else other than my left leg, it doesn’t even look as though it is part of me.
“I laugh about the name and I feel it’s allowed me to come to terms with it easier as well.
“I know now there’s no need to shy away from wearing shorts or dresses when you have lymphoedema, it’s not anything to be ashamed of.
“I have such a supportive family and Stewart has been amazing at picking me up when I’m having a bad day.
“Luckily I knew about a lymphoedema clinic nearby too thanks to my mum’s friend and I go there now for regular check-up and support.”
One of the main struggles for those diagnosed with lymphoedema is finding clothes and shoes that fit properly.
Kelly said: “When I’m buying shoes I need one size four and the other a bigger size, it’s really expensive to buy to pairs of shoes but I have no choice.
“I’m used to it now though so I don’t let it get me down, I often wear shorts as buying jeans and leggings can be equally as difficult.”
Since her symptoms first started in 2011, Kelly feels she has come a long way and is back to her normal, happy self.
She added: “It was a real shock at first but I’m used to it now, I heard a few young men who were walking behind me say that I had a fake leg not so long ago but it didn’t faze me.
“I just aim to educate everyone I meet so they know it is in fact lymphoedema and not false.
“I’ve dealt with it for five years now and even though it does feel heavy and aches, I won’t let it control my life and I hope others reading this who have recently been diagnosed can see that things get better and that there is support available.”
A spokesperson from The Lymphoedema Support Network, said: “The lymphatic system is the silent warrior of our bodies it quietly goes about its jobs of fighting infection, keeping the fluid in our bodies balanced and even fighting cancer cells and yet most of us don’t even notice it is there.
“Sometimes however, if our lymphatic system does not develop properly or if it is damaged, then it stops doing its job and the effects of this are all too noticeable.
“This swelling for Kelly and the estimated other 200,000 people in the UK with chronic swelling associated with lymphoedema will never go away, there is no cure and the only treatments involve an intensive daily care regieme of compression, skin care, movement and massage.
“Many people living with lymphoedema become sad and even depressed, others choose to face it head on and not let it interfere with what they want to achieve but most people, like any of us, have good times and bad times and it can be of such value to hear inspirational stories like Kelly’s.
“Our charity is run by those with the condition, they understand and are committed to making a real difference for Kelly and all those with lymphoedema.”
Do you, or someone you know, have a similar story to tell? Get in touch today to earn £££ and raise awareness.