I tilted my head slightly as I peered in the full-length bathroom mirror. Yes, my left calf was substantially larger than my right.
About five hours later, I found myself in the emergency room at UPMC Hamot.
A word to the wise: Calf swelling is sometimes an indication of a blood clot. If you notice it, you should visit your doctor.
In my case, the swollen calf caused a WebMD-induced freakout, a brief encounter with a worried doctor, a series of blood tests, X-rays and two hospital visits.
Luckily, no blood clot was found in my leg. Pale and somewhat shaken, I left the hospital, elevated the limb and prayed the swelling would subside.
In the past week, more hours have been logged examining my legs than I ever imagined possible. Doctors and nurses have pored over it, murmuring softly to themselves with puzzled looks in their eyes. Friends have asked to see the swollen leg as if it were a circus attraction (and let’s be honest, if it were, it would belong in the freak show). And I have logged several sessions in front of my mirror, head tilted and one leg still larger than the other.
No one wants to be a medical mystery. We go to medical professionals in the hope that their expertise and years of schooling will cure what ails us. Pop this pill, perform this exercise, eat (or don’t eat) this food, and your illness or injury will slowly but surely fade into your distant memory, we hope they will say. In the very least, we assume they know what is wrong with us.
In the case of the swollen leg, the experts have been baffled, and I have been forced to live with uncertainty.
Could it be the mark of a blood clot, despite all of the negative tests? There’s a chance.
Could it be an indication of a different serious health problem? Perhaps.
Could it be a bizarre occurrence and nothing more? Sure.
I may never know.
Life lessons can be found in the brief moments, the quick exchanges and occasionally, the swelling of extremities. It is frightening to forgo control in any situation, particularly one involving your health. But sometimes, you have to trust that everything will turn out all right or that, if it doesn’t, you have the courage to face what life hands you. Therein lies maturity.
Then again, sometimes a swollen leg is just a swollen leg.
Clipart courtesy of Wikimedia Commons