Sure, everyone warns you about how your feet will swell when you’re pregnant, but your leg doubling in size? It’s fair to say that’s definitely not mentioned in What to Expect When you’re Expecting. But for 31-year-old Australian Sarah Buller, that’s exactly what happened.
“It was like one day I went to bed with two normal legs and the next morning I woke up and had one huge leg in comparison,” the mother-of-two says.
“I was so shocked but doctors did tests and nothing showed up so I guess we all just hoped the swelling would go down after I gave birth. But the bigger my bump got the bigger my leg got too and it just never went back.”
Triggered by her first pregnancy, the former model was eventually diagnosed with lymphedema – a condition that affects the lymphatic system and the body’s ability to circulate lymph fluid, which then causes swelling in the body’s tissues.
Sharing her hard-to-believe tale on her personal blog, Lymphosaurus Rex, Buller, who lives with her husband Bruce, 3-year-old daughter Charlie and 1-year-old son Jagger in the south of France, Buller says strangers will often stop her on the street to ask what’s wrong with her.
A photo posted by @lymphosaurus_rex on
“I often just laugh now and tell them I’ve been attacked by a shark and walk off, it definitely stumps people,” she says, admitting that it’s only in recent times that she has started to gain her confidence back. “I started wearing baggy trousers and long dresses to hide my leg as I felt ashamed, but now I’ve learnt that lymphoedema is a part of who I am so I want to encourage people to embrace it too.”
Having to wear compression bandages daily, Buller says her condition is now so severe “the slightest knock or bump can cause a huge flare up.”
Amazingly, though, it’s because of her blog that Buller has found both medical and social support.
“After starting my blog and Instagram page I was made aware of all the different treatments available and I realised how many people all over the world were suffering from the same thing.
“In May I underwent surgery which involved taking healthy lymph nodes from just below my armpits and putting them in my leg to help,” she writes, continuing, “The surgery takes minimum one year to start working and see significant results but I’ve seen a huge difference already.”
Buller has said she is committed to continuing to share her story and treatment of her condition as time goes on.