I Named My Leg Bertha

Last July, Sam and I were in a motorcycle accident while driving home from a weekend trip. It was one of those freak things (aren't they always?). A driver swerved to miss a deer, snapped off a telephone pole, and we became entangled in the cables draped across the road. (Never swerve to miss an animal, kids.)

While we both (literally) walked away from that accident, I suffered the worst casualties, with a scraped foot (always wear protective gear when riding a bike), and a swollen thigh.  I pointed out the swollen thigh to the ER doc, and was met with "yeh, it'll go down. Let me look at that foot!" Personally, the thigh was my main concern, because it fascinated me. I felt it swell like someone was airing it up with a tire pump the second Sam lifted the bike off me. (Mad props to the handsome rescuer, swooping in to save his damsel in distress.) The swollen area had a rectangular shape, was as big as my open hand (which was most of my thigh) and was about 1" high. Weirdly, I couldn't get a doctor to take that large lump seriously because THE FOOT, OH MY GOSH. (I mean, the foot did get infected, and then I was allergic to all the salves we could think of, but still.)

When the foot was finally on the mend, I was able to get a doctor to show interest in my huge thigh. By now, I was a few weeks out from the accident, and the swelling hadn't even begun to shrink. I named the ginormous thing Bertha, because if you're going to be saddled with a growth that large, you should have fun with it.

I wore compression wraps on my leg most of the time, but they didn't do much good. The orthopedic doctor said it was a hematoma that refused to heal itself, and drained it. It was blessedly smaller, but still not small. I followed orders to keep Bertha under compression for another week to promote healing, but as soon as I took the wrap off at the end of the week, Bertha grew again. (Much like me, after quitting a diet.) I went back to the ortho, had the small lake in my leg drained again, and the doc and I had a serious discussion. I was sure it was not a hematoma, but instead a Morel Lavellee lesion. The doc discredited that notion, maintaining the hematoma stand, and we discussed what further action needed to be taken if Bertha grew again.

She did, which gained her an MRI, which did not make me happy. (Claustrophobia was a side effect of pregnancy #2.) The doc then agreed with me on my diagnosis, which gave us a direction to head from there, which was surgery. This also did not make me happy because I have an irrational fear of sedation, weirdly. Turns out, it wasn't even anything to worry about (of course), and surgery was a breeze.

Bertha was forcefully evicted in early December. While we had grown to be pretty attached to each other, I was kind of excited to be rid of her. She hindered sleep at night, and while that was really the only issue I had with her, I value my sleep. A lot. (Well, that, and sometimes it was super weird to feel the water bag on my leg slosh around when I walked quickly or ran. That's why I don't run. Sloshy Bertha isn't fun.)

I had a compression wrap on my leg for 2 solid weeks after surgery (and, honestly, almost half of 2016), and when it came off and I had the stitches removed, it was a little disconcerting to find a swollen patch on my leg. The good doc called it a scar, and said he could do surgery to remove it, but it stood a great chance of causing a hematoma.... we both agreed that Bertha's smaller size could be tolerated for the rest of my life. (It was easier for him to come to this conclusion, of course. It's not his leg, after all.)

So Bertha and I are still rather attached to each other, and we have an understanding that she won't swell anymore and will let me sleep at night, and I let her be part of me. (I like to pretend that I have a choice.) I do find weird medical things so fascinating, though, and this is no different. Bertha is now best compared to the super thick fat on the side of a roast that needs to be cut off. It's not sloshy anymore, but thick and fatty-like. The oddest thing is that Bertha has no feeling. She's numb. (You'd think she was the one traumatized by ME growing on HER. Sheesh. Scarry lumps of flesh are sensitive these days.)

I'm grateful for a lot of things, such as the fact that we had no serious injuries after the accident, and that the bike is still a viable means of transportation. I'm also grateful that I have little vanity. I love leggings in the wintertime because they're amazing things that fit so comfortably (and probably should never be worn by people my size). They also do a terrible job of hiding large fleshy scars, however, and I have decided that I don't even care. So if you see me out and about, be sure to say hi to the lump on my leg. Her name is Bertha.

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