By Denise Bennett

Nine years ago I had a total left knee replacement. I was 49 years old. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Here’s the reason why. Before my knee replacement, I thought about my knee all the time, and I do mean all the time. If I was awake, I was thinking about my knee. What time today would it become painful? Would those heels be comfortable to walk in all day? Would my day require me to walk further than would be comfortable? Could I ride my shopping cart across the grocery store parking lot to my car? Yes, I considered that.

When I first consulted with an orthopedic surgeon about my knee, he told me, “when your knee is making all of the decisions for you, you’ll let me know you are ready for surgery.” He was right. Finally, two years later, my knee was making all my decisions for me as to what I could and couldn’t do, what activities I could participate in, and even what shoes I could wear… and I love shoes.

Once I had the knee replacement, and was fully recovered, I realized one day that I no longer thought about my knee. I was whole again.

Since shortly after puberty, I have been thinking about my legs. My first recollections of being self-conscious of them came in high school gym class. We had to wear those totally unflattering one-piece jumpers, and believe me, there was no way to hide your legs in those things. I would strategically place myself in the back row during our exercise classes, hoping no one would notice that my legs were thick, and bumpy, my knees were bulging, and my arms were heavy.

As I got older, my hemline got longer, and finally I began to wear only long pants, never shorts, and stopped swimming in public pools. Hiding my legs was a daily part of my routine, not a part of my thoughts really, as I was living on autopilot. And then I learned about Lipedema. Legs suddenly became a part of my conscious thoughts. My daily thoughts were about my legs. When would I get a diagnosis? When would I find out if I could have surgery? Was it okay for me to spend money on getting my liposuction surgery? Then there was the countdown to my surgery dates. Legs. Legs. Legs.

before and after photos of legs | lipedema liposuctionAfter my surgeries, all I could think about was how good my legs felt. How small they looked. How they looked like someone else’s legs. How they were more swollen today. How they were skinny today. Did they look lumpy? Do they look ok? Is the Lipedema coming back? Is my compression garment tight enough? Do these jeans make my legs look thinner? Thicker? Longer? Legs. Legs. Legs.

So my answer to the questions, “Will I ever stop thinking about my legs?” is this. Perhaps not. I have been worried about them, I have hated them, for far too many years to be able to imagine that I will stop thinking about them. What I am hoping for is this. That I will be more grateful to them. More appreciative of them. Thank them for carrying a heavy burden for so many years. Caress them for holding me up, never failing me, allowing me to have the rich, wonderful life that I have lived. They are not perfect. They will never be perfect.

Here is my goal. I want to change “thinking” to “thanking”. Will I ever stop thanking my legs? No. Thank you, beautiful, healthy, sturdy, wonderful legs. Smile.

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