“My left leg is more than twice the size of my right – people call me ‘log leg’

Didi Okoh, 19, was diagnosed with lymphedema in 2016 at the age of 13, a rare condition that caused her left leg to fill up with excess fluid and become swollen

Didi Okoh, 19
Didi Okoh, 19

A woman’s left leg is more than twice the size of her right leg due to a rare condition that causes it to fill with fluid and become swollen.

Didi Okoh’s left leg is massively swollen where excess fluid is accumulating in it and with a minor cut it can even leak for days.

The 19-year-old was first diagnosed with lymphedema in 2016 when she was just 13, and due to her unique condition, the teen was sometimes teased and asked rude questions.

She first noticed a problem with her left leg while attending a morning for gifted and talented athletics at a local center in March 2015.

A friend commented that one of her thighs looked “bigger than the other”.

Didi’s legs are of different sizes due to the rare condition


Courtesy of Didi Okoh/SWNS)

The 19-year-old was diagnosed with the disease in 2016


Courtesy of Didi Okoh/SWNS)

After that, the avid athlete went to her GP, who just told her to take Calpol and rest as she assumed the size difference was due to muscle swelling from overuse.

But after a year of appointments, Didi was finally diagnosed with lymphedema after visiting a consultant at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

But as a teenager, she was often teased about her “log leg” and often faced rude or pushy questions and comments about it and her clothes.

Didi, a law and criminology student at the University of Birmingham who is originally from Chelmsford, Essex, said: “It’s such a rare condition that doctors didn’t recognize it at first.

Didi is a keen athlete and for the first time on an athletics morning he noticed something was going on


Courtesy of Didi Okoh/SWNS)

Excess fluid collects in her left leg, causing it to swell


Courtesy of Didi Okoh/SWNS)

“I’ve always been very into sports, so we thought my muscles were just swollen.

“But it started spreading and getting more and more painful, so we knew something was wrong.

“It’s a progressive condition, it goes in stages. If I didn’t have treatment or manage the condition, it would be a lot worse.

“Right now it’s one and a half times bigger than the other leg. It can sometimes get smaller as I handle it, but it will never be the same size as the other leg.

“It was tough when I was about 15 because my leg was getting bigger and I was insecure. But when I turned 18 I realized I can’t romp around and I feel bad about it because it’s not going anywhere. I decided then and there to just embrace it, and I feel so much more confident now.”

Even the smallest cut can cause her leg to lose fluid for days


Courtesy of Didi Okoh/SWNS)

Didi struggles to find jeans and shorts to match her uneven legs, but has discovered her own style, finding dresses and skirts to pull down over her large limbs.

She was diagnosed in July 2016 – and has since been told there are no surgery or treatment options for her specific type of lymphedema.

She manages the swelling by wearing high compression tights and elevating her leg. Didi said: “I’ve always been quite a lively and positive person but after my diagnosis I struggled.

“As the swelling spread to my whole leg and the pain got worse, I got really angry.”

When Didi’s lymphedema flares up, she can experience extreme tiredness — sometimes struggling to get out of bed.

As a result of the condition, she can suffer from a range of symptoms including extreme fatigue


Courtesy of Didi Okoh/SWNS)

The swelling can make it difficult for her to sit down and concentrate on her studies, and she described the pain as “like lactic acid times ten”.

The fluid buildup in their legs can sometimes leak out of their skin through small cuts or bites.

“My cat Flora sat on my lap once and she must have bent me slightly. I didn’t even feel it, but then fluid started pouring out of my leg,” Didi said.

She continued, “It really scared me at first, but now I know what I understand, that it’s just part of my condition.

“Once my leg starts leaking it can last for days, so I’ve learned to get used to it.”

Didi’s friends and family have been incredibly supportive of her condition, but she has found that strangers aren’t always so kind.

Didi said: “A woman stopped me in the street and told me that I had to pray. People often stop and stare at my legs – some even come straight up to me and ask what’s wrong with me.

“It’s quite rude and used to bother me when I was younger but now I feel like people just don’t know enough about it and need to be educated. Instead of getting angry, I simply explain to them that I have an illness.”

Didi’s love of sport has taken her frustrations out in a positive way, and she’s working towards being classified as a Para-athlete – with a goal of becoming a Paralympian in the future.

“After the diagnosis I found it very difficult to compete because I was so tired and my swollen leg was so painful.

“The coaches didn’t want to take me either because I was at higher risk of injury and they didn’t want to take responsibility for that.

“It was a difficult time and I had to stop competing on track and switch to hammer throw so that my legs would not be under so much strain.

“But athletics is my passion and I didn’t want my condition to dictate my life. I’m trying my best to just keep going and not define myself by it.

“Now I’m in the process of qualifying as a para athlete – it’s been great to be back doing what I love.

“It would be a dream come true to compete in the Paralympics, but more than anything I want to use my story to help others who may be struggling with their health or their confidence.”

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