A Stumble in the Dark Leads to the Worst EDS Bruising in Years

Columnist Karen Del Vecchio smashes her shin on a frozen water trough

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by Karen Del Vecchio |

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After setting off a pain flare with a brief shoulder subluxation, or partial dislocation, a few weeks ago, I’ve thankfully been able to get things under control. Babying it a little bit and getting bodywork from my amazing massage therapist, Kim, brought the pain back to a manageable level and put me on the track toward healing.

But just a few days later, I managed to give myself one of the worst bruises I’ve had in years. I was filling water troughs on the farm where I live, and it was dark, with below-freezing temperatures. The barnyard light had burned out, and what should have been a simple change of a lightbulb turned into a situation in which the entire light fixture had died.

Considering the fact that it’s well off the ground and a very old fixture, I didn’t have the easy solution I’d hoped for. Fixing it would take time. The area where I was working was relatively dark, but that’s not unusual for me. I know my way around, moonlight often provides sufficient light for basic chores, and I always carry a heavy-duty flashlight if needed.

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After wrestling with a partly frozen hose and scrubbing the trough, my hands were frozen (because of course I’d forgotten to grab my gloves). My flashlight is metal, so after finishing, I turned it off and began to head out of the field, where I easily knew the way. What I forgot was that the farm owner had placed a second half-sized trough in the field.

The moment I felt my shin hit the edge of the frozen plastic, I knew it was going to be a doozy. I slammed full-force into it while walking with purpose.

I used to get bruises like this a lot while playing soccer when I was younger. They prompted my family and doctors to start looking into the cause. Eventually, at age 22, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). People with EDS often bruise easily, and the wounds heal quite slowly.

I knew this particular bruise would be ugly. Typically, putting a light wrap on the bruise makes a big difference by helping me avoid aggravating it while walking. But the next day, I overslept and then realized that my first-aid materials were in the barn. I decided to go to work at my school and deal with it later.

That turned out to be a less-than-stellar idea. Simply walking down the halls was painful, and I couldn’t hide my limp. Another faculty member asked me what had happened, and when I told her, she suggested I find the athletic trainer. Brilliant! A bonus of working at a school is having such a person easily accessible.

Thankfully, the trainer offered me a compression sleeve that immediately made walking easier and helped with the swelling. I’m already starting to feel better. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last silly thing I do for a while.

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


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