I was on my feet for most of the day every day last week, leading kids on a 7 day tour of Puerto Rico. Overall, the work wasn’t nearly as tough on my body as I’d feared. Sure, I ate horribly, but I paced myself while remaining available to the group and I drew some inviolable lines for reasons of personal safety. Nope, I wouldn’t hike the trail in the rain forest or take the slippery path into the cave at Camuy. I also wouldn’t kick around in the Caribbean the night of the bio bay visit or during the group snorkel. Though I love all of these activities, I knew it wasn’t the best idea for me to engage in any of them.
But being on my feet did take its toll and everything from my calves downward became–and stayed–swollen. I’d arrange hotel pillows into towering mounds at night, to little avail; within an hour of waking up the next day, I’d feel the tightness in my ankles and feet surge and pulse again.
A woman in Francisco’s group (he was also leading a tour) noticed the swelling and decided to warn me that the condition might be a sign of preeclampsia. I’d heard of preeclampsia, but didn’t really know what it was, so I Googled the condition one night–feet up–before drifting off to sleep.
The short report of my findings is this: preeclampsia is pregnancy-induced hypertension and though its symptoms are also common of other pregnancy-related conditions, one of the most telling signs is massive swelling.
The bad news: It can be fatal.
This is precisely the kind of stuff I don’t need to know, especially before I go to sleep. I’ve never had high blood pressure (in fact, it’s historically low), but I couldn’t stop staring at my feet and saying “preeclampsia” over and over again.
There’s lots of other weird stuff out there about this condition (the very weirdest being that it is far less common among women who perform oral sex on their male partners frequently and who swallow their semen– I know, I know; sounds like some male researcher’s ultimate fantasy), but I’d read enough.
I propped my feet as high up as they’d go.