So first I put on my compression garment. They're like Spanx. Which I kind of like. Muffin top? Gone! Back fat? Gone! Then I have to slip in this compression foam that is cut to my specific shape. It goes from my
Then I have to wrap myself with something akin to an Ace bandage, though I've been informed that this stuff is much better than an Ace bandage. It's German-made, after all. (I guess Germans make things well.) I guess it stretches in a different/better way than an Ace bandage does. So I wrap and wrap and wrap around my chest. It secures the compression foam and provides even more compression.
And then we come to the piece de resistance - my compression sleeve.
Oh, how I hate that thing.
I can handle the spanx and the foam and the Superior German Bandaging. But the sleeve? Je le deteste. I mean, wearing it and hanging out with my arm straight is alright. But if I bend my arm for any reason - for example, I don't know....doing dishes. Helping my kids with stuff. Holding a phone to my ear. Driving. - it crinkles in my elbow pit (I'm sure there's an official word for that place, but I don't know it and don't have the inclination to look it up) and hurts so badly. It's all red right there when I take it off.
I have to wear this getup from when I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night. And then I get a wonderful, binding-free respite.
I mean, I guess I should be grateful that they even have this stuff and that I can even "push back" my lymphedema so that I don't have to have an arm that looks like it has been smitten with elephantiasis. And I am grateful.
It just hurts. And I'm a whiner.
I swear I'm putting it on correctly. I do it just like the lady at the special prosthetics place showed me. Which is the same as what the instructions inside the box say. Maybe it's just part of the biz, having a sore elbow pit.
I'm having a glorious vacation from my compression gear right now, because it's being washed. I have to wash it in Dreft only. Interesting, no? Dreft smells so good. (For those of you who haven't had babies, Dreft is this really mild laundry detergent. It smells like babies. I love it.)
I'm supposed to have two compression garments and two compression sleeves, one for washing and one for wearing. Compression sleeves are $200, and I got mine through a local foundation that raises funds for these things. They have to fill out more paperwork or some dang thing to enable me to get another. And they were out of the compression garment I have at the place, so I just have to wait until they come in. Those aren't expensive at all - about $20 each.
So yeah. There's that. My arm is still measuring the same - 2 cm larger than my right arm. Which isn't bad at all. We're trying to nip in the bud.
I've been talking to several doctors and nurses, listening to podcasts, researching reputable websites, etc. about my reconstruction dilemma - trying a tissue expander again in a year vs. doing this DUIP flap thing. My sister's a nurse anesthetist, and she obvi works with several surgeons. She and this surgeon who specializes in breast reconstruction came out of surgery a couple of weeks ago, and she called me and asked if I wanted to speak to this guy. (So cool that he took the time to speak to a complete stranger on the opposite side of the country!) This dude only does breasts. So I paid careful attention to his opinion. And he knows my history - the tissue expander being rejected, etc. He told me that he never, ever attempts tissue expansion after one has been rejected. He says that the skin is as solid as a rock (Which is true, you guys. It feels like a thin layer of skin over a 2X4 inside my chest. It is really trippy.) and simply incapable of successfully stretching ever again. He said that DUIP flaps, or "Tram Flaps," as they call them, are not as invasive, complicated, or scary as they seem. The abdominal wall isn't messed with. More and more women are doing it and are very pleased with the result.
I also talked with my plastic surgeon when he took my stitches out (So grateful I don't have feeling in that area. I didn't feel a thing.). I told him of my misgivings about Tram Flaps, and he affirmed that he hardly ever has success doing tissue expansion after one has been rejected. He told me he has two women right now that had tissue expansion rejection. (I'm trying to figure out why nobody told me how common this is. I would have never gone down this road. Not one person told me that this could possibly happen. Grrr.) One woman is doing great. The other woman has had her skin further constrict, and now her new implant is up by her neck.
Do I really want to do something that has such a huge rate of failure?? With the Tram Flap, my surgeon also said that, after you get out of the hospital, it's a two-week recovery. He reassured me that, after two weeks, I'd be up and about and yelling at my kids and doing all my normal stuff. That made me feel better. I do NOT want to repeat my recovery experience that I had with my hysterectomy. Serious PTSD from that. I still cannot watch HGTV, because that's what I watched a lot of while I lay in my bed for WEEKS. I still can't listen to certain songs that came out on the radio during that time. I'm not kidding. I just...can't go through that again. I'd rather be completely boobless. Two caverns, one on either side.
Which is a thought. Because obviously, this surgery might plunge me back into lymphedema. Assuming I ever push the current lymphedema back. Which was caused by the emergency surgery to remove my left tissue expander. That is something to consider. Are boobs worth being in lymphedema for??
Sorry for all of my pontificating. It's obviously been on my mind a lot. I needed to just write it all out, I think. I'm definitely going to do that consultation appointment with the doctor in Portland, at least to hear more about it, to make sure that I'm a good candidate, etc.
If I'm not a good candidate - if I don't have enough skin and fat for it (I assure you that I do), then I might just have them take out my right tissue expander and call it good. I just don't know that having boobs is really worth all of this bother.
Pounding the Pavement
Soooo, I've been applying for dance teaching jobs! Woot! I had kind of a tryout interview on Saturday - this is normal when applying for dance teaching jobs. They need to see that you can teach. It was with a studio whose owner was a professional ballerina. She runs a very prestigious studio and turns out really, really good dancers. I'm not sure if she liked me or not, but the kids loved me and their parents loved me, which made me feel nice. I haven't heard back from her yet.
I had a regular interview with another studio in town that offers lots of kinds of dance lessons. The owner was very jovial and fun. I could see myself working there, for sure. Another studio about half an hour away has an owner that wants me to contact her at the end of June, after her spring show is over.
So, we'll see. I figure that, if I'm meant to teach somewhere, it will all fall into place. We just have to see where I'm supposed to be.