Friday, January 20, 2006

It Just Gets Better All the Time

A few weeks ago, between surgeries, I was fitted for a charming item called a lymphedema sleeve (also known as a compression sleeve). In my case, the sleeve is a preventive measure—I don't have lymphedema at the moment, but I don't want to get it either. (See my earlier post for a bit more on lymphedema.)

Being measured for the sleeve was actually pretty fascinating. The technician who did the measuring used a special kit, comprised mainly of a long paper strip that ran the length of my arm and had tabs jutting out from either side of it all the way down. She painstakingly wrapped each pair of tabs around my arm and secured them with tape. The tabs are marked like a tape measure, so each pair yielded its own individual measurement of the circumference of my arm. If you've ever been measured for a mortarboard, it's the same basic idea.

At the end of the process, I had what looked like a dozen paper bracelets fitted snugly up and down my arm, joined together by the long paper strip. Then she carefully tore one end of each bracelet off at the place where it joined the long paper strip, making sure that each measurement could be read, and folded the whole thing up. She sent it off to the manufacturer, along with a tracing of the outline of my hand and a few other measurements of my palm and thumb. That's because I was getting a sleeve with a gauntlet, which is basically a fingerless glove.

I had no idea what to expect when I went back this morning for the final fitting. I can't say I arrived with quite the same feeling of anticipation that I had 13-1/2 years ago, when I went to pick up my wedding dress. All I'd seen until that day was a sketch, and I wasn't sure what the dress would ultimately look like. I was so unsure, in fact, that I walked right past the mannequin on which it was displayed. Didn't recognize it at all.

Well, there was no mannequin today and no dramatic unveiling. I went back to the fitting room, and the technician reached into a plastic bag and presented me with what I can only describe as a girdle. A girdle for the arm, but a girdle nonetheless.

Think thick. Think beige. Think industrial-strength Lycra. Think elasticized band at the top.

Do not think attractive or comfortable.

Do not think cool in the summertime.

Do not think easy to get on.

Or off.

In fact, think back to the eighties, to wrestling with a pair of tight jeans (before the advent of stretch jeans). Or think control-top pantyhose. (Gentlemen, I don't know what to tell you to think. I'm not sure there is a cultural equivalent for you guys. Help me out with an illuminating comment or two, would you?)

So, looking ahead, I'm going to be a wildly attractive 39-year-old bald menopausal woman wearing a girdle.

Now if I can just find an old pair of tight jeans. . . .


Blogger Zachary said...


For guys, how about "putting socks onto your still-slightly-damp feet after you've been swimming"?

Well, I tried.

January 20, 2006 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Christine said...

I wonder what the foloks on Project Runway would do if they were told they had to design a very fashionable outfit around a compression sleeve? Such as a cocktail dress?

January 23, 2006 11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Think SCUBA wet suit.

January 23, 2006 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Budig said...

It reminds of the first time I tried put on some pantyhose and was not aware of the fact that you have to roll up the legs first. I just shoved my leg in there and fought it for 25 minutes. Hmm, now to explain putting on the pantyhose. I had to wear a dress for a play (and high heels). Sure Jim, a play.... sure.

January 24, 2006 10:17 AM  

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