Lymphedema · Recovery · Surgery

Hand Washing

This past Friday I hit three weeks post-surgery, at which point I was “allowed” to resume my previous lymphedema management techniques. For me this means wearing the sleeve and the glove, and using a compression pump most evenings. I tried just wearing the sleeve but the hand is clearly still too puffy for that. I am hopeful that the surgery will eventually make it so I don’t have to wear the glove, but that’s certainly not the case right now.

For the past three weeks it has been very convenient not to have to wear the glove given the Covid-19 situation. The glove makes hand washing much more difficult; and on top of that, during the day of course I cannot wash the glove itself, so washing my hands is not as effective anyway.

My normal pre-surgery, pre-pandemic bathroom hand-washing routine was that when I went to the bathroom for “#2,” or if I had not washed my hands in a while, I would take the glove off and wash my hands afterwards like a normal person. But otherwise, first let me preface this by saying I drink Le Croix sodas as if they are canned oxygen, which means I have to go pee A LOT. So most of the time when I pee I will simply avoid touching anything with my right (gloved) hand, and then do a half-assed (HA!) left-hand-only quick wash.

So as you can imagine, not wearing the glove during this whole pandemic has been handy (Ha ha! I’m full of them today!). Now I’m working from home so it’s less of an issue, but I’ve had to go out a couple of times and have decided on a routine: either wear rubber gloves over my compression glove, or just take it off and leave it in the car or in my pocket when I’m inside the grocery store. Once back in the car I use my hand sanitizer before putting the glove back on. So far this seems to be doable. (I started to say “it seem to be working,” but, of course, viruses are invisible so suppose I have no idea if it’s working…)

Today I got an email from LE&RN with a link to some more good tips for people in my situation. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who has been thinking about this challenge. Also it’s one of many things that make me grateful for my great health insurance and ability to throw money at the problem by keeping four sets of sleeves and gloves. These things are expensive and need to be replaced at least annually, which is why it is so important for Congress to pass the Lymphedema Treatment Act which will require lymphedema garments to be covered by health insurance.

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