Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fistula- To Hide, or not To Hide, THAT is the Question

Ahh, the fistula.

My lifeline.

My Saviour.

My Fistula.

How can a thing of such beauty be such an eye sore all at the same time?

Let's face it. I'm a 20-something female who is often on the go. Like many other females (and many other people in general), I pretty big fan of wearing short sleeved shirts, tank tops, tube tops, etc. I don't do that very often now because of my fistula. I don't know if it's a fair statement to say that I'm ashamed of my fistula, as it is my lifeline. But let's be real here. It's bumpy, it's odd....downright weird looking. It's definitely going to stir up a bunch of questions...and I'm definitely not interested in repeating myself several times to educate people on my arm and why it looks that way.

Today was a nice day out....but I still wore a long sleeved shirt. When I got to work, I was jealous, yet not in the least surprised to see 2 of the 3 females sitting near me in the office wearing nice sleeveless blouses. I looked at myself, in my long Abercrombie and Fitch cardigan, and immediately felt jealous.

I've previously gone the route of wearing a cut stocking over my fistula when wearing short sleeves. Though I don't see that as being any different than attaching a neon sign to my left bicep with arrows and signage saying "PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT THIS RANDOMLY PLACED STOCKING ON MY ARM". While I would most certainly argue this point, wearing a stocking on my arm in the office might even be considered against the dress code! (I don't remember reading the no-stocking-on-your-arm clause in the dress code document we receive yearly, but I could be mistaken).

My dad brought this up in the car the other day. He said that I shouldn't feel bad or self-conscious about my fistula. I could simply cover it with gauze or with Mefix dressing (white dressing that comes in a roll, you cut it to the size you want, and you peel the paper off of the back to reveal a sticky part that can be applied to your skin).

True. I could simply cover it with gauze or with Mefix dressing. But that really wouldn't solve the 'i-do-not-want-to-draw-attention-to-myself" thing. I know I'd be inundated with tons of "Ohhhh! What happened???"'s at work which is exactly what I do not want.

I'm trying to figure out if I should just do the whole gauze thing and expect a plethora of questions for the next week or 2, if I should go back to the good ol' cut stocking, or if I should just skip all of that stuff and just go to work as I am. Or, of course, I can continue to torture myself and wear long sleeved shirts, cardigans, 3.4 length shirts, etc all the time.

This has always been a toughy for me. If there are any dialysis patients out there who happen to read this post, I'd be interested to know what your thoughts are on showing your fistula. I'm pretty torn!

Torn, and very very very warm in my long sleeved blouses.

3 thought(s):

billpeckham.com said...

I say "not hide". You are a great example of dealing with a chronic illness - to me your fistula would be a sign of that success. People will take their cues from you - if you accept it I think others will too.

I don't give mine a thought. Anyone in my life knows what it is and gives it the same amount of attention as I do - none at all.

Kevin Hartzog said...

Bill is right. My wife, Jenn, lets everyone at work know about the purpose of her fistula. I know this might not help when you are out in the general public, but you should feel at home at work (if that's possible).

I don't even notice her fistula(s) anymore, unless I am going to grab her by the arm and have to be careful.

Jenn doesn't hide hers in public unless she is meeting new people that she doesn't want to distract with the fistula. She did hide it when we went on our first date. She had a fistula on her wrist then, but it didn't take me long to find it. We had it ligated when she had her transplant two years. Looking back we should have kept it because it worked. Last year when she lost her transplant she got a new fistula just below her elbow. It isn't working right so my wife has a catheter. In July we are getting her fistula revised to bring the vein closer to the skin. She is not happy about showing her catheter dressing. She cried when we were looking at low cut and v neck tops last month.

A fistula is like religious beliefs. Some people hide them. Some people don't. Some people feel compelled to let everyone know. Whatever you do, you won't make everyone happy, so do what benefits you most.

pauahi said...

Aloha,
I am torn about it myself. I have lupus ( in fact i emailed you once, and you emailed me back! ) Any how i started off not hiding my fistula, but i have been doing so more and more lately. Mostly because i dont like how people try not to look at it. But they do. I wish i had an answer for you, but, the point is moot anyway cause you got your transplant! Yay!

My brother was going to give me his kidney, but it didnt work out.

 
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