Monday, November 22, 2010

Now, I don’t know about Shawn but I was pretty nervous about meeting Professor Campisi for the first time. I, being quite the little geek, had read all of his research articles before coming and had been really quite surprised when he had replied in person and so promptly to my email enquiring about the surgery. I was expecting to hear from his secretary and had even signed myself off as Dr. Ryan (a title that I don’t use that often as it isn’t that necessary for my job at the moment) so that I would sound more impressive than I was! So really, I should have been prepared for the more than hospitable welcome that I got.

We (Dad and I) were ushered into Professor Campisi’s office and made very welcome. Unlike Shawn, I did not have a thorough history taken by the Professor, as I had already provided him with much of the information before I came. The more she mentions Type A personality, the more I look the other way and whistle. I just choose to think of it as being helpful…. Anyway, we talked about my results and how microsurgery held the best chance of a permanent remission of swelling in that leg. I really didn’t have any questions about the procedure; I’d already committed myself to it before I’d made the long plane trip and, as I said, read all the articles I could find on LVA (Lymphatic Venous Anastomoses – joins between the lymph and venous system to provide a new route for the fluid out of the limb) techniques around the world. Quite frankly, if he had asked me to stand on my head for a few weeks to drain the fluid, I would have done it!

Next came a quick examination to make sure that I was a good candidate for surgery (I think that’s what we were doing anyway). Despite Shawn telling me that there was a little changing room next to the bed, I promptly stripped off in the middle of the room when requested. Thankfully the Professor was too polite to mention that little faux pas.
For future patients, there IS a changing area in his office – it is right opposite the bed. However, if you do get changed in public, the Professor will very helpfully place your clothes in the little cubicle for you.
Now, not being a medical doctor, I can only guess at what the next tests were for; heart rate, blood pressure, breath sounds, and a quick look to see what the flow of blood is like through the major veins that run from the abdomen/pelvis through the legs and back again. It is important to have good flow in those veins; there is no point re-routing the lymph fluid into those veins if they are not strong enough to take the extra pressure. I guessed from Professor Campisi’s face that I had passed these tests. Whew!

Next came the unexpected bit; being introduced to my first set of multi-layer compression bandages. Yes, this happened at the end of the first meeting; I guess the sooner you start the treatment the better.
For future patients: be prepared for the bandaging and bring either a skirt (kilt for the boys) or very large and stretchy pants. Oh and shoes that can accommodate the Michelin man-sized foot you will have. Do NOT be like myself and wear a pretty dress and lovely boots or you will find yourself leaving the clinic barefoot and in your underwear. Of course, this is not the only time I have paraded around the clinic in my underwear. I’m afraid that I may be giving the impression that New Zealanders do not like to wear pants. Oops.
The bandages have been an endless source of fascination to me. Despite having had them changed several times now, I am still not certain how many layers there are. I lost count at about seven; little crepe bandages around each individual toe and the top of your foot; a light stocking up the leg; foam wound round like candy stripes up the leg; several layers of cream coloured semi-stretchy bandages, starting tight around the foot then loosening a little as they go up; um, a thick woven cotton tube covering the whole leg; then a light white stocking over the foot up to the knee; and plenty of helpful medical tape to hold it all in place. Expect your entire limb to double in size anyway!

That’s all for the first meeting. I think it took about two hours in total. Next up – the pre-treatment process…

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