Compression garments. Burn survivors either hate them or love them.
The first time the occupational therapist introduced me to them, it took me around 40 minutes just to wear them on my legs and hands. So hot and tight. It felt like I was wrestling, and the compression garments won the match. Taking off was another struggle. I hated them.
Feeling weak, I would sometime give up and refuse to wear them. Occasionally, there were small patches of blood soaking through the pressure garment, an indication that my skin was still raw and had not stabilise yet.
I remember giving a bunch of excuses when the occupational therapist caught me not wearing them. “It’s too tight” or “My skin is breaking down at that area”. I would inform her.
She would look at me disapprovingly, “you need to wear them for 23 hours a day”.
What? You must be kidding. Unfortunately, the occupational therapist was not joking.
I only began to seriously put them on after looking at some photos of other burn survivors whose scars flatten after wearing compression garments for a few years. A few burn survivors even told me that they grew to love their compression garments. What? Really?? Sounds unbelievable. By then, my keloids and scars were red and puffy looking.
My compression shirt
My compression gloves
My compression pants
The weather in Malaysia is another challenge. It is hot and humid most of the time. I prefer to stay close to air-condition places. At home, the air-conditioner is being switched on most of the time. With my compression garments beneath my normal clothes, sometimes I feel like a wrapped fish gasping for air. As some of my sweat glands are not functioning because of the burn, I overheat easily from the inside. It is an uncomfortable feeling, like hot steam rising but unable to find an exit.
As I wore my pressure garments daily, I slowly increased the hours of wearing them. Previously, I couldn’t sleep with my compression garment. I used to take them off whenever I slept. However, as time goes by, I got used to sleeping with them. As my skin becomes more stable, my tolerance for them grew too.
As days goes by, it becomes easier and faster to wear them. It is not a tedious chore anymore. I even requested and paid for new compression garments. They now become like a second skin.
Thankfully, I have reached the stage of loving them. They have become a part of my daily routine.
When I saw my plastic doctor 2 weeks ago, she commented that most of my keloids and hypertrophic scarring looks flatten.
“Most patients are not compliant, some even refuses to wear compression garments,” she said.
Ahhhh… I wonder what she would say if she knew the truth.
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