Monday, August 17, 2009

My beeswax

One of the charming side-effects of having a massive clot take up apparently permanent residence in your leg (along with the whole constant threat of imminent death by P.E.), is that blood has a hard time travelling back up to your heart which results in some rather uncomfortable swelling of the leg in question.

Fortunately, compression stockings (combined with drugs) go a long way towards easing this.

Unfortunately, I hate them.

Because really, any garment that requires a daily battle involving textured rubber gloves to get me into it is bound to cause some resentment.

In cooler weather they tend to fall down, which just feels wrong (think stepping into a still wet bathing suit), unless I wear snug pants. Trying to discreetly adjust thigh-high stockings while bundled up in public often results in antics worthy of Mr. Bean in church (in a wet bathing suit).

Worse than that however, is the summer, when the rubber that keeps the damn things up, bites into my upper thighs and leaves seriously irritating blisters all the way around them.

This, and the fact that my legs aren't the same size, is the reason why I generally only wear one on my bad leg. Unfortunately, the "flesh tone" of the stockings I wear in the summer is not particularly close to the tone of my actual flesh and so, when I go out in a skirt or shorts, it does catch people's attention from time to time. What shocks me, is how many of them are vocal about noticing. I've had strangers do everything from visibly pointing out my leg to their friends, to stopping in their tracks to quiz me about it.

This weekend I braved a pair of shorts and told myself it was just too hot to care whether people were staring. Sure enough, people were. I'd like to assume it was because I just look so damn cute in shorts, but a young woman at Sparta's rugby game neatly burst that bubble by asking "why the stocking?"

I try to laugh it off. I generally throw on a bright smile and explain that it's a medical thing, I try to remember that most people just haven't encountered a young woman with my particular brand of medical mystery but the temptation to respond "Oh damn, I must have been drunk when I got dressed again" or worse, to say "I have a life-threatening condition that requires me to wear this, thanks for bringing it up," is strong.

Because as much as I can, for the most part, convince myself that it's no big deal and things could be so much worse than having people look at me and think "Fashion moron," a little self-consciousness creeps in. As does the more depressing reminder of why I'm wearing the thing in the first place. I have yet to come up with what I feel like is a satisfactory response for complete strangers who feel they have the right to know why I'm attired so outrageously.

To be honest, I'm not sure that I wouldn't ask someone my age the same question, and I'm usually not offended if someone asks me once we've already struck up a conversation but I can't help but wish people didn't feel quite so free to comment on my appearance just because I look young and healthy.


Elle Bee... said...

It's crazy how bold people have gotten... how they think that they can just ask personal questions like it's no big deal.

I love that you embrace it... that you don't spend all summer in pants just to hide it. You're a remarkable lady. xo

lollygagger said...

I had a friend in France who had the same medical condition. I think it's great that you embrace it because honestly I think many people are probably just curious, or at least that would be me. And for the rude people - forget'em! ;)

Andhari said...

I'm sorry, I try to place myself in your position and I really think they're being annoying. It amuses me how bold people can be. Even if I see someone and I'm curious about what they wear, I'm not gonna ask. Really. Its not my business and I rather not offend people.

Anonymous said...

Is it weird that I totally know EXACTLY how you feel?

I don't wear compression stockings, however. But I have primary lymphedema - the genetic version of the disease - which means my extremeties don't get the blood flow they should. Luckily it only affects my right leg (for now anyway, but if it acts like my mom's, grandfather's and great-grandmother's, it should never affect my arms), but my leg/ankle/foot swell MASSIVELY. Sometimes it looks as though a large tennis ball got lodged in my ankle, other times like I have a club foot and might beat someone down.

And I'm always getting questions. So I seriously know how you feel.

P.S. My word verification is "noluck." Talk about odd!

Anonymous said...

I agree with what everyone else has said. Even when I notice things like that, I'm definitely not bold enough to bring it up in a conversation with them.

I went through something like that when I was younger with my chicken pox scars (some of which I still have today).

You handle it so well and it's awesome that you don't hide your legs because of it. Awesome :D

Anonymous said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. I have a huge scar that runs from my breastplate to my pelvic bone, and one about a half a foot long from beside my belly button to my side. I used to hide it, all that kinda jazz. Then I started wearing bikini's. And getting into "my scar is bigger" contests. And telling any nosy buggers who pried into my business that I had a) fallen on a lawnmower b) tried to commit suicide hari-kari style or c) was a military experiment. And when they say "REALLY?!" I say "No. But the real story isn't any of your business anyways." I suggest telling people you're a bionic woman. xo

Katrina said...

I like the "I must've been drunk when I got dressed..." comment. =)
I may notice things like that, but unless I was a friend or was in a good conversation with that person, I probably wouldn't say anything... And it's amazing how rude people can be over things like that too!

Anonymous said...

The way I see it, you have two options:

1) Change the colour of your other leg to match the colour of the “flesh-coloured” stocking. This would do little but change the reason for the staring.


2) Smile, knowing that those who stare are not fortunate enough to know you and thus cannot fathom the strength and determination that stocking represents.

Personally, I like option 1).



Sarah said...

Elle: You always say the nicest things. Thank you!

Lollygagger: Yeah, I try and remind myself that most people aren't actually malicious, just curious and a little tactless.

Andhari: Exactly, it always surprises me that people just think they have a right to know about anything they notice.

MinD: That is pretty weird, but also strangely comforting. That sounds awfully painful though, I'm sorry to hear you have to deal with that.

Lovelila: See, you'd think more people would have experienced something similar and be a little more sensitive, but hey, we all make some kind of social faux pas at some time or other, right/

Andrea: Girl, Kudos to you. We should totally go to the beach together and show off our collection of scars, stockings and massive scary upper thigh veins. I wish I could somehow make "fallen on a lawn mower" my default explanation, but bionic woman might be more convincing in my case.

Katrina: Ha ha, thanks. I've only dared to use that once. it felt pretty good though.

McGee: I do like the idea of having my good leg dyed, but just saying I'm the bionic woman seems easier. Not to mention totally believable.

Moorea Seal said...

oh I just don't get most people and their rudeness, insensitivity, and over zealous critical interest in things that are not typical. LAME. baby, rock your socks off. also, I am really good at glaring, so if we are ever in the same town, and you need a buddy to cast a stare at rude onlookers that will pierce them like arrows, I'll be there.