May 22, 2018

The Ins and Outs of Surgical Drains

I recently had a surgery that followed another surgery I'd had just four weeks earlier - long story - and because of the extra care and difficulty of the second surgery, I had a surgical drain inserted for a little over two weeks.

Everything you need to know about surgical drains

My surgeon gave me a head up before the surgery that I'd wake up with a drain - thank goodness, or I would have been freaked out - so I looked up drains online before the surgery. I was disappointed to not find one good resource that answered all the main questions I had. Since I've now had experience with drains, I've decided to create that resource!

What You Need to Know About Surgical Drains

What is a surgical drain and what does it do?

A surgical drain is a thin plastic tube used after some surgeries. There are flat ones, known as JP drains, and round ones. I, fortunately, had the round one - the only type my surgeon uses, because they're much less painful to remove than the flat ones. They connect to a small plastic bag (or bulb, in my case) in which the fluid drains into.

Yes, that's a drain out of your body, removing fluid your surgeon doesn't want in you. That means it sticks out of you and will remain sticking out you until your surgeon removes it. It's very important, though, if your doctor requires it - it can prevent potentially dangerous complications like seromas and hematomas!

Where are surgical drains inserted?

The drain(s) will be inserted near your surgical site(s).

How long will you have your surgical drain in?

This varies a lot, based on your surgery and your needs. My doctor said I could get mine out once I'd been draining consistently under 30mL of fluid per day, with decreasing measurements each day, for three days. He also waited until the fluid had lightened in color - it starts bright red, when the surgical site is still really inflamed, and eventually becomes yellowish as it becomes just regular serous fluid.

For me, that was just a little over two weeks - I had my drain removed on the morning of the fifteenth day post surgery. My poor surgeon, I was constantly checking in to see if it could come out already!

Surgery Blog


How do you care for a surgical drain?

Keep. It. Clean. Always wash your hands thoroughly before you empty the drain. 

To empty it, you'll uncap the bulb where the fluid collects, measure the fluid in a cup (if your surgeon instructs you to do so, as mine did), and then flush the fluid. Clean the cap and stopper of the bulb with an alcohol wipe, then squeeze the bulb in your palm, fold it in half, and reinsert the stopper in the cap. The bulb will then unfold on its own, but there will be suction in the bulb, creating suction in the drain, to suck that icky fluid out of you.

If you have a drain for a week or several weeks, it's possible that the drain will clog and you'll see a reduction in flow. If you ever see a big change in flow, whether it's an increase, decrease, or color change, let your surgeon know immediately. S/he'll probably instruct you to start stripping your drain, also known as 'milking the drain,' to keep things going. 

I had to strip my drain several times per day to keep the flow going. Basically, you pinch the top of the drain, very close to the insertion site, with one hand and then pinch just below that with the other hand and slide that down, all the way to the bulb. This forces anything in the tube into the bulb and reinforces the suction, so it can really get things going again.

May 17, 2018

The Pros and Cons of Keratin Treatments for Curly Hair

I'm a biracial girl with biracial hair. I grew up with a white mother who, despite being the best meaning, nicest, most supportive mom a girl could wish for, just didn't know what to do with my hair. That's not for want of trying! She was constantly reading books and articles about caring for Black hair, trying new at-home treatments on my unruly mane, and telling me that my hair was beautiful, no matter how much of a frizzy yield sign it became.

Caring for biracial daughters
Thanks, wind, for blowing my hair into a good 'fro. I'm, as always, the short one with the outsized enthusiasm.

Mom, you're the real VIP.

Still, my hair beat my mom every time and when I grew up and made enough to afford expensive hair treatments, I immediately gave them a go.

I do like my curls, so Japanese Straightening or any permanent, chemical straightening treatment stayed off limits. I didn't want to damage my hair like that and I was worried I'd end up with dry, brittle hair that would make me miss what I'd had with my natural hair.

Fierce beauties like Danai Gurira made me consider shaving it all off, but at the end of the day that just isn't the aesthetic that feels most like me, at least at this point in my life. I can't say I'll never shave my head, but for now I like medium-long. Or medium-wide, since my hair doesn't always fall straight down?
Black Hair Tips

When I started getting keratin treatments on my hair about ten years ago, it was still pre-DevaCurl popularity, so keratin seemed like the clear winner. I still use keratin, though I may eventually switch over to DevaCurl, so it's more or less working out for me. If you're considering getting keratin treatments yourself, here's what I find the biggest pros and cons of the treatment to be!

Benefits of Keratin Treatments:

1. Reduced daily upkeep.

Pre-keratin, it took me ages to comb my hair. I'd only wash it twice per week, because each time I did I'd have to commit to an hour or so of combing through terrible knots, and getting it reasonably well combed each morning was its own 20 minute commitment each time. 

Black Hair Care Tips

Post-keratin, I can comb my whole head of hair in under ten minutes most days, including post-shower. 

How to take care of mixed girl hair

Styling also took forever, but now I can really just wash and go.

2. Reduced frizz.

Pre-keratin, I had curls - under at least a solid inch of frizz.

How to care for Black hair

It's night and day.

3. Increased shine.

Chemical relaxers make your hair straight, but they also make it dry and visibly damaged. It's hard to get really good shine with chemically relaxed hair. Whether or not keratin damages your hair (the jury is still out on that) it doesn't make your hair look damaged. You can achieve not only as good shine as your natural state hair, but better shine.

4. Reduced blowdry times and improved results.

That formerly hour-long blowout now takes an easy 15-20 minutes and you can get smooth, silky, salon-straight results yourself, at home, as opposed to that bushy mess you (at least, I) struggled with when trying to blowout my hair myself.

Keratin treatment for Black hair

5. Soft hair.

Keratin makes my hair so soft. Like 'I'd just sit there petting my hair if that wasn't super weird' levels of soft. It's touchably beautiful hair.

Drawbacks of Keratin Treatments:

1. Smaller biceps.

Combing through my thicket of curls used to be quite the arm workout and, because I'm more of a cardio bunny when it comes to actually hitting the gym, I'm pretty sure I've lost muscle definition in my arms since beginning keratin treatments. 

Benefits of Keratin treatments

I'll gladly be #teamspaghettiarms if it means less hair-doing pain.

2. It takes f%*$!?/ forever and you have to do it 2-3 times per year.

Each treatment takes at least around two hours (but I've legitimately been in the chair for almost five hours once before) and you have to do it two or three times per year, since it's not permanent. If you follow salon instructions, you actually have to get it done three or four (!) times per year, but who has time for that?

May 15, 2018

The Basics of Instagram Marketing

This year, Instagram is approaching 1 billion active monthly users. With a reach like that, it's no wonder that companies are flocking to Instagram for organic marketing at a relatively low, and extremely customizable cost investment.

Tips for Personal Branding with Social Media

But I'm not here to talk about why your business should make an Instagram page yesterday, or how you can use Instagram to promote your business. I, who joined Instagram a solid two or three years after its inception (and who still hasn't joined Snapchat/plans to miss that over-filtered boat entirely), am here to fill you in on the basics of how to get Instagram working for your personal branding goals.

Leveraging Instagram to Leverage Yourself

For starters, why should you be on Instagram? After all, we're all too attached to our phones these days and why download one more app to sap your energy and will to live phone battery? 

Social Media Marketing Basics

Simple. Unless you're an heiress or a monk, you rely on your reputation in some way or another to fund your existence. In today's world, a lot of that reputation is not only discovered, but also generated and maintained, online.

Are you a performance artist of some sort? Generating a social media following can help you attract the attention of venues, casting directors, etc. to book you for your work.

Are you an artist? Social media can help get your art in front of potential buyers.

Are you a talking head? Social media can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field?

Are you a recent graduate? Social media can help you begin to develop a portfolio and a network of contacts.

It goes on and on!

Best of all, unlike traditional newspaper, radio, or television advertising, using Instagram for personal branding can be anywhere from low cost to free and it's advertisement that audiences intentionally seek out, raising the odds of engagement. 

The takeaway? Get on Instagram!

Instagram Basics

This post could be a novel if I were to go into everything you ought to know for an excellent, well-rounded Instagram strategy. In fact, such books exist - as do paid services for social media consultants who will help you out with all of that. Instead of writing a novel or quoting you a fee for developing your Instagram presence, I'm just going to give you the quick and dirty basics.

1. Pick a theme.

Don't be scattered. You know who has a short attention span? All of us. Especially when we're scrolling through our feeds and hoping that the E train stops taking f*?!$@! forever to arrive. Be focused and make it easy for us, your potential followers, to decide if we're interested in following you or not.

Inbound Marketing Tips

If you're a personal trainer trying to build a client base, your feed probably shouldn't be full of photos of your cat and/or baby, no matter how cute they are. Unless that baby is on your hip and you're showing off your impressive post-partum abs, or if you're deadlifting your very fat cat. 

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