One of the first questions/challenges facing LVAD implant recipients, is how to comfortably carry around the battery packs and controller unit during the day, to allow as much mobility as possible. I have been told of several solutions, from Photographer/Hunter/Fishing vests with more than enough pockets to store all of the equipment and wallets, medicines, etc. The vests are fine in casual situations, but I have had more success with what is called a “Holster Shirt.”
These are shirts with built in holsters (primarily intended for use by law enforcement agents and people with carry and conceal permits) which would normally hold a firearm and ammunition.The holsters are actually the perfect size to carry our LVAD batteries. The material – a spandex-lycra blend also offers support and protection to the chest area (an area typically tender and weaker after an open chest procedure) which is very comforting to me. They come in black and white and I now have a few of these shirts in rotation as an everyday shirt or undershirt. It also looks very nice under a sweater or collared dress shirt if you need to dress more professionally.
The shirts I found are from www.511tactical.com, and are sold online on sites for sporting, hunting, and fishing stores: www.cabelas.com. You can also Google “Tactical Shirts” or “Holster Shirts”. Also, a very valuable tip I learned from a fellow LVAD Warrior/Brother – M. Josh Morris @LVADone is to put the batteries in the holsters “cap side” down to prevent them from sliding out and dropping. A valuable tip probably for both firearms and LVAD Batteries! :-)
For an even dressier solution (although I don’t own one yet) is a Bosco Vest (www.boscolvadvest.com) which is a custom made vest from the wife & caregiver of another fellow LVAD’er. These vests are so snazzy even former VP Dick Cheney was sporting one. The vest has several custom packets and velcro straps to keep drivelines and battery wires from dangling loose.
What I don’t have any tips for, and will need the Ladies’ to help with, are what solutions are out there for women with LVAD’s? I believe there are also holster shirts as well, but I don’t know of the other clothing options. Please, please, please leave comments below and I will turn them into a future post! Guys are also welcome to offer other clothing solutions as well. Thanks!