Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wrapper's Delight

The photograph above is of my left forearm and hand, which were expertly wrapped earlier today by my physical therapist. I think I mentioned last week that she specializes in helping women stricken with lymphedema following breast cancer surgery. She is another example of the wonderfulness I've encountered along the way; someone whose compassion and empathy has been nothing short of amazing. It's getting to the point where I think I need to bear-hug everyone I've met (and some people I haven't) during the past eight months. So, slather me in sanitizer and let the loving begin.

I'm going to spend the next few weeks, at least, mummified in order to get the swelling to go down, and then I will be fitted with a compression sleeve that will ensure my arm does not explode while I receive radiation. This experience very much reminds me of when I fell off my bicycle the summer I was 14, and broke my wrist. What's so amusing about the photo is that I tucked my thumb in under my palm, which is exactly how my arm was set into the plaster cast I wore for about two months. It's fascinating what the body manages to recall, even after decades have passed.

The good part about being wrapped in bandages, as opposed to being encased in plaster, is that I can unravel myself to shower. When I had the cast, I had to wrap it up in a green garbage bag and secure it with about a dozen rubber bands to make sure I didn't get it wet when I bathed. Moreover, I don't think I will experience the "seven o'clock itchies". That was when I sat on the porch of my parents' house after dinner, and my next-door neighbor would give me a set of knitting needles so I could jam them down my cast in order to itch my arm. I am most grateful, however, that it is my left, not my right arm, for reasons that, well, I don't think I have to expound on.

For some reason, the wrapping has left me a bit demoralized. The process of wrapping one's arm in bandages isn't that difficult, but it is time-consuming and somewhat intricate. The thought going through my mind is along the lines of "one more pain-in-the-ass phase I must endure." I even asked if there is a pill I can take - a diuretic, maybe - that would make the swelling go away. My physical therapist gave me a stern, and very educational lecture about how there is not a drug available (legal or illegal) that could do the job of the bandages I am wearing. I shut up and submitted.

Tomorrow, I am to be scanned and mapped in preparation for radiation. More about that to follow.


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