Monday, February 20, 2012

Compression and Relief

These are so beautiful, don't you think? Dried persimmon purchased today at an Asian grocery near my home.

J and I went to the grocery together after a visit to the laundromat next door. Sometimes a broken appliance leads to unexpected treasures.

I have come, kicking and screaming, to accept that I have Lymphedema. I'm seeing a physical therapist, and also I've begun to wear a compression sleeve for a few hours most days. Since my insurance allowed for it, I have two identical sleeves which I take turns wearing. They are thick elastic support stocking, both black though I could have chosen other colors, tight-fitting from wrist to armpit.

The sleeve is comfortable when I first put it on. Comforting too, in that initial moment, calming my panicky expectation that the swelling around my elbow will increase. Soon I forget that I have it on at all. But after an hour or so I become conscious of it again, finding it increasingly restrictive and difficult to ignore. Eventually I can bear it no longer and peel the thing off, which probably doesn't help things any. But it is an incredible relief.

I don't know if the swelling will get worse inevitably, if my efforts are akin to trying to hold back the tide, or if I might reasonably expect that this minor ache and bulge may be the extent of my suffering and disfigurement for many years to come.

The physical therapist would like me to wear the sleeve at all times during the day (with the exception of while I'm swimming or showering), and a gauntlet as well, which is an extension of support hose from wrist to knuckles, like a tight glove with a partially open thumb and a single opening for the fingers. This garment, also covered by insurance, also black, I hate most of all, as it crowds my thumb and the bones of my hand into a narrow unwieldy curve.

I can't imagine fighting against elastic to spread my fingers on the keyboard or to go about any of the other mundane or creative tasks of my day. Since so far I've had no swelling in my hand at all (except for one morning after I slept in the sleeve - which I've since learned I'm not supposed to do) I take it upon myself, for the time being anyway, to reject my therapist's advice.

I do my best to keep perspective, to recall that I am loved, that I am alive, that I have a good life. Thinking this way is useful at times, a sort of compression sleeve for the mind. But every now and then the pressure builds up and I need to free myself, to admit that this sucks and I'm scared. Though this does nothing to change the situation, just the same, it is an incredible relief.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you.