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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Back in the Saddle

More of my videos here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Comfort + Food

My first impulse this morning. I slice them and eat them the easy, unmannerly way, learned from my father: hold each quarter by it's points and peel the fruit away with your teeth.

Breakfast cereal is my go-to comfort food. These days, I go light on the cereal but use plenty of additions: this one has walnuts, yellow raisins, banana, shredded unsweetened coconut, and cinnamon.

This morning I woke up feeling that tell-tale rumble in my chest, tickle in my throat, pressure in my head - I'm coming down with something. I'm optimistic that it will be mild and short-lived, but this morning I wanted to listen closely to my body and give it exactly the nourishment required to fight this thing.

Which gets me thinking about the concept of "comfort food." Once upon a time, food and comfort were deeply entwined. Even if we weren't breastfed, someone had to hold us in order to help us take in nourishment. Somewhere along the line, for most of us far too soon, we no longer got that physical contact along with our meals, and it was probably a bit confusing for us little babes in the big woods. For many of us, me included, we turned to the remaining half of the comfort food equation in search of that old feeling of safety. We turned to food.

And now, as adults, we feel alternately defiant and guilty whenever we eat anything but the most austere of leafy fare.

So I'm here today to tell you: it's okay to enjoy your food, to nurture yourself as you nourish yourself. And luckily, our bodies require this pleasure on a regular basis. Several times a day, in fact.

If you find yourself overdoing it, perhaps the solution is not strictly self-discipline, a greater focus on restricted eating, but perhaps a concerted effort to get more human contact. Feast on it! More hugs. More lying in someone's arms. More cuddles that turn into naps in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. If there are no humans around, telephone contact will do in a pinch. And don't forget dogs and teddy bears and blankets on the couch. Treat yourself. You're worth it.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Catching Up on the Vlogs

Little by little...

More of my videos here.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

When All Else Fails, Borscht

There's nothing simpler than borscht and no wrong way to make it. Mine is equal parts chopped beets, carrots, and cabbage, plus an onion, a little dill, and a splash of bright vinegar or lemon juice in the broth (which can begin as any kind of stock or just plain water). After cooking, I put this one through the blender and then added kidney beans, leftover roasted parsnips and Brussels sprouts, and some chopped kale. On top: a little decadent dollop of sour cream (you can use plain yogurt, or a soy or cashew alternative, or go without, it's delicious either way) and a sprinkling of diced sweet Vidalia onion.

Here it is naked, with added veg.

I keep starting and abandoning blog posts. There's so much I'd like to write about but it's overwhelming at the moment and my words come out bla bla bla. I can't quite get to the point. When I find it, I'll let you know. In the meantime, soup. PLUS: If you're curious about my artwork, I'm sharing my latest greeting card productions over here.