24 February 2013

Marching Into Spring

The days are getting longer.

Like most Canadians, I look up at the sky like a sunflower, impatient for the extra light and drinking in as many rays as possible. But this year I’ve also embraced the evenings, and have been using the outdoors to my advantage. The early nights allow a certain anonymity, so once the sun goes down, under the cloak of darkness, I march.

After being diagnosed with lymphedema last fall I learned that I had to do exercises to compensate for my loss of nodes. My lymph fluids need extra help circulating, especially through my right arm, so it doesn't swell up like a fleshy pork sausage.

Every few months I check in at the Lymphedema Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital. The circumferences of both arms are measured to make sure they are under control (they are). While there, the therapist asks if I’d like to do a self-massage under her guidance (no), or if I’d rather she massage me (yes please!)

Then we go through the basic preventative exercises, two of which I do in the car. Keeping my arm elevated, and pumping my fist are easy to do when stuck in traffic. (Thanks to my dad I’m a one-armed driver, as my driving lessons consisted of driving to Baskin Robbins, and then a driving home holding a rocky road ice-cream cone).

Because there are also nodes in the groin area, the therapist suggested I stimulate them by marching.
‘Marching?’ I asked her, ‘Like a soldier?’
‘More like a marching band,’ she said. ‘Soldiers don’t always bend their knees.’

And so I march. But instead of carrying an intstrument, I’m pulling a basset hound. Or more likely, he’s pulling me as I march quickly behind. I’m keenly aware that I probably look like a clumsy wind up toy, and not like the elegant French lady I so long to be. Nobody ever marches down to the patisserie for a baguette, and certainly not while wearing a parka.

But my body has changed, and I’m constantly trying to compensate for it’s revisions. So I’m appreciate the dark night, when I can march through my neighborhood, without actually being seen.

Spring is coming, and soon my neighbors will be sitting on front porches. And I will march by them, with Jed disguised as a tuba.

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