Each month I go to the ‘Survivorship’ Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital. There I meet Nurse Linda, who checks up on my fleshy sausage arm, puffy muppet hand, and my four wiener fingers.
(For the record – I loathe the term ‘Survivourship’. It’s almost as bad as ‘battle’ and ‘journey’)
This process is painless, and frankly, not very scientific, but I like nurse Linda. She’s a tiny dynamo, who is also a grandmother, and when something strikes her as funny she bark-laughs. I like people who do that. It’s as though she’s too busy to laugh, so she has one good bark and gets on with it.
Her tools consist of a blue Bic pen and retraceable tape measure that is available for purchase at the counter of Fabricland for under a dollar. I lean back in my comfy chair, my arm on a small side table, while she records a set of measurements from the affected areas.
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While she takes her measurements I read over her shoulder. I can see the measurements from my last visit and there appears to be a slight variation. She tells me that my swelling seems to be up in my right arm by about 2%. I look down at my arm with little strokes of blue ink, and the flimsy tape measure.
‘If you don’t mind me asking,’ I ask Linda, ‘how reliable is this method?’
She rocks back on her chair and cocks her head. I ask her if measurements could be off, due to the tension of the cloth measuring tool. Or perhaps the measuring techniques among the different nurses I've visited.
She purses her lips, and picks up my compression glove form where it had been lying on the table. I’d gotten used to it but in someone else’s hand it looked mangled, and dirty. ‘Do you ever wash this thing?’ she asked
‘I hope I haven’t offended you.’ I said, sitting up straight. ‘And yes, I wash my glove.’
‘I’m not offended.’ She said,‘And I wasn’t insinuating your glove was filthy. It needs to be washed to maintain it’s compression.’
‘Ah,’ I said. ‘Ha,’ barked she.
And we both settled back in our chairs.