This year I’m going to Cuba for Christmas. Joining me, along with my bathing suit and sandals, will be my fleshy pork sleeve and matching gauntlet. So far it’s been easy to match my compression garments under a long sleeve shirt where they can be ignored, but now they’re going on vacation and it’s going to be hot.
But c’est la vie. It’s not as though I’m going to be lying on the beach, because I’m not allowed. My post-radiated body won’t do well in the sun, so I was already on planning on settling down under a palm tree. And if that didn’t work, I would be just as happy in the bar, with a mojito and a good book by my side.
So I had to make a return trip to Mansueta boutique, home of the unstylish medical garments. I’d called the Lymphedema Clinic because my thumb had become numb. They suggested that my gauntlet might need refitting, which led me to Mansueta and my tiny Filipino friend, Nanci.
I sat down on the stool while she fiddled with my hand. She was wearing heels that day, so we were eye to eye, and I was stuck by how large I felt in her presence – as though I was size of her buffalo.
‘Hm,’ she said stretching the fabric. ‘You hab no feeling in your thumb?’ I told her that I had pins and needles. I was worrying, in fact, that the lymphedema was spreading. I’d been doing my exercise, and the occasional self-massage, but as it’s Christmas, I’d been a bit lazy. Would I every feel my thumb again? Squeeze a lime, or open a tin of smoked oysters?
Nanci removed my gauntlet, pulled it a bit, and then put it back on my hand. Gently she rolled the fabric up my thumb, then folded the final 1/2 inch. ‘How is that?’ she asked. Wow! What a difference. ‘The babric was too tight and too high’ she told me. I looked at my thumb.
‘So all you had to do was make a little turtleneck?'
She laughed. ‘Yes, a turtleneck’.
So now my thumb has an outfit. It’s not the fashion choice my thumb would have chosen for a Cuban vacation, as he prefers to go the minimalist route, in the manner of a German tourist. But even though the colour's all wrong, at least it's better than a speedo.
(Just for fun, I looked up how to say ‘thumb’ in Spanish. The slang is ‘dedo gordo’. I don’t know that dedo means, but gordo means fat, and I think that Gord is a perfectly good name for my thumb.)
So us gals are off to Cuba, accompanied by my nephew Caleb (12), and Gordo in his turtleneck. And Gordon is now in charge of squeezing the lime.