27 August 2013

Wiener Hand

Camping is something I wouldn’t normally do, were it not for a promise to my 12-year-old nephew.

So on a perfect Canadian summer’s day, I found myself driving up to lake Huron.  Because I was having slight swelling in my hand, I put on the flesh coloured compression sleeve to help control my lymphedema. There’s always the possibility that excessive heat or activity may cause my arm to swell into a puffy sausage, and get eaten by a bear.

My Hand.
(Not really)
I also wore a ‘gauntlet’,  that slips over my hand & thumb,  leaving my fingers exposed. For extra security, I steered the car with my left hand, and kept my right arm raised, resting it on the rear view mirror. The whole point is to keep the lymphatic fluid going in the other direction, instead of pooling in my hand. All this – because my system needed extra help after losing so man lymph nodes.

We pulled into the campground, and I ‘helped’ my sister set up. Mostly I just stood there and gave suggestions on tent placement, and how to decorate our site.  I was full of helpful ideas. ‘Carry the picnic table over here Sue!’ or ‘ Hang the tarp higher! You can climb a tree, can’t you Sue?’

My nephew – bless his tweeny heart – was equally unhelpful (‘Did we bring marshmallows?’). 

I sat down beside him and rested my hand up against a tree. He looked up at it. ‘What’s wrong with your fingers?’ I looked at my hand. The fingers were swollen and my knuckle flesh bulged out like little tiny shower caps. I whipped off the gauntlet and we examined the swelling.

‘It looks like a cartoon hand,’ he said.

Our lunch.
For real.
The next two days passed peacefully. There was a beautiful lake I couldn’t swim in, and radiant sunshine that I couldn’t go near. I stayed in the shade with my book, and enjoyed the brilliant hospitality of Mother Nature and my sister. Occasionally, in an attempt to get the fluid moving, I’d pump my fist.  Due to the open concept living of camping, many people passed by on the way to the beach. On more than one occasion they thought that I was waving. More often than not, they waved back.

In the evening, Sue, along with her friends and I, would have fabulous dinners. The kids would roast hotdogs over the fire. I’d look at the shiny pork wieners dangling over the flame, and then down at my own porky hand. No difference really, except that the hot dogs were longer by about two inches.

The next morning I was packed and ready to go, headed for the city, and an appointment at the Lymphedema Clinic at Princess Margaret Hospital. (Sad goodbyes to the family, but ‘see ya!’to the air mattresses and communal bathroom).  As I peeled out of the campground I gave a last wave – though by that time – campers were ignoring the lady holding a pack of wieners up in the air. 

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