11 December 2013

The Universal Language of Wine

Recently I visited Princess Margaret Hotel & Spa for my monthly lymphedema appointment.  I was sitting in the first class lounge enjoying my complimentary coffee when my name was called, and was surprised to find out that I was not there for a private session, but for a  ‘refresher class’ of lymphedema exercises.

Had I known it was a group activity, I would have cancelled.  I’ve yet to benefit from any group hospital activity, and I will only show up if I am the centre of attention. Also, treatment for canceritis takes up an awful lot of time, so I like to pare it down to essentials. But since I was there, and since my big fat puffy muppet hand was giving me trouble, I decided to stay.  I obediently filed into the small boardroom and took my seat at the table.

There were six of us, and nobody looked  fun. At least two of the woman looked like Miss Jane Hathaway, and one was a clone of my grade nine math teacher, Miss Bowmen. The nurse handed out diagrams of our lymphedema exercises and suggested we all do this together. This is not complicated stuff.  Head rolls, deep breathing, hand squeezes – I can do it in my sleep.  Not knowing how to make a gracious exit, I went along with it.

Ideally, we’re supposed to do these exercises twice daily. 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Then there’s my 15 minutes of scar massage. Plus my regular yoga routine, and dog walks – and oh yes – a job. 

Lymphedema Massage
Excercise # 11.  (Optional)
Lymphedema Massage
Exercise # 11
So we went around the table rolling our heads, and shrugging our shoulders, and marching in our chairs. My inner self was counting down the moments till we were done, but the other ladies were all having a fabulous time. They were rolling and squeezing with enthusiasm.

After 45 minutes the nurse asked if anyone had any questions. I had but one. ‘How do we speed this up?’ She looked at me quizzically. I explained that sometimes I did not have time to do two 15 minutes exercise routines. The other ladies  furrowed their brows and murmured softly to each other. But what I really wanted to know was, if time was scarce, what are the essential exercises.

‘Say I’m tired…’ I said, and watched as eyebrows were raised and judgement wafted around the room. One of the Jane Hathaways cocked her head at me, silently questioning my priorities. And I get it. The treatment of side-effects is a job, and must be treated as such. Excuses not permitted.

‘Or say … I’ve having too many glasses of wine?’

The frowns turned to gentle smiles of understanding. ‘Ahhh’ said the ladies, nodding in unison.  Even the nurse smiled with understanding. ‘Well then, if you only have a few minutes,  just pay attention to the area that’s being affected.’

I’m not sure whether the ‘area being affected’ was my drinking hand or my lymphedema hand, but they happen to be tone and the same. So in the morning I’ll do my my full routine. And in the evening, another routine, if time permits. 

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