I should have worn my compression sleeve on my trip to and from Austin, Texas this past weekend. But I didn’t. Because I forgot. Which is scary because on airplanes, cabin pressure can really mess with my arm, now that four of my lymph nodes are missing. Ever since my lumpectomy in December 2004, my fluids have had fewer drainage options, which makes air travel a dangerous prospect.
It doesn’t appear that any damage was done. I’ve been on land now for a few days and my arm looks like it always has. Lucky.
You’d think a scenario like this would ensure I’ll never again forget. But this isn’t likely. Because this isn’t the first time I’ve forgotten my sleeve. I did it once before—on my travels to Arizona last year—and the same panic I felt this time swept over me then. That time, though, I at least had my sleeve with me—I’d just neglected to put it on my arm prior to take-off. This time, I didn’t even pack my sleeve, didn’t even remember I’d forgotten it until my mom reminded me on our return trip. That sleeve didn’t even register on my radar.
I consider my forgetfulness on this matter a symbol of progress. There was a time when cancer consumed my every thought. Everything concerning the disease worried me, including my arm and the fact that I could end up with lymphedema—a condition of localized fluid retention caused by a compromised lymphatic system. I guess I’m not so worried anymore because there’s my arm, right in plain view, and nothing about it, nothing about my trip, nothing about that sleeve ever entered my mind. Which means cancer is further than ever from my thoughts. That’s the good news. More good news: I seem to have dodged a bullet. So I hope I remember my compression sleeve next time. I hope I remember to put it on too.