The power of a thank you
Sunday August 03rd 2008, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,My Garden

backyard treasures for a beautiful Sunday

Someone just introduced herself over at KnitTalk, mentioning her career in a neonatal ICU, and I wrote her a note hoping that the parents of some of her patients had brought their kids back for her to get to see.

Which reminded me of Beth, one of my favorite nurses during my 10-day stay at Stanford, who, when I was about to be discharged after having been in critical condition, I promised I would come back to visit.  The intensity in her reaction surprised me: she exclaimed, “The patients always say that. But they never do!”

to glad-den the heart

Well, hey.  I could do something about at least one patient.  It took me a few months and several trips to find everybody, but I knitted for sixteen people–doctors, interns, nurses, nursing assistants.  Beth got a Rabbit Tracks scarf in a soft merino.  Brian got socks as a thank you for walking in his patients’ shoes. Franklin and Noel got hats.  Robin got a lace cashmere/cotton scarf to match her scrubs.  And on and on.

One nursing assistant had been terrible to me, had hated being assigned to a GI patient and had let me know it.  I was there long enough to go from, why on earth do I have to be stuck with her, to coming to realize, how much pain must she be in, greater than any physical pain of mine, to be treating people like that?  There is more to her story, but this is not the place for it.  But I decided the only way I could handle her and hold onto who I am was to pray for her: to recognize her need to be cared about by somebody, anybody.

When I did go back to Stanford to visit, I came bearing those knitted gifts to convey the depth of my appreciation for everybody’s work and for their caring.  But in their faces, I got to see the great joy for them in simply getting to see me walking back in there, on my own two feet, no IV pole, no longer so gaunt and definitely strong again.  I was coming to thank them in person. That was all they needed.  The knitting was just the icing on the celebratory cake.

And on the visit that I found that one nursing assistant, who knew nothing of the knitting, she saw me first and RAN to me and threw her arms around me and wept.  I held her, too, and then pulled out the bag that was for her…  Knitting is time and love made tangible and undeniable, and of all the people there, she’d most needed that.  And that I could do.

When we care and are cared about, all things that matter can be healed.

22 Comments so far
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As always a visit to your blog makes my day, you are truly an inspiration to me and I wish I possessed an iota of your wisdom. I do want to ask a favor will you go to my blog and critique my new shawl Flowers Vines and Hearts, you were once again my inspiration —it was a joy to knit and I would truly honor your opinion. Hugs, grace

Comment by grace 08.03.08 @ 5:55 pm

You have touched my heart…and I admire your strength and kindness. What a wonderful thing to do – for someone who did not treat you with the care and kindness you needed and deserved…you’ve touched my heart…and made me see things a little differently.
Thank you for sharing and best wishes,

Comment by Abby 08.03.08 @ 6:10 pm

Alison, you just warm my heart. How wonderful that you knitted something for everyone that dearly cared for you.

Thank you so much for sharing the story of your generosity and your appreciation of people who cared deeply for you and were able to reap the rewards of their efforts and see you return to not only acknowledge them but to come bearing gifts.

We should all learn something from that lesson.

Comment by Joansie 08.03.08 @ 7:24 pm

I have 1 knitted object down, three to go for the people who built my ramp…
Thanks to you too, for the inspiration.. the filling with spirit.:-}

Comment by Diana Troldahl 08.03.08 @ 7:46 pm

What a beautiful story and what a beautiful person you are. Wouldn’t the world be a more beautiful place if we could all be this kind to each other. Bless you, and stay healthy!!

Comment by Sharon Ford 08.03.08 @ 8:10 pm

You never fail to touch me, Allison. Your depth of feeling and wisdom are an inspiration.

Comment by Rebecca 08.03.08 @ 8:37 pm

that was a truly beautiful post. i tend to run into my patients all over the place and there are hugs all around. so glad you are well and I know how glad your caregivers were to see you. And truly the knitting was the icing on the cake!Good for you.

Comment by Lisa W 08.04.08 @ 1:43 am

Most People would avoid the Staff members that caused them grief or actively disliked taking care of them etc…Thank You for caring about the NA that needed more care that the patients she was assigned to. Chances are her charge nurse was either trying to punish or teach her. Sometimes these methods work, especially if the aide has a patient who can see her pain through their own and cares enough to pray for them.
You are the most giving and forgiving person I have had the pleasure to know and call friend 🙂

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 08.04.08 @ 5:22 am

Oh yes, we forget that the unlovely have been unloved! This one is of the stuff that makes a real difference. Bless your heart!

I’m eatin’ crow today for blamin’ my server for not goin’ to your site yesterday. Who knew..

Comment by Toni Smoky-Mountains 08.04.08 @ 5:23 am

adding to my comment: As an Aide and then a nurse, the fact that you actually sought out your aide and took the time to knit for her and give her a hug warms my heart! That is one thing that is missing alot of times..the patients thank their nurses (sometimes) and their docs(most of the time) and dont bother to even say hi to whichever aide(s) that spent the most time with them and provided most of their direct care.

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 08.04.08 @ 5:26 am

The world needs more people like you. Even a thank you to a nurse or an assistant makes their day. My mother and grandmother were nurses, and the Knight’s aunt is a nurse… I know too well how far the complaints outnumber the compliments.

Comment by Channon 08.04.08 @ 7:20 am

Ooooh, so beautiful and heart touching, and you’re such an exceptional person of grace to see it and get it and and and…. act upon it.

Comment by marianne 08.04.08 @ 10:20 am

What a gorgeous post! Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog (and such a funny one) so that I could come find yours.

Comment by Jocelyn 08.04.08 @ 10:46 am

I love coming to read your blog. On a down day I am almost guaranteed to feel brighter. Thank you!

Comment by Sonya 08.04.08 @ 2:24 pm

you said that better than i ever could.

Comment by marti 08.04.08 @ 9:29 pm

What a beautiful post! You are so kind. I took a gift for the floor staff last year after DH’s surgery, but a knitted gift for each person? Above and beyond. You touched their hearts, and ours, too.

Comment by MicheleLB 08.04.08 @ 10:26 pm

Your posts always:
1. make me cry
2. make me think
3. make me want to be a better person
Thank you, dear Alison!

Comment by AmyS 08.05.08 @ 1:28 am

My twins were born at a local hospital (I am talking 21 years ago here!) and immediately transferred to another hospital for a number of reasons – mainly because their APGAR scores were zero (legally dead folks). Took weeks but they finally both came home and one of the first things we did was wrap them up and take them back to the first hospital so everyone could see “the twins.” I have the greatest picture of this nurse, holding both babies, smiling fit to beat the band, and tears pouring down her face. It took a bit to get them back up to the floor but once the daddy called up to the floor (he had got to know them well when I was up there for over a week before the delivery) two or three – I don’t remember – nurses and doctors stomped down and wisked us up thru security. The NICU unit at the second hospital has return day about every five years. Now that was fun watching all the kids running around and the medical personell playing with them. There – that’s enough for today.

Comment by Afton 08.05.08 @ 5:04 am

A beautiful story- thank you for sharing it.

Comment by RobinH 08.05.08 @ 5:16 am

As Always you ROCK!!
And…you made me cry too!
Life is Good and You Are an Angel….that’s my story..and I’m sticking to it!
Thank you for being you 😉

Comment by Sheila E 08.05.08 @ 8:07 am

Hi Alison…thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. It’s fun to communicate with other knitters that way and I followed the link to your blog here. Just a side note: I am already registered in the bone marrow registry. I hope that someday I may be able to help someone that way if a match comes up.

Comment by Renée 08.05.08 @ 8:21 am

The other comments say exactly what I want to: so “Big Ditto!” BTW, I also enjoy reading the comments and occasionally blog-hopping, the way I found yours on Lene’s site. Grace’s shawl is beautiful!

Comment by Lynn 08.05.08 @ 8:48 am

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