It started with a blood draw.
My daughter Sam has ITP, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura: the autoimmune version of hemophilia. Catch a cold or even athlete’s foot, crash the platelets as the immune system fires up in scattershot mode. (If you follow that link, she was at 10; normal is 150-400.)
And so when she arrived at the university to begin her PhD program five years ago, she needed a doctor and she needed a blood test, fast.
She got sent to the lab. The phlebotomist chatted as she set her up, and on hearing why she was there, immediately told her exactly which doctor at that clinic she should see and why, in very specific terms that had to do with how his personality would react to her history as well as his particular medical skills. He would take good care of her in a way the others would not.
And so he has. That was the doctor who, when her chart came in, I believe before he’d even met her, declared she was to be his patient, period.
That was the doctor who, this past summer, ignored her protests of that spot on her arm having been biopsied five years earlier and having come up benign; he just didn’t like the looks of it. Her ITP had gotten her sent to him just two weeks previously as well as this time, and though they hadn’t even discussed the spot nor had she thought of it, he had, and he thought it looked different this time; he was going to biopsy it again.
She saw no reason to.
No, it just felt… Now. And so he did.
A particularly aggressive melanoma but caught at the very earliest stage. Early enough that she didn’t even have to go through radiation or chemo–though they did have to take four inches out of her arm and she will have to be screened every three months for recurrences from here on out.
Hey. Beats the alternative.
We were on the phone tonight, the three of us, and Sam rather apologized to me for something she’d done.
Then she gave me the context. She told us about that phlebotomist. She told us she’s been going to that specific one ever since that first time they met, that they’ve become almost like family to each other.
I had made Sam an ethereally fine wedding-ring shawl in the softest merino, and she confessed she’d tested it once just to be sure: yup, it really did go through her ring! It was wide and beautiful and lovely and she got many compliments on every one of the rare occasions when she dared take the fragile-looking cloud of lace out to wear.
The phlebotomist had mentioned to her recently that she was to attend a wedding in the family, and that she was to wear a bright orange dress that was just too much for her; she had been wondering how on earth to tone it down, but had no ideas and no time to shop.
Sam asked: would a wide, slightly offwhite lace shawl help? A rectangle. It was certainly formal enough for a wedding. (She did not remember till I said it on the phone that I had knitted it while we drove 13 hours and back to take her to her freshman year at BYU, finishing it after the trip. Stealth knitting, right in front of her–I’d made it to tuck away for her for someday.)
As she was admitting to me she’d offered up the loan of that shawl, hoping I wouldn’t mind, to whom and why, I exclaimed, “She saved your life!”
Steps into a future that neither knew then, but still.
Sam considered the thought and, a sense of awe in her voice, answered, Yes–yes, she did.
I mentioned someone who had wanted to clean white wool with bleach; Sam shuddered, No, no, you don’t do that!
Right. They hadn’t yet and it was okay, and I taught them in time about how bleach dissolves wool and what to use safely.
Sam: I don’t think this lady would…
Me, affirming: Probably not. But if she does, I will knit you a new one.
And she knew I was saying what she’d felt too, that this woman had earned everything we could give her without reservation and together, then, we freely offered her friend all of the love that is in that shawl.
I went on to offer to knit the woman her own, for that matter.
I could hear Sam’s grateful smile across the thousands of miles.
7 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>