Friday August 28th 2009, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift,Life

From the day I was told I would have this surgery, I told Dr. S, I started knitting.

But the first thing yesterday was a young nurse who came in and asked me a set number of questions. One was standard for patients who’ve had a resection, but there was no resection done here–I laughed, answering, “Don’t have the body parts for that anymore!”

She clearly felt put on the spot. I remember being young and intimidated by older people (wait–older? Hey!…)  My heart went out to her–it’s okay!  Certainly not something to worry over.

The surgeon was running late and I made him much later. I didn’t want to miss anybody. The more he saw what I’d done as I pulled things out of my bag, the happier he got about the whole thing too.  I couldn’t remember everybody’s names; I’m not great at learning new information when I’m drugged out in the hospital.  I had individual projects in ziploc bags, a card to each, but in some, they were still waiting for the names to be added.  Dear (blank).

He helped by looking up my records and scanning down the screen for me, trying not to miss anybody either. I explained I was on my way to E ward after that to go see the nurses.

You know, he could have thought of his schedule and gotten annoyed at my hijacking his time. Instead, the grin on his face just kept getting bigger and bigger as I pulled out one  after another–let’s see, got Dr. X, Y, and Z here, what was the name of? And…? Anyone else?

“Oh, that’s COOL!” to the piano-pattern hat.  He described exactly the intended recipient I was thinking of, and said, “Oh, that’s Lionel.”

I looked at him, cracking up: “I can NOT call him Lionel. What was his *name*?”

Oh. Right. Dr…

And another–he spelled it out but I just wasn’t getting it. With a high-frequency loss, V, C, T, G and the like all sound like the vowel E: no consonant sounds need apply when there is no context to guess by.  So he tore off a small piece of the paper covering the exam table and wrote it out for me. Okay, got it! (Resourceful on the spot–I like it!)

He held up the pink shawl for his wife and he and the young nurse admired it while I explained the tradition of lace wedding ring shawls. He took his wedding band off and pictured it against the stitches and asked, and I grinned, “Probably better yours than your wife’s size!” while saying that the reinforced neck edge would be the only reason it wouldn’t go through. He loved it.

He had done micro-sized stitches that had healed up unbelievably fast, with so much less pain than I’d expected–I mean, I knew it was a bigger surgery in January, but–and so I was giving tiny stitches in baby alpaca back in thanks. He was deeply gratified.  And to my surprise, a little abashed (but very pleased) at my complimenting his work.

The surgeon who’d assisted him was, as it turned out, the surgeon I’d had in January; her new job wasn’t so far away after all. I was thrilled to get to see her again three weeks ago.  (She’s the one who ran into me downtown last Saturday.)  There was a skein of Sea Silk at Purlescence–the Glacier–in exactly the colors I’d seen her wearing many a time, so, having already knit her a full shawl back then, that skein had leaped out at me  as a scarf for her. A little variety in the wardrobe.

At the end, I pulled a Purlescence bag out of my bag so he would have a Santa Claus pack to haul the loot around in.

And then one more thing: the young nurse, having watched all this going on, was suddenly stunned when I reached back into the main bag, pulled out a scarf that would go well with her coloring, and tossed it (I still had that silly gown on, there are limits to one’s dignity in such circumstances) across to her.

And at last I got to see her really happy too.

Afterwards, I walked over to the main hospital to give out nine more scarves.  Lace flowers to match Stanford’s gardens, lace leaves for the plants, etc.  I went hither and yarn…  I finally got one to one of the nurses I’d had while in the oncology unit back when that had been the only available bed in the hospital last time. She was a good one. She needed to know she was remembered.

Wait, what floor had I been on again this time?  Okay, that’s the bone marrow unit, that’s the post-surgery ICU, been there (says Stanford Accounting, don’t remember it) but not that…  They’d closed off an inner corridor and my visual memory, always shaky since early in my lupus, was just lost.  I got a whole lot of walking done.

I didn’t get to see everybody I wanted to, but when I finally went, oh, duh. Right. THAT floor!, the nurse at the desk got to anticipate playing Santa too, with a big grin on her face. This time, I left the stack of scarves in a sweater-sized ziploc with a list of names. People could pick what they liked. The one person who had a specific one coming her way, in pink to match her scrubs three weeks ago, I did get to see and hug in thanks for her caring. Very cool.

It was her project I had had in my hands when Dr. S had come into my hospital room and, in answer to my query, had said his wife liked that color.  It was her scarf I took to the shelves at Purlescence, looking for a match. And they do.

It wasn’t till I was almost asleep last night that I realized that that blue Half Moon Bay pattern hadn’t come home with me–I’m pretty sure there was one more scarf in that bag than there were names I’d remembered.  Cool.  Maybe that first-night’s nurse whose name and face were lost to my post-anesthesia haze got one after all.

21 Comments so far
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Thanks for sharing your fun with us.

Comment by Barbara-Kay 08.28.09 @ 3:11 pm

Wow! What a day you had.

‘hither and yarn’ – hahaha!

Comment by Julie 08.28.09 @ 3:52 pm

Your post moved me to tears here you are giving to so many making them happy you are such a generous person so sweet:)(((((Hugging You))))Darcy

Comment by Darcy 08.28.09 @ 4:33 pm

I’m sure you’re the most popular and renowned patient at Stanford! Good work:)


Comment by Bev 08.28.09 @ 5:39 pm

LOL Thank you! I feel like I got to ride on Santa’s coat tails!

Comment by Diana Troldahl 08.28.09 @ 6:14 pm

I can only imagine how food that felt in person, but you totally lifted my day. Thanks 🙂

Comment by TripletMom 08.28.09 @ 6:33 pm

You continually amaze me. Thank you, God, for amazements like this!

Comment by Linda W 08.28.09 @ 9:08 pm

You are *so* cool. I mean it.

Comment by Michelle 08.28.09 @ 9:11 pm

Lovely. What fun. No wonder you were exhausted, I couldn’t have done that much walking on any day I have ever been discharged from hospital, and I have never had any abdominal surgery!

Comment by StellaMM 08.28.09 @ 9:32 pm

What a great story. I’m going to bed now dreaming of scarves, hospitals and yarn. Goodnight!

Comment by Robin 08.28.09 @ 9:43 pm

Hither and yarn might be one of your best yet!!

Comment by Channon 08.29.09 @ 5:55 am

What a good soul! I am so pleased that I have been fortunate enough to have been in the right place to have some of it shine on me.

Comment by afton 08.29.09 @ 6:07 am

I am so touched, Alison. What a lovely thing to do for those who touched your life…and made it better. I’m sure this sort of recognition rarely (if ever) happens and they’re people too…you just really made their day/month/year/life!
Thank you for sharing your day and making ours better too,

Comment by Abby 08.29.09 @ 7:26 am

And you’re only 118 days early! I loved Bev’s comment and hope that you will be less renowned from now on (meaning that you won’t be needing future care to be grateful for!) As others said, thanks for sharing your story!

Comment by LynnM 08.29.09 @ 8:49 am

Yes,I agree the “hither and yarn” line is a beaut. Good Heavens, young lady, if all patients responded as you do, you’d put clothing stores out of business. Now relax a minute and enjoy a bit of fun:


This happened upon an automotive call-in show. One caller asked if there was a device that could tell the driver if he was following too close — perhaps some kind of radar mechanism. “Oh, yes,” said the automotive expert, “I have one of those. My wife.”

A printer consists of three main
parts: the case, the jammed paper
tray and the blinking red light.

Comment by Don Meyer 08.29.09 @ 9:40 am

oh I so want to be you when I grow up 😀 I still have time right I’m only 56 .. I will never ever be the knitter you are but I want tat love you spread around.

Comment by rho 08.29.09 @ 1:26 pm

Wow! I can’t believe what you did! Amazing… I bet the doctors and nurses who have treated you for sure will remember you. 🙂

Comment by Monica 08.29.09 @ 3:08 pm

My heart is feeling bigger just reading your story. I can’t imagine how big yours must have felt doing all this giving!

Here’s to a long time before needing to rely on all those nice people’s services, no matter how much you loved knitting for them. lol

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 08.30.09 @ 7:23 am

What fun this must have been! And a great way to show that “patients” are people with talents, warmth and appreciation for those who have helped them. Wouldn’t it be neat if they had a group photo of all of your lovely handwork being worn by the recipients? “We’ve been alisoned!”

Comment by Ann in Marin 08.30.09 @ 11:57 am

this was the perfect day for me to read this post. I thanked a number of personnel that helped my dad – not all in a knitted way, but I did an awful lot of baking back then.
It’s the coolest thing I’ve read in a long time.

Comment by Sandra 08.31.09 @ 10:52 am

Wow! Not only did you give lovely thanks to so many people who cared for you in the hospital, you gave us all a gift. It is a joy to see someone share their love so freely. Thank you!

Comment by twinsetellen 09.05.09 @ 5:22 am

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