First, do no harm. Second, hire a knitter for every bedside.
- Hippocrates (The Lost Writings)
Act I, Scene I.
ICU, two hours after surgery to remove a colorectal tumour. I am with my friend, holding her chilly hand and watching, with her husband, as the surgeon approaches.
SURGEON: So was everybody praying up at the school? Was there an assembly?
PATIENT: [smiling weakly] Yes.
SURGEON: Well, things went beautifully. There was no bleeding at all - it was remarkable. We reconnected it no problem. And we got everything out - it hadn't spread, and your liver was completely clear. You don't even have to have an abdominal drain, or a tube in your throat...I must say, Somebody up there is looking out for you. [Clears throat] We were done early - do you have any pain?
PATIENT: No, none. I think the epidural is working perfectly.
SURGEON: You know...I think you can have some clear fluids. Would you like a cup of tea?
Act I, Scene II. ICU, 1800 hrs. Husband has left, other friend is gone, the green cabled blanket is doing its job, folded over my friend's body and arms. I am sitting by the bed knitting quietly.
PATIENT: Is that your lace?
KNITTER: Yes, this is it.
PATIENT: Are you almost finished?
KNITTER: No, and I'm going to run out of yarn.
PATIENT: [distressed] Oh, no, not again! Did you not buy enough?
KNITTER: The pattern called for 800 yards, I bought 900 meters. I think running out of yarn is just my curse. It's just What Happens To Me...it's okay.
PATIENT: And is that your new sock?
KNITTER: Yes - I started it for Hospital Knitting but I think I should have chosen something simpler.
PATIENT: [closing eyes] No. I like it.
Act I, Scene III. 1845 hrs. I've done half a repeat on the sock, and several repeats on the lace edging. The ICU is quieting down for the night.
PATIENT: [rousing] You should go home to your family.
KNITTER: I will soon...at seven, I think.
PATIENT: I love having you here knitting. I don't feel like I have to entertain you or anything.
KNITTER: Just as long as you don't think you need to be awake for me.
PATIENT: No, actually you're the only person I don't feel I need to stay awake for.
Several drowsy minutes pass.
PATIENT: [fighting back tears] I can't begin to tell you what a comfort you've been to me today. Thank you so much for coming to sit with me and knit...it makes me feel safe.
KNITTER: [trying not to cry, saying nothing]