Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Three Conversations from ICU

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]


Gwen said...

Thank God.

Kate said...

Oh Shan.
Thank you for posting and letting us know how it went, I'm sure many many thoughts were directed at the hospital today. What a wonderful result.
Knitting is pure comfort.
And the fact that you are going to run out of yarn (sigh)? Consider it a small price to make the patient's world right. Balance, if you will.

Queen of the froggers said...

Thank you for the comment on my blog. I loved your post, it makes what I am doing so necessary , I will cross everthing I can for your friends best recovery, and donate every penny of those 5 pence comments and more if I can! xxxxxxx Oh and I love the green cabled throw.

Ames said...

Yes, thank you for the update. I have been praying for healing for her every day.

Jo said...

I'm not even going to try and fight them back :)

amanda said...

You really have a wonderful way with words and communicated the day's events perfectly (I am trying to not cry too!)

Penny said...

What a good friend you are.

lizbon said...

Oh my god, this made ME cry. I suppose you already know this, but I am so very glad things went so well for her. And for you.

Thanks for posting about it so soon. I was wondering how she was doing.

PS. My word verification this time is a Frank Sinatra reference: ratppk. I kid you not.

karen said...

All of the hopes and prayers, from us bloggers, have made their way to your dear friend.Thankfully!It is all Wonderful news!
It is a tremedous bond you two have - and it is now even stronger having been thru this together- I'm so happy for the postive outcome...

Sue H said...

I am so glad your friend is ok, and she's so lucky to have a friend like you. I just hope I have friends who love me as much should I ever need such surgery. I just found out one of my friends needs a bowel resection, and I so wanted to be there for her, but I had already booked my flight to Perth. I will make every effort to go and stay with her for a while when I get back, as she'll probably need help at home.
Love your sock, and your lace.

Heatherly said...

ah! that is soo sweet!

Heatherly said...

three weeks ago when tirzah was in the ER, it was so comforting to have my friends there. i knit and prasyed those last rows on her shawl as they did tests and xrays. knitting can be such a nice distraction.
i hope your friend is feeling better.

Gina said...

Blessings to you and your friend Shan. Thank you for reminding us that sometimes it is simply our presence which makes all the difference.

Sandy said...

I'm glad to read what he said - I only remembered some of his words. What I remembered most is your warm presence and love. You can feel it, you know.