Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I think that socks are one of the most special items you can knit for someone. There's something so thrilling about constructing such a basic, necessary garment out of nothing more than sticks and string. All of knit or crochet is pretty amazing. Unlike other methods of constructing garments, like sewing, we knitters/crocheters start from scratch, creating our own fabric. But socks still amaze me. That is why, about a week and a half ago, I set off to knit my dad a pair of socks. He had been in the hospital for about 4 days following a minor stroke, a TIA, and I was already feeling guilty for not knitting him something. But I thought he'd be home soon. And what was I supposed to do? Knit him a bathrobe? Men can be so difficult sometimes. Then he was tentatively scheduled for surgery to unblock his carotid artery. It was 95% blocked. The intense worry set in. I was afraid that his heart wasn't healthy enough for the surgery. I felt so guilty thinking these horrible things, but I couldn't help it. I know he was worried too. I set off to knit him a pair of socks. Worsted weight slipper socks. Time was not something I had lots of...with his surgery and who knows what looming on the horizon, I needed these socks to be done. I knit so fast and so constantly, that my hand began to cramp up. But I finished those socks in 12 hours. I NEEDED him to have those socks before the surgery. Not because I thought there was a chance he wouldn't be around after the surgery, I just needed him to have worn them and know that I cared enought to knit them before he went to sleep. Then his stress test came back with abnormalities, and he had to have another scary-sounding test. A cardiac catheterization. I looked it up on WebMD right away, and was totally stunned. It sounded more like surgery than a test! The sinking feeling I had been trying to ignore for the past week immediately took over my body. I felt guilty when I was not surprised when I found out that my dad needed to have heart surgery. A triple bypass. I have seen him cry before; he's even cried during sad, stupid movies. But to see your father cry because he is afraid for his life is an entirely different experience. Well, I cried. A lot. I clung to my family; my siblings and I came together to support our parents, and we all hoped and prayed for the best. But feared the worst. When you are faced with the extreme illness and possible death of a family member, it is hard to care about much else. It's probably even impossible to pretend to care about who gets kicked off of American Idol or how understaffed your department is at work. But I cared about my knitting. I could control that. And I was happy that my dad was wearing those slipper socks. Even if they were a little itchy, I think he was happy too.

Well, his surgery was a week ago today, and thankfully, it was a success. Without a doubt or an ounce of exaggeration, last week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, were the worst days of my life. Not knowing if Monday would be my last day with my dad was a completely morbid but anavoidable thought. Wanting to say goodbye, but needing to show a postive, hopeful attitude was excruciating. Waiting, for eight hours, was absolute torture. And even after the surgery, seeing him all puffed up with extra fluids, machines and pumps whirring and hissing and breathing for him, was so scary. I couldn't sleep that night knowing that he was not breathing on his own or sleeping soundly of his own volition. After his heart surgeon came into the waiting room to tell us that he was ok, my mom and sister and I sobbed with relief. My mom left the room to make phone calls, and my sister and I stayed behind and texted our friends. Text messages sent and received, I returned to my lace knitting. I knit a row, and had to put it down. My hands were shaking to hard that my stitches were all loose and messy.

It wasn't until a few days ago that I didn't feel scared and uncontrollably upset about the whole situation. Yesterday he was discharged from the hospital to a rehab center. He should be home by next Monday at the latest. Even though our lives will eventually go "back to normal," I truly don't believe they will ever be the same. My dad needs to change his lifestyle if he wants to keep his newly renovated heart healthy, and we'll all have to be healthier along with him. But that's just the surface change. We are all closer now, and I will never take anyone's health for granted. I also won't wait until someone's sick to knit for him/her. I generally don't knit for anyone who won't appreciate it, but now I know even the pickiest member of my immediate family does. This week I'm casting on for another pair of socks. This pair will be a gift for Father's Day.


Lizzie Wychwood said...

Your blog moved me to tears. I'm so glad that your Dad's operation was successful. My mother-in-law is in and out of hospital with heart problems, and so I make a point of saying "I love you" whenever we see her, as it could be the last chance I have.

jmknits said...

Jacqui - I'm so sorry to read this - but so glad that it went well and he's on the road to recovery. I hope he continues to do well - and I'm sure he loved the socks you made him.

Gryffinitter said...

I am certain the socks helped. Really. Made it a touch easier for him to have the positive energy he needed to get better. I'm sure he already knew how much you love him, since you seem like a close family, but those socks from his kid? Trust me, as a parent I know they gave an extra little boost!

You wrote very well of what I know must have been an excruciating time. I've had health worries about my children, so I could totally sympathize with every word you wrote.

And, by the way, I am one of your housemates - Belladonna Boomslang, aka Gryffinitter. I just came by to say hello and introduce myself. See you around, and best wishes for your dad's new healthier habits that he has to have.

Bella Shacklebolt said...

Jacqui - I'm sitting here in Lithuania, reading this post of yours and crying my eyes out in the lobby of the hotel.

Your father is a lucky man to have such a supportive family. You are 100% right about the lifestyle changes.

Now this is the dieititian in me begging you to make sure your parents visit a Registered Dietitian to help them make more heart healthy food choices. Diet is a powerful tool in helping patients recover and maintain their health following this type of surgery...of course hand knitted slipper socks work wonders too!

Jacqui aka Avada Abraxam said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. And Bella, thanks for your advice to seek a dietician's help. I do think that is something that will help my dad make healthy choices and lifestyle changes that he can maintain.

Olive Bladvak said...

I'm glad you made the socks. And I'm glad your dad's surgery went well!

Olive B.

Laeita Khandylle Haxloeffen-Bharnoell said...

Oh, I can feel the fear, pain, urgency, dread, and relief as I read your post.

Thank you for reminding me to make the most of each day and the time that we do have with our loved ones.

Thanks also for reminding me that I should do something for someone, no matter how small it may seem, every day.