17 October, 2010

Saga of a knitting project, part 3

I'm sorry I haven't been back to finish this story.  I thought it would be the ideal start for my knitting blog, since it was about the first time I really experienced the cathartic power and magic of knitting.  It's been more difficult to write about than I expected.

You have to understand, we had just taken my son in for a routine two-month check-up, and been shipped straight to the emergency room.  My husband was in a major exam that would determine whether he could continue in the graduate student program or not.  And we were leaving in four days to move in with my in-laws for the summer, while he completed an internship with a company in their area.

To say that I was a bit fried by the time we left for my in-laws was an understatement.  Rather than having three leisurely days to pack up mine and my children's lives for transportation, we flung things into a rented trailer at the last possible moment.  We stopped to pick up the MRI results at Riley Children's Hospital, in Indianapolis, on our way out of the state. 

"Once you get to Pennsylvania," we were told, "call The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia immediately and make an appointment with a neurosurgeon.  We don't know what is happening with your son's brain.  It's possible that there's a gap in the skull, and that the brain has grown through that into the cyst that formed when the bruise calcified.  It's made a solid 'bubble' on his skull."  Can you imagine how terrifying that was?

So I knitted, all the way to Indy to get the MRI photos.  All the way to Pennsylvania, were my in-laws were equally frantic.  I knitted, hearing my father's voice replay in my head "If there's anything you need, if there's anything we can do, just call.  We'll be there."  I knitted to pull myself out of the pit of despair and uncertainty where I was trying not to drown.

Finally, I knitted in the waiting room, as we waited to see the head of the neurology department.  (Incidentally, we had learned that the neurology department at C.H.O.P is one of the best pediatric neurology departments in the world.) I made myself put the knitting away is we walked back to his office.  And I sat on his sofa, and held my son, as he glanced at the original CT Scan images...and said  "This is a Calcified Cephalhemotoma.  It's perfectly normal."  Then, looking at my bouncing son he told me "It's obvious there's nothing wrong with your son."

He wasn't even going to look at the MRI images, but I was so incredulous that we had been through all this for nothing, I insisted.  He re-affirmed that nothing was wrong, but did say that it would probably be best to have the lump removed.  At this age, he told us, it would be a non-event.  He wouldn't remember anything.  Later, it might not be so simple.

So, I knitted through a head surgery, and through a long night while my sweet baby lay, hooked up to wires that beeped frantically every time he shifted.  I was so groggy after sleeping on the fold-out bed that night, I didn't even get up when the Resident came in then next morning to check him one last time.  I nodded blurrily at his comments, and burrowed back under the covers for another hour.

We had a scare after checking out, when we got down to the car and realized that our son's head had swollen half again as large as normal.  I burst into tears, having thought it was finally over.  And what if the swelling caused permanent damage, when if we'd just left well enough alone...?  But they checked him out in the Emergency Room, said it was a normal reaction to the surgery, and sent us on our way again.

I finished the blanket in October, knitting half the day at a scrap-booking event to get it done.  By that time, things had settled down to a somewhat normal routine again.  We were back home, and school had started up.  (My husband did pass that exam.)

But, even now, when he's heading towards his third birthday, I still hold this son a little tighter, cradling him when he falls asleep in my lap.  I wrap his fingers around mine, and pray gratitude once again for each day we've had with him, asking for many more to come.  I've learned that.  I saw children in that hospital who had been there for their entire lives.  No one had looked at their desperate parents and said "Your child is just fine."  Some of them will probably never leave.  Every day is a gift.

I tuck his blanket around him, remember, and give thanks.

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