Monday 16 August 2010

Running a Creche for Adults

Dear Readers,
My friend Jeanne-ming recently wrote to ask how I was and where I was, and I realise I am not blogging with any consistency this summer. Two months after my last treatment the waters started closing over me and each day I take the oars out and push the tide just far enough to keep breathing and smiling. I am awaiting the next admission with an eagerness that is not entirely normal :) Hospital tea! Yay! The narrow white cot-like bed that I somehow don't fall out off! Yay! And the needles! Er... no. No yay for the needles. I am not that far gone. My lips curl into a snarl at the thought of that particular familiar invasion.

Meantime, wolfish things aside, I have taken to a rather demure sport. Knitting. My grandmother, who lives in Vancouver most of the year, spends her summer here with us in England, and she is a champion knitter. I have put her to good use this year and am now the proud maker of a tiny sample of orange wool in garter and stocking stitch.
Grandmere is a beautiful and impatient woman who is teaching me new stitches at the rate of knots; so I took my knitting along to the eye clinic a few days ago. In between the ghastly facts of my growing cataract, my inflammatory cells, the myopically curved disc of my right trabeculectomy, old scars, new floaters.... I discussed knitting techniques with my fellow patients. Every female patient and staff member could knit! At one point, as I was sticking my tongue out at a few fallen stitches, a Chinese lady snatched the offending sample out of my hands and speedily corrected my mistakes. She was gone as quickly as she had appeared, so I followed her direction into the adjoining waiting room, but it was empty. It was late evening by now, and I snagged a friendly nurse to ask after the Chinese patient. "She's not a patient!" scoffed the nurse. "She's our visiting doctor from China." I mumbled something to her retreating back, but she suddenly re-appeared with the doctor! I think I blushed but the doctor (Ching) just tut-tutted and sorted out more mistakes. She had met me once before; I, sans contact lenses, had not recognised her. We stayed chatting awhile about me learning Mandarin (Ni hao! Wo jaio Shai!) and her mother's knitting expertise at home in Beijing, until my blue-eyed surgeon (the one who reads my blog) hustled his visiting doctor back to the safe seclusion of work. I floated back to the receptionist's desk and three nurses manifested, discussing the merits of crocheting and Carmen, head nurse, asked if I knew how to cast off. She had just begun the lesson when my medical ophthalmologist shimmered into view. (A quick visual image for you - he looks a little like Robin Williams' character in Good Will Hunting. Beard, eccentricity and all). "I know knitting is far more important," he seethed, "but could I have my patient back?" I scuttled after him, and when we'd settled into the ghostly dark room, he griped, "I feel as though I'm running a creche for adults here!"

So there you have it. I am knitting and pearling and learning Mandarin (which brings me back to my friend Jeanne-ming!) and awaiting the next installment of an IV drip. There are two more weddings looming, one which is about to fall on my birthday. So I shall write about the serendipity of that as it occurs.

So much love to my blogging sangha x

first painting: henrietta mabel may, 1884-1971
second painting: nichiro ishimura, 1946-97