Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Hospital Socks and other Tales of Comfort

Recently I participated in Craft Hope's latest effort, the Pillowcase Project in conjunction with the ConKerr Cancer Group.

It was my pleasure to be able to use my sewing skills to put together several pillowcases to donate to this cause. I wondered though, what could possibly be the impact of a pillowcase on someone's life? It is, after all, just a piece of bed linen.

Kids and parents have written letters thanking the participants for the pillowcases and it occurred to me that I needed to take their word for the fact that, even though it was a small gesture, it was important to them.

And then the weather turned chilly and, as is my habit when the air turns cool, I walked to my dresser and opened the third drawer from the top. I reached inside and pulled out my hospital socks.

For a moment I stood in my bedroom with the slighly shabby socks in my hand, and I became fully aware of the importance of those pillowcases.

The hospital socks. What's the story behind them?

Several years ago I went to the hospital to have a procedure done. It was the procedure that everyone dreads. The one that involves a full day of drinking yucky stuff and living in the bathroom. Yeah, that procedure. No matter how many people tell you that the preparation is terrible and the test is nothing, the anxiety level still rises as you drive up to the hospital.

I found myself in a waiting area, with nothing but curtains separating my space from the other patients. A physician sat across the hall and droned on incessantly into a recorder, unaware that the open door and the echoing hallway was destroying all HIPPA legislation. Yes, I was privvy to everyone's procedure results!

The Farmer sat with me and we chatted, but still I felt very alone. I could not imagine what goes through the minds of people who are laying on these beds facing serious health issues. It just felt lonely to me.

The room was cold. I just remember how cold and lonely it felt. The staff was friendly. They were simply going about their tasks in a professional manner but I was acutely aware that this space did not hold the security of home.

And then a nurses aide pulled the curtain back, cradling in her arms a clean, white blanket. She carefully laid it across the sheet that covered me and I was surprised. It was warm. It was so warm and soft.

"Why is this blanket so warm?" I asked.

"Oh, we have a special warming cabinet."

Imagine that. I'm sure the Farmer would approve the purchase of something so wonderful as a warming cabinet.

A few minutes later the aide returned with the pair of hospital socks. I wasn't too sure I wanted to put on a pair of socks but the Farmer helped me slip them on and something strange happened. I felt cared for. Those silly blue green socks with the non-slip bottoms made me feel cared for.


They instantly became a totem for me. Crazy as it may seem I told myself that nothing bad could befall me as long as I had my hospital socks.

The procedure was performed and slowly I recovered from that crazy anethesia. The nurse had me get dressed and put my hospital socks in a bag to take home.

And there they reside, in the third drawer from the top, waiting for a chill to fill the air. I pull them out and instantly I can recall that warm and safe feeling.


And so, I had my answer. Yes, a pillowcase can make a difference for a child. In an insitution where it would be easy to lose their identity, slowing becoming "just a patient", a colorful pillowcase can become their own individual statement. And when they lay down to sleep, hopefully they can capture a warm and safe feeling for themselves.


Ang. said...

I have a pair of hospital socks, too. I don't have the same sense that you do when I put them on. Maybe it was because I got them when I went to the ER because I ran a double point knitting needle through my foot. They mostly make me feel silly! I'm glad that you have better feelings about your socks. :)

And I wish I had a blanket warmer in my house!

Leslie T said...

What a great story! And I'm sure that your pillowcases make a huge difference in the lives of the people who receive them. Something colorful and homemade has got to be a real gift, a sharp contrast to the white, institutional feel of traditional hospital bedding. It must make them feel very warm and connected to a feeling of being cared for.
I admire your sewing skills and your willingness to give to others who need an extra touch of hope.

Lisa D. said...

I didn't get any socks, but I remember the nice warm blanket from a procedure I had done a few years ago. It felt wonderful! And yes, made the nurses seem just that much nicer.

Vee said...

Those socks look very familiar. Those warmed blankets are so wonderful, too. I can remember the comfort of one after a surgery I had long ago. It's a lovely thing you do making pillowcases for children. To feel special and loved is so important.

Sparkless said...

If you have a dryer you have a blanket warmer. Just toss in your blanket on high for a couple of minutes and there you have your warmed blanket.
I remember after the birth of my second child how good that warm blanket felt too.

Steph said...

This reminds me of a few years ago when Lance had implant contact lenses put in his eyes (he was almost legally blind without glasses or contacts). When he laid down on the operating table, the nurse closed the curtain around him, and he was so tall, his feet stuck out past the curtain and into the hallway. They had to roll another table up to let his feet prop on. He could've used some hospital socks then, lol.

Kelli said...

I really enjoyed reading this blog, those pillowcases have made a huge difference to each and everyone who has be given one!! What a great thing that you did!


Marfa (Crafting Marfa) said...

You remind me of Lionel and his security I think that most people have or need a "security blanket". For me, unfortunately, its chocolate. When I eat a piece of chocolate I feel sooooo good! Of course, when it turns to fat I don't feel good at

Shayla said...

Often it's the smaller gestures that are the most comforting. I enjoyed your story.

martina said...

We had a family recipe for an ointment called "Indian linament". No one remembers the exact recipe but some of the ingredients were a raw egg and linseed oil. It stank beyond belief. If Dad had a chest cold he'd massage the linament onto his upper chest and neck, wrap his neck in an old long wool sock his mother had knit and sleep with it on. He was sure this linament and Grandma's sock sped up his recovery. I think wearing something his Mom made helped the cure.

Ali said...

love this post