As you might imagine, I've experienced a fair amount of stress and anxiety during the past month. What you might not guess is that, in the moment at least, my cancer diagnosis was not the worst of it. No, my friends, it was not until my surgeon casually mentioned that she'd like me to have an MRI that I totally and completely became unglued.
I received this news on a Tuesday and the MRI was scheduled for the following Monday so I had a good long time to fret. I talked to everyone who would listen and accepted any and all (music, drugs, visualization techniques, more drugs) encouragement and suggestions, but I seriously did not know how I was going to get through it.
It was Hilary who suggested I pick a complex pattern to "knit" during the MRI. In my anxiety I hadn't even remembered that I once used this technique to distract myself during an unpleasant procedure years ago. Brilliant! But what to knit? Pattern? Yarn? Needle size? Virtual or not I found I could still obsess over these decisions. (Hmm .. maybe this is what Hilary was thinking all along.) I needed it to be complex enough to distract, but simple enough to memorize. Would it need a garter stitch edge to reduce curling? Did it even matter if an imaginary knitted swatch curled in the MRI machine? On the day before my MRI I took out some scrap yarn and worked up a simple swatch:
Row 1: K5, yo, k1, ssk, k3, k2tog, k1 yo, k5
Row 2: K2, p15, k2
Repeat 2 row pattern as long as necessary.
I loved that this knitting distracted me in the days leading up to the MRI, that even a virtual knitting project could get the obsessive juices flowing. I found it calming to knit up the actual prototype. But in my heart, I knew that it wasn't going to conquer my Extreme Claustrophobia. For that, I took two Xanax. I did manage to knit somewhere into the 3rd row before I lost my place, or dropped a stitch, or started a new project .. I can't really remember what happened. I only remember that I didn't care.
Two days later when I was anxiously awaiting some pre-op tests I discovered I had the wrong needles with me and couldn't work on my sweater sleeve. Desperate for a distraction I used a crochet hook to hold some stitches so I could free up a dpn, and pulling yarn from the other end of my ball I began to work my MRI pattern. It saved me again.
THANK YOU to all who left such kind comments, words of encouragement and virtual hugs after my last post.