discoveries magazine

Wholehearted Hobby

Cross-stitching by Dechu Puliyanda, MD

Photo: Rachael Porter

Dechu Puliyanda, MD, has dedicated her life to two practices: medicine and cross-stitching—not to be confused with the surgical closing of wounds. The pediatric nephrologist picked up her first tapestry needle when she was in second grade, learning from her mother—who, in turn, learned from her mother. While in medical school, Puliyanda used cross-stitching to relieve the stress of intense studying.

Over the years, she’s created a pattern of starting every morning with a cup of coffee and at least 15 minutes of needlework.

“In general, I am quite wired and am on the go,” Puliyanda says. “Stitching calms me down. It’s an extremely zen thing that I can do anywhere.”

The director of the Cedars-Sinai Pediatric Nephrology Program has become so advanced in the art that several of her friends and her mother regularly ask for stitching advice.

Most of Puliyanda’s embroidered pieces are of cheerful birds, fluttering butterflies or, her favorite, colorful poppies.

Recently, she’s been pursuing a project that reflects her profession—cross-stitching patterns of major organs: lung, kidney, heart and liver. Each piece takes at least six months for her to complete.