How to Lend a Hand After a Surgery or Sickness

Is it just me or does everyone else notice the same thing here? It seems the older I get, the more people I know are requiring surgery. And some pretty major surgeries, at that. Gallbladders, hearts, hysterectomies, not to mention the numerous parts being replaced….knees and hips for starters. And at a younger age too (or is that just me getting older?).

At 47, I have been lucky enough to avoid any surgeons’ offices, but the same is not true for my husband. At only 50, he recently had a full left hip replacement. The surgery itself went off without a hitch. He’s healthy and strong, so after only 2 days in the hospital, he was sent home to be cared for by “yours truly”. Timing worked out well for us as I have a wonderful friend who offered to help run my gift shop for me. My son also came home from University and was able to lend a hand, as did my daughter when each school day was over for her. But during this whole process, it made me think about what people who do not have a support system in place would do. The answer, I was told, was to stay in a nursing home. So, what could you do to help a friend or family member facing the road to recovery and choosing to do so at home?

  • Food. Pick up a bag of groceries or prepare a meal or two. Remember that, depending on what kind of surgery they are recovering from, their mobility may be compromised, so leaving a beautifully plated meal in their refrigerator that just requires heating may not be enough; you may need to hang around and serve the meal and clean up the dishes afterward.
  • Prescriptions. We used a single day pill organizer. It was inexpensive and I picked it up at the same pharmacy I picked his supply of prescriptions from. Sorting the medications like this ahead of time kept us all organized.
  • Errands. There are always errands. Picking up a new magazine or book. Picking up and mailing paperwork required for sick benefits. Washing a load of laundry. Running the vacuum or cleaning the kitchen/bathroom. Getting the mail. Etc. Etc.
  • Pet Care. Not something they are going to be able to do on their own. Dogs need walking and to be let out to take care of business and cats will need their litter tended to. Oh…and feed them too!
  • Be a Taxi Service. There will be doctor’s follow-up appointments and possibly physio to get to.
  • Be good company. In our case, once my husband was up and about, using only a cane after a few weeks, he was able to get out of the house for a short drive or go for breakfast with a friend. Sometimes just accompanying the patient on a short walk or sitting with them for a chat is enough to break up their day and ease the boredom during their recovery.
Angela Cowley

Angela Cowley is a married mother of two teens and a small business owner. When she isn't helping people put together the perfect gift at her gift shop in downtown Stoney Creek, Ontario, you can find her relaxing on the front porch of her century old home with a cold beverage.

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