I recently had major surgery and had lots of friends and family offer to help with anything, but it’s hard to know what you will need until later and it’s often hard to ask for help once you do need it. Here are some things that were helpful for me while I recovered in case you want to help someone in a similar situation.
I wasn’t even able to stand up from the couch on my own, so cooking food was completely off the table. I had dietary restrictions, especially right out of the hospital, so I was very lucky my husband was able to completely take care of this for me. If I didn’t have Shane home with me full-time, then I would have needed pre-prepared meals for when I would be alone.
If you want to prepare food for someone, either make sure your food meets their dietary restrictions, or make food for the rest of the family. For a few days I only ate Rice Chex, Yogurt and Canned peaches. Shane was preparing 2 different meals for every meal which was exhausting and made a lot of dishes. I wish I had asked some of our friends to make him some food so he could have had a little bit of a break.
Help at Home
Offer to do housework if they are unable, like weeding or bringing out the trash barrels on trash day, or doing the dishes, or vacuuming. Vacuuming is something I think most people are not allowed to do after surgery. My dining room and living room are carpeted, so food is often dropped on the carpet and I hated asking my husband to vacuum all the time.
If you have a special skill, or know that a certain chore is critical for their house, offer to do that for them. If I didn’t have Shane doing everything I couldn’t, I would have needed a lot of help from friends/family.
While flowers aren’t “useful” they are beautiful and I loved looking at the flowers I got. The flowers reminded me about all the people who care about me when I was feeling down. They also made my house smell magical.
I had a friend gift me nail polish stickers which was so thoughtful and helped make me feel like a normal human again. For myself I bought some “special” lotion and body wash as a reward. At first I couldn’t shower by myself, so once I could, I used the new body wash as a treat to myself to mark my progress. I also bought myself a new robe, new slippers and some pajama shirts to help during recovery; but it also helped me feel special.
Run Their Errands
Offer to pick up their groceries, or to drive to get them anything. I wasn’t allowed to drive for a while, so it was nice that family offered to pick up my groceries while I couldn’t. My pharmacy lets other people pick up prescriptions for me when I need it, so it was nice to just send Shane out to get supplies when I needed them.
I had one friend let me borrow some books which was exactly what I needed. Other great ideas of entertainment are coloring books with pencils, DVD’s to watch, a month or two of a streaming service, or a recovery journal with a fancy pen. If you know they enjoy a specific craft you can buy supplies for that. For example, an embroidery kit would be fun to do.
I would love to hear what other things have been helpful during recovery. Please leave any comments below with ideas or thoughts!