3dogmom from RevGals writes:
A friend had foot surgery recently. Shortly before her procedure she posted on Facebook that she’d never been on crutches before, and asked for tips on how to manage. That put me in mind of my own “down” times, and some of the necessary things I learned from them.
For today’s FF, share with us five things you learned about coping with such a situation. These can be practical tips from the perspective of one needing care or one giving care, or maybe some personal insights gleaned from the experience. Or, anything related, like a humorous situation that resulted.
Well, I had to think on this for a while. I have been fortunate to not (yet) have had a major illness, surgery or accident. I’ve been a friend and companion to many who have, and so I thought about what I learned from others who are in this experience. I also remembered that I did have some challenges recovering from having our children, and I’ve also been housebound recovering from a nasty case of the flu or bronchitis. Small potatoes, my friends… Small potatoes. But here’s some things I have tried to remember!
1. Nothing lasts forever.
Nothing. Really. Even a “terminal disease” ends in something greater than the present human existence (at least, according to my theology.) So having hope for the future, however God defines it, is my default setting. Even so…
2. It’s OK to be discouraged.
We are real human beings, with real human emotions. When we are faced with a long recuperation, or we don’t QUITE get back to the functioning level where we started, it’s a little frustrating. Wait. A lot frustrating. We must give each other permission to be discouraged. That lingering problem won’t go away overnight. Admitting or voicing our discouragement is a way to put it out there to see, analyze and decide how to move on it. That’s why I think it’s important to…
3. Find people who will listen to you, reflect with you, and help you take the next steps forward.
This is a tough job. You have to be sympathetic, but not buy into the “poor me, poor, poor me” line. When I’m the listener, I try to listen intently for what the person thinks is their way through the current mess. A realistic one, mind you. Overspending your budget and praying to win the lottery? I can’t join you in that one… But I can respond by agreeing with you that you have something to overcome, and then be sincere in my support as you take action. This is also the place where you…
4. Learn that you have to accept help sometimes!
I had severe postpartum anemia after both of our daughters were born. I was so bright white I was glaring. There was no color in my cheekbones. (I didn’t realize how pale I was until I saw pictures, years later, of my anemic self. Geez…) Fortunately, I had a husband and parents who helped enforce the “rest when the baby sleeps” rule. Meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, logistics… someone else was in charge. I gave up the car keys and the grocery shopping. I was fortunate that I had this help, and people wise enough to insist when I was determined to “do it all.”
5. When the new reality is painful, give yourself permission to grieve the old reality.
It doesn’t matter what it is… you discover you have a medical condition that requires daily pills and regimens. Grieve it. You finally understand that having children means you have agreed to set aside your plans when you have a sick child. Accept it. You realize you can’t eat certain foods ever again if you want to be healthy. Mourn it. You have a diagnosis that (frankly) sucks and scares you. Honor it as best you can, cry when you need to, and live as long as you can. (That last sentence, by the way, can take the rest of your life. That’s not a weekend project!)
The Egyptian philosopher Philo said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
It may not be visible. It may not be understandable. But in the heart of the suffering person, it is very real. You never hurt anyone by being kind. (I’m still working on that one…)