A Practical Guide for Friends of People With Arthritis
At best it was very painful, frustrating, and lonely. I know that the rest of the world tends to continue whether I'm homebound or not, but I suddenly realized (after a prolonged pouting spell), that my friends weren't trying to be mean, they just had no clue what to do!
Early March, I had surgeries #7 and #8 due to my arthritis. I AM thankful that modern medicine has made the strides it has in orthopedic surgery in America, however, as a result of the two surgeries on my foot (and two MORE proposed surgeries), I wasn't allowed to walk. I could only limp to the bathroom. I was also required to keep my legs elevated above my heart much of the time. So, of course, driving was also out. I live alone in a split-foyer house with lots of stairs so the challenges, at times, seemed almost insurmountable. The anti-inflammatory meds combined with pain meds tended to leave me non-functioning (though that may have been a good thing!).
Having been through this type of thing several times, I have a few suggestions for the "able-bodied" friends of people like me:
Offer rides. It was very difficult to find rides for my weekly appointments. Once, I had to pay for a taxi, which, much to my horror, cost $50 for a one-way trip!
Do a load of laundry. Because I couldn't walk/and or do stairs, my laundry wasn't done for two months. It would have been great for someone to throw in a load!
Offer to take out the trash, pick up the mail and make or bring offer a meal or two. After I received my final notice (not really) from the Health Department, I finally found a friend to take out my garbage on a weekly basis. This person also rescued my mail once a week. I did have some friends who brought pots of homemade soups for me, a welcome change from those mystery packages in the back of the freezer.
Lend your friend some good books. I got lots of books on loan so I didn't have to totally veg out in front of the TV all of the time!
Call! And make it easier to communicate with the outside world. One of my sons suggested we put portable phones in each room. Much to my amazement, they only cost about $10 each! E-mails tended to be my only contact with the "outside world." Short calls were very welcome.
Deliver some groceries. It was very hard to get my prescription refills, since my pharmacy doesn't deliver. Because I couldn't drive (or walk), it was almost impossible for me to get groceries. I don't eat, but milk or fresh fruit would have been welcome.
A favorite quote I read recently in O Magazine is: "Worrying is wasted time -- use the same energy for doing something about whatever worries you."
I'm FINALLY recovering. The bandages have been removed. The ugly ortho shoe is off. I get to take a shower (I've never thought of that as a privilege). I get to begin driving and am allowed to do limited walking (I'm incredibly weak). One of of my upcoming surgeries is being cancelled and I will begin physical therapy in a month. My friends ARE WONDERFUL, but busy, and I understand. In writing these suggestions, I hope we will all remember HOW to help another arthritis friend or others as they are recovering from surgery!
A major bonus today: Upon my return home from my doctor visit, I noticed that my yard is in glorious full bloom with sunny yellow daffodils, purple hyacinths and banks of red and purple tulips. And so A NEW BEGINNING!