Nightingale-ing 101

Saturday, 1 October 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

Anyone who has been sick, laid up or otherwise incapacitated for an extended period of time knows how challenging and isolating it can be. There's the physical discomfort of what ails you along with the frustration of not being able to do things for yourself, like getting dressed, cutting your food or typing. Then there's the emotional distress of what the brain can do when it's got all that time to think. You know what they say about an idle mind.

The upside of being stuck inside is the people who show up to help. It’s the situation I find myself in now, as I recover from shoulder surgery and am unable to cook or drive and in constant need of ice. The support crew who have been keeping me afloat is my flock of angels.

There have been many times when I’ve been on the other side of this same equation, when a friend was stuck inside, in some kind of pain  and needing help with the basics.

Can you relate? Unsure what to do to be of help to someone in your life? Start by putting yourself in their shoes and imagine the practicalities of life.  Can’t tie their own shoes? Maybe bring them some slip ons.

Here are a few other tips for how to be a great help to those who need it.

Flowers – it’s an obvious one, but be careful here. A potted plant like an orchid is a good choice. If you’re buying cut flowers make sure they’re delivered in a vase or do the arranging yourself.  And consider whether the recipient will be able to dispose of them or if they’ll sit rotting for weeks. Will they even be able to lift them from the front steps?

Food – the delivery of a healthy homemade meal (or from the local gourmet shop) can make a world of difference. Go with single serving dishes that can be frozen and easily reheated. Can your patient cut her own food? Consider dishes like chilli, soup or sandwiches that are easy to eat. Deliver in storage containers and don’t expect to get them back. (At least not anytime soon.)

Practicalities – can you clean their house or hire a cleaning service as a gift? Be a taxi driver for picking up prescriptions, ice and other necessities?  Mow the lawn or walk the dog? Unable to blow dry my hair, one friend dropped off a gift certificate to a local blow dry bar.  Brilliant!

Entertainment – How to pass the time when most of it’s being spent on the sofa? Consider the ailment. A person with a head injury (like a concussion) can’t be looking at screens.  Perhaps the gift of music or an eye mask to help with sleeping. And if a person is able to read or watch movies, comedy is the genre of choice as a good laugh might be in order right about now.

What’s most important is to let the person know you’re there and thinking of them. Be direct and ask what they need and how you can help.  It might be that all they need is a hug.

Happy weekend everyone! (Please excuse any typos in this post, I’m typing with my left hand.)

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  • Laura Albert

    I’m not exactly near you so I’m not sure what I can do for you, Anna, but I hope you feel better really soon.

    • Anna Wallner

      Thank you Laura! I’m getting there…. 🙂

  • BrainofMorbius

    Anna! You look so sad and pitiful there in that picture. If I was there I’d cater to your every whim, and probably annoy you like H and be kicked out of your house after 20 minutes. LOL

    I might suggest also having someone pick up some grocery store tabloids to read. Angelina Jolie was on four covers last time I was at the checkout, Jen got only one! Those two sure keep the tabloid business in business. (Those papers can really make for entertaining reading, just like a comedy film, so splurge!)

    I hope you feel better soon and are back to all the activities you love the most…

    And BTW, I know the feeling (back a couple of years ago I went through a week of hell before having gallbladder surgery, so I know what its like to be confined… My outlet is to buy blank canvasses and paint crazy abstract paintings, but that’s just me…)

    Get well soon! =)