if you're a parent and you're the sick one who stays at home?
I have a hard time with that, and in addition to colds and flus I've caught I seem to be a "surgery person." You know, just one of those people who tends to need tune-ups a lot! If I were a car, I think I'd be called a lemon! Whatever the case, I've had 6 surgeries in the 3 years since becoming a parent. Each one has required my husband to take one full day off, and then I've needed to arrange 1-6 days of follow-up help with our son. I consider myself incredibly blessed to have multiple friends, family members and neighbors who have come to my home to care for my son - and for me!
In my old corporate America job, I had 10 personal/sick days. I never put a dent in that balance; those must have been the healthy years! I've had to "take" at least 10 sick days in each of the past 3 years, and it has at times been a juggling act to figure out what we'll eat, who will care for my toddler, and who will ensure that I will actually rest enough to recover from my surgeries.
My last surgery occurred last Thursday, and I knew a month in advance that it was scheduled for that date. Here are some tips and tricks I've learned that work for us.
- Plan ahead. If you have any control whatsoever over your surgery, plan it on a day that works for your family. For my last two, I could choose morning or afternoon times, and for both I chose the first time in the morning. Planning ahead also allows me to check the scheduled of our preferred helpers/sitters. My mom is willing to come into town if she has enough advance notice, and that is special time for her with her grandson while I rest on the couch.
- Plan for the worst. It might sound negative, but I've learned the hard way that I do not have a high pain threshold. I'm also an ultra sensitive person when it comes to anesthesia, side effects with painkillers, incisions, etc. Things just hurt me more and take longer to heal. Planning for the worst in my case means that if the doctor says I can return to normal activity the next day, I should plan to return to my level of normal activity in a week. After my last surgery, I've had to elevate my leg - and we're not talking elevating it on an ottoman. I've been laying on the couch much of the day, or I experience much, much more pain. Long recoveries have been hard for me to accept, but I find that if I do accept the reality and plan for it, my body heals more fully and returns to normal when it's ready vs. when I force it to be ready.
- Accept help. Three years ago, this was very hard for me. I didn't think I needed help, wanted it, nope. Not me. Now, the Lord has allowed me enough opportunities to be down & out and refined me to the point of gladly accepting help. If someone offers to bring me food, I accept that offer. If someone offers to watch my son for a few hours, I accept that offer. Accepting help has been one of the most beautiful ways the Lord has shown Himself to me! I feel that I have a whole new community around me now, and these people are blessing upon blessing to me.
- Ask for help. I have 3 girlfriends who live within 6 miles of me who I know I can call for anything. What a blessing! My eyes tear up when I even think of them. During this last surgery, one friend asked if she could help with rides, meals, etc. We ran into a scheduling challenge the morning of my surgery, so we asked her to drop me off. Then she insisted on bringing a gourmet dinner. She also brought a dozen muffins that we've enjoyed for ensuing breakfasts and a beautiful bouquet of flowers that remind me of her. Another friend piled her 3 girls into the car and brought over a delicious lunch to me on the day I was all alone with my son. I told her I'd be all alone that day, and she knew I was concerned about that. Another friend brought my favorite takeout for dinner another day along with a big bouquet of flowers, then stayed for an hour just to talk to me. I know it's unusual to have so many friends who are so giving, and I don't take it for granted. I thank God that I know I can call any one of these girls at any time and know that they'll drop things to help me.
- Look for opportunities to serve others in the way you'd want to be served if you were sick or recovering after surgery. I know that I'm at an advantage by having one child and being home full-time, and I love that I can serve others by caring for their kids, take them meals, or do their errand running while they're sick or recovering. Doing these things has helped me involve my toddler in serving, and I've learned more about asking for help. As I see others accept my help, I grow braver in accepting help.
Do you have any ideas? Leave us a comment!