It's only temporary. It's only temporary.

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life33 Comments


My current foot situation sucks.

Did I mention how unprepared I was for the recovery period? How cavalier I was about the whole thing?  How few questions I asked the surgeon? How silly I feel about my overall lack of preparedness? That not being able to take a full-on shower for a month is more stressful than one might think?

The procedure needed to happen. Now. Or later. It was needed.

I want to be an active person and this is the price I have to pay to ensure this is possible.

But the reality of the situation has taken us all by surprise. (Okay, maybe just me and Dan.)

There have been a few moments during the past three weeks when attempting to do something very simple (and failing) has caused a handful of hot, fast tears. Then I grow up and deal with it. Still, it's hard not to do all the things you are used to doing.

Dan became an instant single parent, responsible for every major task. During the past few weeks there have been school meetings and supply shopping and grocery needs and cooking needs—and when you are suddenly unable to contribute to the greater good of the family, it's really an eye opener.

For all of you single parents out there, I think you are heroes. For all of you who are doing temporary single parent duty—whether because of a spouse on deployment, or some other event, such as work travel or family illness—I think what you do is also nothing if not heroic and amazing.

My situation is temporary—and God knows it's not a major, life-threatening issue—but it's made me want to figure out ways to help, if even in the smallest of ways, other families who are in a bit of a bind. Maybe it's an extra meal. An extra ride. Just some small way of helping out a family who could use an extra hand. Or foot.

So let's talk creative ideas today. From service organizations to things you've done to help others who are getting back on their feet, what are some simple ways to help people out while they are recuperating?

By all means, share in the comments today. I'd love to file some ideas away to retrieve for future friends, families or neighbors in need.

And again, to my family and friends who've been taking such good care of me, thank you. Honestly. I am so grateful for everything.




Cathy ZielskeIt's only temporary. It's only temporary.

33 Comments on “It's only temporary. It's only temporary.”

  1. #1

    I had a friend who fell off a ladder putting up Xmas tree lights. Needed reconstuctive surgery on her ankle, then would not heal only to find out 3 months later that she was allergic to titanium( had permanent titanium rods in her ankle).

    Anyway, her poor husband was running himself ragged trying to take care of her and the 2 kids. So I drove one of the kids home from school for months while she was trying to recover. It was only a little bit out of my way, made me feel good to be able to help them out. Sadly, her husband committed suicide 2 years ago. A meal always helps as well but picking up a kid from school is huge if the spouse’s job is not flexible enough to do it on an extended basis.

  2. #3
    Katrina Simeck

    15 years ago, I was in a massive car accident. During the first 3 months of my recovery, my son’s daycare teachers took turns packing a lunch for him – although many, many people contributed during that time, the lunch is the thing that stands out in my memory.

    Now that I’m a single parent of that not-so-little guy, the thing that I need the most? Simply someone to say “hey, what you’re doing is hard.” Regardless of the fact that my son is almost 17, and my daughter is away at University….parenting alone, running a household alone, and just generally BEING alone is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. So, a few kind words via email, letter, text, or smoke signal mean a lot.

    That, and wine. Wine always helps.

    Sending you healing thoughts!

  3. #4
    Julie Mitchell

    I went through one year of chemo treatments and radiation. What helped me most was people giving rides to my kids to their various activities. It gave my spouse a much deserved taxi break and I didn’t feel so bad that I needed to reciprocate the service. It wasn’t a huge service for our friends but it was huge for us. The occasional meal was always nice but not necessary. Sometimes we were overwhelmed with too much or things that the kids didn’t eat.

  4. #5

    When our son was born, our local ladies’ group offered to bring dinner for two weeks. I had told them that I would be fine, but they insisted. It was heavenly!!! Many of my favorite recipes are from those two weeks. That was 18 years ago as we just took our son to college last week, and I’m still talking about it!!!

  5. #6

    It always sounds good to lay around until you actually have to do it. Hang in there! It sounds like you have good help. Heal quickly!

  6. #7

    I had four surgeries on my kidney one year. My friends helped by giving my children rides that was so appreciated. But the big ticket item was they came and cleaned my house. It was beyond amazing. We had one other time when my husband had back surgery. A work friend just showed up and he mowed our grass. I will never forget that.

    Hang in their for your recovery. Every day is another day that you have healed.

  7. #8

    In Feb I had back surgery, a fusion with a long recovery. I live alone so that was a problem. My sister-in law stayed with me for two weeks, which was huge! A good friend who enjoyed cooking, and knowing that I don’t even under normal circumstances, filled my freezer with portion sized freezer meals. Also huge! Another friend came and mowed a couple of times. I also found myself craving human contact so every phone call to check up on me was much appreciated. The only thing I couldn’t get anyone to do was pick up after my dog! 🙂 Fortunately, unlike you, I was able to walk, so as soon as I was able, I made a periodic turn around the yard with the pooper scooper for my daily exercise.

  8. #9
    Anne-Marie Cox

    You must figure out what kind of help they want or need… don’t offer help just to make yourself feel good… it isn’t JUST the thought that counts… it’s being THOUGHTFUL that really matters.

    My 4 year old twin sons are coming to the end of 14 months of chemotherapy… the best help I was given was some cold hard cash (the fuel and parking bills were killing us) by a group of amazing women who I am proud to call my friends… and the services of a cleaning lady from my fellow twin mums, the best group of friends anyone could ever hope to have… the lift that gift gave me every fortnight was what got me through… it was way more than just a clean floor.

  9. #10
    Sue O

    I had knee replacement surgery 2 months ago and then last week my husband had hip replacement surgery. I thought it would be fine, but it turns out
    that he was still doing more for me than I realized. Thank goodness a hip isn’t anything like a knee. But we could use some help for sure. The problem I have is while I have lots of people offering to help, I am terrible about asking for help. So the best kind of help I’ve had has been when people offer specific help. Like the friend who went to the pharmacy for me and then came back and emptied my dishwasher.

  10. #11

    Within my circle of friends there is always someone having a baby. Yes, still. I keep waiting for it to end, but then BAM. Another one. Or a foster baby. Anyway, we ladies sign up to take dinner over every other night for a week or two after the new Mom comes home. Quite often I have taken meals to a friend of a friend. One time, I took a meal to no one home, but came in and set it up as instructed anyway. Turns out, everyone was in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital with the new baby. Dad was overwhelmingly relieved to bring 2 kids(with no Mom and new baby) home to a real meal at o dark thirty.

  11. #12

    As a veteran of 9 lower extremity surgeries (I’m a klutz) I use a seal-tight cast and bandage protector to enable me to shower. Knee replaced, check, broken leg, check, rods and pins in ankle, check, torn meniscus, check…these protectors keep all water out. You can go to any chain drugstore or a medical supply store and buy them. They come in different lengths for arms and legs, and my “last” one cost $25. Check with your doctor about using one. A “real” shower does wonders 🙂

  12. #13

    11 weeks post trimallealor fracture (broken ankle while rollerskating). Since it was my right foot, no driving. And my son and husband left for a 2week scout trip the day of my surgery. Thank goodness for my mom. What meant the most was those friends that called to see how i was doung and to see if I was ready to get out of the house. Those quick little gimpy crutching outings for lunch saved my sanity. While my family was gone the neighbor came by and mowed my grass. And he took my sons sick lizard to the vet for me. What really hurt was the one friend who constantly introduces me as her BFF that I heard nothing from until about a week ago. When her son did something really stupid and she needed a shoulder to cry on. So if nothing else pick up the phone, say I was thinking of you, what do you need done? And funny cards in the mail from those not close by really brightened the day too.

    I did not feel stable enough to get in/out of the shower so I didn’t try those cast covers. It was about 7 weeks (6 in a cast and 1 too afraid to try) of washing my hair in the sink and taking what my mother calls a WB (whores bath!). That first shower was heaven. Hang in there. It really does get a bit better every week.

  13. #14
    Stacy Simpson

    I broke a bone in my foot a few years back and had to be completely off of it for 3 months. My husband was a trooper. I gained a whole new appreciation for health. I am also much quicker to hold doors, carry things etc for people that are disabled.

    My most treasured gift during that time was from my husband’s grandfather. He sent over his housecleaner one afternoon to our house. It was truly one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. I cried. It was so nice to have my house deep cleaned.

  14. #15

    I was just diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at age 33. I had a double mastectomy a couple weeks ago and am still in a very long recovery process. My neighbor invited my 6 year old son to come to her granddaughters birthday party the day before. The few hours of peace for me, and the time he got to spend just being a boy and not worrying about being a careful little helper was definitely well worth it!

  15. #16

    I love my neighbour Steve, and even though at 60, he is only 5 years older than me, I see him as a father figure. He had been ill on and off for the last year and was recently diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. I cannot describe how heartbroken I was. We have big yards, Steve and I, so for the next 6 months of chemo, my son and I will be cutting his lawn and snow blowing his driveway in the winter. The look on his face each time we ‘help’ him out, says it all.

  16. #17

    I have used this site to coordinate meals for new babies and would do something similar for someone going through an extended illness situation. It provides lots of options to share food preferences, etc and allows the coordinator to not be quite so ‘in the middle’ of everything.

    When my mom was hospitalized for several weeks and then died, it was really tough to know what to ask for when people offered. The things that I found most helpful were things I’d never have thought of. Coming to the hospital and taking me out for a walk, people coming and taking my dad from the hospital for lunch, my cousin’s husband who came at the crack of dawn to be with my dad every day when he’d have otherwise been alone. My friends from high school offered to bring dinner for the family the day of the funeral (we had a luncheon for everyone at the church) and it was so appreciated because the whole extended family and close friends were still at my Dad’s house come dinner time. I would’ve really not known what to do for dinner for all those people. I didn’t ask for but could’ve used some dinners for myself in the weeks following the funeral. I was having a tough time getting through the days and making food just really wasn’t happening.

    Hang in there Cathy! You’ve got the right attitude and soon this will be a distant memory!

  17. #18

    I have spent years in the hospital with my son when he was younger. The longest stay was 25 days straight (hospital 2 hours away). Shortest stay was 10 days. What I wouldn’t have given for a gallon of milk to be in the fridge when we got back. . .

    When I am helping others I like to offer to clean for them. There is always something that is nagging in the back of the patient’s mind that they seem to appreciate getting done. Whether the refrigerator or the shower . . . I just do it.

    A friend of mine had a mastectomy a few years ago and I cleaned her bathroom…cleaned out the refrigerator and scrubbed the kitchen floor. Then I brought her a meal. She appreciated it as she knew I’d clean it like she would. I’m glad she didn’t have to come home to a messy house :-).

    I’ll say a little prayer for your continued patience. Peace!

  18. #20

    This is just what I needed to read today. I am recovering from back surgeries. Not one, but two. Yep….2 weeks post-op from the first, I developed complications that required a second surgery. It gets better, the day of that post-op appointment my son reinjured his knee. I remember balling my eyes out over my son. He’s a sophomore and just got released to play football after his ACL reconstruction last September. So…..he had his second ACL reconstruction on Thursday and I had my second back surgery on Friday. I am 4 weeks and 4 days post-op and life is a blur. Did I mention my older son just started his Senior year?? I keep looking for that light at the end of the tunnel………you are not alone!

  19. #21

    Several years ago a friend of mine had a son who was in a terrible car accident. She had to go out of state with him to a special rehab hospital for a couple of months. I felt like there was nothing I could do from so far away, so I sent them a note nearly every day at the hospital. Some days it was just a short rambling about what I had done that day, some days a cut out cartoon from the paper – always short and nothing interesting whatsoever. I would talk to her on the phone occasionally and she would thank me for them, but it was years later that she brought it up and told me how much it meant to her that someone was thinking of them every day. It gave her something to do each day besides hang out in the hospital room, even if it was just to take a walk to the mailroom at the hospital. She read the notes to her son and was able to take their minds off his injuries if just for a few minutes.

  20. #22
    Teresa Igo

    It’s great when your family pitches in and helps when sometimes you think they couldn’t get along without you they can surprise you. I got a shower seat and just hung my foot on the side of the tub. It wasn’t the best but I had to feel the water on me.

    I tore my Achilles in October and we got a good bit of help. A running friend brought a meal the day I came home and some ladies from church got us gift cards so my husband wouldn’t have to cook every night. I was very immobile for 2 months. My husband and my 11 yr. old daughter really did a great job taking care of me.

  21. #23

    Your foot will be better soon. You are being so patient. Every surgery has unexpected recoveries that even if you had asked more questions, they would not have covered all of these things. I love your idea of helping others. When the weather starts getting cooler, I will usually make some sauce & then make lasagnas – one for dinner & then some for the freezer. I usually end up with too much stuff & run to the neighbor asking for a pan & then bring them dinner. I’ve done this for a friend who is a single mom & has 3 kids all at different age groups/schools while she is also in school. My daughter sings with a group at church & last winter/spring – they asked each person to make a dinner for one of their members. He is taking care of his wife who has some medical issues while also working & taking care of the family. He is such a nice guy & we were all ready to jump right in. For 5 months, each of us picked a week & helped him out. It was so nice to know that making an extra meal for someone else would make one little piece of their day a bit easier. Sometimes it really is about making a little extra of what you are making for your family & then thinking about who could use a little something & dropping it off. Hope you are running around soon….or at least able to hop into a real shower!

  22. #24

    Some ideas from friends who helped another friend when she lost her husband:

    * Call to see what she needs from the market. Our friend had so many people staying with her or visiting her that she ran out of toilet paper and other household goods. We surprised her with supplies.
    * Like many have mentioned, clean her (or his, or their) house. Again, with so many people staying and visiting, she couldn’t find the time (and the bathroom was getting a work out. 🙂 )
    * Arrange to take the kids somewhere fun, like the mall or the movies or SOMETHING so she can have a little break. Several of us took the kids to the mall so they could buy Christmas gifts for their mom.
    * Alternately, arrange a girl’s (or guy’s) night so she can feel like she has friends that like her just for her. (And so she doesn’t feel like the third wheel–been there, and it sucks.)
    * When you offer help, have suggestions on things you can do. She likely doesn’t want to ask or doesn’t really know what she needs until she hears it.

    I hope your recovery goes as smoothly as possible. Hang in there!

  23. #25
    becky h

    My husband was in the Navy for 26 years. I had 2 children without him being home and the ladies stepped up with meals and running to the grocery for perishables for me. I personally have taken people to the doctor, the ER on Halloween, cooked meals and gone grocery shopping. One other thing people forget about is sometimes you just want someone to talk to and that is free.

  24. #27

    When my sister was dying the things that she liked the most were company, a shoulder to cry on and someone to have some fun with. We would watch funny movies together too. It’s always funnier with someone else.
    Practical things that she appreciated were cleaning, picking up groceries, gifts of homemade baking for her children’s lunch boxes, folding washing, picking up kids after school and taking them to activities, picking up prescriptions and lifts to her her appointments.

  25. #28
    Abby P.

    I’m 2 years post total-ankle-replacement. Took a LONG time to recover. No regrets AT ALL. Pain, check! Inconvenience, check! No fun, check! Hubby and our 2 boys helped, but it’s hard to keep me down, even in a two-story house. Unlike other recoveries, remember this is a GOOD thing — you’ll be better than when you started. Hold that close to your heart. And for helping others later? I can honestly say I would’ve LOVED IT if someone had brought me a Starbucks. Doesn’t take much to make a temporary invalid happy, yes?! Take care.

  26. #29
    Abby P.

    Oh! One last thing: as far as feeling “unpreparedness” — you’re not — even if someone described child-birth to you, you wouldn’t “get it” till you lived it. Some stuff you just have to experience to truly grasp — words just don’t cut-it.

  27. #30

    Glad you are writing about this. I just had some minor surgery (much less of a deal than yours) but recovery has been slower than I would like. Nothing wrong, it’s just that any surgery more serious than a couple of stitches will Take It Out Of You. And, it’s an up-and-down thing. Yesterday I was feeling great, tried to work all day, then nearly crashed / ran out of energy. So taking a half day off today. Ugh.

    Yes, understanding friends who ask, and mean it, “How are you?” and who ask, and mean it, if they can bring over food or run errands, are the BEST. Especially, ya’ll keep in mind those who are single or living alone.

    Everyone else has written with good ideas. Just volunteer to do some routine things, which can look suddenly daunting and exhausting when your energy level is low and varying from day to day.

  28. #31

    I was already ill since 1984 with a neurological-immune disease when we moved in 2005 to the Pacific NorthWest from France. This wasn’t our first international move, we had many. No my husband is not in the army we just enjoy experiencing new countries, new cultures. I alway submerged myself in local social life signed for volunteer work at a animal shelter, put my graphic designer talents to use in designing flyers, business cards, folders etc for non profits. Making new friends this way.

    This time would not be different or so I thought, however I probaly overdid the move, as anyone will know moving is hard work and had a major set back in my health. I all of a sudden started fainting everywhere and could no longer drive, could not use public transport by myself, my whole social submerging plan was down the drain. I became house bound and the last few years also bed bound.

    No social life, no friends in a new country, no family, just my husband and me.
    There I was, staring at the ceiling day in day out too weak to read or watch TV, light hurting my eyes, small seizures. And the lack of human company is very isolating. Weeks go by that I only see the ups guy walking up to our door. There is no treatment and no cure for this illness, research is ongoing but probably will be too late for me. The younger generation is more hopeful.

    Contemplating my purpose in this life or what was left of it and what could I do to still make some kind of a difference in people’s lives I submerged this time online in Kickstarter and selected projects, dreams that people wanted to realized that also provided local jobs opportunity. And supported them with money so they could realize that dream, make it come true. I also supported a few projects close to my heart, the restoration of an old letterpress named Big Bertha that was located in a basement and is now happily printing posters again. An mobile letterpress exhibition that was build into a bus and traveled the country to give workshops and demonstrations.

    All these made me incredibly happy and I felt useful again. I have sponsored over a 100 projects now and every time it’s again exciting to see if we reach the goal that has been set.
    For me the solution to enjoy interaction was not so much that people would do something for me, there just aren’t any, but that I as handicapped as I am with my limitations can still contribute something and make others happy and smile. That makes my day and I’m content.

  29. #32
    Melanie A.

    wow, just wow is all I can say reading some of these posts…okay amazing and inspiring as well.
    When my dad was going through his chemo the neighbor came and mowed his yard. He knew how much my dad loved that yard and that it would drive him nuts for it to not be mowed. My sister and I lived two hours away and we were taking turns going up and cooking meals for the freezer and taking him to appointments (my mom doesn’t really drive) so having him just do that was something we were all really grateful for.
    On another note, I dislocated my shoulder a few years back. I know how hard it is to have every day simple routines so messed up. I had to have my husband dry me off after a shower and put my hair up in a towel. Put my BRA on…he is my husband but it was humiliating at first. Hang in there. I hope the recovery goes quickly for you.

  30. #33

    I feel blessed to have read all of the above life stories this morning. After everything is said and done, we humans need human connections, more than anything, even more so when limited in some ways. A few years ago, a friend of mine needed more human connections, so although I was extremely busy with the medical condition of my 10 year old, I mailed her a stamped, homemade card every single week for over a year. She told me what looking forward to a card in her mailbox weekly meant to her. I’ve felt very alone for the past several years with the medical condition of my son and felt conforted when one special person touched my life with great kindness. I was also deeply touched when our neighbor came to help my son and I shovel our driveway one winter when my husband was away for a week and we have the biggest snowfall in years and I couldn’t do much shovelling because of a neck injury.

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