Surviving arthroscopic knee surgery required the help of a small army of volunteers. Listed in chronological order, here is what each person did to propel me towards independence. There were so many problems I did not anticipate that I am glad no one had to help with every problem after he or she volunteered to help with one issue. Spreading the workload is my 8th strategy for preventing volunteer burnout.
Jean - A stroke impaired my balance so I asked for Codeine instead of a stronger opiate. While the nerve block was still in my body the Codeine worked great. When I woke the morning after surgery I was in agony. For me, a 10 on a pain scale is having my diaphragm go into spasms so I cannot take a breath to scream. That morning my knee pain was a 9. I called my surgeon who sent an electronic prescription to my pharmacy, but I was not able to pick it up. I texted Jean who picked up the Vicodin and brought it to my house.
Barabara S - The Vicodin made me horribly nauseous. If you have ever been seriously seasick or had bad morning sickness while you were pregnant you know that relentless nausea steals your will to live. "I want to die" is not a metaphor when you are this sick to your stomach. I texted Barbara who brought me gingerale. She also brought me Band Aid brand Tough Strips because the cheap bandaids I was using to cover the surgical holes would not stick to my skin. She took two letters to the post office so I could pay two bills that arrived after my surgery. Before Barbara left she set up my garbage can.
Lauren - I was afraid to push my garbage can to the curb because garbage day came before I had walked outside. With the garbage can placed next to my front porch I was able to throw bags of garbage over the railing. When my garbage was ready I texted Lauren to let her know to cross the street to my house. Stinking garbage on my patio would attract animals that live in the woods next to my house - not good.
Janet - She called me to see how I was doing and made me laugh so hard that I felt much better.
Mark - My brother lives 850 miles away so it was wonderful to receive phone calls and texts that told me he was thinking about me.
Peggy and John - They brought cooked meals, groceries, and more bandaids. Blood thinner makes my skin heal very slowly so I know I will need LOTS of bandaids to keep my leg brace from ripping open the holes the surgeon made. Peggy told me how to order groceries on line until my walking endurance comes back.
Barbara M - She had a PT session on the afternoon of my post-op doctor visit, but it is a relief to know I have another person I can call if I need help getting to an appointment.
Suzanne - She agreed to take me to the post-op meeting with my surgeon. Knowing that it did not matter if I failed, I got the courage to walk a short distance down my street and drive my car around the block. My car is modified so I drive with my sound left foot rather than the hemiplegic right leg which had surgery. Stopping Vicodin after 2 days meant I was no longer worried about the warning "do not operate machinery while taking this drug." I drove myself to the doctor visit, but really appreciate Suzanne's offer to drive me. Reducing fear was a crucial part of my recovery.
Chatting and texting with these people was also an important part of my recovery. It distracted me and helped me remember I am not alone. Research has repeatedly shown that social connection is good medicine.