It happens to each of us several times a year – a friend calls to talk about an upcoming surgery. It could be surgery for themselves, a friend you have in common or maybe a close relative. Whoever it is, we all wonder what we can do to help out. The best thing is to connect and show you care in some way. Studies have shown that people who feel they have support and a network of caring friends actually experience better health outcomes.
Obviously, different surgeries have very different recovery times. Regardless of the type of surgery or recovery time, there are some basic things you can do to help a friend that work for almost any situation.
First, focus on physical comfort. You can help a friend find items at home, or send them a comfort package with the basics included. Whether laying in bed or resting on the sofa, getting comfortable after surgery is always the challenge.
Soft pillows are a basic for helping to get “comfy” in different resting positions. Microbead squish pillows offer the perfect amount of support to help alleviate aches and pains. They conform and squish to help support arms, legs, neck, head, elbows, heels – virtually any body part. A cylindrical shape is a good choice for a pillow because it makes a nice neck roll or lower back support. Make sure to select a pillow that is filled with some sort of small polystyrene or buckwheat beads, so that the pillow will offer enough flexibility to really be comfortable.
Light yet warm blankets are also great. Try to choose a blanket made from natural fibers, that breathes and is very soft. Organic bamboo is one of the softest natural fibers available and is great because it breathes, is anti-microbial and is grown without the use of pesticides. Organic cotton is also very soft, breathable and offers a light covering without trapping too much heat.
Speaking of bamboo, bamboo socks are another nice comfort item for someone recuperating after surgery. Feet tend to get cold when a person is lying in bed or on the sofa for long periods, and a nice pair of soft, warm socks is always appreciated.
A good quality, no-spill water bottle with straw is another essential comfort item. Patients after surgery often have pain medications to take and need water, plus staying hydrated is recommended for most people because it is key to helping the body heal. Choose a water bottle that has a solid base, doesn’t tip easily, has a no-spill feature and a straw. Why are these features important? Have you ever felt so weak and sore that you didn’t even want to move to get a drink, much less reach for a water bottle that spills or has such a big opening that it spills on your face when you drink? A good water bottle is something that will be used long after surgical recovery is over.
A few other ideas include a box of soft facial tissues at the bedside; antibacterial wipes that can be used when a person doesn’t feel well enough to get to a sink to wash up, or when the immune system is compromised and fighting germs is vitally important; and a basic organic unscented lip balm to help keep the mouth hydrated and comfortable.
Small, healthy snack items are also good to have on hand. Small crackers, natural fruit chips, healthy nuts – all of these are health focused and offer some protein with minimal sugars. Avoid processed foods, foods high in salt or fat, which can be hard to digest and don’t offer much nutritional value to help the body heal.
You can also lend emotional support to a friend after surgery. Call regularly to check in, offer to sit with a friend if they are up to visitors, and just listen. You can also give a friend a journal, which is great for writing down medication schedules, notes from the doctor, or for journaling therapy. It has been shown in clinical studies that just 10 minutes of journaling a day for 4 consecutive days helps improve emotional health. If your friend enjoys music, give a new selection of music to listen to. You can also give a nice selection of current magazines, a new book or video.