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I Know You Mean Well, But....

January 20, 2017 Barbara Ballinger

I know you care when you call, email or text, even if I don't get back to you quickly because of pain from my broken wrist and arm. Sometimes, however, I wish you would walk in my shoes a bit and understand how it sounds when you say things that are neither kind nor helpful: 

  • This is really not that bad in the scheme of life. Of course, it isn't but right in the here and now it's horrific for me that I can't use my right hand for so many pursuits. I can't shower on my own, brush my hair well, floss, or even be without pain for long spells without strong meds. I know there are others, such as the friend with the broken hip or the one with breast cancer, who are far worse off but...
  • You've got to improve your attitude. I am trying so hard not to feel frustrated, have a pity party, cry, and more. Telling me this doesn't help. Instead, it would be better to comment on my perseverance to do my strengthening exercises, my attempts to keep working on my typing with my left hand, and mastering voice recognition on my computer.
  • You'll never get 100-percent use again of your arm and wrist. This is pessimistic and the last thing I need to hear. Thanks for warning me. Better not to share the tale of woe you experienced or heard but to encourage me. Just maybe I will gain full use! I have talked to others who have. 

Instead, why not ask if you can come over for some tea since I can't drink wine while I am on meds, bring a meal or send me one, ask what I have a craving for, send a card, or just call and talk to keep me focused on something else besides pain. How about sending a joke or sharing a funny story, which one set of friends did who made me hysterical reminiscing about a trip we shared when the crab cakes took forever to show up. 

Better even yet, just offer advice in the right tone such as, "I heard icing your arm before or after the exercises really helps; have you tried that?" My younger daughter, a child psychologist offered words that soothed: “Be sure you get some emotional therapy and also make a visualization board of what you love--sandy beaches, a bustling favorite city, baking your favorite rugelach.” These are positive messages. 

I know I may be extra sensitive right now. Perhaps it's the meds talking, but with some extra help and cheerleading from my friends and family, I'll get through this. And I’ll be sure to put you on my thank-you list.

 




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