Yes you can: asking for help

A friend of mine had surgery this week.  This was planned in advance, so he knew when it was happening.  The recovery period is one month out of work, and then a few more months with certain activity restrictions.  He knew this would be tough, so a few weeks ago, he sent out an email to all of his friends in the area to ask for help.  What does he want?

He asked people to visit with him, by phone or Skype or in person.  He asked people to cook some meals.  He asked people to help him with some errands.  Simple, right?  We’re all very happy to help.  He set up a calendar on a web site that organizes everything, so at any time I can go on there and see which days he needs someone to come by.  I can’t do his laundry or lift things, but I can visit and provide company.  Other people can’t visit in person, but they’ll Skype to keep him company.  We’re all going to do what we can.

And this made me wonder, why do so many of us have trouble asking for help?

Now, the obvious reason is that chronic illnesses are ongoing, so we’d be asking for help a lot.  There’s no simple “recovery” period.  And after all, it’s not like we know when we’re going to have a flare, so we can’t predict when we’ll need help.

But aren’t those just excuses?  Yes, we need to be careful not to be burdensome, but if I were to ask a bunch of friends to collectively do 2 things for me each week, it would be months between asking favors of the same friend.  I’m sure they’d be thrilled to help.  Many have offered.  And let’s face it, even though something might feel huge to me, it’s probably minimal for them.

I’ve always been bad at asking for help.  When the pain in my wrists was so bad that I couldn’t cut my food, I’d just put a big piece of meat on my fork and bite of bits at a time.  I bristled when my mother offered to cut my meat (I was young and still living with my parents.)  I turn down offers of help from family and friends.  I guess I’m just too stubborn for my own good, but I’m working on that.  We all need to work on that.  Dealing with chronic illnesses is hard.  Why make it harder by trying to do everything alone?  Asking for help might make it a bit less difficult.  It’s worth a shot, right?


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