Eye Surgery and Asking for Help

This last week I have been rather MIA.  My apologies.

My husband is away on business in Europe (this time without me, boo!), and I threw my back out last weekend, which meant I was laying in bed.  In pain.

Then on Monday, my good friend Megan - single mom to a darling 8 year old boy with Autism - came to stay with me for a few days while she recovered from her cornea transplant surgery.  Yes TRANSPLANT SURGERY. 

Having Megan here was great, but getting her here took some convincing.  (I hear you gasping - "What?  An autism-mom who doesn't know how to ask and receive help?!!" - shocking, I know.)

You see she had surgery a week (or more) before she came, and after her surgery she actually popped the stitches out (OMG talk about pain!), and had a second surgery. 

How did she pop the stitches?  By doing too much.  By continuing on with regular life and not putting her own needs first because she didn't know what to ask for - what exactly she needed people to do for her.  And when she thought about it, it sounded ridiculous to ask someone to feed her dog - or her son.  She could do those things herself, and did, but it cost her.  And I can relate - I have been in that same boat. 

Ok, not the eye surgery boat exactly, but I've needed help and was uncomfortable about telling people in plain English what I needed. 

So when I sat down to write a post for Friendship Circle last week, that was on my mind - asking for what you really need when you need it.  And accepting that help.

Here is the post I wrote for them last week - I hope you will all take a step back and think about how many times you have needed help, and refused to ask.


I have many friends – some who have special needs kids and some who do not – and often times I think they are at a loss for what to say or do for me during one of the many crises our family has.

When my son is struggling at school, or when my husband and I are fighting because we cannot seem to find a single second alone to speak about something other than the kids, or like last Spring when we were forced to hospitalize my oldest son, I find myself on the phone with one of my girlfriends venting, crying, and just letting it all out.

During that type of conversation, where I am relaying some insane problem or trauma or dilemma, I am always amazed at how quickly my friends will say, “What can I do?”

And you know what I say?

Oh, nothing. I’m OK.”

But that isn’t true. What is true is that although it is hard to ask for help, I really don’t know what to ask for.

What I should learn to say when my friends say, “What can I do?” is,

Please do anything.”

Because I need help. With everything.

Parenting a child with Autism, Bipolar, Sensory Processing Disorder and Learning Disabilities is like a high-speed car chase through life. I am sure that is the case for MANY parents of children with MANY other diagnoses as well.

Which means to slow life down to a more manageable Sunday afternoon drive, at least for an hour or so, requires help.

So the next time someone asks you, “What can I do?” Tell them.

If you are at a loss for what to say, try these:

~ You can make dinner one night for our family
~ You can pick my kids up from school
~ You can take my child for a play date this weekend
~ You can join me for a cup of coffee after the kids go to school
~ You can help me fold laundry
~ You can mow my lawn
~ You can call and check on me tomorrow

I know some of you are thinking, “I would never ask someone to do that!”, but let me assure you, the less time you spend thinking, planning and preparing for the day to day chaos, the more time you can spend turning that high-speed car chase into a leisurely Sunday drive.


Chynna said...

Such an important post. Thanks for the reminder that it's OKAY to need help and ASK FOR IT when we need it. Many of us carry on trying to be 'the strong one' doing too much. **Raises hand** Yes, me too!

Remember to always take time for ourselves, to accept help when it's offered and be STRONG enough to ask for it when it's not offered.


Anonymous said...

This is a great post. In fact, it hits really close to home, as late last week I got this terrible muscle spasm in my neck. I kept doing and doing, and things got worse and worse until my husband came home to me crying on the couch, because my 5 year old went outside without a coat when I couldn't turn my head to check that he had it on! All I could think was "Where was his mother!" And of course, the answer was that she was laid up on the couch, unable to turn her head because she didn't stop *doing* and ask for help.

So glad your friend has you to help her out after what sounds like a rough time with her surgeries!

Patty O. said...

Such a wonderful post! I am guilty of not asking for help, too. I would rather shave my head sometimes than actually ask someone to help me. In fact, often I'm the one helping other people. Even when I shouldn't be. Over time, I have realized a couple things: 1) we cannot consistently put our own needs last and expect to be able to function well, and 2) there are a lot of people out there who want to help me, but I won't let them.

I think the same can be said for a lot of us: we have amazing friends who really want to help and might even feel hurt that we won't let them.

So, here's to all of us being less scared to make our needs known.

Awesome post!

mommy~dearest said...

Very well stated. And if you are familiar with the Friendship Circle, we may be neighbors! :)

Heather said...

It's so hard to ask for help. Thanks for the great reminder.

Daniel Bryan said...

This is quite true and many patients from post surgery do happen to travel this route. An eye surgery leaves on rather handicapped to a severity where companionship is really needed.
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