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Dangers of Getting Pricked

Earlier this month, my friend had an outpatient procedure to remove a melanoma from the middle of his back. Everything went great and his prognosis is perfect. For 10 days after the procedure, he needed to tend to the wound and change the bandage. Since this sort of caretaking in the middle of his back was impossible, his spouse happily complied. And it got me to thinking, what if this happened to me? I’ve already had such thoughts, but about more catastrophic health events. Not something so mundane as changing the bandage at a spot I couldn’t reach. (Unfortunately my dog doesn’t have that much dexterity.) So what do we do about it? Let’s brainstorm. How can we create a network to help?

Photo by Aryton Page


13 comments for “Dangers of Getting Pricked”

  1. Jules says:

    Several years ago my neighbor helped me put my hair up so I could shower every night. I had a shoulder injury. It cemented our friendship. Despite her moving away devastating both of us, we still stay in touch and see each other a few times a year. She’s happily ensconced with her partner but we still regret not living next door to each other. It was special arrangement for about 8 years. I have other lovely neighbors but this relationship was extra special. Community however one forms it is the only answer.

  2. Lauren says:

    I had this exact same scenario for the middle of my back. “Get somebody to help you change the bandaid,” the nurse said. I didn’t say, “Who? The cat?” although I thought it. I just muddled along by myself, and fortunately, all was fine. But that doesn’t seem like a long-term solution.

    • wendy says:

      How were able to manage that alone? Right now, I’m reaching for the middle of my back, and I though I can put my hands there, I can’t imagine having to change a bandage.

  3. Petra says:

    I think about this a lot. Indeed, I am possibly facing some foot surgery this summer (though the likelihood is lessening). Surgery would mean no driving for 8 weeks. Initially, I freaked out about it (losing sleep), but my podiatrist said I’d probably only need some help for the first few days, until I figured out how to do things on my own. Groceries can be delivered and a lawn service can be hired, but I was actually thinking about having my mom come out for a week or so (it would be fun to have her around anyway). I’m also fortunate to be an academic, so any work I need to do in the summer can be done at home. Still, this is a real concern! I do have single friends in the area, but most of them have some family nearby. I do have a single female neighbor and we do help each other out (e.g. gutter cleaning, feeding cats). And there is the possibility of short-term health aides.

    Wendy, your idea of a network, though, is excellent! And, as the proportion of single adults continues to grow, is necessary. Maybe it’s time for a movement!

    • wendy says:

      I think the key is having this network set up in advance. After I wrote the post, I thought (as Jules indicated) that neighbors are the best best, if they live close by.

  4. Lola says:

    I wonder about this a lot, but as Wendy said, mostly in catastrophic terms.
    About 10 years ago, I had surgery on my knee which I was told would keep me off my feet for a few days and I would need “a little help getting around.” My mother insisted on coming even though I told her I would be fine. I’m so glad she did, b/c by “a little help”, the doctors meant I would absolutely need someone there for at least the first 3-5 days. When I went back for a follow up in that first week, I asked the doctor why he wasn’t more clear about how immobile I would be and his response was “Oh, I figured you would have SOMEONE that could help you the first few days”. I absolutely didn’t and don’t know what I wld’ve done without the stubbornness of my mom.
    But I also know that she won’t be around forever and so I wonder what I’ll do after that. For now, my sister lives in town and her and my brother in law have been my go-to’s. It helps that they don’t have children, it’s easier for them to come out to me when/if I need.

    • wendy says:

      A few years ago, my sister-in-law had shoulder surgery, and she was incapacitated for weeks. I don’t know how she could’ve managed without my brother. We need to figure this out. And again, not just for catastrophic illness, but changing the bandage in the middle of our backs.

  5. Amy says:

    This resonates for me on several levels right now. I’ve been lucky enough to have been in good health most of my life, and the only time I was seriously ill – homebound with pneumonia for over a week – I was able to get by by myself. But I had a dermatologist tell me once that I should have someone check my back once a year. I actually went to my mother and said, what do I do – do you mind? Because the assumption is that you have a spouse to help, and not all of us do.

    The flip side of this now is watching my parents age and start to be unable to care for themselves. My father is reliant on my mother to take care of him, but when she has a problem and needs help, she has no one nearby to rely on – in this case, someone to drive her to and from hospital for a procedure and look after her for a few days. I can take off work and go home, but otherwise, she is also alone. Being married is not a guarantee that someone will always be there to take care of you. In the meantime, I’ve increased my contributions to my retirement fund – the thought of being alone and unable to afford help in my old age terrifies me, and watching my parents deal with this has only made it more acute.

    • wendy says:

      That’s always a good reminder, Amy. There are no guarantees even if married. And it’s really smart to be financially planning for your future.

  6. Recently stumbled upon your blog and reading this particular post inspired me to do some introspection about what exactly makes me so afraid of being alone. I wrote about it on my blog, in case you’re interested in reading: http://www.sometimesidiy.com/single-post/2017/04/12/Even-My-Fear-of-Being-Alone-Has-Children

    Thanks for your candidness!

  7. Robin says:

    Wendy, this happened to me recently (not the . Luckily, my daughter lives with me now, but down the road what the heck will I do. There should be a number we can call where another single person comes over to help – like a big network of all of us to help other singles!

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