In the not too distant future I’m going to have to have surgery on my foot and ankle. This is going to mean six to eight weeks of essentially being off my feet except for limited excursions to the bathroom and from the couch to the bed. I’ll be able to do some things, but my usual routine is out of the question. When the doctor told me this, all I could think was, “Man, this is going to be expensive.”
It’s not the surgery itself that’s the problem; that’s covered by insurance. Since I work from home, I’ll still be able to earn money. The problem is that I am the one who keeps the house running. Since I work from home I am the cook, cleaner, and minor maintenance person. I also care for the dog and do her grooming to save money. With me laid up, all of that work is still going to have to be done. While my husband can do most of it, it feels unfair to ask him to do everything that I do because he works out of the home ten to twelve hours a day.
With that in mind, I’m spending the weeks before surgery preparing as much as I can so that my recovery time won’t be spent getting take out food for every meal, hiring housekeepers, and paying someone to do all of the work that I usually do. If you’re looking at being off your feet for any length of time, here are some things you can do to make the time easier and less expensive.
Make meals ahead of time
I’m making as many meals ahead of time as I can and freezing them. This way all my husband has to do is come home, pick something, and toss it in the microwave. Beyond that, I’m stocking up on supplies for simple meals that he can make with little effort.
Reach out to family, friends, and neighbors
If you have a supportive community around you, see if any of those people can help you out. A neighbor is going to take care of taking my dog out when my husband isn’t available. A church friend has volunteered to help with some household chores. And many people have promised food for my first few days at home. I’m lucky to have such supportive people around me. Chances are you do, too, but you may have to reach out and let them know you need help. Church or social club members can be valuable resources, in addition to family and friends. Promise to repay the favor someday or help them with something so you don’t end up feeling like a moocher.
Get the house ready
I’m taking care of as many nagging little chores and repairs as I can right now. Anything that’s been on the to-do list is getting done so it’s not hanging over my head and/or getting worse while I’m off my feet. I’m also giving the place a thorough cleaning and clearing out a lot of junk and unwanted items so that I’m not tripping over them and I don’t get the urge to clean after surgery. Having less clutter will also make it easier on those who come to help me.
Educate your helpers
My husband is a great guy, but since I do all of the household related stuff, he’s a little out of the loop as to which product to use for which job, how much laundry detergent to use, and the overall household routine. I’m spending some time now teaching him the things he’ll need to know. This will be wonderful for the days when I’m too hopped up on pain medication to form coherent sentences. I’ve also invited several of my other helpers-to-be over to show them things like where the sheets and towels are stored, where the dog’s leash is kept, etc. so that they won’t need much help from me.
Prepare for entertainment
I’m a very active person and being laid up is going to be boring and lead to some online shopping or lots of nights at the movies if I don’t prepare to keep myself entertained now. I’m loading up my e-reader with free/library books and I’ve got a long list of titles I want on hold at the library. I’ve updated my Netflix queue and made sure that I’ve asked for some new games for Christmas. I’m stocking up on puzzles, free games for my Kindle, and planning some long-neglected writing projects. Since my body can’t be active I’m taking steps to keep my mind active so I don’t just spend days idly surfing the Internet and spending money to alleviate the boredom.
There will be some things that I’ll have to pay to get done. Since I cut my husbands’ hair, unless we can find a way to manage it from my perch on the couch he’ll have to go to a salon. And the dog will have to go to the groomer at some point. However, I’m trying to minimize my recovery time expenses as much as I can by taking action now.
(Photo courtesy of Lauren Powell-Smothers)