Best practices for post-op family support?
September 16, 2012 12:47 PM Subscribe
My husband will be having major surgery next week. As far as I can tell, I was born without normal sick-person-wrangling instincts. What helpful or comforting things should I be planning to do to support him through recovery, at the hospital and afterwards at home?
The surgery in question is a Big Deal-- non-elective, with a total ICU+ hospital stay of a week or more. His parents will be visiting, but as the spouse, I know I'm the primary support person here. Despite my XX genotype, though, I'm much more of an engineer/problem-solving type than I am an emoting/nurturing sort, and a lifetime of really good luck with my own health has left me a bit deficient, I think, in normal impulses of compassion toward unwell people. Any kind of concrete helpful labor is no problem, but the thought of extended Victorian-style sickroom watching-- sitting with someone for hours on end just smoothing his fevered brow and being a sunny loving presence and whatnot-- is frankly pretty horrifying.
Obvs., though, I love the guy, and I want this go as well as possible for him, so I'm committed to faking this 'til I make it, or until it's over. To do that, though, I'm going to need a detailed, very concrete plan as to what I'm responsible for at each stage. Which is where you come in, Metafilter. If you've supported someone through something like this, or been yourself well-supported, what did that entail-- how did the person act, what stuff did they do, how long did they stay, what was unexpectedly helpful or not-helpful, etc., etc.? Please walk me through the whole thing like I'm a 2-year-old or a Martian, because beyond "Log onto PubMed, read 1,000,000 abstracts about condition" or "Shuffle uncomfortably, jump at chance to go get takeout," I'm really going to have zero useful instincts to guide me here. Thanks!