Please help me come up with an appropriate gift for an injured colleague.
February 16, 2010 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Please help me come up with an appropriate gift for an injured colleague. (Warning: the injury description within is a little gruesome, but, I think, necessarily so. Please be advised if you're squeamish.)

I just learned that a colleague in a remote office recently suffered a painful, traumatic hand injury. He sliced the tips off three of the fingers on his non-dominant hand in a snowblower accident. He lost a lot of blood and is in a lot of pain. To compound the problem, he's an avid pianist and it will be a considerable amount of time until he's sufficiently healed before he'll be able to play again.

I've met him in person only once, but we speak and e-mail on an almost daily basis. He provides administrative support for me and six other employees within the company. I'm quite fond of him and I was very upset to learn of this nasty, painful injury.

I'd like to organize a gift of some sort for the seven people, myself included, for whom he provides support. Do you have any thoughts on what might be appropriate in this instance? I was thinking that we could pool some money for a local restaurant gift certificate. Are flowers appropriate? A sympathy card surely is a good idea, too.

Thanks for any thoughts.
posted by cheapskatebay to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
If there is a nice gourmet grocery store in your area, a home delivery of some groceries, along with flowers, would be a very thoughtful gift.
posted by echolalia67 at 8:20 AM on February 16, 2010

I would not send a sympathy card. Sympathy cards are for when someone dies. This guy was injured and is not dead. Send a get well soon type card, or thinking of you card instead.

Food delivery is nice. So is a housekeeping service, or a petwalking service, or something like that. After an injury you may not feel up to doing certain chores or tasks, and that type of help is usually appreciated.

Is he recuperating at home? If so, entertainment like books, DVDs, etc would be nice. Or an XM radio subscription.
posted by FergieBelle at 8:48 AM on February 16, 2010

Response by poster: "Sympathy" was a very poor word choice - thanks, FergieBelle.
posted by cheapskatebay at 8:56 AM on February 16, 2010

Find a whole bunch of music for piano, one hand. There are even concertos for them, although it may depend on whether his left or right hand is the unaffected one. Interestingly, the grand majority of injuries seem to be to the right hand, therefore most of these pieces are written for the left hand, so I hope for his sake he's a lefty! But there are still some pieces out there for the other way around.

The great pianist Leon Fleisher lost the use of one of his hands for 40 years, only to completely resume his two-handed career in his 70s. Note that I said two-handed career: he kept up a full performance schedule (piano and conducting) using only one hand. Perhaps his story could be an inspiration to your friend.

In other helpful areas, I bet he'd really appreciate rides and that sort of thing -- between painkillers and being used to two-handed driving, he may have issues getting around on his own, especially if a partner or spouse has to work or do other things.
posted by Madamina at 9:17 AM on February 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

To piggyback a bit on echolalia67's grocery suggestion, you could hire a personal chef service to take care of dinners at home for a week or two. Cooking one-handed is a pain, and with seven people contributing you could probably cover a decent number of meals.

Here's a directory for Maryland.
posted by contraption at 9:25 AM on February 16, 2010

This happened to a friend of mine, who is also a pianist (and a sheet metal worker, unfortunately). He was in a major depression for more than a year after. I don't think sending him one handed sheet music is a good idea. It may inspire him but it might also just make him more depressed. He may be very angry at himself and the world and sending anything that might be read as "cheer up, things can only get better!" may seem hopelessly stupid to him.
I think a simple message of "I heard what happened, I'm very sorry. If there's anything I can do, or if you just want someone to talk to, please let me know."

On the happier side, the keyboard player I mentioned above is the guy I play with. It took him a while to get back to wanting to play, but he did. Now, 25 years later, it's not really an issue even though he is still missing the first joint his index finger and a smaller part of of his middle finger.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:26 PM on February 16, 2010

Ask him what would mean the most, or be most beneficial. Then, do that thing.
posted by flutable at 11:58 PM on February 17, 2010

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