Productive things to do for 3-6 months of surgery recovery?
September 28, 2010 6:12 AM   Subscribe

What to do for three months, at home, recovering from surgery?

A friend of mine was recently in a bad accident and broke her L2 vertebrae. Luckily (it could have been much worse) she had a successful spinal fusion surgery, and she is already back walking around. She is at home, for three months before even being able to exercise again. She walks about 2 miles a day and is obviously extremely bored.

I found some previous questions here, and here. I found some useful stuff I had saved from the blue side: Hopkins Autodidact Course Catalog, and some more Autodidact stuff.

She mentioned working on business school applications (mba programs, top tier), but wanted to find other things to do so that she can look back and have a good answer for the question: "What did you do for those 3-6 months of recovery?"

She specifically said, "Not knitting."

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
posted by czytm to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Read Proust. Or all of Austen. Or Trollope. Or whoever. Learn French or Italian. Lobby by phone for a political candidate or raise funds for a non-profit.
posted by Jenna Brown at 6:15 AM on September 28, 2010

She could probably find a few volunteer opportunities. Maybe something like stuffing envelopes for her favorite political candidate?

If I had some extra time on my hands I'd work on learning a new language. There are resources at the public library that could help with that endeavor.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:18 AM on September 28, 2010

Man, if I had three months to burn, the academic project I've been picking away at for the past year would get done.
posted by valkyryn at 6:25 AM on September 28, 2010

Write a novel? If typing wears her out she can get Dragon Naturally Speaking (or whatever) and dictate it.
posted by SMPA at 6:45 AM on September 28, 2010

Learning to speed-read doesn't take too long and can be pretty useful. (Decent post at Tim Ferriss' blog)
posted by Ragingmelon at 6:48 AM on September 28, 2010

Learn to play an instrument! Whatever is least painful to do for 30 minutes a day.

Do life drawing - draw whoever you can find to pose, or who doesn't mind being drawn while they read/watch tv.

Write memoirs of life so far.

Birdwatch :)
posted by greenish at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2010

Self-education: MIT OpenCourseWare has a ton of content online to learn, from physics to poetry. If your friend is interested in business school, note that there are a lot of management courses up.

I'd also advocate starting up an actual business of some kind, though what that business should be is going to depend on what your friend likes to do. And there's always taking up a creative hobby. Bonus points: Take up writing, beading, painting, and start a business trying to sell the results.
posted by Andrhia at 6:57 AM on September 28, 2010

Learn a language. Tutor kids online. Interview family members to get a family history started. Digitize old photos. Plan a trip. Write to friends. Volunteer online.
posted by barnone at 7:11 AM on September 28, 2010

There's another useful thread here. I recommended a magic course.

OK, "I learnt magic" isn't necessarily the best answer in an interview, but, BUT:

- It's a good ice breaker
- I actually think it teaches some interesting business centric skills, notably around presentation, persuasiveness, psychology - and could perhaps be combined with a course on something like NLP.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:29 AM on September 28, 2010

Almost everyone has something in the back of their mind that falls under the category of
"if only I had enough time..." or "someday I'll..."

She could ask herself, "What don't I know how to do?" or "What do I want to learn?" which could fall anywhere with anything from cooking or growing herbs to learning a language or computer coding.

What are her interests? Has she always wished she had enough time to become an audiophile in her favorite music genre? Has she ever wanted to start working on her bachelor's or master's degree?

I would suggest that she find something to learn and then, when she tires of that, have something a little milder on the side that she can relax with. Like the above suggestion of language combined with birdwatching. That way, she won't burn out too quickly on any one thing.
posted by DisreputableDog at 7:48 AM on September 28, 2010

Learn a new language would be my first suggestion as well. Otherwise I'd stock up on audio-books from authors I'd been meaning to get to, and combine that with another activity like drawing or painting.

If all else fails and productivity isn't required, a PS3 and a comfortable couch can make those unwanted hours just melt away.
posted by quin at 8:06 AM on September 28, 2010

If she has any interest in geneaolgy she could join
That and digitalizing old photos would be something generations could appreciate.
I have an great great aunt that did our genealogy and it has been passed on to about 100 people.

Get netflix! I would rent a movie a day. All those classic/important movies you never get to see.

If she's mobile enough she could learn to cook a few amazing dishes.
posted by beccaj at 8:24 AM on September 28, 2010

Here are some things that haven't been mentioned yet that I would do.

-Learn to program code and build myself an awesome portfolio site.
-Ardently research a topic that has fascinated me for years, then try to publish an article about it.
-Instrument-of-your-choice lessons. I vote banjo.
-Ask friends who own dogs to visit me. Ask the dogs for smooches.
-Watch movies and tv shows that are part of a cultural zeitgeist that passed me by.
-Take private oil painting lessons.
-Throw elaborate at-home tea parties (but make other people bring the tea and do the decorating).
-Make grandiose plans for redecorating my apartment, complete with blueprints.
-Learn to write interactive fiction games.
-Plan small surprises to greet my girlfriend with when she returns home from work every day.
posted by Lieber Frau at 8:33 AM on September 28, 2010

Enjoy the opiates?
posted by eggman at 8:48 AM on September 28, 2010

If she's able to walk 2 miles a day, I would suggest that the take trips to places like the zoo, botanical gardens or aboretums, museums, aquariums etc on days when she needs a change of scenery. I love going to places like that but can normally never fit them in my scedule. As fo things to do at home, I personally would listen to my backlog of albums I've been wanting to listen to, seriously going through all my belongings and purging what i no longer want or need, and I'd probably also go a little Cindy Sherman and paint my face with rediculous and varying makeup and dress up and take wierd self portraits. All of that combined with an episode of Maury everyday would easily get me through 3 months.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:49 AM on September 28, 2010

posted by John Cohen at 8:53 AM on September 28, 2010

Personally, the next time I'm out with surgery I plan to watch the whooooole backlog of Doctor Who - that should keep a person busy for quite a while.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:19 AM on September 28, 2010

In the writing vein, if her recovery includes November, she could go in for NaNoWriMo - that way she'll actually be able to tell people she wrote a whole novel while she was recovering, not just "wrote a bit".

This thread has useful hints, and it sounds like she might be able to join online support groups with other writers, which would lessen the isolation of being home alone.
posted by penguin pie at 11:48 AM on September 28, 2010

Oh, and buy her a MeFi sign up, that'll help her eat up time like nobody's business (Hm, does that count as productive?!).
posted by penguin pie at 11:57 AM on September 28, 2010

I've been out for several weeks for surgery recovery, but I never felt good enough to do more than watch some TV.

That being said, I'm an introvert who prefers to spend most of her time at home working on projects. So I know how to fight boredom.

Netflix and Netflix Streaming. There are so many awesome things on Netflix Streaming that I am never without something to watch. Right now I'm re-watching Xena and Hercules. After that I'm going to watch The Riches. And then I might watch every episode of Leave it to Beaver. Surgery recovery is a great time to catch up on TV shows because you actually have the time to watch them one after the other if you get addicted. Mad Men, Big Love, Six Feet Under, True Blood, Weeds, Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, Northern Exposure all get my vote.

I know she said knitting is out, but what about other handicrafts? I've got a huge stash of linen and wool that I'm currently turning into braided rugs.

I also sew, spin, and weave and do a lot of household DIY. This weekend I'm making a storage ottoman for my living room.

Can she cook? If not, now's a great time to learn.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:36 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all; I passed this along to her.
posted by czytm at 11:13 AM on October 4, 2010

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