Helpless faraway friend filter: meningioma edition
December 14, 2016 9:59 AM   Subscribe

At this very moment, my good friend is undergoing brain surgery to remove a benign tumor. I'm 2000 miles away, but I want to do something for her.

She's not alone by any means--has big, wonderful family there and plenty of local friends. I know the recovery process will be lengthy, but most of the information I've found online deals with malignancies. Sending flowers is trite. I can't support her by doing the cooking, etc., because too far away. As far as sending gifts, I don't know how she'll be cognitively, so sending books seems iffy. Homemade cookies? ... If anyone has suggestions, or has gone through this with a friend before, I'd very much appreciate your input. Thanks for listening.
posted by scratch to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Send food that doesn't require much cooking or fuss.

Re: flowers being "trite": these emergency occasions are not the time to try to innovate in social relations. No one's expecting originality from you. If she doesn't care for flowers, that's one thing, but if you're just worried about being cliche...those cliches exist for a reason.
posted by praemunire at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Similarly scary operation with a long-distance friend, I sent adult coloring books and colored pencils. She appreciated the low-pressure activity.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

When my best friend, who lives in Portland, OR (I'm in MA) had a tumor removed I sent her a melon baller but a) we have that sort of relationship and b) I'm a terrible person.

Then I got a bunch of her friends who live around the country to send me stuff, which I then compiled into a care package and shipped off to her. People generally sent knick-knacks, stuffed animals, and semi-sentimental stuff. It wasn't so much a box of useful stuff as a box of stuff to let her know we were thinking about her.
posted by bondcliff at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Sorry, I should've said, I'm speaking as someone who had to have a pre-cancerous lesion removed from a delicate area and missed several weeks of work as a result. Flowers were banned from my ward but I appreciated the ones sent to my apartment once I was discharged, as well as all treats, though it was some time before I could eat anything. Someone bought me a plushie of the affected organ, someone else sewed me a cheerful little toy. All nice things.)
posted by praemunire at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: hi, i'm the BFF bondcliff mentioned. the one who got the melon baller. yeah.

the time after brain surgery is chaotic for caregivers and confusing/traumatic for the patient. don't send stuff-- call her, go see her. what meant the most to me when i was post-surgery was visitors. those people, i came to realize, were my true friends.

NO FLOWERS. i had a comically huge number of people send flowers and while i appreciated the sentiment, the flowers were a pain in the ass for my caregivers. i was too out of it to really even notice the flowers, and they'd wilted by the time i was recovered enough to be aware of them.

you're right about books-- she'll be so doped up and in pain for at least a couple weeks that books will be lost on her.

i know you're a long way away, but if there's any way you can visit her in the upcoming months, do that. speaking from experience, having people around during that horrible time meant the most to me. plus you can help give her caregivers a much-needed break.
posted by hollisimo at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

Send puzzles!
posted by Drosera at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2016

i will add that the box of funny stuff from friends all over the country was lovely, but that happened some time after i'd recovered from surgery.

someone did give me a coloring book and i appreciated that, but i had trouble focusing for long enough to get very far. just something (else!) to consider...
posted by hollisimo at 10:55 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had surgery for meningiomas ten years ago. I bought myself DVDs of the complete Monty Python TV series and a few other sitcoms. I wouldn't have been able to concentrate on books, but TV comedies kept me entertained. If there's something she'd like to watch that isn't available for streaming, that might be a good gift. (I'm aware that not everyone even uses DVDs anymore, so feel free to ignore.)

Food is also nice, but sick people often get flooded with sugary treats. I'd suggest something like bread or cheese or a fruit basket instead.

And visiting is great if you can work it out. For me, the biggest problem was not being able to drive for a time. So I greatly appreciated the friends who helped me get out of the house once I was up for that and who offered to drive me where I needed to go. Is there a way you could assist with setting up something online to make it easy for her to get rides when she needs them?

Feel free to MeMail me with questions.
posted by FencingGal at 11:04 AM on December 14, 2016

Music; audio books.
posted by mareli at 11:28 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

My faraway friend sent me coloring books and art supplies. It was incredibly sweet.
posted by mochapickle at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2016

Gift cards to places nearby that deliver food.
posted by LilithSilver at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2016

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