Helping Bedridden Sister
September 4, 2004 11:48 PM   Subscribe

My pregnant sister is currently experiencing placenta previa, which means she will require total bedrest for the next six weeks until the baby (her first) is delivered caesarean. Additionally her husband is undergoing both chemo and radiation for throat cancer until November. This means they will both be incapacitated for awhile....(MI)

Obviously this is a very extreme emotional hurdle for all of us in the family. I will probably live out at their house for at least two weeks just to help with basic domestic needs.

What's difficult is that my sister Jennifer is very active and motivated and cannot bear to sit in bed all day, much less while her husband is suffering. So my question is:

What are some good ways to alleviate the boredom & frustration?

I've brought her scads of DVDs and books and magazines, but there's got to be other things. Card games, board games, etc. This is very emotionally tough for her for a billion reasons and it's important to keep things light for the next six weeks while both her unborn child's, and husband's, lives are the balance.
posted by dhoyt to Human Relations (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I may get one of her friends to teach her knitting, too, just to stay occupied. I feel too emotionally wrung out right now to get too creative with suggestions. Also, the aforementioned brother-in-law's father just died three weeks ago. And Jennifer's harddrive died. I think there's a voodoo curse on the family. We just need to stay sane somehow.
posted by dhoyt at 12:00 AM on September 5, 2004

Video games, just to throw something out there. They can be involving, and mulitplayer games can bring the group together. They are expensive though: about $150 for a console, $50 per game. Again, just to throw something out there.
posted by bitpart at 12:34 AM on September 5, 2004

Also, a musical instrument. A cheap keyboard can be about $30 (so says Froogle). Might be more than what you're looking for.
posted by bitpart at 12:39 AM on September 5, 2004

Hmm, I wonder if I couldn't go to Wal-Mart, pick up a Playstation, let her play it for a month, and then return it just before the 30-day return policy--is that unethical? ;)
posted by dhoyt at 12:41 AM on September 5, 2004

This might be either obvious or dumb, but a laptop with a WiFi connection might be good. She can surf, stay up to date on news, peruse blogs, interact with friends/IM, play on-line games, etc. Don't know if she's "geeky" enough to enjoy it, but it might be cool.

Best wishes to all.
posted by davidmsc at 12:44 AM on September 5, 2004 that unethical?

Hell, if it's Wal-Mart, it's your moral duty.
posted by bitpart at 1:24 AM on September 5, 2004

Knitting would be good. Baby stuff is simple to make and she'll have some treasured heirlooms afterwards. I work in a knitting shop and we get loads of pregnant women in wanting to make stuff for their sprogs. If she doesn't like it, you could also try crochet or counted cross-stitch. (Lots of baby birth samplers available.) Learning from someone else is best, but books are an acceptable substitute in a pinch. Tip: Whatever craft you go with, get her a book geared towards kids. They're often easier for grown-ups to follow than the ones aimed at adults (which often assume you know more than you do).
posted by web-goddess at 1:39 AM on September 5, 2004

I think you can rent a Playstation. Your idea of knitting or crocheting is great, because it's a different sort of activity from reading/viewing. Here are some other thoughts:
  • Maybe pick up a book on origami and some origami paper.
  • A tangram set
  • A few nice (not too easy, not too huge) jigsaw puzzles
  • A general puzzles magazine with a variety of stuff. I like "Games Magazine" and their "World of Puzzles" editions - you ought to be able to find these at any book shop or magazine stand. Here's a link to the googlecache of their page on this, since the site doesn't seem to be loading at the moment.
  • A good logic/riddles book. Here's the one I would get for myself right now because it seems like a fun presentation.
  • Paper models? There are some free downloads here, here, and here.
I'll be thinking of other stuff... I hope everything turns out well, dhoyt. Hang in there.
posted by taz at 1:44 AM on September 5, 2004

if you are thinking about videogames go get her a game boy advance. no fuss no muss. about half as expensive as a full blown console and she can take it with her later.
posted by darkpony at 1:53 AM on September 5, 2004

wario ware! the time will just fly by. but really check with her doctor becuase once I was in the hospital and was playing too much tetris and they took it away because they were worried it was getting me too wound up.
posted by darkpony at 1:54 AM on September 5, 2004

Forced bedrest is just awful, particularly for a normally active person, and even more particulary when there's something so pressing on her mind -- you and she have my sympathy.

Even though she can't exercise in the regular sense, she needs a routine of movement, which you can help her establish. Her mind is in a million places, so you can do her a real service by reminding her of what is still in her physical power to help herself. The mental distractions won't help if she doesn't have some physical stimulation. You may already have such a routine, but just in case...
and there's a link to discussion forums, too. davidmsc's WiFI laptop idea will allow her to access them comfortably from bed. I would think getting to chat or post to boards with other women dealing with the same way would be very helpful to her, in addition to all the other advantages he mentioned.

I don't know what sort of DVDs you've selected, but really good serials would help: something that doesn't just end in two hours, but a sustained narrative she can think about and look forward to, and that's mostly light and funny. Freaks and Geeks, The Office, that sort of thing.

Finally, cross-stitch is easier tp pick up than knitting, and she can make something beautiful for the baby, or if she's in a different sort of mood, something a bit more adult.

Best of luck to you all -- and good for you for being a loving brother.
posted by melissa may at 5:25 AM on September 5, 2004

I had this with my son, it's actually becoming more common. All the suggestions are pretty good, but nothing beat another human to talk to.

Where is she confined, home? The hospital is worse because she won't get any sleep. After two weeks I told the doctor I was going to go stand in the corner and do jumping jacks, and he was more than welcome to come visit with a catcher's mitt.

If she's at the hospital, a good supply of clean nightgowns and robes, instead of the hospital gowns, are a big help. So are those bath in a packet wipes, and the powder shampoo you didn't rinse out.
posted by FunkyHelix at 7:43 AM on September 5, 2004

I agree about the video games (you can pick up used games and consoles at Electronics Boutique), few things are as useful for time-passing as a really engrossing game. How about also getting her a notebook and encouraging her to keep a journal of the next six weeks? Maybe also a really nice new pillowcase (satin is good) or something like that - if she has to be in bed, it may as well feel luxurious.
posted by biscotti at 9:48 AM on September 5, 2004

You know, if I were in your sister's place, one of the things I'd be most worried about was not being able to take care of my husband in his time of need. Just being there to help out is a huge gift, but try to do things to help lift his spirits, too. The happier he is, the better she'll feel. (In addition, of course, to doing spiffy things for her). Also, maybe give him some help doing things for her. I don't know how mobile he is, but picking up some flowers for him to give her would be nice.
posted by gokart4xmas at 12:26 PM on September 5, 2004

If you could afford it, having a chef come in and prepare a week's worth of fabulous meals for them ahead of time would be great and something really special. Or arranging ahead for delivery from good restaurants in the area 2x/week.
posted by amberglow at 1:02 PM on September 5, 2004

I second the knitting. Have someone handy to teach her to cast on and do a single stitch, and she'll be in good shape to make lots of things. You can make a very attractive baby blanket even if you know only a single stitch; just knit knit knit squares in different colored yarns, then combine 'em all into a unified and unique blankie with simple whipstitching.

And I'd say that if she's really a driven personality (gimme something to DO before I go MAD!!!), dig out all the family photos you've been meaning to organize for the last decade. Supply her with a lap table, plus several great-quality archival photo albums or even add-a-page scrapbooks. If the latter, throw in some picture corners or adhesive mylar sleeves, and an assortment of other 'booking toys (colored cardstock, straight & fancy-pants-wavy scissors, punch-out lettering, neutral Ph writing pens) and let her go to town.

Not only will this activity never get done otherwise, and soak up the time in spades, but she'll be occupying herself with happy memories of family, and creating items she'll treasure for the rest of her life. Having the husband handy means that she'll get his perspective on the stuff too, at least for those family events when he was around.

Also: diary like mad about the pregnancy up 'til now. This is a grand opportunity to put together her "pregnancy book" and even set up a few advance pages in her baby book, because you'll all be hosed for time when the little one makes an appearance.

Plus: get your sister a book that demonstrates basic sign language that can be used to communicate with her baby. Simple signs like "more" can be immensely useful and cut down on a lot of frustrated screaming & crying (yes, I'm still talking about the child, although YMMV).

I'd also sign 'em up for NetFlix, or else circulate word through your friend network that you'd love some very short-term loaners, in spades.
posted by clever sheep at 3:19 PM on September 5, 2004

Oh, and I agree with melissa may---good on ya for being such a caring brother.
posted by clever sheep at 3:21 PM on September 5, 2004

When I was laid up with pneumonia in June, I kept wishing for a decent massage. If you can afford to have someone visit, it might do everyone (including the caregivers) some good. An inexpensive solution might be to call a local massage school, explain the situation, and see if any recent graduates would be willing to come by and put in some hours toward their certification. If nothing else, consider the occasional foot rub.

Remember to take care of yourself, too! You are a great brother.
posted by whatnot at 7:29 PM on September 5, 2004

Lots of good ideas. Is your sister a reader? These "books" I have head about may be of use.

Are you a reader? Offer to read her a book or two - pick something you both like, preferably that will take a decent chunk of time to get through. It's a wonderful way to spend time with someone if you know there are certain constraints on activity.

My best wishes to you and your family. Hope it all works out.
posted by mwhybark at 7:43 PM on September 5, 2004

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