How To Deal With An Injured Friend
One of my favourite bloggers, Heather, wrote a post not that long ago titled “How To Visit A New Mom.” I loved it because I’m now of the age where friends are having babies, but I’m still young enough that I don’t have that much experience with newborns. Or moreover, the mothers of newborns.
I thought it might be useful to write a post in a similar vein about my experience dealing with a serious injury. In other words, how to deal with an injured friend.
Keep in mind, everyone’s injury experience is unique and we all deal with it differently. These tips are based on how I deal with things.
1. Don’t say “you’ll be better soon!”
I’ve gone over this before, but it’s worth noting again. For many people, injury means they will never technically be “better.” There will always be nagging pain, risk of re-injury, loss of mobility, etc. Some people may also see it as someone minimizing the seriousness of their injury by just assuming it will heal quickly.
2. Don’t ask if you can help, just do it automatically.
You know when you ask your mom if you can help with supper even when you have no intention of getting your butt off the couch? I get offers like that all the time. Chances are, if you ask me if I need help doing something, I’ll turn down the offer out of pride. What I appreciate more is when someone is attentive enough to notice I’m struggling, or could struggle with something, and automatically does it for me. There’s no verbal put-down, and the action is appreciated more than the offer.
3. Don’t assume I’m not in pain.
I experience pain so frequently now, it’s not even worth mentioning it when I do. So just because I haven’t mentioned feeling pain in a while, doesn’t mean I haven’t. This happens a lot when I am moving my arm around. It may look seamless to an outside eye, but typically any mobility I’ve gained recently comes with shooting pain each time it’s moved that far.
4. DO share your stories.
A lot of people are scared to share their own accounts of injury in fear of belittling the situation at hand. I however revel in hearing about the misery of other people’s injuries and pain. Even if it’s a sprained toe or broken finger, connecting with people who have also been injured makes me feel less alone in the whole thing.
5. Physiotherapy is not a spa.
It’s torture. If you know someone who is doing physio, do not take it lightly. It’s typically very painful and not enjoyable in the least. Physio is the only time I’ve felt 10/10 pain since first coming out of surgery. It’s not uncommon for me to scream or cry during a session. Not to mention, pain makes me feel really nauseous, so I leave feeling sick too.
6. Injury talk is not small talk.
Someone commented a while back saying it got irritating when people would immediately ask about her injury when they saw her. This happens to me all the time too. People I don’t see every day go “How is your arm doing?” as soon as they see me as a way of making easy conversation. Unfortunately, my arm is not doing well, so saying this is a total conversation killer and makes for an awkward moment. It also makes the injured person feel like they are the injury, instead of asking how they’re doing as a whole.
7. An injury isn’t just about losing the ability to do the things I used to.
It’s also about losing the ability to do things I could have done. My injury isn’t just about not being able to do yoga or play guitar anymore. It’s also mourning the loss of the things I wanted to do but now can’t: rock climb, join a rowing team, learn how to play violin. Never say, “Oh, it’s not like you were into kayaking anyway,” because you don’t know if it’s something I’m bitter about not being able to try.
How about you? Do you have anything to add to the list?