Wednesday, October 7, 2009

et cetera

no way out
First, many of you have been asking about my sister and I'm very happy to be able to tell you that she's doing better than anyone could have reasonably expected. However, she's still got a long, hard road in front of her. Since she's not up to having visitors, I'm thinking of sending a few little gifts to let her know I'm thinking of her. And I thought I'd reach out to all of you for suggestions.

What kinds of things would you want to have if you were looking at a lengthy homebound recovery period? Reading materials are out and she has people taking care of things like cooking and cleaning, but if you have suggestions for pretty much anything else, I'd very much welcome them.

Second (and this has only the most tangential relation to the previous point), once in a while, someone leaves a comment that I'd like to respond to directly. I click on the person's name, but find no link to a blog or an email. Now, I can understand that some (most?) of you are doing this intentionally, because you're not in the mood for random emails from perfect strangers on the internet or maybe you don't have a blog or whatever.

But on the off chance that you may be unaware of this, I just thought I'd let you know and encourage you to make sure you've enabled the links to your email and/or blog. If, you know, you want to. Because it may not be that I'm ignoring you, just that I have absolutely no idea how to reach you.

Many thanks for all the great gift ideas! Taking many of your suggestions, I've ordered and bought a bunch of things and will be sending them out over the next few weeks.


elizabeth said...

Can she knit or crochet?
What about audio books? My dad has been chronically ill for decades, and used to spend a lot of time listening to shortwave radio. There's not as much on the airwaves as there used to be now with so much more online, but maybe she can listen to podcasts or books on CD or something to pass the time.
Relaxing music might be nice, or scented bath soaps (lavender is always a favorite).
A really soft nice bathrobe with matching fuzzy slippers
A pretty lace shawl
hard to think of things that aren't books

elizabeth said...

Can she knit or crochet?
What about audio books? My dad has been chronically ill for decades, and used to spend a lot of time listening to shortwave radio. There's not as much on the airwaves as there used to be now with so much more online, but maybe she can listen to podcasts or books on CD or something to pass the time.
Relaxing music might be nice, or scented bath soaps (lavender is always a favorite).
A really soft nice bathrobe with matching fuzzy slippers
A pretty lace shawl
hard to think of things that aren't books

magpie said...

Crafty things - a needlepoint kit? A drawing pad and some colored pencils?
Jigsaw puzzles?

Jus and Kat said...

-magazines (whatever her favorite may be . . . fashion, entertainment, etc.)
-warm, comfy, fuzzy SOCKS . . . unless, of course, she has some sort of aversion to them ;)


mayberry said...

I've been wondering; thank you for the update.

How about a blanket/shawl/throw; comfy clothes/PJs; an MP3 player for audiobooks/music; candles if she likes them; plants if she or her caregivers can take care of them.

Tash said...

I really like the music idea, but I'd be somewhat proactive and set up an account that you could pay for and even help her download things on a weekly basis so she wouldn't have to mess with that. I think you can buy audio books and even radio programs this way, too.

Can she do magazines that are just pretty to look at with not too much writing that she needs to worry about?

Netflix account

Comfy chair

Nice pillows

New bed linens

Eva said...

Computer game (The Sims?)
Food treats
new PJs

after iris said...

If reading material is not appropriate, I'm assuming that crossword puzzles/ sudoku books are out too? How about other types of brainteasers? It's true they come in books but they don't require continuous reading.

I second the audio book suggestion or how about dvds? Or a netflix subscription for a couple of months?

rachel said...

--Does she have a video-equipped iPod? An iTunes giftcard would be perfect because she could load up on movies, TV shows, etc.

--Gift card to day spa for when she's up to getting out and being pampered.

Jayme said...

Glad to hear about your sister...

What about her favorite TV series on DVD? I have to second the Sims idea too- when I was on bed rest that kept me occupied :) (that and World of Warcraft but I don't know how much of a gamer geek she is LOL)

areyoukiddingme said...

I'm glad to hear that your sister is recovering, however slowly.

I would probably send her something soft and huggable (a silly stuffed animal), as I'm sure her trauma was as emotional as it was physical.

Also, the Blockbuster or Netflix subscriptions are a good idea, as well as the books on tape. I know you said reading materials are out, but what about a content-light, image heavy magazine subscription (like Vogue, maybe? or some sort of photography mag? I don't really read magazines, but I know that there are some that are all about the pictures).

How about something scent oriented? I hate candles and warmers and stuff (often too overpowering), but I would think a variety of soothing essential oils might be useful. Changing the smell of her home might be as useful as a trip outside.

And, if all else fails, I vote for cheesecake (or other pastry of choice).

after iris said...

Also: Boggle/ Scrabble/ Board games/ Travel-sized chess set...

Anonymous said...

During my short few weeks on bedrest, I really appreciated movies and/or DVDs of TV shows (the latter are nice because you only need the energy and attention for a short episode) and magazines (ditto on the short attention span). Snacks and flowers were very welcome, too. If I had been on bedrest much longer, I would have requested an in-home salon visit (haircut, etc.); I believe that some beauticians will do house-calls.

Glad to hear your sister is recovering.


Julia said...

Everyone's already suggested audio books/DVDs/subscriptions to same, but I want to add my vote for those.

Also, how is her manual dexterity vs. her level of frustration at lack of it? I am only asking because there are brain teasers that are physical puzzles, some harder than others. She might like or not like those, I don't know. Depending on whether she needs rehabilitation in spacial orientation, there are kid games/puzzles that are like that that I can recommend. There are also plenty of adult ones. Let me know if this is something that you might want to consider.

And there's also always tea. Maybe even a tea of the month club thing. Teavana has a very nice spread, or at least it did a couple of years ago when my sister gifted me with it for my birthday. Might be particularly nice going into winter months. Also, a brewing pot to go with. They have a nice original one.

Bluebird said...

I'm so glad, thank you for the update. What about DVD's, even television series on DVD? Also comfy clothes - not quite pajamas, so she can feel "human," but cute lounge clothes. And, if she's up to it, ditto the rec for an in-home salon visit.

Also, thanks for the comment re enabling the links to email - that drives me crazy and I fear people think I'm being rude!

Rita said...

Whenever I'm sick, I like to watch Cinderella. I don't know why. I second the motion for TV series on DVD. Something a little guilty-pleasure-esque like Charmed (but the early years, with Shannan Doherty, not Rose McGowen). Or Gilmore Girls.

She will still be in my prayers. Thanks for the update.

Anonymous said...

Could she do origami? I find that to be relaxing but it is hard to understand the instructions in the beginning. For some reason I have this idea that she likes fashion and design. So what about subscriptions to nice eye-candy designy magazines? A small windsor -newton travel watercolour set and small watercolour paper pad? Beads?
I'm glad to hear she is doing better and I hope her road to recovery is not too bumpy.

Kristin said...

People have pretty much hit all the ideas I had. I just wanted to say how very glad I am that she is doing so much better than expected.

SouthernGal said...

I had been wondering about your sister, too, so am glad for the update. Having had two surgeries this summer (one planned, one not), I second the Netflix subscription suggestion - a friend gave me one, and it was a lifesaver because I couldn't concentrate enough to read at first (and got increasingly frustrated when I tried). I also second the MP3 player suggestion and, although it may seem odd, I second the silly stuffed animal suggestion. My 30-something daughter gave me a soft stuffed gorilla which, in my post-anesthesia state I referred to as a "moose" (don't ask because I don't know), and it was amazing how much comfort I got from that little stuffed animal. He was the first thing I grabbed en route to surgery #2. (sorry to be so long-winded) I'll keep your sister in my thoughts and in my heart.

Betty M said...

I am glad things are going better than expected for yor sister.
Most of these are repeats I'm sure but luxurious slouching clothes - cashmere socks - fantastic pillows. Things to make being in bed feel like it isn't. Definitely the audio books or plays. New music she might not have chosen herself.

M said...

My suggestion is clay. I don't know if or how well her hands may be working but even the slightest of hand movement can move clay. It provides the opportunity to create while not having to excert a lot of energy. It would need to be an air dry clay and also one that is soft. There are many different types out there. As healing progresses so would the creations. Another option is an art paper spiral and something to draw, clolor, create with. Crayons come in many sizes and shapes that make holding easy, and colored pencils or art markers would also be possible options.
Being reminded that we can still do/make/create, can sometimes be a reminder that we are still capable of contributing no matter how broken our bodies may seem.

Melissia said...

Because she has had a brain injury does she need adaptive devices and does she now have access to them? perhaps a gift certificate to one of the catalogs that supply such aids along with a catalog will be useful to her, that way she can pick out which items will be most helpful.
I am sure that she has physical therapy as well as a brain injury team and home health following her? (yes?, wants to know the old nurse?) so you don't need lots of links for assistive devices that she could use at home, due to muscle weakness or due to brain injury. This was my first thought, along with a gift certificate so that she could pick those that would help her the most, then I thought that she must have those in place already, if that is not the case then I can hook you up with things according to her needs.

angie said...

There are so many good ideas, so I am just going to put my vote towards a television series, especially HBO joints, on DVD. I personally love watching series that way, because I am impatient and get obsessive.

Thank you for updating us. Been keeping her in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the update.

everyone mentioned the obvious books on CD and music subscriptions (we got my BIL a portable satellite radio when he was in the hospital last year).

if she's not particularly crafty (as I am not), something easy is a pot holder kit or one of those knitting mushrooms. Or really, just about anything that she liked as a kid - I'm thinking about modeling clay, coloring books, weaving - just stroll through AC Moore.

Aunt Becky said...

If she would like something mindless and stress relieving, I can send her a butt-load of word searches. I got a box (yes, niobe, I AM OCD, and yes, niobe, you DID know this) of them after Amelia was born with her encephalocele.

They were a lifesaver.

I just don't need the whole BOX. So, if she'd like them, I can send some out. Email me if she would.

Yolanda (callipygian chronicle) said...

A few ideas....

~a feather bed or some other ultra-comfy mattress topper

~Some deep moisturizers for the skin (feels good to have it applied, and being bed bound and on pain medication is so drying to the skin)

~Some comfortable clothing other than pajamas (though nightgowns and pajamas are always nice); think loose-fitting exercise clothes; being dressed versus in bed clothes is really uplifting for the person who is recovering.

~DVDs & audio books are great suggestions; depending on her cognitive functioning, she may need you to fill her Netflix or Audible queues for her. She might benefit from having a TV series. Something complicated, like Mad Men along with something just, mindless fun.

~a home beauty appointment (mani, pedi, hair, facial, massage?)

~a cup with an attached straw (like the camelback bite valve bottles); something she can drink out of even if she has dexterity problems

~Some sort of regional treat from where you guys grew up, or a special place where she lived and visited. I'm thinking of those regional snack cakes, candies, and sodas that are so memory-inducing whenever we run into them.

~a photobook of important places and loved ones (especially if her memory and/or language is affected; here's an example of one made for a baby, but something similar could be sensitively made for an adult (

Amelie said...

I also vote for music and audiobooks (and a device to play them, if required). When I was in the hospital, I found stories I already knew comforting. The audiobook my mom gave me was somewhat confusing (which may have been related to the fact that I didn't realize they were played in random order).

And chocolate, or whatever her favorite treat is.

Maureen said...

I'm glad to hear the update on your sister.

If she liked reading and just can't yet, I would suggest large print magazines (i.e. Readers Digest makes a large print version) when she first starts reading or large print short books.

I love having Zune Pass, I have essentially limitless music I can switch up for my $15 a month (which I actually share with my sister).

The other thing which is pricey but I know people who really really like it (they have family member that update it just about daily) is a Ceiva frame. It is a digital picture frame that connects with a server each night and updates itself. Then it runs a slide show each day. You can have slides of quotes, weather, news, pictures of family, things family have scanned and sent (i.e. Happy Birthday for the person, or reminding them of other family occasions) that is played for whatever hours the frame is set to be on (or if someone manually overrides it to turn it on). It is a window to the outside world and it also can give caregivers a "picture" of their life as well as converstation to engage the person. You can give the password to multiple people, so multiple people can contribute to what is shown each day.

Courtney said...

Some of the online flower vendors have flower of the month club type things. You pay a fee and they send a floral arrangement/plant/bottle of wine/wheel of cheese/box of chocolates/etc. once of month for so many months.

What about having her room redecorated? Maybe fresh paint, art for the walls, etc if she'll be stuck in her bed for a long time.

How about a beautician/manicurist to come to her house and give her a mani/pedi, haircut, color, eyebrow wax, whatever she wants?

Depending on her level of disability right now, perhaps there are pieces of equipment that could help her- like a back scratcher, hands-free device for her cell phone or home phone, etc?

If she can't have visitors, what about getting her a webcam or having Skype set up on her computer so that she can still communicate?

What about a digital picture from loaded with family picture? Some are equipped with WiFi and can be updated from your computer with new pictures.

The Clapper (if she can clap) so she can turn on/off the lights/TV on her own?

Joy said...

I'm not going to add to the gift suggestions because I haven't got anything useful in my head at the moment. At all. but I did want to say that sometimes I don't put in my own blog URL because I have encountered annoying people who only comment so that people will click through to THEIR blog (there is probably a zingy internet slang phrase for that) and I want to keep my comments about you, not me, so I skip the attribution. Sometimes. Best wishes to your sister.

B said...

You know, when I worked with people with spinal injuries, the best thing I ever say was a relationship between a woman i cared for and her brother (both in their 60's). He used to come over and spend hours painting her ten fingernails and nine toenails (one had been amputated) with nailpolish and then beautiful little pictures on the nails which he applied with toothpicks. It took forever. It was the sweetest thing. I think I blogged about it once a while back.

But she's not up for visitors yet......... but when she is........

What about taking video of family and friends speaking to her and sending her messages. Showing the crops from their vege garden and the new colour of their lounge room wall. You know, domestic stuff. Boring and Annonying stuff.

Reading books she likes onto a tape

Is she well enough to receive a massage?

New bed linen is always nice for someone who has spent too much time in their bed.

You could take photos while thinking of her and then send them to her as an album or slide show.

Dayna said...

A Snuggie! A loaded iPod. Books on tape.

I'm so glad she's got a recovery in front of her. I've thought of her often.

Julie said...

I agree with lots of previous commenters particularly Courtney. I love the finger and toenail painting idea too.
Flowers is my suggestion. There is a lot of beauty in flowers, you can look at them for hours.
I like the idea of clay too, there are all sorts of modeling clay too, like Sculpey, Fimo and plasticene.

Which Box said...

Wow, what great ideas. you definitely have some smart blog readers.

The only thing I'd add is taking a trip to one of those craft stores. I am not crafty at all, and sometimes a visit to Michael's can be overwhelming, but there are all sorts of things for varying skill levels. Depdning on her physical therapy, some sort of art expression may be beneficial for the mind and body.

Also, someone's comment above about lotions because it is so drying to be in bed all day and on medication - does she have a humidifyer? With cold season coming up, could help make her place more cozy.

Depending on her location, a bird feeder + bird identification book could provide some visual distraction.

ALso, perhaps this is too silly a metaphor, and seasonally it might not work, but there are all these nature kits for kids- buy catepillars, watch then form a cocoon and emerge as butterflies kind of thing (but maybe hard/cruel to release a butterfly in the winter!).

Also, this is way out there, but there are all sorts of studies that show the beneficial properties of pets. If she does'nt have something already, and would be into it, a cat might be a good companion.

Furrow said...

I can't think of a single thing to add. I would've recommended audiobooks. is a good site.

I have been meaning to email about your sister. Thank you for the update.

leanne said...

Nothing really to add on the gift suggestions. Lots of good ideas already.

Mostly I just wanted to say that I've been thinking about your sister a lot -- very glad to see more progress.

(And I can't figure out how to enable a link to my email. And I have no blog. Today does not look good.)

Ellie said...

Help pay for a massage therapist; or some such similar thing, that suits her needs and sensibilities, if that's not already covered?

Gretchen said...

I was thinking of maybe a new down comforter or super-soft blanket, audio books, old screwball comedies on DVD, arrange for a weekly floral delivery for a few months.

Smiling said...

oh thank you for the update.. I've had a morning where I just click and click and click the internet looking for something... but don't know what. This post was it for me. I am so glad that she is doing better than expected. I also know how hard recovery can be...

.. no idea what exactly the impact has been on her ability to use her hands etc, but I have been in bed for a month with a virus and my ipod has been a godsend.

Podcasts were my favourite... they tended to be short and easy to understand and often helped me just close my eyes and rest until I finally drifted off. Much better than TV as I just didn't have the energy to keep my eyes open all the time.

I also had a couple audio books on my ipod for the days where I had a bit more energy.

I also liked flipping through photos on my camera/phone/ipod while I listened to things

I know if I was stuck home recovering, a preload ipod with music and spoken word stuff to listen to would help me... particularly if it could be sent to someone and get replenished without me needing to do much

a digital photo frame that cycled thru your wow photos would also be an idea... staring out a window can get old, even with a great view

best of luck!

Ruby said...

I'm so glad to hear that she's recovering well!

I think they've covered everything.

Christine said...

a netflix subscription or offer to install cable. audio books are great, too.

Jen said...

Maybe things with different textures to touch? If she can grasp, things to occupy her hands with/fidget with as she listens to music or watches TV.

Making sure someone comes in to wash her hair regularly - if you can't take real baths/showers, having your hair washed can help make you feel more human.

The mani/pedi thing -esp. if she's not able to do things like trim her toenails or fingernails.

Making sure that someone comes and takes care of bill-paying and all those sundry things that keep the wolves at bay.

Maybe if she's the type to enjoy it, helping her go through her house and tidy trouble spots/clean/get rid of clutter, that sort of thing. Or someone who can do that with/for her. I know I FEEL so much better when my surroundings are calm, clean, and uncluttered.

If she likes to garden, having someone come to winterize her yard. A regular gardener so her yard doesn't go to pot because she can't attend to such things.

Also having someone come and prep her house for the winter since she can't. Make sure that she has heating oil/wood.whatever, get her some space heaters so her room is as warm as she'd like. Draft snakes - if you're not mobile, it's hard to escape the cold drafts.

How about those stickable constellations, stars, moons, etc. that you can put on your ceiling? If she's staring at it any amount, let her have amusing things to stare at? Christmas tree lights or other lighted objects to put around the periphery of her room?

If she is religious, making sure that her home church/synagogue, whatever, is aware of her condition and someone regularly stops by to attend her religious needs.

Awesome sheets, those 400, 500, 600 threads per inch guys. If she's stuck in bed, nice sheets are soo nice, esp. if someone changes them weekly. A lap table and a cushion so she can sit comfortably upright in her bed.

If she's a wordsmith like you, maybe poetry on tape, too?

Helping her make sure that she's traversing the insurance/short term disability/long term disability/general disability stuff ok.

Maybe offering to write thank you notes to the people who have brought her stuff or helped her out, if she can't do it herself.

How would I put my email address in that it's viewable to you and not the whole world? Not that I'd expect you to wish to email me but I probably should know how to do this at some point.