People need to put their “scaffolding” in place as quickly as possible, both physically and emotionally, when they find themselves injured. Whatever the injury, when people are incapacitated and unable to look after themselves, the sooner they can erect the physical and emotional scaffolding they will required over the longer-term, the better.
I like the word scaffolding because it brings to mind the visual image of a building that is surrounded by scaffolding during a renovation. The image mirrors the support system that people need to put in place after an injury so that they are better able to focus on recovering.
The type of injury we’re discussing can be quite broad. It can include when someone hurts a disc in their back, or when a woman delivers a baby by Caesarean section, or when someone shatters a leg in a car accident.
Individuals who live alone will need to erect more scaffolding than those that live with a spouse or older children because they won’t have someone available 24-7 to help them out.
Here is a partial check list of physical scaffolding that someone might want to erect following an injury.
- Arrange to have someone come in immediately to:
- Re-arrange the furniture appropriately
- Help locate a family doctor or physiotherapist if you don’t already have one
- Initiate a disability insurance claim, as appropriate
- Purchase things like extra pillows, a bolster for the bed, or slip-on shoes
- Hire regular helpers that will look after repetitive routine chores over the longer-term to:
- Clean the house
- Buy groceries
- Cut the grass and water the garden, or shovel the snow
- Change the cat litter
- Do the laundry
- Start the car once a week
- Have someone to drop by every day to do things like:
- Walk the dog
- Pick up items that have been dropped on the floor
- Drive you to doctor and physiotherapy appointments
- Pick-up prescription re-fills
- Get items down off of high shelves
In addition, here are some ideas for emotional scaffolding during an injury that are equally important:
- Schedule regular helpers to:
- Call once a day to hear how you’re mending
- Visit you to help your mood remain positive
- Bring news of the outside world so you don’t feel isolated
- Care about how you’re doing emotionally
- Help you process feelings of fear and vulnerability
- Arrange to meet with a psychologist to help you process the bigger issues, like:
- Process the incident that lead to the injury
- Teach you to better manage your physical pain
- Deal with frightening changes your injury may bring
- Help you with personal concerns you can’t share with your friends
- Cope with triggers that arise while you feel vulnerable
I hope the ideas listed in this blog post are helpful. Everyone’s list will be unique.
The sooner you can erect your personal scaffolding and get supports in place, the sooner you can begin to successfully cope with your situation, relax and focus on healing.
Dr. Patricia Turner, PhD, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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