DR Rob Gandy  I  UK

I recently had a hernia repair and am delighted with the treatment that I received from my local NHS. But it is that sense of frustration when you get home and are recuperating from an operation that you don’t really anticipate. A friend of mine who had a hip replacement said exactly the same, only she was talking about an even longer period of recovery.

I have been under very strict instructions to not pick up anything heavier than a bag of sugar, and not to bend over in a difficult position – not that you can do it anyway in the early days! But there is only so much television you can watch or books and newspapers that you can read, and there is such a great desire to pick up and cuddle your 1-year old granddaughter. But it is the wonderful, comforting knowledge that my wife is looking after me that keeps me sane and my spirits up. Things that she would moan about me not having done around the house she now actively stops me doing. And when we go out she does all the driving because I cannot drive – so I have to stick to drinking.

…you can watch or books and newspapers that you can read

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But it then struck me that I am indeed fortunate to have her looking after me: doing the cooking; running the errands; etc. etc. Those of us who do not have a spouse or partner, and have had an operation are in a far more difficult position. It helps if there is close family around the corner who can pop in, and social services can provide support according to circumstances, but they have major demands placed on them. Therefore, if you know of someone who is about to have an operation, or is recovering from one, it is important to see if you can be of help. This might be by running errands, cooking a meal (or getting a takeaway), doing a bit of housework or gardening, or whatever. Just popping around and making a cup of tea and seeing if they need anything can be a fillip. Asking if they want anything doing might receive a polite “No thank you” but it can be a comfort for them to know that help is available if required. So please don’t assume that these people are OK and will be OK. A quick phone call or knock on the door could be very much welcomed.

Finally, I have been told by a senior nurse that extra calories are good for helping wounds heal. Never has chocolate been so medicinal!