Four things ACL patients do want to hear
It was a little unfair and mean of me on Monday to only write about what not to say to people who have had ACL surgery. People really want to be helpful and are genuinely interested in how things are going. So what do patients like to hear? Here are four suggestions.
1. DON’T WRITE ME BACK. I sometimes get overwhelmed with the burden of keeping everyone informed and feeling appreciated. To get around this problem, I initially asked my husband to disseminate news, deflect queries and generally be polite when I didn’t have the energy or inclination to be so. But you can do your part, too: If you do drop off a fruitcake or let the cats out, please insist the ACL patient not write you a thank-you note. Chicken soup is not a wedding gift; it shouldn’t come with added stress.
2. I SHOULD BE GOING NOW. You’ll never go wrong by uttering these five words while visiting someone who’s laid up right after the operation. Unless you’ve been asked to stay longer, 20 minutes, even less if the patient is tired or in pain, is about the maximum time most people can handle. And while you’re there, wash a few dishes or feed the cats. And take out the trash when you leave 😉
3. WOULD YOU LIKE SOME GOSSIP? A slight change of topic goes a long way. Sometimes I’m pretty sick of talking about my knee. We have to do that with our doctors, physical therapist, and insurance henchmen. Sometimes ignoring the elephant in the room is just the right medicine. Even someone recovering from surgery has an opinion about the starlet’s affair, the underdog in the playoffs or the big election around the corner.
4. I LOVE YOU. When all else fails, simple, direct connection is the most powerful gift you can give a loved one recovering from ACL surgery. It doesn’t need to be over-the-top. It just needs to be real. “I’m sorry you have to go through this.” “I hate to see you suffer.” “You mean a lot to me.” The fact that so few of us do this makes it even more meaningful.