Over the course of my 8 1/2 years with lupus, I'm sorry to say that I've been incapacitated on more than one occasion. Stuck in bed, unable to work, (practically unable to walk, for that matter), I've had plenty of opportunities to ask for help. But I've never been very good at reaching out for a helping hand - but my friends and family have always been really good at giving it, nonetheless. Here are just a few examples of the things people have done - without me even asking. Imagine if I'd been a little less stubborn (see Friday's post...) about asking for help - I would never lift a finger!
-- I was out of work for almost a month when I was first diagnosed - and I was completely out of commission. I was too sick to do anything - read, watch television, even talk on the phone - so you can imagine that the last thing on my list was checking my voicemail at work. I was really dreading my first day back - imagining just how many messages I had piled up. I knew my co-workers had probably taken care of everything that was urgent, but I just hated the idea of listening to all of those messages, trying to figure what had been dealt with, what I'd missed, etc. I planned to do tackle my voicemail the weekend before my first day back, but when I logged into my voicemail - it was empty!!! My co-worker Tracey had already taken it upon herself to clear out my voicemail. There wasn't even one message left - instantly relieving me of the guilt and anxiety I already felt from being out a month. Thanks to her, I had nothing hanging over my head - nothing on my to-do-list - and I showed up for that first day back more relaxed than I had in a long time. It had been hard enough to miss work - but now, it was as if I hadn't missed a thing! Thanks, Tracey!
--After a few years with lupus, it became obvious that when I was in a flare, I was pretty much useless. I was either in bed sleeping or in bed feeling crummy - not capable of doing much for myself, least of all cook or clean. My husband and sister usually took care of things for me - but on one particular weekend, they were both going to be out of town. I'd be on my own. Of course, I didn't mind - I just planned on being in bed all weekend. But my sister felt that I shouldn't be alone. So she drafted my good friend (and professional chef) Jodie to come and keep me company. And, boy, was she the best company! She came over early on a Saturday morning, cooked an entire week's worth of food, cleaned the entire kitchen from head to toe (and did it need it!), and left the entire house feeling warm, comforting and alive. I'd never felt so good. I still remember falling asleep that night - relieved that my fridge was stocked, relieved that my house was clean, relieved to know that I had such a good friend who would just come to the rescue, without me even saying a word. The feeling of worthlessness I'd had because I couldn't cook for myself or clean my own house was immediately gone - what a relief (and a blessing!)
-- When my sister was pregnant with her first baby, I insisted on throwing a baby shower for her. I really wanted to do it - and although I definitely wasn't feeling my best, I figured that with the help of a caterer, a cleaning lady, and my mom co-hosting, I'd be able to handle it. My friend Maureen, also a friend of my sister's, planned to attend, and she would be coming in from out of town for the event. She was a guest - but she sure didn't act like one! She cleaned the house when my housekeeper failed to arrive, she helped set-up for the party, organized the favors, food, and drinks - and acted as though she hadn't lifted a finger once all of the guests arrived. My mom, too, was a huge help - but it was Maureen's unexpected helping hand that made the weekend a hit, and kept me feeling as good as possible. I don't know how I would have done it alone!
I have so many more examples - my husband Johnny deleting all of the spam emails in my inbox after I'd missed yet another 3 weeks of work, my friend Susan bringing over dinner just this past winter, and my girlfriend Angela spearheading my initial book signings, not only getting me (and my book) off to a running start, but also ensuring that I didn't get sick trying to do too much - so I promise to try and do a "kindness" post every so often. Who doesn't want to hear about a not-so-random-act of kindness? Let's hope it catches!