For those of you who actually read the titles of my blog posts (that i AGONIZE over!!!!), you might think this one is a little strange. But I’ll explain it. See, i have this friend (well, i have lots of friends actually, i’m very blessed!) – but one crazy friend in particular whose daughter also has special medical challenges like Kendall, who sent me a message one day out of frustration that she just wished someone would make her a fricking sandwich. That’s all she wanted. Just one simple act of caring, of being cared for instead of being the constant caretaker. It spurred on some good conversation, and she shared the idea with a few other moms she knew in similar circumstances, and before long it became a “thing”. A place we could brainstorm ideas to help each other out on a practical basis.
This is one of those posts I struggle with knowing how to write. I HATE feeling like this is me asking for a handout, or for more help than we are already so blessed to receive from so many amazing friends and family. But i have been in that place before, watching friends struggle, wanting to DO SOMETHING to relieve their day to day stress, if even in some small light-hearted way, knowing so well that some days, the littlest things can mean so much. So if you choose to continue to reading this post talking about practical ways to help our family out – but beyond that – to come alongside ANYONE you know who may be going through something bigger than you feel capable of knowing how to support them through, then I will be grateful, and hopeful that maybe you come away with some new ideas. Please know that this is not intended in a spirit of asking for things – it is intended to answer the questions I get from so many sincere friends wanting to offer some hands on help. My answers sometimes change based on how my mood is that hour, or how things are going in this room at that moment, and sometimes i feel like my answers are so ridiculous that i just can’t even answer the questions! So with all that being said – I present – a few ways to “make sandwiches” for your friends and family!
First I want to say thank you in the biggest way possible to the many of you who have come through with warm meals for myself and ben while we are in the hospital. A few of you have even sent meals to our house and i have to tell you – Food is one of the biggest ways you can tell ME you love me. It means SO MUCH to me to not only be able to feed myself, but have food for the kiddos, especially during the past few weeks when my time with the big girls is limited to a few hours and cooking is just not something i feel up to doing. But even though it is not easy – some of you have spent multiple frustrating hours on the phone dealing with local places to the hospital to have food delivered here in my name – and beyond just the good food, i’m super grateful that you took the time and persevered through the red tape to get me food. Know that I appreciate the time and effort JUST as much as i appreciate the food! It touches my heart and soul in ways I find hard to put into words. And for those of you who brave this insane construction traffic to actually bring food AND a hug to me? You are my heroes. Your very real “sandwiches” (food) are one huge way of helping not only our family – but any family you may know who gets stuck in the hospital for days on end! It is not always easy to get food to hospitals – but know that when you can and do, it is huge!
And some of my food fairies know me well enough to know that i often dont have enough hunger drive to even put into words what i want, nor will I usually ask for what i really want because I don’t want anyone to go out of their way. So just taking a chance on food that you THINK will work is still always a good thing. Unless you know of specific allergies or dietary restrictions – most of the time we are so “numb” to the real life acts of eating and hunger that if warm food shows up in front of us, we will eat it. So please don’t feel like you can’t help with food or meals just because you don’t have specifics. For SO MANY special needs families, food is just like sending hugs. not even just in “crisis times” – but any time. Life with kiddos like ours is hectic in ways that cannot be described. It’s crazy, but it’s our crazy. We pull on our boots and git R done because that’s just the way it has to be.
In the same vein as warm food (or fresh meals, or even meals that can be put in the freezer for SUPER crazy nights at home!) – is snacks. Especially in the hospital. Having some awesome friends who know my penchant for mindless eating send a couple bags of snacks i can keep in our room cabinet has been my saving grace this stay. Nutrigrain bars, mac and cheese cups, cookies, nutella, mmmmmm nutellaaaaa……..I got sidetracked. Anyways – again, short of specific allergies or diets – if it looks and sounds good to you – it will probably look and sound good to an exhausted mom or dad in a hospital room who hasn’t been able to leave their baby’s bedside in a few hours and just needs some quick fuel in their bodies. don’t let your thoughts of “oh i don’t know what they like” hold you back! Just throw some stuff in a bag and send it off!
Most of you have heard me in particular harp on this one – and i’m sure some of you are sick of hearing it – but we DEFINITELY would not survive without gas cards. It is NOT an easy choice to have all of Kendall’s care be up in Milwaukee when we live south of chicago. In fact sometimes it is downright scary. And I second guess myself all of the time. I HATE how far away we are from home, from my big girls, from my “real life”. So we try to budget in for the random hospital stays, knowing it will blow our gas budget right out of the water. But even with the most careful planning, you never really know how it’s going to hit you til you’re in the throes of it. So many special needs families need to take mulitple trips to doctors and hospitals and gas cards are SUCH a nice gesture. Even if it’s not enough to “fill ‘er up” – knowing that your journey was thought of, cared about, prayed for by someone who took the time and money to get a gas card is an amazingly practical way to “make them a sandwich”, to be a real help.
But even then – there’s some things that mean a whole lot that you might not even think of. Gift cards to places like Walmart or Target might seem like an odd thing to give to a family in the hospital – but I can tell you, on the very rare occasion we get to get out for some fresh air either while we are still inpatient or once we get home – it feels like the best kind of freedom ever. Sometimes it’s been a long time since we’ve felt “normal”, and being able to just wander the aisles aimlessly and pick out a few small things for ourselves or maybe for the sick child or their siblings, it can really mean a lot. Think of the last time you ran into Target for something you “NEEDED” and came out with 100 other little things that somehow found their way into your cart. It happens. I’m guilty. But it’s that kind of fun “splurge” that can sometimes mean so much to a special needs momma. Or just pick up a few fun things that you think might cheer her up. who doesn’t love a new lip gloss/chapstick/mascara/pair of sunglasses/clearance pink floyd t-shirt???? All i’m trying to say is – our lives are so hyperfocused on our sick child, or hospital life, or fill in the blank with whatever stress – and sometimes the simple act of buying a little something new helps us regain a thread of sanity, a small sense that things WILL be normal again someday. Maybe this sounds trite – and to some i’m sure it actually IS trite – but for me – i ADORE nothing more than getting a fun package packed with a bunch of silly fun things. Lip gloss, chapsticks, gum, socks, hand lotion, mascara, fun pens, markers, a journal, itunes cards, hair binders (I call them binders but i think they are just “elastic hair bands”), antibacterial stuff that doesn’t smell like the hospital stuff, travel sized toiletries (or condiments – those work too!!!), travel sized shots of liquor…JUST KIDDING!!!! A water bottle or one of those nice sturdy plastic tumblers with the lids so we remember to drink water, RAZORS because you forget how stubbly you get when your showers are limited to 5 minutes of hot water trickling out of the family shower, body lotions, body sprays… But seriously – you get the idea?
Practical hands-on help in the form of doing our laundry, or just come helping clean/disinfect the house is also SO SO SO huge. But comes with it’s own set of challenges sometimes.
I guess my point is here is that ANYTHING is always appreciated. I think sometimes we feel like we won’t do the right thing, or that what we want to say or do or send would be viewed as stupid or unnecessary or wrong. And the truth of the matter is – it won’t. Whatever you do, it will be right. Because it was done with a pure heart, and your intent was to make them feel loved, thought of, not alone. Sometimes that’s the biggest thing we can feel is just not alone. Oh i thought of one other thing i want to say – for the moms you might be thinking of who endure battles beyond what you think you might be able to face…and most of us as women are bad about this in general – but taking care of or, shocking thought, PAMPERING ourselves. Maybe a gift certificate to a local salon to get a haircut/trim, or a mani/pedi, or a facial spa treatment. Maybe it’s a gift card to Ulta or Sephora for a quick pick-me-up makeover. We often feel worn out, worn down, frumpy and utterly beyond help after a couple weeks of hospital life. The gift of a few hours to go out and get a brand new look is utterly exhilarating! (Ok maybe that’s just me….but again – i’m just trying to help you see some out of the box ideas!)
I wanted to post this a few hours ago so i’m going to wrap it up here. I hope that this is taken in the spirit it was intended, and that is to say that just looking for every day ways to show someone you’re thinking of them – whether they are living in the hospital or have just had a rough week – it means a lot. it’s a very practical way of “making them a sandwich”, so their spirits can be boosted.
For those of you who HAVE specifically asked me what I need, what my family needs, or how else you can help- obviously any of the above ways are fabulous. We do have a paypal account set up for Kendall’s “extras” – things that insurance doesn’t cover or would never think of – like feeding us in the hospital, the gas for trips up here, etc. You do not need a paypal account to use paypal – you can just enter your debit/credit card info at paypal.com and direct it as a “gift” for family/friends to email@example.com And in the message you can specify if you want it to go towards family expenses or specifically to Kendall’s medical needs. A HUGE thank you to those of you who have helped our family out with this seemingly never-ending stay. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for our amazing family and friends.
If you’d like our address for cards or a package full of condiments – please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (if you click the little envelope at the top of the page it also will direct you to my email!)
And if you have any other questions or suggestions you want to add here – feel free to leave it in the comments!
Thank you so much, dear Kendall Krew and faithful Terra Talking friends.
it has been a long and hard day getting the news we are here for at least a few more days while we try to figure kendall’s body out. I do my best to stay as positive as possible but the utter exhaustion is definitely starting to wear me thin. (Not LITERALLY thin, because then that would be awesome,,,, but like, my patience is thin. my tolerance for stupidity is thin. my nerves feel frayed and thin….)
Your prayers and love from afar are ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS so appreciated. Even if you never get the chance to send anything but that – know that i feel and appreciate every single one of those good thoughts. We all do. Always.
keep on keepin on~
YES – practical hands on help is always appreciated. But it’s not always practical.